At the end of last month, the aging-out event that is the MTV Video Music Awards took place at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. Through the most perfunctory of nods to the hippest New York borough, the hammy show attempted to graft a little bit of BK edge onto an easygoing industry event desperately in need of something—anything—innovative and fresh.
At Friday's Hopscotch show in City Plaza, catch a glimpse of Brooklyn cool, uncontrived and sincere, when dance-pop duo and DFA Records darlings Holy Ghost! roll through with vintage synthesizers and cathartic, stadium-sized songs. "Jam For Jerry," a touching tribute to late friend and prodigious drummer Jerry Fuchs, is both melancholy and life-affirming. The new single "Okay," from their upcoming record Dynamics (due out Sept. 10), is reminiscent of a moody John Hughes movie soundtrack.
Holy Ghost!'s performance, which will be like New Order in miniature, is followed by a DJ set from A-Trak, co-founder of Fool's Gold, the label responsible for introducing the Internet-fueled world of hipster-leaning hip-hop to manic rapper Danny Brown and Southern shouter Jackie Chain (both played Hopscotch last year). A-Trak, once a teenage turntablist prodigy and Kanye West's former DJ, is a cagey crowd-pleaser; he engages in a push-and-pull with his audience, giving them what they want but also challenging them by doling out new sounds they didn't know they wanted but will be happy to receive.
Get the party started early with the 5:50 p.m. opening set by Carrboro's Gross Ghost, who deliver '60s-inspired garage rock with some of the fury-filled R&B energy of the era. And there's also Baltimore band Future Islands, a Triangle favorite originally from Greensboro who will get your heart rate going with their cathartic synth-punk.
Hopscotch is also presenting a makeup show by Big Boi, who was originally booked as Friday's City Plaza headliner, on Sept. 21 at Memorial Auditorium. Visit hopscotchmusicfest.com for ticket and exchange details.
Brandon Soderberg lives in Baltimore, where he writes the No Trivia hip-hop column for Spin.