Part 1 was rather long, combining the lead up to Hopscotch 11 (including the photography show) with the first night’s shows. Day 2 should be a tad shorter. It was the tamest of the 3 days for me. Unlike opening night and the final night, there were very few “must see” acts on my list each night. It was actually quite nice, because I was able to bounce around and explore and here stuff I would not have otherwise seen.
After opening up the photo exhibit, which I had to do each day, I headed out to check out the day parties. Several of my fellow Moment’s Note photography buddies were out taking pics, so I spent a lot of time socializing. One of the best places to be during the day was on Blount Street, with both Tir na Nog and Pour House having great lineups of bands. I bounced back and forth for awhile and, to be honest, I can’t even remember everyone I caught. But the Moaners kind of stood out. I popped into the just opened Fox Liquor Bar, part of Ashley Christiansen’s new food and beverage empire underneath her excellent Beasley’s Chicken and Honey (you really need to try these places if you are local). My drink was most excellent, and I caught a terrific set by The Small Ponds. I’d seen the Ponds earlier in the year at the NHL All Star festivities and quite enjoyed them. And I’d seen Pond member Caitlin Cary solo and with Ryan Adams/Whiskeytown in the past. What struck me about seeing them at Hopscotch is how much better and tighter they sounded. Definitely a band to watch out for.
Eventually I headed over to the Raleigh City Museum to hear Patterson Hood from Drive-By Truckers and others speak on a panel about storytelling in songs. Pretty interesting stuff, and I enjoy hearing the artists talk about their work. I then finished up a the day with a shift at the gallery before heading to the big City Plaza show.
Performing at City Plaza were The Dodos, Drive-By Truckers and Guided By Voices. None of these were really bands I had listened to prior to Hopscotch. I knew a couple of GBV songs, and I actual have a DBT album, but apparently it isn’t one of their best and I only listened a few times. In the lead up to Hopscotch, I made a point to listen to many of the bands, especially those that I thought I might catch. This was made easy by the great Spotify service. My photo pass for the festival gave me access to the first 3 songs of each band up in the photo pit. It was crazy crowded with dozens of photogs jockeying for position. After shooting the 3, I would head into the crowd and listen whilst mingling and drinking a beer.
Dodos were good, but definitely seemed to be a band I’d enjoy more in a club. DBT were a lot better suited to an outdoor show and were my favorite of the night. A week or so before I’d discovered their “Southern Rock Opera” album and become an instant fan. I wasn’t really sure what to think of GBV. The songs I knew sounded good, but the band really came off as “Spinal Tap”-ish to me. Still, the excessive energy made for a few good pics during my three songs.
Fellow Photographer Bryan Regan and I ducked out a bit early and walked over to the Berkeley. In some ways it was a little strange that club shows overlapped the headliner shows, but if you weren’t too into a headliner, or had a club show only pass, then it ended up being a nice thing. But if you had a club show you were interested in up against a headliner you liked, you had some difficult choices (something that I suppose you’d better get used to at Hopscotch). Brice Randall Bickford was playing the Berkeley and he and his band (including my friend, ex-Dillon Fence drummer Scott Carle) sounded great. Kind of a subdued mood and crowd, but enjoyable.
I walked out of the Berkeley to hightail it across downtown to try to catch some of Justin Robinson and the Mary Annette’s. I knew I’d miss a big chunk of the set while hiking, but as I hit the sidewalk, I noticed the free shuttle sitting right out front. Score! In a few minutes I was upstairs at The Hive at Busy Bee fighting my way to the stage. Let me just say, the Hive was the worst venue ever. Just way too small and narrow of a space for the quality of the bands that were booked there. It was difficult to photograph JR from my position on the other side, but I did end up with a shot that I really liked. I can’t wait to catch him again. One of my favorite performances of Hopscotch.
I then headed over to the Lincoln to catch the Annuals, a local band that I’d heard a lot about. I knew it would get crowded, so I wanted to arrive a bit early and get a spot. The problem with that is that you end up tired by the time the band starts. I really was enjoying the music, but could tell I wasn’t getting the best shots, and saw my friends Andy and Bryan heading out, so went with them. Next to Lincoln was our photo gallery, and it was very nice during Hopscotch to be able to pop in and decompress for a few minutes over a water or a beer. Such was the case that night.
We all then headed up and caught a bit of Beans, an innovative New York hip hop artist, before I headed over to King’s to catch Earth. I’d enjoyed listening to Earth on Spotify and was really looking forward to their set. I have to say, it was a bit of a let down live. To make matters worse, in deciding to see them, I’d had to skip Swans at Fletcher, and several friends have said that Swans were a highlight of Hopscotch for them. The other problem with Earth is that there was almost no light in King’s, so I’m trying to shoot at the limits of my camera technology with extremely high ISO and ultra fast prime lenses just to get a passable image.
I ducked out a tad early to go ahead and drive home, knowing that the Saturday final day of Hopscotch would be huge and I’d need the rest.