Hopscotch is akin to the Super Bowl for us here at RDU Music. We haven’t been very active this summer because we were apparently saving ourselves for this particular weekend, to which we showed up in full-force. For more of Lan’s stunning photography work, check out the RDU Music Instagram. Otherwise, you’re stuck with my humble words (with some assistance and color commentary from Yang and Jom) for this recap of Hopscotch 2017 Day 1.
Datura at Hopscotch 2017 Raleigh, North Carolina
Datura @ Pour House (Day Party)
Bandcamp | FB
The sounds of brutal thrash/death metal that were echoing down the hallway of Pur House were a welcome treat for this music fan. From the outside, I heard the deep growls ala Cannibal Corpse which segued into high pitch banshee screams, leading me to think, “Oh cool, they must have two frontmen in this band.” So you can imagine my surprise when saw those vocals coming from one female vocalist. Punishing, brutal, energetic, and loud are just some of the superlatives I can throw to describe the set by Raleigh’s Datura. Lead singer Kellie Gates’ variation in vocals gave the rest of the band so much range as a metal act, with no song sounding exactly like the other. In the short time they played, they definitely made a fan out of me, and I look forward to seeing their next performance! [Yang]
I met up with the fellas at City Plaza where Lan and I proceeded to grab a couple Goose Island Fest Biers [4/5 stars from me. I’m a sucker for the Oktoberfest style. -Ed.] and met up with our own Jom (John Michael Buscemi) to witness the official kickoff of Hopscotch 2017 with Durham’s Skylar Gudasz.
Skylar Gudasz at Hopscotch 2017 Raleigh, North Carolina
Skylar Gudasz @ City Plaza
Skylar opened with a soulful, solo piano number before inviting the full band on stage for some more tunes with a wide variety of instrumentation, including a flute interlude. It was early so the City Plaza crowd was only starting to file in but as they did so, they were treated to Skylar’s beautiful Americana folk voice.
Extended flute interlude!
Big Thief at Hopscotch 2017 Raleigh, North Carolina
Big Thief @ City Plaza
Next up was Saddle Creek’s newest darlings, Brooklyn’s Big Thief, who brought their emotionally-raw lyrical storytelling to a rapidly growing City Plaza crowd. At one point, I looked back and the place had filled up to hear Adrianne Lenker’s wounded lyrics and strong vocals. Being such a huge fan of the early days of Saddle Creek [Mayday’s Old Blood is one of the best records I’ve ever heard. -Ed.], I was hoping that Big Thief would be the torchbearer for the label’s resurgence back into the popular zeitgeist but I think they would have fared better in a more intimate venue than City Plaza. Still, keep an eye on Big Thief as they progress.
Jom had this to add on Big Thief: There was a line in a song that gave me chills though: “The blood of the man who killed my mother with his hands, is in me.” That’s pretty fucking heavy, and it was then met with some awesome, noisy, spacy, loud jamming. But just as a song started picking it up, it would end…leaving something to be desired. As the set was coming to an end, I couldn’t help but notice how the drummer, as terrible as his posture may be, was really into all the songs. Singing along as he played. I like bands that are into their own music…shows it’s something they believe in. And if Big Thief ever starts pulling off live what they do on a recording…watch out! [Jom]
I like bands that are into their own music…shows it’s something they believe in. [Jom]
Margo Price at Hopscotch 2017 Raleigh, North Carolina
Margo Price @ City Plaza
Capping off an interestingly subdued yet stylistically cohesive opening night at City Plaza was Nashville’s Margo Price who brought her brand of traditional country to Hopscotch 2017 concertgoers. The RDU Music squad did not stay long as we had places to be [I kind of wanted Margo and her band of Berklee grad, studio musicians to…”go back to Tennessee.” -Jom] but we left a mostly full City Plaza to enjoy the Nashville starlet’s set without us.
We made a brief pitstop at Parkside where I was enjoying a delightful Three Little Pigs sandwich and the Chiefs/Patriots game until I looked at the clock and my heart skipped a beat. My second most anticipated band of the 2017 Hopscotch lineup was about to take the stage at CAM! I drained the last of my beer in two gulps, threw a $20 on the table, and made for the door like my ass was on fire while Jom stayed to enjoy his ridiculous-sized burger. [Huge patties. Big ol’ slap-that-meat-on-your-black-eye-sized patties. -Jom] As I powerwalked up to CAM, I could hear Brooklyn’s weirdest sons, Kayo Dot, opening their set.
