Photo courtesy of Press Here Publicity
TV on the Radio headline City Plaza Friday night
My approach to Hopscotch planning could be described as a little obsessive, what with the venue-to-venue flow chart I scrawl onto an official schedule after carefully planning how to maximize the number of acts I can catch on my prioritized list of well-researched performers—must-sees often circled and must-misses crossed through.
Despite having limited time to scout bands this time around, I doubt there will be much difference in 2015 with my tendency to treat the festival like an all-you-can-eat buffet that I nibble at until finding just what hits the spot. Still, I’m already anxious of one major change: There will be no Spider Bags, which is tantamount to telling me there will be no Christmas, either. The rough-and-tumble Triangle rockers—a festival and day-party staple—kick off a month-long tour with Titus Andronicus in Philadelphia on Friday, so I’ll soldier on without them, trying to fill that rowdy hole in my heart with bouts of garage rock metal, and hip-hop broken up by bits of indie pop and twang.
Speaking of planning, if you’re making the day party rounds, arm yourself with a comprehensive schedule via Ash Crowe’s indispensable Google Spreadsheet
. The photographer has again compiled all the scheduled artists and provided set times in an easy-to-follow format that makes finding your preferred afternoon acts a breeze—and may help you avoid a dreaded Hopscotch dilemma if you can attend a daytime set that resolves a nighttime conflict.
After the obligatory pair of City Plaza sets featuring OUGHT
’s herky-jerky art punk rants and GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR
’s imposing post-rock sprawl, KEATH MEAD
offers a pleasant change of pace, crooning placid melodies over a blend of ’70s soft rock and modern power pop, sprinkled with subtle electronic elements. Lest things get too sweet, just a couple doors down SOON
delivers heaviness that paradoxically soars and punishes shortly after. Adjacent sets from WILDHONEY
paint psych swirls over stacks of lush fuzz; the former’s airy vocals and dreamy melodies contrast with the latter’s more aggressive approach.
In an ideal world, I’d follow this by catching the entirety of PHIL COOK
’s release party for his joyous Americana tour-de-force, Southland Mission
. Alas, it’s Hopscotch, so I’ll likely get restless despite Fletcher’s cozy confines and seek out SANNHET
’s dense barrage of metal and post-rock or OBN IIIS
’ bluesy garage punk disorder. BULLY
playing to the packed mass of Slim’s seems like a legendary Hopscotch set in the making, but—assuming I catch the Nashville quartet’s grungy fist-pumpers Wednesday evening outside CAM—I’ll avoid the long lines and chaos in favor of closing my night with BATTLES
’ wild ride.
Locals will rule the early part of my Friday evening. Depending on how long TV ON THE RADIO
keeps my attention, I’ll be drawn to either MUST BE THE HOLY GHOST
’s atmospheric layers of looped guitars and electronics or NATURAL CAUSES
’ snotty singalongs. Promising young emcee ACE HENDERSON
casually delivers pointed verses and sings his own smooth hooks over sleek, often minimal beats. Spiked with synthesizer squall, NOTS
unleashes torrents of noisy, hooky howls. LA rapper NOCANDO
, meanwhile, delivers references to 30 Rock
, Rivers Cuomo and Dragon Ball Z
between bars containing more poignant observations, and MITSKI
sneaks a dash of humor into vulnerable lyricism. Up next, madcap NYC quartet BIG UPS
careen and caterwaul through abrasive blasts of post-hardcore before it’s time for a big decision. The shows of Boston’s PILE
are underground legend, but psych-rock legend ROKY ERICKSON
plays across town while PUSHA T
rattles off rugged street rhymes nearby. I'm undecided.
Saturday’s stacked City Plaza bill chases the then-and-now Raleigh roots rock tandem of THE VIBEKILLERS
and AMERICAN AQUARIUM
with punkabilly pioneers X
and neo-traditionalist honky tonker DWIGHT YOAKAM
. But it’s BOULEVARDS
that’s been circled on my schedule since the local electro-funk phenom’s impossibly catchy “Got to Go” briefly took over my Facebook news feed this summer. If the studio recordings are any indication, I can safely assume Boulevards will keep me busy until time for the dark, moody instrumental surges of BLACK CLOUDS
Expecting SHEER MAG
to rattle Slim’s with the raw rock ‘n’ roll anthems that seem to be the dive bar’s specialty during Hopscotch, I’ll arrive early to ensure I’m comfortably mashed among the sweaty masses nearest magnetic leader Christina Halladay. After all, nearing the end of Hopscotch, my ears should be able to handle the full force of the Philly quintet’s blown-out riffage with minimal repercussions the next day. The weepy barroom ballads of Canadian country troubadour DANIEL ROMANO
will serve as the eye of the storm's finale, offered either by bouncy, electro-heavy bangers from GOLDLINK
or psychedelic jams from Australian septet KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD
. They may veer off on any number of blues or rock-oriented routes. Perhaps the latter would be most fitting to close out the festival, which once again offers up an array of choices that can lead your weekend in unpredictable directions, planning be damned.