Full Report | Day Three: Hopscotch Music Festival

The Roots : Photo by Aggie Donkar

Jane Jane Pollock

Going to a bar you frequent, usually after 10:00 pm, in the middle of the day is always a weird feeling. But walking in to a sun-drenched Kings Barcade at around two in the afternoon proved to feel just like home. Especially given Jane Jane Pollock was already on stage, looking like they primped pretty hard that morning, and sounding amazing!

The band describes their sound as “ranging from a haunted carnival to a hyper moldy children’s toy marching band.” I can only describe the vibe they set live as Prince-ish, and honestly, I’m not even sure why. There was a level of funkiness, and combined with the synth and guitar emanating from the stage — their live show is much more intriguing than what I’ve heard recorded thus far. So note-to-self, never discount a band before seeing them live. -Matt Smith

Roman Candle

Giving up a nice day outside, even with Megafaun playing on Martin Street, I took my ass inside, pushed my way up-front to the stairs that pretty much rest on the stage at Slim’s, and sat down to check out the most underrated Triangle-based band in the history of underrated Triangle-based bands. Heck – let’s take it one step further, they’re just under-appreciated as a whole. Take note world.

Roman Candle is one of those bands that is just fun-as-hell to watch — and after seeing them numerous times in multiple cities, I can say without a doubt that they have never called-in a performance. Skip smiles, sings, and apparently talks to himself while playing guitar, and watching him, all you can think is good god he means what he’s saying, and feels what he’s doing.

They played some old songs that were awesome, and some new songs that were even more awesome, and they walked off the stage to a loud chatter, that if distilled down to a single thought, revolved around wanting more of that shit immediately. Hopefully we will, in the least, get a taste of those new songs sometime very soon. -Matt Smith

The Roots : Photo by Aggie Donkar

The Roots

And then the heavens opened up-a, and Jesus sent stormy waters to the earth to destroy-a all life under heaven-a! Everything that is on the earth shall die from the waters-a!

Ok, it started raining at this point, which sucked hard. I really wanted to see Escort, but I was forced to walk into a douchey bar/restaurant and sip Scotch for what seemed like a decade. At least pretty much everyone else I knew at the festival ran into the same place. Comparing notes for the evening, we waited.

Then the heavens-a cleared and the lord let the warm rays of his sun shine down, drying the waters and releasing the shackles that bonded man to that horrible bar-a! Let there be The Roots!

It was a pretty cool sight to see hundreds of people empty the bars around City Plaza at the same time, all heading in the same direction down Fayetteville St.  It looked like some sort of hipster-zombie-apocalypse. Everyone was slightly drunk, and shielding their eyes from the sun. Cramped from sitting on the floor, or leaning on a wall for a few hours, they limped quickly to grab a good spot.

Knowing their audience apparently, The Roots came out playing a blistering cover of Beastie Boys’ “33% God,” which immediately got the audience bouncing up and down in unison, working out the skeletal kinks mentioned above. Black Thought rapped. ?uestlove drummed, sans-fro unfortunately. Captain Kirk Douglas played guitar, and  Tuba Gooding Jr. danced. The rest of the set seemed pretty standard, so we got bored and went to go see some bands we’d never seen before. – Matt Smith


After a downpour put The Roots’ set on hold indefinitely, I decided to start my night with Tow3rs at CAM Raleigh. Upon entering the venue I was taken aback by the hallucinatory wash of color and sound that was being produced on stage. Each band member sported a colorful Mardi-Gras mask and face paint, however making out the specific details of each player’s costume was made difficult by the kaleidoscopic visual projections that blanketed the stage.

Tow3rs’ distinct blend of grooving psychedelia recalls the hyperactive experimentation of Animal Collective, but eschews some of the electronic oddity that can make AnCo. seem unapproachable to some listeners. CAM’s large room was saturated with vibe-ing festival goers, and the band’s energetic performance had the crowd more excited than just about any I had seen previously. Between the balloons, performance artists on stage, and glittery visuals this was definitely one of the most unique sets of the festival and one I’m certainly glad I caught. – Dylan Newcity

The Band in Heaven

Not sure what the deal is with all the covers, but we walked in to Tir Na Nog to The Band in Heaven already on stage, playing The Cranberries’ “Dreams.” It sounded amazing. So good, in fact, I looked up the name of the song! They put their own twist on it — fuzzed out as hell, they brought it down to a level that made it more depressing than it was originally uplifting. But in a good way of course!

