Hopscotch Music Festival
September 12th, 2015
Downtown Raleigh —

Lincoln Theater, Downtown Raleigh —

Say what you will about Downtown Raleigh, but there is always ample parking. Especially in the deck across from the Lincoln. I flashed my wristband and headed into the venue just as Wovenhand was starting their set, which was considerably more rockin’ than I had anticipated. Their last couple of records translated well to a live setting with a full band in tow. David Eugene Edwards performed like some sort of lunatic shaman, occasionally grabbing at what I could only assume was the invisible balloon-string aura that protruded from the top of his head, a la Stephen King’s Insomnia, when he wasn’t busy shredding on what appeared to be the sacred lute of some Appalachian hill people.

3/5 stars = Good
A beautifully “woven” mix of the bizarre and the rockin’. (These puns don’t write themselves, people.)


Black Clouds
Lincoln Theater, Downtown Raleigh

The award for best new band I heard about at Hopscotch 2015 goes to DC’s Black Clouds with their heavy, ambient post-rock and sweet Pink Floyd laser balls. As soon as Ross Hurt began bowing his bass, I knew that Black Clouds was speaking my language. By the time they finished their set with a voice sample of Clutch’s Neil Fallon repeating, “Everything is not going to be OK,” from the closing track of their album of the same name, I was ready to buy all their albums and spin them religiously on Monday at my soul-crushing office job because if there is one sentiment I can get behind, it is indeed that everything is not going to be OK. That might even become my new credo, replacing my favorite American Nightmare / Give Up the Ghost lyric, “In a world of sluts, we keep the wet dream alive.” So poignant. So timeless.

4/5 – Great.
AND J. Robbins produced their records?! Did we just become best friends, Black Clouds? Do you wanna go do karate in the garage?


Chelsea Wolfe
Lincoln Theater, Downtown Raleigh

Watching True Detective this season, I noticed a lot of buzz was generating around singer Lera Lynn’s portrayal of a shadowy junkie dive bar singer. Nothing against Lera because she did a helluva job, but my brain couldn’t help but imagine anyone other than Chelsea Wolfe in that role. Just get a makeup artist to add some track marks on her arms and spill a couple drinks on her and she’s good to go. Tell me I’m wrong.

Her acoustic work is what made me fall in love with Chelsea Wolfe in the first place a couple of years back, but on Saturday night at the Lincoln, Chelsea traded her acoustic guitar for a full band and brought a rockin’ set with more smoke than I’d ever seen in the Lincoln at one time. I swear you could have cut it with a knife. The way it danced around the minimal red backlighting set the tableau for an evening of spookiness.

The turnout for such a somber affair was pretty spectacular. You always get a lot of pop-ins at Hopscotch, but most people who wandered in were quickly ensnared in Chelsea’s dark, hypnotic web of drone-metal-art-folk for the duration of the performance.

Guitarist Mike Sullivan from Sargent House labelmates Russian Circles joined Chelsea onstage, borrowing her guitar for a song toward the end of the set. [Editor’s Note: Russian Circles has been killing it for years now. FYI.]

Mike joined @cchelseawwolfe on a song last night @hopscotchfest Photo by @joshsisk

A post shared by Russian Circles (@russiancircband) on

4/5 stars = Great
I was still caught in her web long after the set ended. I want to meet her in True Detective’s Black Rose bar where “we could be two straight lines in a crooked world they’ve created.”


Lincoln Theater, Downtown Raleigh

This was the moment I had been waiting for. I hadn’t even planned on attending Hopscotch this year. Nothing against the festival itself but I’m old. I get a couple of beers in me and I want to take a nap. And they expect me to stay up past 2am for three nights in a row?! Not bloody likely.

I say those same words every year…before they announce the lineups. Then I can’t find my credit card fast enough. They always seem to announce a band that I never thought I’d get the chance to see and that I would kick myself for the rest of my days on Earth if I were to miss them. Last year was Sun Kil Moon with the infamous “hillbilly” incident. [Editor’s Note: Mark may be an asshole (unapologetically, I might add) but he wasn’t wrong. The crowd was atrocious. After he told all the “hillbillies” to shut the fuck up, half the crowd left. The shitty half. Those who remained shared my undying love for Mark Kozelek’s 25+ year career and witnessed a great set. Eat a dick, haters.] This year, Hopscotch announced Godflesh, a band that helped me turn a corner in the mid-90s toward more extreme music. That is a path I have walked ever since and one that I intend to walk straight into my grave. I owe a lot to Godflesh.

Justin Broadrick and G.C. Green decided to get back to their roots on this tour: Just the two of them and a drum machine. A drum machine so loud, I might add, that it felt like a T-Rex stampede. Yangsberg captured some video footage of the phenomenon on the RDU Music Instagram.

I allowed myself to be entranced by the droning, metallic thunder of a set consisting mainly of 2014’s excellent “A World Lit Only by Fire” while the screen behind the band cycled through various images familiar to lifelong Godflesh fans. There apparently aren’t many of us left in Raleigh since 2/3 of the crowd left after Chelsea Wolfe played. I didn’t mind. I was in my own world. Right up until the point at exactly 2am when the Lincoln Theater staff turned on the fucking house lights, dropping an anvil-sized hint to Broadrick that it was time to wrap it up. Justin was forced to acknowledge the fact that they wanted him to cut his set short so he graciously thanked the fans for sticking around so late and called it a night. A true class act. Unlike the philistines at the Lincoln Theater who were too busy booking Aaron Carter shows to appreciate the genius of such a groundbreaking and seminal industrial post-metal band like Godflesh. They apparently couldn’t be bothered to stick around for an extra 10 minutes to allow Godflesh to close their set with “Like Rats”. It’s not as if this were only Godflesh’s second-ever US festival appearance and first show in the Southeast in 20 years. “Fuck them. I gotta mop the bathroom and get outta here.”

Just kidding. They have NEVER mopped the bathroom. Eat my cold shit, Lincoln Theater.

4/5 stars = Great
Despite a lackluster crowd and unjustly abbreviated set, I can now die knowing that I finally got to see Godflesh crush my soul.

– Negadave