The multi-venue returned for a seventh year and was a complete triumph
Every year since 2010, Hopscotch Festival has transformed downtown Raleigh, North Carolina into a musical mecca, the sounds of a host of genres leaking out from the doors of bars and music venues across the city. Its seventh edition was no different, with nearly 150 artists packed onto the line-up, from festival veterans to relative newcomers. Here are the best things we saw down south.
Drinking has been a big theme in Nashville country star Margo Price’s catalogue so far and, fittingly for the opening night of a festival, that’s no different tonight. Her set is littered with references to alcohol, as she closes out the outdoor City Plaza stage. Second album ‘All American Made’ is due next month, and tonight she plays two songs from it – ‘Don’t Say It’ and ‘Weakness’. The latter in particular stands out – a rolling piece that finds Margo comparing herself to Virginia Woolf and James Dean, and detailing her vices (Beaujolais, gin and whiskey, if you were wondering). Elsewhere, she entertains the crowd with tales of being introduced to pickleback shots last time she was in Raleigh, country covers and highlights from her debut, including a glorious finale of ‘Hurtin’ (On The Bottle)’.
Oh Sees may have chopped the ‘Thee’ from their moniker, but what they’ve lost in words they definitely haven’t lost in tightly wound energy. Despite the clean, slightly corporate surroundings of the Convention Center basement, the prolific San Francisco garage-rockers manage to make the space feel like a lysergic den, tracks like ‘Toe Cutter / Thumb Buster’ and ‘Encrypted Bounce’ reeling you in and around with dizzying, bewitching effect.
At the Lincoln Theatre on Friday night (September 8), things are getting intense. Calgary’s Preoccupations have arrived and anyone within hearing shot of the venue knows about it. Their barbed post-punk is delivered brutally, each note and beat giving another pummelling to the eardrums. ‘Memory’ sounds far darker than its twinkling studio recording and ‘Continental Shelf’ (released under the band’s old name Viet Cong) is a bright moment that manages to both clatter and refresh at the same time.
Har Mar Superstar
Har Mar Superstar may always have been considered something of a novelty when peers like The Strokes were being crowned rock royalty, but there’s some gold to be found in his shtick. ‘Personal Boy’, the title track from his latest release, is a smooth cut of crooned synth-pop that would be taken far more seriously were it sung by someone with more street cred, while he definitely deserves some points for getting a bunch of bros to un-ironically beg for him to take his shirt off, as is his timeworn tradition.
Brian Jonestown Massacre
Anton Newcombe and his band have been at the forefront of America’s psych scene for over 25 years. In the Convention Center basement, they show why, crafting a setlist that segues perfectly together and builds a soothing haze over the room. ‘Geezers’ is a swaying mini-epic, beefier than on record, but still with a gentle charm, while 2001’s ‘Sailor’ is a hypnotic sea shanty that proves BJM only get better with age.