I come not to bury the men who scheduled so much insanely good overlapping music this weekend, but to write a piece of speculative fiction in order to come to an advance peace with the choices that will eventually have to be made.
In this rendition of Hopscotching to come, though, we are all able to be at least three places simultaneously, are outfitted with a GPS-enabled app that pings us whenever improviser-in-residence CHRIS CORSANO nears a stage, and the festival runs 357 days a year, with a break for YO LA TENGO's Hanukkah shows back in New Jersey.
While the time-shifting systems of our new glorious future warm up, the only appropriate place to begin is with official festival opener PHIL COOOK & HIS FEAT, at the Fletcher Opera Theater. One-third of local heroes Megafaun, Cook and his one-man kickdrum-and-banjo setup will act as the proverbial Richie Havens for the fast-arriving utopia.
My own first clumsy attempts at time-shifting will occur later, after I've gotten over the shock and the retching. At the Long View Center, a series of solo performances caps with nerve-shattering guitarist (and Harry Pussy founder) BILL ORCUTT and drone-pop marvel JULIA HOLTER. I can only hope this will blend in Zaireeka-like harmony with (over at The Hive at Busy Bee) the one-two punch of one-time Sun City Girl ALAN BISHOP on an exceedingly rare tour in his bedroom-demento ALVARIUS B guise and brilliant young Nashville six-string man WILLIAM TYLER. To further complicate things, there's the wizardry of SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE at Berkeley Cafe and the sunshine garage blastage of California's THEE OH SEES at CAM Raleigh. Oh, there's so little chance to ponder if real-time sleep makes up for all the displaced consciousness.
Affairs will perhaps get dangerously out-of-body as the day parties begin in earnest. The Three Lobed soiree at Kings Barcade constitutes an avant-folk/ jazz-noise mini-festival of its own, featuring new trios (ORCUTT/ CORSANO/ BISHOP), established duos (STEVE GUNN AND JOHN TRUSCINSKI) and idiosyncratic solo acts like the aforementioned WILLIAM TYLER. Thrill Jockey, meanwhile, presents the best of Brooklyn's drum brigades at Neptunes Parlour, including Greg Fox's ultra-mega-improv unit GUARDIAN ALIEN and KID MILLIONS' tentacled MAN FOREVER.
In the evening, I will surely grow nostalgic for the near-past and enjoy newfangled old-fashioned linearity at Memorial Auditorium, including a solo drum spot by CHRIS CORSANO (demonstrating outside-the-kit maneuvers that might inspire freethinking in any field), GLENN JONES (demonstrating the transubstantiative beauty of solo acoustic guitar) and YO LA TENGO (demonstrating the fruits of nearly 30 years of being in a band and recent sessions in Chicago). Even without blipping over to jangle-pop forerunners THE DB'S (at Long View) or a midnight set of heavy metal covers by THE MOUNTAIN GOATS (at Fletcher), I'm sure that my dreamless sleep-void will be a loop of graphite infinity. I shall arise, ready for more.
With more than 14 day parties, the final day of Hopscotch-as-announced will map the beginnings of the new society. Bands playing everywhere will never grow less wondrous and, by afternoon, we will all grow several feet and develop better postures. The evening begins with MEGAFAUN's homecoming on East Martin Street, a culmination of American beauty and soulful resourcefulness.
At night, I will toggle first hopefully and then helplessly through the dark rooms. I will see wild and textured power drones by KEVIN DRUMM and OREN AMBARCHI (on a major streak this year with six excellent full-lengths) and SUNN O))) at Memorial Auditorium. I will dig the stereo-panned guitar heroics of HUBBLE at Fletcher Opera Theater and perhaps vibe with a solo set by Superchunk/ Merge/ Portastatic hometown godhead MAC MCCAUGHAN.
And then, during the festival's closing sets—between ONEIDA's DIY kraut-waves at Tir na nOg, LAMBCHOP's Blood on the Tracks-meets-Astral Weeks heartache at Fletcher, and minimalist legend ARNOLD DREYBLATT's counting machine configurations backed by MEGAFAUN at Long View—the blue sky will finally chip and fall away in widening flakes.
At some point, as in real life, we will all have to choose. But unlike in real life, it will be near impossible to choose unwisely.