I often experience tall-person guilt. It mostly manifests itself at concerts as the inkling of sympathy I feel for the poor chump stuck standing behind me, only catching a glimpse of a show every time I turn to high-five a friend or reach down to pull my jaw off the floor. When I'm feeling particularly repentant or charitable, I freeze in some uncomfortable half-twisted, fake yoga pose to provide a little window of view. But if you think for a second I'm spending any of Hopscotch bowing down in guilt, well ... sorry. The only thing I'll be doing is getting there faster and standing closer. I'll be the one down in front, bouncing my head and beaming at the stage—until, of course, I make an erratic exit because, seriously, there is just too much to see.
THURSDAY, SEPT. 9
Ease into the weekend with ALL TINY CREATURES, multi-instrumentalist Thomas Wincek's newest quintet of hypnotically layered, spaced-out ruminations that knock at the door of electronic and jazz. Keyboard loops meet chant-downs in a tangle of texture structured around elemental guitar and drums. After poking your head in for a glimpse of local stalwarts OLD BRICKS or MIDTOWN DICKENS, make your way to Tir na nOg to catch CULTS. This infectious pop duo (though they've grown, live) aims for and hits that sweet spot of '60s shimmer and childlike simplicity. Stay put: BEST COAST's tidal wave of reverbed dream pop on the recent debut, Crazy for You, is as infectious as her words are empathetic. Channeling a bad relationship into a perfect summer record isn't easy, but Bethany Cosentino has done just that. Slide over to the Berkeley Cafe afterward for some 8-bit bounce courtesy of Brooklyn's JAVELIN, and then mosey to the Lincoln Theatre for the guttural roots rock of LUCERO.
Finally, it's AKRON/FAMILY versus FUTURE ISLANDS: You can be dazed out with rapturous psyche-folk or impaled with grand indie pop. Hell, why not both?
FRIDAY, SEPT. 10
The triptych of heavy hitters in City Plaza tonight—PANDA BEAR, BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE and THE ROSEBUDS—promises a fantastic start. Sneak away early to experience Heather McEntire at her most fierce in BELLAFEA at Tir na nOg and then camp out at the Pour House for SHARON VAN ETTEN. Seriously, move in and claim a spot up front so you'll have a whole crowd behind to catch you. With her debut record, she offers songwriting mettle graced by a bent for the ethereal. Hang tight for the indie folk-tinged nature musings of BOWERBIRDS. At midnight, the glorious garage pop/ rock of HARLEM squares off against the CAITLIN CARY-curated night at Deep South, featuring both her new outfit THE SMALL PONDS (with Matt Douglas of The Proclivities) and her longtime steady, TRES CHICAS. A consummate collaborator with a wicked ear for harmony, Cary makes this not much of a contest—to my ears, at least. Finally, swing over to Kings to hear the fractured sprawls of Atlanta's ATLAS SOUND. Lead songwriter Bradford Cox's Krautrock-graced, swirling pop will charm you well after you take your long ride home.
SATURDAY, SEPT. 11
If you're willing to bounce out of the PUBLIC ENEMY, NO AGE and THE LOVE LANGUAGE show early, you'll find a glorious reprieve at Kings, where MEGAFAUN will be parked for the night, trading off instruments and tunes with a few friends—notably, Boston-based songstress MARISSA NADLER. Break up the folk vibe with a pop into The Hive for the heavy, punk/ industrial Game Boy-tracked beats of WET MANGO, and then slide into Lincoln Theatre for the theatrical stylings of the world-funk powerhouse NOMO. Stick around and you'll be paid off with the sleek, spacey BEAR IN HEAVEN. Surging synths gush over straightforward hooks, marching drums and ardent lyrics. It's a splendid fusion of influences that'll warm you up for the punk urgency and punchy jazz of Chicago's TORTOISE.
But if you've had your fill of instrumental maneuvers, dip over to Deep South for the triumphant, merry swagger of KOOLEY HIGH. Finally, make your way to the Pour House for the lo-fi fuzz folk of Brooklyn's WOODS. Their pop harmonies and tumbledown melodies will make for an easy decline to these hectic few days. See you on the other side.