Hopscotch Music Festival – Day 2
September 11th, 2015
Downtown Raleigh —

TV on the Radio
City Plaza, Downtown Raleigh —

Hopscotch is a younger man’s game. I couldn’t even be bothered to drag myself back downtown before 8pm so I missed all but Tycho’s last song, which was disappointing since they seemed like they were worth another listen. Instead, I pressed on to TV on the Radio, all the while hoping that I wouldn’t have to cower against the rain like some sort of frightened animal as I had the night before. Luckily, the rain clouds did not rear their ugly (thunder)heads but that didn’t help me enjoy TV on the Radio’s set any better. I was more interested in hearing tale of my friends’ dinner at City Club earlier that night. There was talk of special bacon with cotton candy?! Now you are speaking my language.

Admittedly, I didn’t know much about TV on the Radio other than the fact that Dave Sitek produced Scarlett Johansson’s shockingly great 2008 Tom Waits covers album, Anywhere I Lay My Head, and that he played bass on Jane’s Addiction’s middling 2011 “comeback”, The Great Escape Artist. [Editor’s Note: Don’t get me started on Jane’s Addiction without Eric Avery.] I did a little homework and spun some TV on the Radio jams before the show and thought that they had a solid body of work…if you like the sort of music you hear in the background while hip twenty-somethings try to sell you McDonald’s mocha frappes. Look, you don’t have to sell McDonald’s. Big Macs and heart disease sell themselves. And enough of this talk of TV on the Radio being “the American Radiohead.” You’re just embarrassing yourselves, hipster journalists.

2/5 stars = Meh
Sorry boys, but your set didn’t do much for me. I did enjoy that video you made with Amy Pond though.

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Wizard Rifle
Pour House, Downtown Raleigh

One thing I appreciated about Hopscotch this year was that they didn’t force me to do much hopping around between venues. There seemed to be a solid lineup at one venue or another each night, which is nice for lazy malcontents such as your humble storyteller. Friday happened to be the Pour House’s turn, starting with unique party-noise duo Wizard Rifle.

(Sorry, Escher. I didn’t get there in time to see you open. We were too busy convincing some nice Raleigh PD officers use their flashlights to help Lan recreate a Whitesnake video on the hood of zebra-painted Mini Cooper. Big ups to Jesse for sealing the deal. He could sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves.)

Wizard Rifle brought an interesting blend of shirtless silliness and noisy nonsense to a largely full Pour House. I really did not expect such a turnout for something so chaotic and ridiculous. (Especially with Tombs up next, a band at the apex of seriousness.) A packed house jammed along to such gems as “Beastwhores” and “Tears Won’t Soften Steel”. [Editor’s Note: I don’t know if they actually played those particular songs. Sometimes I simply Google things. Don’t judge. I thought we were in the trust tree.]

2/5 stars = Meh
I would definitely be interested in checking these guys out again in the future but overall, I think at this point in their career, they are more suited to playing a secret basement show held by that one really cool guy. You know the one. With the dreads and the trust fund? Yeah, he’s got the dankest buds.

—–

Tombs
Pour House, Downtown Raleigh

By Satan’s beard, Brooklyn’s Tombs are fucking DARK. I was already familiar with their work, having spun (or maybe endured the bludgeoning of) their 2011 bruiser, Path of Totality more than a few times. In a live setting, they really nailed the emptiness and despair that they so expertly cultivate on wax. I think a lot of the fun-loving, glowstick-wearing party crowd leftover from Wizard Rifle began to ponder the pointlessness of life before Tombs even finished their second song and then decided that instead of mass suicide, they would venture over to the Lincoln to get in line for Pusha T. Or at least go get some fresh air and text their moms that they love them.

I was oddly captivated by Tombs’ synth player/backup vocalist, Fade Kainer. I mean, I think I only saw him press 7 or 8 keys on his keyboard all night and maybe fiddle with the touchpad of his Macbook twice but whatever he was doing, he was doing it well. He understood that he was there to add texture and be the high-pitched shrieking counterpart to frontman Mike Hill’s more guttural growling. Together, they combined to form some sort of bicephalic monstrosity of metal heaviness.

3/5 stars = Good
If you can endure a Tombs set and come out on the other side no worse for the wear, you should receive a special patch for your denim battle jacket from Satan himself along with a pat on the shoulder and a knowing smile that says, “I’ll see you soon.”

—–

Old Man Gloom
Pour House, Downtown Raleigh

It was after 12:30am and these old bones were aching. While Tombs was loading out, I thought to myself that sneaking out to head home and read about wizards with a brief stop at Burger King sounded like the best idea I had ever had. In all honesty, it was touch and go for a minute there after I left the bathroom. To my right was a wide open door, beckoning me to step out into the cool night air of Blount Street. Luckily, Old Man Gloom had already soundchecked earlier in the night because they were ready to roll before I had the chance to make a daring escape. I am extremely glad I decided to stick it out. By the middle of the set, I even cast off the shackles of my wobbly seat at the Pour House balcony because it was inhibiting my ability to freely rock the fuck out to OMG.

OMG have always been second fiddle, seeming like the oft-forgotten pet project of dudes with musical pedigrees that harken back to some of my all-time favorite bands: Converge, Isis, and Cave In. [Editor’s Note: I am markedly unashamed about my 15-year man-crush on Caleb Scofield, by the way.] OMG only resurface every couple of years to drop another unappreciated and head-scratching slab of heaviness before slinking off into the night and back to their “day job” bands. In fact, I always liked Old Man Gloom but I felt as if I never truly appreciated their majesty until I saw them pummel the Pour House on Friday.

4/5 stars = Great
Caleb’s bass tone is the stuff earthquakes are made of. Couple it with some dual guitar wizardry by two of the best in underground metal all while the three of them trade off screaming duties and you’ve got yourself a recipe for one helluva sore neck in the morning. (From headbanging. Duh.)
The Gloom is strong.

—–

On deck for Day 3 of Hopscotch:

  • Wovenhand
  • Black Clouds
  • Chelsea Wolfe
  • Godflesh

See you at the Lincoln Theater around 9?

-Negadave