yesterday, which I had missed in order to show some art stuff in Wilmington. On day two I made my way up to Raleigh, and Giancarlo also ventured into the city, and we suddenly had a whole crew of folks covering Hopscotch for Decoder. In trying to decide how to go about presenting all of this to you, David and I decided color-coding would be the best combination of pretty and functional to get this thang right; so that's Jheri in green and David in blue.
Friday, I woke up after 5 hours of sleep to start fresh again. I rode downtown with my friend Sam, a photographer at NC State's newspaper Technician who was also covering the fest, and we walked over to CAM to catch The Lollipops, Lonnie Walker and The Love Language play a day show outside the venue. We also met up with Jheri as well as world traveler and photographer Giancarlo D'Alessandro, who had just flown in from seeing family in Illinois that morning. As my 3GS phone takes watercolor impressions instead of pictures, it was nice to have so many photographers in our clique for the weekend. The Love Language killed, and Giac and I managed to snag some cassette tapes that local label DiggupTapes was leaving around downtown Raleigh as a promotion; the one I got had a song from buzz-rockers TOW3RS as well as the aforementioned Jenny Besetzt's nicely titled "Hours We Could Have Spent Fucking in The Basement."
I woke up Friday morning still unsure of who I was riding to Raleigh with. I don't drive, and had mad vague plans with several people that never quite became concrete. Fortunately I was able to catch a ride up there in the last minute with Gravity Records manager & one half of the Poster Hound Family Workshop, Eric. We hit the road sometime between 1 and 2pm, smoked some green and smoked some cigarettes, and arrived in Raleigh just in time to catch The Love Language as they started up their set outside of the Contemporary Art Museum. As the band continued to play through their set they added more folks to the stage, playing various strings and horns while steadily blowing my mind. One thing that I've always found extraordinary about The Love Language is how much energy and visible love for what they're doing is displayed when they take the stage.
After trolling around for food, we headed over to the city plaza to peep Built To Spill and The Jesus and Mary Chain. BTS looked sort of funny on stage (they've been around for a minute) but the singer's voice was still on point, perfectly capturing that weird affected 90's style of indie vox that a lot of bands at that moment shared. And, I mean, as a lifelong fan of jangle and Lost In Translation, seeing JAMC was kind of magical in about 20 ways, even if they seemed sort of robotronic and didn't interact with the crowd all that much.
I next met up with Giancarlo and went to grab a bite to eat with our pals and fellow Wilmingtonians from Libraries, who had played earlier in the afternoon as part of Grip Tapes Daywalker Disco. We ate some awesome Thai food at a place called Spize Cafe and talked of how fun it would be to set up a multi-venue festival like Hopscotch in Wilmington. The only details we settled on at this point were that it should be in the Spring. I also suggested that we might call it When Shrek Meets Harry Potter Worlds Collide Fest '94, but we'll see if that name sticks. After dinner Giancarlo and I quickly became separated from Tommy and Justin, so we headed to the Sheraton's "Wristband City" so that I could I could get my wristband and drop off my bags. It was at this point that I learned that hotels will just hold onto the bags of anyone, including non-guests, for free, until any hour of the night. This was fortunate as I didn't really want to carry my duffel bag from venue to venue with me, and we wouldn't be headed back to David's place until after the night's events. After getting banded up and free of baggage we headed to Raleigh City Plaza to catch Built To Spill as they fell asleep on stage and then The Jesus and Mary Chain, who sounded fantastic and had just a bit more energy than BTS. I'm a fan of JaMC's early records so it was a rad experience to get to see them live in any form.
We ran over to Five Star after Jesus and Mary Chain to catch the pummeling Baltimore noise band Dope Body, who were just furious and intense as all hell, ugh, so much so that Aaron and I started a huge pit with some guy in camouflage (who I would later help crowdsurf that night at Killer Mike, and again the next day at Nobunny) Afterwards, Sam and I went to try to see Roomrunner at Tir Na Nog, who wouldn't let me in for the incredibly novel reason that I didn't have ID to leave at the door, even though the venue wasn't 21+ and I had a press wristband. We did see the homie Dan Deacon outside the venue, which took the sting out a little bit. Instead of trying to be all emo with Dan all night though, we bounced over to Memorial to see Yo La Tengo, which was filled with parents and grandparents, (admittedly they sounded great) for a few minutes to rest and recoup, then went next door to see The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle play a piano set of heavy metal covers. The audience seemed unsure whether to laugh or what, Sam and I weren't entirely sure either. We did know that after two sets of quiet auditorium sitting, we were ready for one last blast though, so we headed over to Killer Mike at Lincoln.
As David mentioned, DOPE BODY! What he didn't mention was that our original intent had been to catch Big Troubles, but we heard in the last minute that they were unable to be there. It was a slight let down, but David had heard Dope Body before and suggested we check it out. The show was absolutely incredible, with the singer going absolutely nuts as he flung his body about on stage as if casting out demons the entire time. I even joined in on the moshing for like two-minutes, which I believe is the only two-minutes I've ever actually been in a pit. I'm just too cute to be tough y'all. As David and Sam headed off to see Roomrunner, Giancarlo decided to catch Hundred Waters' set while Aaron and I decided to head to Zola Jesus. I was a bit torn in missing Co La and Hundred Waters, but as soon as Zola Jesus' set began I was entranced and no longer worried about missing anything. Her set was one of the most standout shows of the entire weekend for me, as her powerful vocals rang through Lincoln Theatre and she danced on stage in a way that commanded the audience. At one point she lep of stage and continued her song as she pushed moved through the crowd, causing folks to look every which way to figure out where she had moved to before reappearing on stage from the side. Every bit of the show was engaging and entertaining, something too few acts seem to achieve these days.
Killer Mike was completely fucking wild. Dude commands a stage like few other rappers. The political song "Reagan" was a highlight; I'm going to go out on a limb and say I doubt the crowd really cared that much about Contra politics, but watching a bunch of white kids scream "Fuck Ronald Reagan" at a 300-pound black man is the stuff dreams are made of. None of our photographers made it to this show, but I did manage to snap the pic above with that 3GS phone. After that, we met up with our crew and Jheri, Giac, and I headed back to my apartment to crash.
Next we headed off to catch Ital, but Aaron and I got separated when I saw Eric and some other friends right outside of Lincoln and stopped to talk with them a bit while Aaron went ahead on to the show. After dicking around for twenty minutes or so and smoking a little more bud, we parted ways as I finally moved on to see Ital. When I arrived the set had already started, and I cracked a toothy smile as I saw Aaron dancing with a cute girl right up front. Ital was absolutely fantastic. A crowd of only about thirty people all danced excitedly (with the exception of one tired girl and one angry-looking dude) as weirdo dance music caressed our ears and lasers splayed across the room. After Ital, Aaron and I headed back to the Sheraton's lounge to meet up with Giancarlo, David and Sam. We grabbed some food & milkshakes at Cook Out, went to our respective sleeping areas, and passed out.
[David, Sam, and Jheri winding down the night; © Aaron Ellis]