Kayo Dot @ CAM
I have been a fan of Toby Driver’s musical collectives for a very long time [Maudlin of the Well’s Bath and Kayo Dot’s Choirs of the Eye are undeniable classics. -Ed.] so I was extremely excited to see them live for the first time. Despite a set marred by technical difficulties, Kayo Dot were still able to prove that they are on a whole other level. To the untrained ear, Kayo Dot might be considered “too” avant-garde and downright cacophonous at times but I found their live set to be a mystically moving experience. This live incarnation of the band was a 3-piece but was still able to fill the air with all manner of transcendental sounds. I was physically saddened when the set ended. Afterwards, I bought a Maudlin of the Well shirt from Toby himself at the merch booth and complimented him on his 2017 slab of solo gorgeousness for the Flenser, Madonnawhore. I then grabbed another gin drink and began waiting for what turned out to be the best set of the night.
Also, the singer has a haircut…that is maybe influenced by cocaine. [Jom]
Pallbearer @ CAM
Little Rock’s Pallbearer have been making waves in recent memory with their last couple of records under the excellent Profound Lore label but I never gave them much of a listen. Their dense and impactful live set at CAM let me know that I was woefully late to the party. Huge, sludgy riffs with some surprisingly elegant vocals for a “doom metal” band proved to be a killer combination. All I could do was bang my head and sway along with each funeral dirge as amateur photographers struggled with the lighting while bassist Joseph D. Rowland fought to get back in the game after he blew his bass cab. Seriously, the CAM stage must be cursed. Either way, I hope Pallbearer was able to see my face melt from the front row because I was viscerally affected by their adroit hooks and soaring solos. Pallbearer made a believer out of me after about a song and a half.
Pallbearer did an amazing job of fighting through the technical hiccups and overall suspect acoustics that CAM is notorious for. [Yang]
The Tills at Hopscotch 2017 Raleigh, North Carolina
The Tills @ Pour House
Oh man! The Tills are based out of Nashville and come out to Raleigh a couple of times a year. They have yet to disappoint me, and tonight was no different. I’ll start by saying…haircuts. This year’s Hopscotch theme is haircuts. Haircuts that may or may not be infused by Schedule I substances. Haircuts that frontman of The Tills, Harry Harrison, described to me one day as “Me and Marty (the drummer) are bringing back the haircut. People get a haircut all the time, we’re not bringing the act of haircuts back…but look at my hair!” It looks like he just got some scissors and cut some bangs, cut some stuff from the sides but not all of it, got what he could off the back and balanced out the top. And the drummer, I grew up with this guy and know that he’s a free spirit. Lan described him as, “The type of guy that would pick up lonely wives on the beach.” And I can almost guarantee he’s done that before, so just picture that person. Harry and Marty are both happy dudes, living the lives they want to live and making music with energy, spirit, enthusiasm, volume..and just pure joy. Their live performance perfectly portrays that spirit. This was the first band that I saw that really brought life to the crowd. People dancing. Faces smiling while singing along with the band. And it’s hard to not feel that when Harry is flash dancing in a polka dot patterned shorts and shirt ensemble while ripping off energetic British riff after riff. There were 5 guys on stage playing their hearts out for a crowd that was sweating out their own hearts. I’ve known Marty to finish a show in his boxers, but tonight he just ended it shirtless. Singing duties were shared across the band, and the set climaxed with a stage dive from Harry. If The Tills are ever coming through town, do yourself a favor and bring some friends to their show, drink some cheap beer, and have a blast! You won’t be disappointed. Until that day though, go buy their records. Their latest album Canon is available on vinyl from their Bandcamp site. The song “Cold Ones” is a must listen. [Jom]
The type of guy that would pick up lonely wives on the beach. [Lan]
Thee Oh Sees at Hopscotch 2017 Raleigh, North Carolina
The Oh Sees @ The Basement
What venue is The Basement? Where is it? Oh, it’s in the Convention Center? Ok. Ho. Lee. Fuck. As soon as Red Hat Amphitheater shuts down for the season, shows should pick right up at “The Basement.” This was hands down the best venue of the festival. It was like an airplane hangar with a huge stage in it. It could have been loud and echoey and shitty, but the sound was mixed perfectly. Plenty of natural reverb, but nothing too washed out. Whoever put this together deserves a raise!
