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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Pace yourself: Hopscotch 2013 Day 3 highlights

Posted by on Sun, Sep 8, 2013 at 11:42 AM

click to enlarge Califone - BILLIONS CORPORATION
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  • Califone
A friend of mine posted on Facebook that "Hopscotch is a marathon, not a sprint"; his analogy gives and gives. Like in a distance race, you have to keep yourself hydrated; you need to wear the right shoes and know how to pace yourself. And, like in a distance race, you're going to feel awful, awful, awful if you get to the end of it and realize you have eaten only hot dogs.

While part of me wishes Hopscotch volunteers set up tables and handed out orange slices, marathon-style (hint, hint), I will say I made it to the end of an absurdly long Saturday by pacing myself; by maintaining a balance of loud and quiet acts, I was able to not only make it through, but also get a much fuller picture of the fest's absurd variety.

1. Spiritualized to Drug Yacht: The funny thing about Hopscotch is that the big-name headliner—in Saturday's case, Spiritualized—feels like the opening act for the evening's club bands. By this logic, Spiritualized opened for Durham's Drug Yacht. The gleefully irreverent locals' late-'90s indie shout-math was a perfect foil for the City Plaza headliner's paradoxical but spectacular blend of intensity and ennui.

2. Califone to Pissed Jeans: Califone's Longview Center performance was so perfectly relaxing and engaging; Tim Rutili's deeply conceptual songwriting rests comfortably in a current of active ambience and gentle noise. Pissed Jeans at the Pour House was packed and crazy, as frontman Matt Korvette tore at his pants and mockingly praised Hopscotch sponsor PNC Bank.

3. Inter Arma to Low: These acts couldn't have been more different, yet this felt like the essential loud-to-quiet pairing. Inside Lincoln Theatre was a storm of shredding; Richmond's Inter Arma is a band of champion-level technicality that likely remains so approachable (and so groove-heavy) because the members never seem to be showing off. It was a righteous set of high-energy metal epics, which I followed by taking a seat in a near-capacity Fletcher Opera Theater's balcony and marveling in Low's dynamic range. The welcome silence between songs felt like part of the performance, as the Minnesotan slowcore progenitors often crept from gentle nothing to enormous, hypnotic riffs. In Low's capable hands, even a thrown guitar felt relaxing; not everyone can pull that off.

Special mention: While they don't fit the spirit of this piece, it would be criminal for me not to mention Horse Lords. This double-drumming Baltimore art-rock outfit's rhythmic meditations balanced technical acrobatics with body-moving percussion to such a degree that I kept on dropping my unconvincing journalistic front and yelling "yeah!" Nice work, guys.

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By maintaining a balance of loud and quiet acts, I was able to get a fuller picture of the fest's absurd variety.

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