Hopscotch Day 3 caught up to our near-40-year-old bones real quick but we soldiered on, knowing that we would soon be seeing musical royalty.
First up, at City Plaza, was Zack Mexico. Two drummers and lots of poor fashion choices, ranging from dad-style with a t-shirt full of Schnauzers to a guy that looked like he drummed from Foreigner in 1986. The latter was rather majestic, I must say. Flowy shirt, open all the way to the 5th button with snow white pants and a mullet. Naturally. They also had a bassist who looked like he’d rather be surfing. All of that visual stimulus came together with some jangly guitar rock.
Opening Red Hat was Raleigh’s premier funksmith, Boulevards. He and his air-tight band were funk personified. We’re talking, born-in-the-wrong-generation funky. The guitarist looked like he studied music theory but totally knows how to get down on weekends, despite what it shows on his face. It was all about that slap bass though, playing its siren song of funk. Boulevards was genuinely having a blast. All smiles, glistening sweat, and dancing. This man loves Raleigh and it’s only a matter of time before all of Raleigh reciprocates.
I missed this excellent set. Luckily, Yang was there to tell us about it.
What a welcome surprise to see and hear. Felt like I had stepped out of a time machine into 90’s alternative. A good throwback that seemed to have more authenticity to the genre than Liz Phair’s performance. While my plan was to see a few songs then meet up with the rest of the RDU Music crew, I ended up staying for the whole set. It was hard not to be captivated by lead vocalist, Sadie Dupuis, who had a angelic yet ferocious set of pipes. While they certainly had a style that belonged to them, I couldn’t help but hear things that reminded me of Veruca Salt, Pixies, and even L7 and Babes in Toyland. Needless to say, they made a fan out of me that evening.
Nile Rodgers and Chic
Boulevards mentioned that Nile Rodgers taught him how to funk. Nile showed all of Raleigh that he still has a thing or two to teach the rest of us.
He came out on guitar, draped in bold yellow camouflage alongside 2 keyboards, a trumpet, a sax, a bass, and 2 backup singers in flowy, tiger stripes. He did a whole portion of the set solely for songs he wrote for other artists: Diana Ross, David Bowie, Lady Gaga, and more. There was lots of crowd participation because these were all solid gold hits that we knew by heart. I remember one particular sax solo making me wet, and I don’t even have a vagina. [It’s true. I checked. -Ed.] It was nice to see the young and the old come together to fly the banner of funk.
It’s hard to imagine writing a song that will stand on its own for 50 years. MC50 brought that one and more to a frenzied set where they looked like they were having as much fun as the crowd. Let’s hear what Yang has to say about it.
What can you say when you see the best collection of rock royalty on one stage playing the songs of one of rock’s most polarizing bands? I’m still trying to find the words. MC50 marks the 50th anniversary of “Kick Out the Jams.” OG guitarist and vocalist, Wayne Kramer, was backed by Kim Thayil of Soundgarden (guitar), Brendan Canty of Fugazi (drums), Billy Gould of Faith No More (bass), and Marcus Durant of Zen Guerilla (vocals) to perform MC5’s classic album. The crowd was a great blend of older and younger, showing the reach and influence that MC5 had in their short tenure. The age of the crowd showed its face when a younger audience member complained why they would play the song “Kick Out the Jams” so early and not save it for last, to which I had to remind the young lad that it was the second song on the album. The look on that kid’s face was precious. The icing on the cake of what was an amazing performance.