HOPSCOTCH MUSIC FESTIVAL BRINGS 120 BANDS TO DOWNTOWN RALEIGH SEPT. 9-11, 2010
Public Enemy, Panda Bear, Broken Social Scene to headline
The Independent Weekly proudly announces the Hopscotch Music Festival, the Triangle’s biggest music festival yet and a strong addition to the country’s festival circuit. Scheduled for Sept. 9-11, 2010, in downtown Raleigh, with 120 bands in 10 venues over three days, Hopscotch offers fans high-quality local, national and international options in just about every genre you can imagine—rock, hip-hop, alt-country, heavy metal, dance, punk, classical, noise, drone, folk and more. Tickets go on sale Thursday, April 1, at www.etix.com and www.hopscotchmusicfest.com.
The festival will be headlined by two nights in Raleigh City Plaza, downtown’s crown jewel, which opened last fall. Indie rock giants PANDA BEAR and BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE will headline Friday, Sept. 10, with support from Triangle favorites THE ROSEBUDS. Hip-hop’s most legendary group, PUBLIC ENEMY, will headline with a rare full-band set on Saturday, Sept. 11. Los Angeles trio NO AGE and Raleigh’s THE LOVE LANGUAGE will open. More than 110 bands will be spread between nine clubs throughout the festival’s three days. A sample of those bands includes: Washed Out, Tortoise, Lucero, 9th Wonder, Akron/Family, Marissa Nadler, Harvey Milk, Fucked Up, Javelin, Richard Buckner, Megafaun, Kylesa, Atlas Sound, Harlem and Bear in Heaven.
We spoke with Shearwater and Wye Oak, who play together tonight at Local 506. Hospital Ships open the 8:45 p.m. show. Tickets are $10–$12.
INDEPENDENT WEEKLY: You’re six records deep, and you’ve been playing as Shearwater since 2001. How do you keep it fresh? What was the strategy on The Golden Archipelago?
I don't think making art ever gets stale unless you let it. Over the course of the records, you can hear us finding our feet, figuring out what we're about. Palo Santo definitely felt like a leap forward—and these days, it's about as far back as we go in the live show. A lot of bands might have changed their name at that point, if only to avoid questions like this, but I think there's something a little sad about changing your name to appeal to the media's lust for the just-minted, the fresh face, the writer or musician who seems to have appeared fully-formed. If you scratch the surface, that's almost never the case—and none of my favorite artists knew what they were doing right out of the gate.
As for TGA, we wanted to make a really ornate album with a wide range of textures and colors, musically and emotionally—that worked on the scale of some of the big, dark, grand art-rock albums from the early ’80s that we loved, like Pink Floyd's The Final Cut or Peter Gabriel's third record. I was a kid when those records came out, but they were what I listened to most often in high school while Nevermind was conquering the world. Making a record like this—at a fraction of those albums' budgets—took several months and a lot of help. Very different from our first record, which we made in two and a half days a million years ago.
How is the new album translating live?
Really well. I never think about how we're going to play something when we're recording it. I just trust that we'll be able to make it work somehow, even if a song's got a ridiculously elaborate arrangement, as several on TGA do. I find that a lot of times, when you're playing live, you can let more wild, elemental textures creep in to substitute for more refined ones on the recordings—the weirder the better (i.e. distorted bass, some severely distressed samples, and Wurlitzer in place of strings, winds, and real piano). To me, it's not fidelity to the recording that matters so much as fidelity to the emotional content of the songs—and on that count, I think we're at the top of our game right now.
You’ve answered a thousand times about how being a birder has influenced your music, but how has your music influenced the way you look at the world? And are Rook (with the many bird references) and The Golden Archipelago (with it’s sort of lyrical tension about man and nature) products of that?
Thank you for not putting me through that one again! I guess I'd say that over time I've become more and more interested in the special ability of music to convey and evoke conflicting emotional states at the same time. The recording of the Bikini Islanders singing their national anthem that opens TGA was a really powerful example of that, for me. When you read the lyrics, it's a song of exile and despair, but the performance is full of a wild energy, even joy. When I heard it, I knew I wanted the album to explore that emotional state as much I as wanted it to be about the islanders and what happened to them.
What do you want this band to be when it grows up?
I'm not sure. What do you want to be when you grow up? How will you know when you've reached it? I don't mean to go all "the-journey-is-the-destination" on you, but the thrill of discovery is what keeps you going as an artist. I hope we never really settle down or get too comfortable. I've already got a title for the next record, and when I'm daydreaming with my nose pressed against the window of the van on this tour, that's what I'll be thinking about.
For our talk with Wye Oak, hit the jump.
