hopscotch music fest 2011: a preview

joe grizzley @ the brewery

Or, more accurately, my preview.

The trouble with a great festival like Hopscotch is that I look at the schedule and get overwhelmed; there’s so much to see, I will probably just end up sitting on the sidewalk outside of Kings weeping from an inability to make a choice.

I will, of course, be rockin’ it from the photo pit for both City Plaza shows; the opportunities to see and shoot the Flaming Lips and Guided By Voices from that close are too good to pass up, and of course the Drive-By Truckers and Superchunk are two of my long-time favorites. There are still City Plaza show tickets available, so grab ’em while you can — even if you don’t do the rest of the festival those shows on Friday and Saturday evenings are bound to be as good as it gets.

But as for me, on Thursday, September 8, I’ll be kicking off with …

  • Dinosaur Feathers at Kings (8:30PM).
  •  Last Year’s Men at the Lincoln (9PM).
  • 10PM is a coin-flip: either Spider Bags at the Lincoln, or The Tender Fruit at Tir Na Nog.
  • 11PM gets me Xiu Xiu at White Collar Crime,
  • 11:30 by Graham’s own Filthybird at the Union. I’ve shot Brian Haran’s guitar shop, but never his band, so I’m looking forward to seeing them for the first time.
  • Rounding out the night is Jeff the Brotherhood at Slim’s at midnight …
  • … And Empress Hotel at Deep South at 12:30.
  • If I can squeeze it in, I may try to catch the end of J. Mascis’s set at the Fletcher Opera Hall, but frankly, that closing hour on Thursday may be the best booked of the festival and it’s killing me to decide.

Then I sleep. On Friday, I plan to bounce from day party to day party, depending on what catches my fancy, and hang with Matt from Speakers in Code and Grant from the Bottom String as they interview people and record sessions and go to panels. If you’re playing a day party you think I should go to, hit me up.

After I take a nap in my car on Friday, September 9, I’m going to hit the City Plaza shows — I am beyond excited to have the chance to shoot the final Guided By Voices show; I saw them, once upon a time many years ago, play a Spring Concert at Carleton, when I was but a wee 19 year old with too much hair, and I am happy to have the chance to see them one last time — eat some dinner, and follow that with …

  • Pepper Rabbit at Five Star (9:30PM).
  • Wooden Wand at the Berkeley Cafe (10PM) is my next stop
  • On their heels are Annuals (10:30PM, Lincoln Theatre).
  • Generationals (11PM, White Collar Crime) gets my next set; I saw them at the 506 this spring and the hipsters danced, so who am I to miss that?
  • Swans at the Fletcher Opera Hall are my 11:30PM stop.
  • Royal Bangs (12AM, White Collar Crime) & Frontier Ruckus (12:30, Deep South) will round out my Friday night.

Saturday’s day parties will probably see me bouncing between Slim’s for the American Aquarium & Friends party, and Blount Street for the Home Tapes/Trekky Records parties, followed by fortification, followed by the City Plaza shows. Then …

  • The Prayers & Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers (9:30PM, Fletcher Opera Hall). Perry Wright still owes me a concept album about the Jonestown Massacre, and his live appearances are getting more and more rare, so catch this absolute local gem when you can.
  • I may try to sneak in part of Onward, Soldiers’ 10PM set at White Collar Crime, but I’ve seen them recently, so I might skip it; if I do, you shouldn’t, because they’re one of the best young North Carolina bands working right now, and Sean Thomas Gerard’s songwriting is not to be missed.
  • 10:30 gives me too many choices, and frankly, it’s entirely possible that I just flip a coin between Bombadil at the Lincoln, Fight the Big Bull at the Pour House, Des Ark at Kings, and Gross Ghost at the Union. All of those will be great; Des Ark’s newest album is one of my favorites of 2011, and Gross Ghost have an upcoming LP I’m really psyched about.
  • I’m going to try and catch Beach Fossils at Tir Na Nog at 11PM, and if I can slip away before Titus Andronicus’ midnight set there, I may try to see some of Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s 11:30PM set at Five Star. Titus is one of my highlights of Hopscotch, though, so try and be there.
  • I’m going to wrap everything up with the end of Jennyanykind’s set at 12:30 at Deep South; many years ago, they put out a song called “The Heat, The Hot, and the Hard Luck Swill” that’s one of the sexiest, dirtiest songs I’ve ever heard, so it’s appropriate that they’re finishing the night … maybe they’ll play it and we’ll all find somebody to go home with.

That’s a lot of bands in three days, and to be honest, those are really just my highlights; if I can see more, I will.

Don’t like my taste? Check out Speakers In Code’s preview here, or Grant’s Bottom String preview here.

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