First impressions of Hopscotch 2012
If you’re reading this article right when it published, you’ve had about an hour to digest the line-up for the 2012 Hopscotch Music Festival. In its third year, the festival will include about 175 bands that will play in various venues across downtown Raleigh over the course of three days — Sep. 6, 7 and 8 to be precise. The line-up boasts heavyweight headliners. Fuzz-rock icons The Jesus and Mary Chain pair with the slacker rock royals of Built to Spill for Friday night’s main show in City Plaza. The live hip-hop/funk explosion of The Roots will be the cornerstone of Saturday’s main bill with support from Escort, a super-sexy disco outfit from New York.
At first blush, the rest of the festival promises to be far weirder than its headliners might suggest. There are traditional sounds to be sure — The dB’s, Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan, Roman Candle — but with a bevy of top-flight experimental, garage and metal bands on tap, Hopscotch continues to be a festival that seems best suited to a music geek, the kind that has a broad, manically maintained range of interest. I’ve had the line-up for a few short hours, and I’m sure my thinking on it may change. For now, here are a few first impressions followed by the full Hopscotch line-up —Jordan Lawrence
- This year’s Hopscotch has more than its fair share of one-off performances. Matthew White, leader of Richmond jazz outfit Fight the Big Bull, will recreate the enveloping, widescreen folk-rock from his as yet unnamed and unreleased LP with a fleet of about 40 musicians. Megafaun, N.C.’s most endearing roots experimentalists, will perform with German composer Arnold Dreyblatt, premiering a piece they wrote together. John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats will perform two sets, one an acoustic set of the heartbreaking rarities N.C. fans have come to expect, the second a piano-bound cover set besot with heavy metal revisions. It’s not precisely a one-off, but Hopscotch will also be treated to Death Blues, a new multidisciplinary project developed by former-Collection of Colonies of Bees drummer Jon Mueller.While not exactly the spectacle of a Tupac hologram, these rare performances make a ticket to this year’s Hopscotch a chance to see what might be once-in-a-lifetime performances. Every festival has a smattering of good bands. Few can offer Hopscotch’s level of uniqueness.
- Continuing the trend set in previous years, this Hopscotch has little more than enough rap — Roots aside — to put together one super-solid bill. The imminently weird Danny Brown is a solid and exciting choice, but the rest are mostly made up of obvious if talented locals — The Beast, Toon & The Real Laww. This isn’t exactly a flaw, but it’s further proof that Hopscotch may leave many hip-hop lovers wanting.
- Garage rockers will have no problem finding their fix. From the costumed assaults of Nobunny to the lo-fi sarcasm of the Guinea Worms to the fuzzed-out psych rave-ups of Thee Oh Sees, Hopscotch’s third year will be replete with dirty-riffed thrills. Fans of hardcore punk will likely be less satisfied. Two Charlotte bands — the precise, pummeling Joint D≠ and the blackened, ballistic Young and in the Way — come closest to true hardcore. The outsider genre has been seeing a small but noticeable mainstream resurgence of late. It would have been nice to see Hopscotch better reflect that.
- Metal fans, on the other hand, will have plenty of options. The heroic, riff-regaled Baroness will please anyone in need of a good fist-pumping session. A rare performance from infamous and ominous droners Sunn O))) will dish out the cerebral scares. The dense doom of Pallbearer steps beyond its genre with striking moments of sweeping melody. Metal by no means makes up a majority of this festival, but there is more of it than you’ll find at most festivals Hopscotch’s size. It also helps that most of it is awesome.
- City Plaza’s first night is good. In addition to the impregnable riff rock of The Jesus and Mary Chain and Built to Spill, you also get Zammuto, the fractured and catchy art rock project of former-The Books guitarist Nick Zammuto. It’s a great line-up, left-of-field enough to be exciting, catchy enough to keep the crowd happy. But night two is even better. Alone, the combo of the “world famous Roots crew” and the sensual, beat-driven Escort would be enough to bring City Plaza to a fever pitch. Coupled with the fiery soul of Durham’s own Shirlette & The Dynamite Brothers, this show promises to be the biggest party in Raleigh history.
Airstrip, Altar of Plagues, Altos, Alvarius B, Amen Dunes, Arnold Dreyblatt & Megafaun, Balam Acab, Baroness, Big Troubles, Bill Orcutt, Bio Ritmo, Birds of Avalon, Black Skies, Boy Friend, Built to Spill, Burglar Fucker, Calico Haunts, Cantwell, Gomez & Jordan, Carlos Giffoni, Charlie Parr, Charles Latham, Cheater Slicks, Chelsea Crowell, Chris Corsano, Chris Forsyth & Koen Holtkamp, Chuck Johnson, Cities Aviv, Class Actress, CO LA, Colin Stetson, Corrosion of Conformity, Curtis Eller,Damien Jurado, Dan Deacon, Danny Brown, David Pajo/Papa M, Death Grips, Deerhoof, Delicate Steve, Doldrums, Donovan Quinn, Dope Body, Drique London, Duchess Says, Ducktails, Elephant Micah, Escort, EXITmusic, feltbattery, Field Report, Flesh Wounds, Flosstradamus, Free Electric State, Frustrations, G-Side, Glenn Jones, Grohg, Gross Ghost, Guardian Alien, Guinea Worms, Hacienda, Heads on Sticks, High Wolf, Hiss Golden Messenger, Holograms, Hubble (Lag World Premiere), Hume, Hundred Waters, ITAL, J. Roddy Walston & the Business, Jacaszek, Jackie Chain, Jane Jane Pollock, Jason Kutchma & the 5 Fifths, Jenny Besetzt, Joint D≠, Jon Mueller’s Death Blues, Julia Holter, Kenny Roby, Kevin Drumm, Lambchop, Lazy Janes, Laurel Halo, Left Outlet, Liars, Lilac Shadows, Lizzy Ross Band, Little Hollow, Mac McCaughan, Marc McGuire, MAKE, Matthew E. White: One Incantation Under God, Mark Holland, Midtown Dickens, Minor Stars, Mirel Wagner, My Best Fiend, Nails, Naked Gods, Nerves Junior, Nests, Nick Catchdubs, No BS Brass Band, Nobunny, Odonis Odonis, Oneida, Oren Ambarchi, Paint Fumes, Pallbearer, Phil Cook & His Feat, Pipe, Pop. 1280, Quiet Evenings, Roman Candle, Roomrunner, Samantha Crain, Savage Knights, Say Brother, Screaming Females, Secret Cities, Secret Mountains, Shark Quest, Shirlette & the Dynamite Brothers, Shovels & Rope, Silver Swans, Sinful Savage Tigers, Sister Crayon, Some Army, STAG, Starlings, TN, Strand of Oaks, Sunn O))), Sutekh Hexen, T0W3RS, Tomas Phillips & Craig Hilton, Tom Maxwell, Tenement, Thee Oh Sees, The Atlas Moth, the band in Heaven, The Beast, The Beat Report, The Bronzed Chorus, The dB’s, The Future Kings of Nowhere, The Hot at Nights, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Mountain Goats, The Roots, The Spits, The Toddlers, Toon & The Real Laww, The Weather Station, Valient Thorr, Vattnet Viskar, Versus, Whatever Brains, White Hills, Withered, Wood Ear, Work Clothes, Wowser Bowser, Wye Oak, Wylie Hunter & the Cazadores, Yo La Tengo, Young and in the Way, Young Magic, Zack Mexico, Zammuto, Zeus, Zola Jesus