Old time-enthusiasts, scholars, banjo-slingers and guitar-pickers will converge on the campus of Appalachian State University in Boone this week for the Black Banjo Gathering. Stretching from March 24–28, the event features workshops, concerts, panel discussions, lectures, and late-night frolics all designed to commemorate the African, Afro-Caribbean, and African American origins of the banjo and recognize the merit of the black banjo tradition at large.
The Gathering is the second to unite this cross-section of practitioners and devotees. At the first, which happened in April of 2005, hundreds congregated to champion the sound and the artists who have persisted, notably Mebane’s own Joe Thompson, who went on to receive the NEA Heritage Fellowship for his lifetime of contributions in 2007. The 2005 event also has special significance because it marks the genesis of The Carolina Chocolate Drops, who met for the first time while in attendance and have gone on to garner national and international attention for their stringband inspired music.
Christina Aguilera’s stunning 2007 Grammy Award show performance of James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s World” reinterpreted the Godfather of Soul’s declaration and turned it into a womanly rebuke. Few could have done it better. 9th Wonder’s female rap threat, Rapsody, who's signed to his It's a Wonderful World/Jamla group manages to cut her own improved, reinterpretation of the epic James Brown tune and does so without the B-girl pageantry that you might expect given her spot as the leading lady of her group, Kooley High.
Impatiently, we’ve been waiting for her and 9th to expose her new material. This track, “Man’s World,” from her upcoming Prelude to the Return of the B-Girl mixtape, is a temporary but burly fix. For now, we can all ignore the antagonisms that exist between the few female rappers and the largely dominated male hip-hop industry, which Rapdiddy touches on with the line “It ain’t ‘bout Big or J/ it’s ‘bout Lyte and Lauryn”. Just notice how she trounces all over what sounds like producer AMp's best imitation of 9th Wonder's famed Jay-Z “Threats” beat and blurs those gender lines like a pro, even if she claims to be “rookie of the year like I just started practice."
"'Come down to Texas! Play on a rooftop! It'll be great!'" That was Capstan Shafts mainman Dean Wells, speaking from the Wave Rooftop around 9:15 last night, who I'd suggest was dripping with sarcasm were said sarcasm not frozen to his temples. It was cold yesterday, man. Cold in a way Austin, Texas isn't used to, certainly not in the back end of March. And windy, too; oh lord, was it ever windy. Long walks between venues were swiftly reevaluated. Souvenir sweatshirts were purchased en masse. And a whole bunch of people seemed to think three days of music was just quite enough for them, thanks.
The inclement everything certainly had me reconsidering my plans, which were to just go nuts: last day, good lineups all around, and a few things I considered must-sees. All things considered, I did better than expected (thanks, souvenir sweatshirt!), but I wound up stuffing my critic-hat into my back pocket and coming at yesterday like a fan. In that weather, I wasn't about to trek across town for an unsure thing, some untested heat I expect to hear more about in six month's time; I think anybody out there yesterday would've agreed with me. If you were willing to brave the whipping winds and the sour moods, you really wanted to be where you were going.
Today is David Hackney’s birthday. David, who passed away from lung cancer in 2000, was the lead guitarist for the 1970’s all-black punk-band, Death, compromised of David and his two brothers Bobby and Dannis Hackney, back when the concept of an all-black punk band from the Motown-stained streets of Detroit was a cultural and musical anomaly. Long story short—the band-name “Death” didn’t sit well with major labels that would have otherwise signed the group and possibly led them to worldwide notoriety. Today, however, during a SXSW interview panel discussion about Death’s recent resurgence, Bobby Hackney sits next to his brother Dannis and guitarist Bobbie Duncan (David Hackney’s replacement) in a meeting room on the fourth floor of the Austin Convention Center and recalls the day that he and his brothers anxiously attended a David Bowie concert in Detroit, where unbeknown to everyone, Bowie would be debuting his Young Americans album.
“He came out dressed like Al Green.” said Hackney. As disheveled as everyone else in attendance that night, the three punk musicians, who had previously worshiped David Bowie’s rock-n-roll image, left the venue wearing blank stares. David Hackney looked at his brother, Bobby, and said, “Disco has taken over.” In retrospect, Bobby believes that this incident marked the beginning of what he likes to call the “disco tsunami." For the next 30 years, Death would be virtually forgotten and the master tapes of their recordings would remain stashed-away in Bobby’s Burlington, Vt., attic. Now here we are, three decades later, at SXSW, listening to two brothers share the legendary story of their great rock band, Death. Later that night, they performed at Mohawk Patio and played their coveted music—the same music that their brother, David, once told them that world would come looking for someday.
Did we mention how cold it was? All everyone at SXSW Day 4 could talk about was an actual wave of chill, and you couldn't really blame us for complaining—the 40 degree temperatures and skin-cutting wind would've been odd for January in Austin, and were downright cruel for March 20th. Given that and the natural fatigue of running from show to show for days, I decided to treat Day 4 rather randomly, yet somehow ended up seeing almost nothing but energetic, animated, hard-working bands. I guess it was something in the air-- it was like these groups were all trying to either blast some body heat into the cold, or just blast off back to their warmer non-Texas homes.