The Oh Sees are a band that I’ve heard all this buzz about, and apparently so had a lot of other people because the venue was packed. Overall, I was very impressed with the Oh Sees. Two drummers seemingly in a competition to see who could play harder, louder, and better kept the rhythm upbeat and energetic. One loud-ass, clear acrylic SG-shaped guitar drove riffs to new levels. This band brought it in an incredible venue that only had more in store for us the rest of the weekend.
The only downside here was the line for drinks at the venue was REALLY long. But at midnight on a Thursday, with a workday steadily creeping around the corner…I think it was for the best I didn’t have another drink. [Jom]
Torche @ CAM
A perennial favorite of mine since buying their 2005 self-titled debut for Robotic Empire, Florida’s Torche brought the ruckus with them on this particular trip to our fair City of Oaks. I have seen Torche perform live about 5 times now and this might have been my favorite set of the bunch, despite the technical difficulties that prevailed throughout the entire night at CAM. Frontman Steve Brooks had a hard time hearing anything out of his monitors and eventually decided that he would just rock the fuck out sans the ability to hear himself. He didn’t miss a beat but was noticeably irritated for a hot minute there.
Torche seemed like they were all having a good time during their high-energy set at CAM. Especially drummer Rick Smith who was playing so hard and with such zeal that stagehands had to bring out some mic-stand bases to put in front of the kit to minimize movement. Rick was undeterred. He banged so hard that bassist Jonathan Nunez even had to stand on them to keep Rick from vibrating the kit the entire 6 feet off the front of the stage. All that energy from Torche made for a supremely satisfying set.
Hopscotch 2017 Day 1 winner: Pallbearer
RDU Music is proud to be covering another year of the Hopscotch Music Festival here in Raleigh. Tickets are still available as the fest kicks off on Thursday the 7th and runs through the weekend.
The whole RDU Music crew will be out and about for the entirety of the festival. Come catch us at some of Thursday’s notable shows including Big Thief, Kayo Dot, and The Brian Jonestown Massacre.
Deftones at Red Hat Amphitheater Raleigh, North Carolina
Deftones at Red Hat Amphitheater Raleigh, North CarolinaYou know it is summertime when RDU Music finally puts on shorts and ponies up the $12 for Yeungling tall boys at Red Hat. This time just so happened to be for one of our all-time favorite bands, Deftones.
Three Trapped Tigers
FB | SITE
As gate security was touching me in my no-no zone, Three Trapped Tigers were bringing their synthy, breathy, instrumental rock all the way from foggy Londontown. They sounded as if Horse the Band “sold out” and met up with Chon to get, like, hella blazed and just totally chillax, you know, but still managed to write some good Minus the Bear-style jamz. They played a good set, which is no easy feat when you are opening for huge bands at an amphitheater. They must have a dope manager to get on this stacked bill for their first time in the states. Cheers, mates.
Thrice at Red Hat Amphitheater Raleigh, North Carolina
FB | SETLIST
Thrice has aged well, despite the fact that literally everyone I know prefers their early work. Their entire catalog drips with emotion and solid song structure though, so I can’t complain too much that their set consisted of mostly new material, but you are about to set off on a huge amphitheater tour with some of the biggest bands in rock. Did you maybe think that you should dust off the old bangerzzz that everyone wants to hear? [Deftones didn’t play a single song off of their latest release, and that record is very good. More on that later. -Ed.] I just feel like that was a missed opportunity to really go out there, play the most beloved hits from your storied, near-20-year career. Really kick the fucking door in and remind everyone that Thrice is still a kick-ass band, you know? Especially when you only get 8 songs. Instead, they went with the, “Hey, please buy our new record, guys,” strategy, which was met with lukewarm regard from rock fans who had not yet quite caught a buzz in the soupy Southern heat. What a shame.
Dustin Kensrue is still one of the more underrated front men in rock. [Though Lan thinks he is Nickelback-y. -Ed.] If the world were a just place, Rise Against would be opening for Thrice but radio appeal is a palpable thing, especially for amphitheater shows. RA hammers that nail despite being the inferior band. [#sorrynotsorry RA fans. It’s only gonna get worse from here. -Ed.]
