Matt LeMay is a music critic living in New York City.
Even as an admitted music festival skeptic, I am supremely stoked for both the lineup and the setup at this year’s Hopscotch Music Festival. A ridiculously far-flung stable of artists performing at multiple venues in close proximity, with plenty of places to escape for a bite or a drink? Yes, please. I’m imagining CMJ with less heavy-handed promotional nonsense, or SXSW with less public vomiting. Let’s see!
Will I be hauling ass all the way to Raleigh only to start my weekend with Brooklyn locals DINOSAUR FEATHERS at Kings Barcade? Yes, I will, because they are one of our best local bands, and I haven’t seen them in more than a year. Subtle Afro-pop-isms inevitably draw comparisons to Vampire Weekend, but Dinosaur Feathers make music that is more relaxed and organically exuberant. A half-hour beer break should provide plenty of time to make it over to the Lincoln Theatre for SPIDER BAGS, North Carolina locals whose garage-country style harkens back to the small handful of late ’80s and early ’90s stalwarts that are still favored exclusively by grumpy middle-aged dudes in plaid.
Whatever you do Thursday night, don’t miss XIU XIU at White Collar Crime. Jamie Stewart has been turning out artful and emotionally jarring music for more than a decade now, and the band’s recent Dear God, I Hate Myself is a particularly strong entry in a brave and consistent catalog. After that, excellent options abound, but I will likely be heading over to Tir na nOg for a rare appearance by reclusive and brilliant local indie popster FAN MODINE before jetting over to Fletcher Opera Hall in the hopes of catching some acoustic tunes from Dinosaur Jr. frontman J MASCIS.
Friday night belongs to GUIDED BY VOICES, who will be playing the last scheduled show of their well-received “classic lineup” reunion tour. DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS and THE DODOS should make for an excellent warm-up at Raleigh City Plaza, though so would shotgunning a six-pack in your hotel shower stall, frankly. For a truly bipolar night, stagger drunkenly to Fletcher Opera Hall, where guitar wizard SIR RICHARD BISHOP will ease you into an extra-long set by noise rock pioneers SWANS. If you’d rather keep the good vibes flowing, catch the texturally lush pop of JOHN VANDERSLICE at Berkeley Cafe, then cut across to The Union to catch up-and-comers HOSPITALITY before they inevitably headline much larger venues.
Saturday night in Raleigh City Plaza is a battle between consummate professionalism and over-the-top showmanship: the never-not-excellent rock ‘n’ roll of hometown heroes SUPERCHUNK followed by the glitter, hamster balls and fur suits of THE FLAMING LIPS. If Wayne Coyne’s bombastic frontmannery is a bit much for you, head over to Tir na nOg for D.C.’s THE CARIBBEAN, whose recent Discontinued Perfume is a masterwork of understated wit and charm. Cut over to Slim’s to see Brooklyn’s THE MEN, who are no less subtle but much, much louder. UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA at Five Star will probably be the just-pre-midnight show to catch, but you might be wise to get back to Tir na nOg on the early side to catch the end of BEACH FOSSILS and secure a place in the pit for TITUS ANDRONICUS. Their rousing and anthemic rock has gone from impressive to downright irresistible in the last couple of years.