The Canadians and the Californians will bring their tour to UNC-Chapel Hill's Memorial Hall Friday, June 25. The Dutchess and The Duke open. Oh, well: You can't win ’em all.
I was standing there checking my phone, half-watching Bethany Cosetino of Best Coast plow through another Ronettes song of her own making, when a friend told me to fuck that noise and hit the back patio: GWAR was here. Not to pick on Bethany, who has a few good songs and really loves cats and was very sweet when I met her the other day, but watching GWAR, clad in full battle armor, blow through a crowd of half-aware, half-bewildered hipster types to talk their shit and prominently display their pockmarked, fake-bloodstained buttcheeks, well… I could see Best Coast some other time.
So far, I’ve had two cab drivers tell me that if it weren’t for their kindness, I’d be spending hours trying to hail a taxi. Apparently, being a black guy in Austin has its limitations and even I, a non-threatening African-American-out-of-towner, wasn’t immune to the cabbie-cold-shoulder. But gimme a break! There’s plenty of undesirables in this town for cabbies to be worrying about rather than targeting me—the black guy walking around town looking for a ride, wearing a badge with his name and face on it, the city he lives in, and the newspaper that’s he’s representing. I wonder what would have happened if I would have been dressed like a guy like Nardwuar the Human Serviette. Do Austin cabbies like those sort of characters instead?
Armed with his usual bag of musical artifacts, music savant, Nardwuar had just left Spin's private party at Stubb’s where security denied him access to interview Courtney Love after her band, Hole, performed in front of a couple of thousand people. It could have been the second time he talked to her on-camera since 1994, when he sat down backstage with her and the late, Kurt Cobain for a spiky, yet informative interview after a Vancouver, Canada, Nirvana show. Nonetheless, he shared other details with me about his recent interview with Snoop Dogg, delighted about the part when Snoop showed him how and why to microwave a joint—apparently it seals in the smell. Doot Doo!! (as Nardwuar would say).
Had he stayed with the group that I was with, consisting of Peter Rosenberg, The Kid Daytona, and some other folks, he’d have chowed down with us on some unbelievable Mexican food at Las Casuelas and then headed down the road to Scoot Inn where the NY-based, hip hop label Duck Down Records was celebrating its 15th anniversary. There couldn’t have been a more perfect place other than SXSW to mark hip hop’s longest running independent label. The Duck Down 15 Year Anniversary SXSW show at Scoot Inn was the official gathering of rap heads in Austin. The magnanimous DJ Evil Dee provided consecutive, throwback gems between sets of new Duck Down signees, Promise and Team Facelift, as well as Rustee Juxx, Pharoahe Monche, Smif-n-Wessun and Torae. Without introduction, Boot Camp Click’s Sean Price hit the stage wearing a “FUCK RAP” t-shirt for a brief, roughneck set, despite obvious issues with his set list and most importantly the fatigue of having just flown in from New York where, on the previous day, he sat by his wife’s side as she gave birth to their daughter. None of this made Price any less hostile or focused, and as always, he used his signature, appalling punchlines to insult every rapper in the industry and everyone in the crowd.
Outside of Karma Lounge, a kid who was waiting in line kept on shouting, “I slept with a Baldwin brother. Will that get me in?” I’m not quite sure if that worked out for him, but that’s the last I heard of the outside world before walking in just in time to hear Breakestra at the apex of “Getcho Soul Together”. Here’s where any self-respecting funk lover wishes that he or she could breakdance or at least bang on a drum kit in the same crazed rhapsody that Josh “Wallet” Cohen does. Mixmaster Wolf is a shoe-in for being the most bad-ass vocalists in this genre, but featured guest Afrodyete seared through a gospelly, juiced-up version of "It's My Thing (You Can't Tell Me Who to Sock It To)” as if Marva Whitney herself was in the audience givin’ out grades. The only act rivaling this show was going on down at Austin Music Hall where I presume Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings were also throwing down a similar workout.
Flosstradamus’ DJ set at Emo’s Jr. featured an amped-up Kid Sister, who’s flawless glamour is both candy girl and Cover Girl, but just not enough to make-up for failing vocal chords—strained from doing multiple shows over the past few days. That was one factor I hadn’t considered when I repeatedly postponed catching her other shows. Oh well.
As I strolled along a side road that led to I-35, passing by cars lined up in the late-night traffic jam, my feet began to hurt from all of the walking I’d done that evening. The thought of finding a cab driver that who didn’t think that I was going to rob and murder him began to give me a headache. I eventually found a willing cab driver, but the headache still exists and my feet still hurt. Life as a shorty shouldn’t be so ruff. Doot Doo!!