Rise Against at Red Hat Amphitheater Raleigh, North Carolina
FB | SETLIST
Going into their set, I underestimated the sheer amount of fans that were in attendance solely to see Rise Against. They received one helluva crowd reaction when they took the stage. For not being a fan of their band, they still put on a fun and energetic show. I just cannot come to terms with all the fans that left after their set. I saw a lot of boyfriends nodding along politely while their girlfriends went crazy for Tim McIlrath and co. That is why Rise Against has roughly 1.5 million more FB likes than Deftones. [Criminal. -Ed.]
I did see the sweetest bf in the row ahead of us though. His girl was jumping around, really getting into Rise Against. So much that she almost lost her phone so she put it in her purse and was gonna set it on the seat but he took it and held it for her. D’aww. She was having the time of her life while he did it all for the nookie. And was probably a Nickelback fan. [No judgment. They write hits. Straight up. -Ed.] But then they left 3 songs into Deftones so fuck ’em in the ear.
Partway through the set, Tim decided to break it down and “tell us about America.” Rise Against might just be the softest activism of all time. Like activism for attractive people. Not that their message isn’t important, it’s just old hat. Or maybe I am just old hat. [Mind = blown. -Ed.] He spouted such aphorisms as, “Resist the urge to bury your head in the sand,” and “I can’t put my finger on it but there is a reason we are all here tonight.” [Yeah, it’s called, “Deftones.” #yaburnt -Ed.]
I will say that I am a sucker for the portion of a set where the frontman takes the stage by himself to play a heartfelt solo electric guitar track. Tim killed it on that one but to me, Rise Against and Deftones just don’t overlap in the Venn diagram of my heart, so I was ready for them to vacate the stage and get Deftones up there.
FB | SETLIST
I hadn’t seen Deftones in 17 years. I also hear that had not played Raleigh in 16 years. For the first 10 years of their existence, I used to say that they were the best band of that era. (I still do.) As the pages of the calendar fell one by one, I never stopped loving each new Deftones release. I had just filled my life with countless other bands. Seeing Deftones in 2017 rekindled my 20+ year infatuation with them and will likely go down in history as my favorite show of the year.
As the stagehands were doing their thing, I scanned the crowd, as I am wont to do. There was an interesting mix of graying beards, Carolina Rebellion faithful, and girls who took great care in not letting their fathers see their outfits before leaving the house. My favorite though was the over-30 fella carrying a Hello Kitty backpack, followed by his daughters who were adorably holding each others’ hands so as to not get separated, with his super Goth wife bringing up the rear, noticeably stoked that the sun had gone down a mere 2 minutes before she came out of hiding. They looked like a fun, modern, counterculture family. I wanted to share a bottle of wine with them and discuss how music just ain’t what it used to be.
I was ripped from my reverie as Deftones kicked the door in and announced that they were ready to burn this motherfucker down by opening with fan-favorite rager, “Headup,” which they had used as a set closer for a good portion of the late 90s. Deftones proceeded to outclass all of their opening bands combined in the first two minutes. The energy and intensity of the crowd skyrocketed as they segued right into “My Own Summer (Shove It).” I was instantly teleported back to 1997. All the old emotions of my formative teen years came flooding back as I lost myself in Chino’s trademark banshee shriek, which sounded as fresh as it did 20 years ago.
The setlist was strictly limited to only two pairs of back-to-back Deftones albums: Around the Fur to White Pony and then Diamond Eyes to Koi No Yokan. No jumping around from raw Adrenaline-era scorchers to artsy Saturday Night Wrist experiments made for an interesting and oddly cohesive overall aesthetic. The majority of songs (5) came from Diamond Eyes, which happens to be a favorite of mine. Deftones also took a cue from my rulebook: If you are headlining an amphitheater tour with $50+ tickets and $12 beers, you had better bring your hits, which they totally did, especially in the back half of the set with a stunning trifecta of “Change (In the House of Flies)” into “Passenger” (with Rise Against’s Tim taking the stage to masterfully sing Maynard’s parts) before majestically transitioning into “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away).” I was stunned.
