Hopscotch Music Festival
Photo courtesy of Speakeasy PR
The majestic Baroness
Saturday, September 10, 2016
We made it! If you’re like me, making it to the end of Hopscotch weekend meant surviving a continual onslaught of Kind bars, realizing that your shoes aren’t quite as comfortable as you previously thought, and occasionally Googling to determine if hyponatremia should be an actual concern after constantly downing water for three days.
Though the fatigue from a long Thursday evening followed by back-to-back all-day marathons was in full force midway through Saturday night, Baroness made it worth pushing through when it took the Lincoln Theatre stage to cap the festival with its 12:30 a.m. slot. Loud and determined, the sludgy Savannah quartet—finally making its Hopscotch debut after being forced to cancel its 2012 appearance following a serious bus crash
—launched out of the gate with “Kerosene”
and kept the set largely focused on last year’s Purple
, which showcased its penchant for pairing heavy, melodic anthems with metallic guitar harmonies. It was nearly 2 a.m. when the band went straight into its planned encore, first punishing with “Isak”
—the sole cut from Red
that the band played—then soaring through “Take My Bones Away”
as the audience raised their fists to the sky in the pit.
Baroness was a fitting end to my third day of Hopscotch, which was brimming with stellar rock options. Off to an early start, I bounced between day parties at Slim’s and The Pour House to bookend Maple Stave’s complex, mathy charges and Gray Young’s post-rock drama with nervy, hooky jangles from both Seabreeze Diner and The Charming Youngsters. Cramming my way into Kings for a rare and rowdy Rock*A*Teens set was well worth it—the veteran quartet brought the energy of a band half its age and seemed to have a blast as it blitzed through its terrific catalog of garage pop gems and a couple new ones, too.
After a refreshing break for playful hometown hip-hop crew Kooley High, Vince Staples’s intense and aggressive bars led into Sylvan Esso’s dreamy and danceable beats. A night removed from Anderson .Paak’s commanding presence
, it was special to see the City Plaza crowd’s similarly warm embrace of the locals, though the Durham duo’s failure to bring out Well$ to perform the newly-released “Young Man” seemed like a missed opportunity.
From then on, it was back to the rock, from ET Anderson’s warped, psychedelic rave-ups
to Andrew Bird’s precious, polished indie pop. Leading up to Baroness, the Lincoln hosted a consistently solid bill that was also highlighted by the nineties-esque grunge of Philly’s Amanda X and the meaty, unending grooves of supergroup Soldiers of Fortune, who featured Birds of Avalon guitarist Cheetie Kumar sitting in. It was tough to pull myself away from Lavender Country for the latter—particularly given how timely Patrick Haggerty’s stories of struggling for gay rights felt in our current political climate—but at the end of a long festival weekend, I knew I could count on Baroness to energize me more than any of the coffee I consumed over the last three days. It was were worth the wait.