As was the rest of their set — fuzzy, and powerful, it was the perfect music to sit and watch on a rainy Saturday night. Unfortunately the rain had set back my schedule, so I left a few songs into their set to make it to Danny Brown all the way across town. – Matt Smith

Birds of Avalon

The long, wet trek to Tir Na Nog was well worth it to experience Birds of Avalon’s barn-burning set. As the show began a roadie on a laptop initiated the band’s projector, which displayed similarly hallucinogenic patterns as Tow3rs’. The intricate bass lines and effect-laden guitar licks were propelled by some of the best drumming I’d seen yet at the festival; each song blasted forth with a power and urgency that nearly qualified them as punk. Floyd-esque atmospherics kept things rooted in 60’s rock revivalism, but the occasional progressive flourish added another layer to the sound. My only real issue with the set was the lack of volume on the vocal mics, but I know I sure as hell wouldn’t have wanted to have been mixing that show. A club set at that volume with that many microphones can quickly become feedback city, so I commend the Tir Na Nog sound man anyway. I can say with confidence that my award for best rock set of the festival goes to Birds of Avalon. – Dylan Newcity

Danny Brown

I went to see Danny Brown because I never go to rap shows. I never go to rap shows because they always disappoint the hell out of me. Beans disappointed me last year. The Cool Kids did the same. Wu-Tang REALLY disappointed me back in college. And so the story goes — live rap isn’t on my radar at all, even though I enjoy the hippity-hops. That stuff live though = for the birds.

Simply put, Danny Brown resurrected by faith in live hip-hop. For one, he was actually on-stage EARLY. I walked into CAM thinking I’d grab a beer and wait for the previous set to finish, and there he was — going hard in front of a massive audience. There was nothing on the stage other than his DJ, and a projection of colors and patterns. No hype-man, thank gawd, and no entourage bumping into each other just because they can.

Brown laid it DOWN. Taking only a second between songs to stick out his tongue or flash that infamous snaggle-toothed smile. He blazed through his extended set, and didn’t flinch at playing his dirtiest of dirty tracks. As, what appeared to be a largely suburban, white audience, we learned about lots of interesting things. Like what to do with ladies’ naughty parts, drugs, what ladies should do with a guys’ naughty parts, and about how to pull some bitches despite a jacked grill. You know, all the important things in life. -Matt Smith

Class Actress

Confession – any of you who follow our twitter knows that I accidently sent out a tweet from the official Speakers in Code twitter account, cursing the bouncer at Busy Bee for being a real asshole. It was meant to be from me and me alone. I apologize.

After the door incident, my group of peeps was a bit shaken. Busy Bee is a tough venue to see an overly-packed show – especially one that kinda needs to be seen to be appreciated.  The room is long and narrow, and the stage is low, so if you’re not in the front you’re not seeing anything.

Class Actress sounded amazing, despite our pissy-moods. But we stood in the back and complained about what had just happened, and decided being in that crowd wasn’t helping things, so we walked down the stairs and back out into the rain. – Matt Smith

Wye Oak

The last show of Hopscotch is always bittersweet. You feel like you’ve run a marathon. You’re feet hurt, your legs are sore and wobbly, and your nipples are bloody from all the…ok you’re nipples aren’t bloody, but you get my drift. You’re TIRED. And while you want it to keep going, you want it to end just as much. Wye Oak entered the Lincoln Theatre stage to a packed house. Even the stairs up to the balcony were littered with riff-raff and, from what we heard, a now pink-haired Zola Jesus (not confirmed at press time).

Wye Oak’s music is slow, and atmospheric, playing out extraordinarily well at such a late time slot. Jenn Wasner’s voice seemed huge, but also distant as it echoed around the room. There was not visual aid via projector here. Just her, a her guitar, and Andy Stack on keys.  He stood, mostly, playing his synth and apparently anything else he could find lying around the stage. Their performance was powerful, and haunting, and exactly the right thing to close down Hopscotch 2012…unless you were Dylan, who had his face blasted off, slowly, by Sunn O))) and their wall of amps. – Matt Smith

Sunn O)))

I know that there is no combination of fancy adjectives I can deploy to fully describe Sunn O))), so I’ll keep this relatively short. Imagine the loudest, most ominously thundering thing you can, then transport that into the smoking crater of a volcano. Then imagine that volcano erupting. That is about the closest approximation to Sunn O))) performing live that I can muster. Seriously, these guys live is an experience like no other. Have you ever been to a show where if you stand still too long you’ll find yourself vibrated 6 inches backwards? I didn’t think so. – Dylan Newcity

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