Photo by Tim Lytvineko
The post-Hopscotch remains of a What Cheer? Brigade set
After Friday’s bummer finish
, I was really ready to rally for one last night of the fifth Hopscotch. Mastodon and Death delivered respectable sets at City Plaza early in the evening. The members of Death may be aging, but they did all right—and it was wonderful to see the band that holds the honor of being punk before punk was punk. By contrast, Mastodon may not be metal
metal, but it did seem to be the one City Plaza band of the weekend that wasn’t underwhelming. And it was awesome to hear Fayetteville Street awash in something heavier than restaurant jazz.
For a few minutes, I popped in at the Vintage church and Kings for Zomes
and Y’ALL, respectively. Zomes’ grand, ethereal songs were intriguing, whereas the rock of Y’ALL, a newer act out of Charlottesville, Va., invited more dancing and head-bobbing than deep thought.
I caught a lull at the Fletcher Opera Theater with Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, whose delicate voice cut through the dark like a razor. Her performances tend to be few and far between, but they’re always breathtaking, and this one was no exception. She sings folk tunes, but not exactly the ones you’d expect to hear in 2014. Sauser-Monnig draws heavily on Jean Ritchie songs
, cowboy songs and old Appalachian ballads
. With a masterful four-piece, Ryley Walker followed Sauser-Monnig. I didn’t stay long, but Walker and company’s jazzy folk was impressive. Based on Walker’s April LP, All Kinds of You
, I’d expected more stripped-down acoustic tunes, but this was a step up and a pleasant surprise.
The party cranked back up again with T0W3RS
, the brainchild of Derek Torres. In just a few years, T0W3RS has gone from solo project to band to a re-worked solo project. For this set, though, Torres worked up something special: he had a full band (most of what was once Virgins Family Band
) backing him up, plus Josh Moore and Josh Kimbrough and two aerial dancers, one of whom was his sister, Kaci. There were a lot of people making a lot of noise, and there’s little else that could have made it more fun. The Pour House’s legendary soundman Jac Cain even turned on the mirrorball at just the right moment. Torres’ performance was the peak of a weekend of great sets from local bands, who put on their musical equivalents of their Sunday best for the festival. Sure, it’s nice to see these bands at little clubs on weeknights, but it’s even nicer to watch them go all-out for audiences that extend way beyond their friends and acquaintances.
My final act of the festival was the What Cheer? Brigade
, a brass band out of Providence, Rhode Island, that featured 15 members. Like Landlady on Thursday, this represented another fantastic personal discovery. The band hopped into the audience at several points, shouting and wooing right along with them. One of the drummers screamed at the crowd between songs, encouraging them to participate and dance—everybody all the way to the back of the room. It was the right kind of yelling, not the Kozelek stuff. At times, it felt like Kings’ floor might give out.
The What Cheer? Brigade was exhilarating and exhausting at once—like all of Hopscotch, then, every year.