I seldom look up a band’s setlists for previous nights of the tour because I love experiencing the moment when I can feel the set about to wrap up and am left to wonder what classic song will be used to cap off an excellent evening. On this particular night in Raleigh, Deftones decided to close with the rough and tumble “Rocket Skates,” defying the most jaded of music journalists [Cough. -Ed.] to, “fuck with me,” leaving us to “drown underneath the stars” and “drink with our weapons in our hands.”
RDU Music is back to kick off the 2017 summer concert season with coverage of the venerable Scott “Wino” Weinrich’s first love, The Obsessed.
Boasting an impressive pedigree of local acts, openers Lightning Born have fused together into a surprisingly cohesive unit for being such a new band. Although that should be unsurprising since its members have done time in COC, The Hell No, Demon Eye, and RDU Music faves, Mega Colossus.
Up next was Ohio’s Lo Pan, taking their name from the evil sorcerer in Big Trouble in Little China, and bringing their own brand of stoner rock to the riff-hungry Pour House crowd. Lo Pan employed an interesting yet obvious-when-you-think-about-it stage setup in which the drum kit and frontman swapped positions, leaving vocalist Jeff Martin to hang back, allowing the crowd to focus on the more animated members of the band. At that time, I thought that setup was odd but the more I pondered it, the more it made sense. What are you really watching a vocalist do? As a “music journalist,” I always find myself paying more attention to a drummer’s go-go-gadget arms or a shredder’s guitar-histrionics anyway so you do you, Lo Pan. That led me down the rabbit hole of pondering the perceived necessity of vocalists in metal across the board. For a band like Lo Pan, sure. But for Dying Fetus? Your indecipherable “vocals” sound like farts and bring nothing to the table.
My fellow RDU Music mates demonstrated some rather witty commentary during Lo Pan’s set that I have dutifully shared here via screenshot. [The mean things we say about bands in the moment are priceless but are generally so catty that I fear we will alienate any band that decides to grace the greater Triangle area with their presence if I print them. Then I look at our paltry website traffic and remember that I have nothing to worry about. -Ed.]
Closing out the opening acts was a great set by instrumental stoner rock vets, Karma to Burn. Boasting the mantle of “Only Band I Can Name From West Virginia,” K2B really nails the payoff that many instrumental bands find so challenging: Bringing it back home at the end of a song. They are at the top of their game. Also, their drummer is a human personification of Animal from the Muppets. It was uncanny. Unfortunately, I must give him a demerit for the wood block on his kit. I find it funny when you drag a piece of gear all the way across the country for just one bridge of one song. Either way, K2B’s riffs were dank and their set closer was a straight banger.
I could tell that photog extraordinaire Lan was in good spirits as he would return to my basecamp and regale me with tales of his photography in the wild. “I think I kneeled on a sanitary napkin.” The Pour House, ladies and gentlemen! Don’t forget to tip your waitress. He also confessed that instead of Karma to Burn, he thought we were seeing Mission of Burma. Nothing against the night’s lineup (which was solid, through and through) but if Mission of Burma were playing the Pour House, I would have dashed up front with a raging, mega-huge fanboy boner. I love me some Signals, Calls, and Marches.
The Obsessed at The Pour House Raleigh, North Carolina
After a positively riffy night of beers and patented RDU Music shenanigans, we were ready to strap in and witness one of the greats do his thing with The Obsessed. And I can testify that Wino was born to solo. It is so effortless and he manages to do it with the most lustrous mane of silver hair that I have ever seen. Most touring bands are lucky to be blessed with two showers a month which leads me to believe that Wino employs a team of fabulous stylists, akin to what an artist like Madonna might bring with her. [It’s true. I fact-checked the hell out of it. -Ed.] New bassist Reid Raley has his beverage game on lock down. He had 9 drinks laid out in a row on the banister in what appeared to be in order of potency. Well played.
It’s impressive how fresh and relevant the Obsessed sounds after all these years. Wino is out there every day proving that metal is timeless, and not only because he looks like he time-traveled straight from 1979. May his fiery riffs outlive us all.
Wednesday, November 30th, 2016 – Motorco – Durham
The crisp autumn air reminds me that RDU Music is approaching the end of another concert season. Sure, bands still swing through in the winter but our collective appetite for leaving the house when the weather is cold nears rock bottom. But if there is one thing that will postpone our annual hibernation, it’s dank-ass riffs. It’s a good thing they were being bandied about Durham last Wednesday at Motorco by Red Fang, Torche, and Whores.
