Think big, girl: Allison Hussey's Hopscotch picks | Music

Think big, girl: Allison Hussey's Hopscotch picks

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Jenny Hval performs Thursday at midnight at Kings. - PHOTO BY JENNY BERGER MYHRE
  • Photo by Jenny Berger Myhre
  • Jenny Hval performs Thursday at midnight at Kings.
I've attended Hopscotch in a press capacity every year and have had a different approach for planning my schedule almost every time. I once carefully mapped out which bands I wanted to see weeks before the festival arrived. More recently, my approach has been to attack the schedule with a highlighter the day before the festival starts, circling a few standouts and otherwise winging it. There are still a few holes that I'll fill on a whim for this year's festival, but here's what's caught my eye so far, at least at night.

THURSDAY
GRANDMA SPARROW: I’ve never been a major Godspeed fan, so I’ll probably bail on City Plaza early in order to catch the kooky and spectacular Grandma Sparrow once again. This directly conflicts with Some Army at the Lincoln, but I’ll catch that band Friday at a day party, anyway. Their new One Stone and Too Many Birds is excellent, and I look forward to hearing those songs live again. (8:30 p.m., Kennedy Theatre)
JAKE XERXES FUSSELL: I think I’ve seen this guy play once a month since January, but never in a place as nice as Fletcher. His Telecaster stylings of folk songs will ring crystal-clear in the lovely space. (9:30 p.m., Fletcher Opera Theater)
PHIL COOK PRESENTS SOUTHLAND MISSION: This Hopscotch presentation of Southland Mission is as close to a release show as we’re going to get for Cook’s fantastic new record. Cook and his cohorts will surely deliver an electrifying set, because that’s what they always do. (11 p.m., Fletcher Opera Theater)
JENNY HVAL: Jenny Hval’s Apocalypse, girl has been winding around my brain for several weeks now. Hval’s lyrics about navigating the world as a woman float spoken-word style over sparse, mellow instrumentation for songs that are strange and captivating. I won’t miss this. (12 a.m., Kings)
BATTLES: Battles’ brand of intricate, fitful rock should still make for an interesting live show. Their summer 2012 stop at Cat’s Cradle featured giant LED panels flashing lights, colors and images—here’s hoping they’ll bring those back for a fully immersive experience. (12:30 a.m., Lincoln Theatre)

FRIDAY
NATHAN GOLUB: Despite his local status and my intense love for pedal steel, I’ve somehow managed never to see Nathan Golub before. After I get down at City Plaza with TV on the Radio, Golub will kick off my second evening of the festival. (9:30 p.m., Kennedy Theatre)
NEW MUSIC RALEIGH: New Music Raleigh’s presentation at Fletcher last Hopscotch was one of the best things I saw at the festival, and I anticipate this year will leave a similar impression. The collective does a wonderful job of presenting challenging music in a somewhat casual environment. (10 p.m., Fletcher Opera Theater)
NATALIE PRASS: I like Prass’ January self-titled record, but when she performed those songs at the Haw River Ballroom in April, her voice sounded thin in the rock club atmosphere. Her songs didn’t land with much weight. Tonight, she’s got more "special guests" backing her in a proper theater, which should lend her the extra oomph for a truly spectacular performance. (12 a.m., Fletcher Opera Theater)
STEVE GUNN & THE BLACK TWIG PICKERS: Steve Gunn is a master of the guitar, and The Black Twig Pickers deliver new-school takes on old-time tunes. On their February Seasonal Hire LP, they combine forces for distinctly American songs that defy contemporary folk conventions. (12:30 a.m., Kennedy Theatre)

SATURDAY
DWIGHT YOAKAM: I plan on hitting all the City Plaza shows, but this is the headliner I’m most excited for. I watched this country star a little at MerleFest this spring, and the pieces I saw indicated a hell of of an entertaining set. I’m looking forward to enjoying much more than just a few songs. (8:45 p.m., City Plaza)
BOULEVARDS: Boulevards’ funky “Got to Go” hooked me hard this summer, and I realized how bad I’ve slept on this band. This stop at CAM will correct that. (9:30 p.m., CAM)
MICROKINGDOM: This one wasn’t originally on my schedule, but I checked them out on a friend’s recommendation and think this loud drum/guitar/sax trio will be an interesting departure from most of the rest of my overall mellow Hopscotch plans. If I can squeeze into The Hive, I’ll make this stop. (10 p.m., The Hive)
ELISA AMBROGIO: Hell yeah, another cool woman wielding tough but beautiful songs. I want all of this all the time. (11 p.m., Fletcher Opera Theater)
MARY LATTIMORE & JEFF ZEIGLER: Mary Lattimore makes experimental music on a harp, and if that’s not enough to grab your attention, I'm sorry. She teams up with Jeff Zeigler on synths for dreamy songs. They’ll make for a good, slow slide toward the end of the festival. (11:30 p.m., Kennedy Theatre)
DANIEL ROMANO: After Lattimore and Zeigler, I’ll float up to Tir Na Nog for country Canadian Daniel Romano. His great twangy tunes seem better fitted for a larger stage, but then again, the mild barroom vibe might give his set an odd new tint. (12 a.m., Tir Na Nog)


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