This was an interesting bill for me. I have seen both Red Fang and Torche a couple of times each. I was already aware that they know how to bring the thunder but I was most excited for Whores. They had just released both of their EPs for free on Bandcamp the week before, so I was spinning them religiously. Then I bought their raucous new full-length, Gold, to make sure I knew what I was getting myself into. I spun all three that afternoon at my soul-crushing office job in order to make damn sure that I was fully prepared for all the dirty riffs. Whores. did not disappoint.
Whores @ MotorCo Durham, North Carolina
Whores.: Facebook | Bandcamp
The entire RDU Music staff rolled into Durham, ready to light the town on fire. For about 15 minutes or until we got tired. Whichever came first. We met up with friend of the program and riff aficionado, Nate, and made for the bar. There was no way we were leaving the house on a Wednesday without drinking. C’mon, son. We also ran into new friend of the program, Doug. [That’s right, ladies and germs. Hitch your wagon to the RDU Music rising star. We’re going places. -Ed.] Up first was Atlanta-based noise merchants, Whores. I’m gonna level with you here, folks: I was most excited to see how Whores. translated to a live setting. Goddamn, was I impressed. They won the night without even trying. Pure rawk, no pretense. Their bio says it best: We were in other bands. Now we’re in this band. Soon we will all be deaf. Commercially moribund, second wave, first class, good times, bad vibes. I got chills.
Whores. came out and kicked the fucking door down. I was prepared for some rawk but I was not prepared to be blown away after the first 5 minutes. Frontman Christian’s high E broke midway through the set but we all know that string is expendable when you bring the noise. He switched out guitars and didn’t miss a beat. Keep your eyes peeled for Whores. as they cut a swath through this great(ish) country of ours. Whores. take no prisoners and are incapable of turning down the volume.
Lan also astutely pointed out that Christian looked like he had a case of the donkeys.
Liz Lemon: Still haven’t found your wallet, Kenneth?
Kenneth Parcell: Yeah, and I realize I had a prescription in there that I really need. It keeps me from…
[Starts convulsing and braying]
Kenneth Parcell: Don’t worry, it’s just a donkey spell.
Torche @ MotorCo Durham, North Carolina
Torche: Facebook | Bandcamp
Next up was Torche, a band I have been following since they dropped their first full-length on Robotic Empire back in ’05. They also put out records on Hydra Head and Relapse. With that kind of label pedigree, you know they are legit. Unfortunately, they had an off-night in Durham. I was drinking so I didn’t keep up with the setlist but I wonder if they simply spread themselves too thin. With such a rich and varied back catalog, I found myself getting lost in the movements. Setlist.fm let me down this time so I can’t verify but I feel like Torche’s set jumped around too much and never got a chance to gel with each era of their sound. I would have been stoked to hear 3 off of Meanderthal, 3 off of my personal favorite, Songs for Singles, and then 3 off of Restarter. That would have added a thread of cohesion to their set. Instead, they were never quite able to hit their stride, following such a bitchin’ set from Whores. Don’t worry, fellas. It is a well-established fact that you guys shred. I’ll see you again the next time you roll through.
Side note: Steve from Torche looks like he wants to order a liter of cola.
Red Fang: Facebook | Bandcamp
I didn’t realize that Red Fang were such a big deal. After Torche, I headed to the bar to grab another beer. When I turned back around to the stage, Motorco was packed to the gills. I had a hard time jockeying for position but was able to find a spot behind the 3rd tallest person in the crowd. When Red Fang took the stage, the air was immediately electrified as they kicked off the set with crowd-favorite “Wires” off of their 2011 Relapse debut, Murder the Mountains. [Setlist.fm let me down for the Raleigh show but it looks like the setlist was the same on surrounding nights so I feel confident that I got it right. If not, take it up with my editor. -Ed.] I remember that song fondly as the video for it was a PBR- and gasoline-soaked fun fest, documenting the boys blowing through their video budget check in a 1979 Impala Station Wagon.
The sold-out Motorco crowd showed some serious love for Red Fang throughout the entire set. The air was electric as the riffs flowed like water. I’m glad to see such a great lineup full of talented riff-makers pack Durham’s largest music venue (according to durham-nc.com). Here’s hoping the Motorco can continue booking shows of such high caliber in the future.