Hopscotch Festival – Day Two Recap
It’s Day Two of Hopscotch, lunch time!! After last night I’m ready for anything, not including the thunderstorms the weatherman called for. It kind of hurt my heart because day two had double the amount of artists scheduled for the major outdoor venues, City Plaza and Red Hat Amphitheater. Running behind schedule would either be a blessing or curse. I was hoping for the former because it would give me a chance to catch more acts if everything was running several minutes behind. The major acts for tonight were Miguel, and Grizzly Bear but there were plenty of others to catch during the in between time.
Sure enough though, we got some rain which meant my schedule was thrown off. I ended up missing singer/bassist Thundercat, who emotionally dedicated his set to Mac Miller (RIP) who had sadly died of an reported overdose earlier in the afternoon. The two were close and scheduled to go on tour together soon.
Miguel’s show got pushed back so I got concerned I would miss Grizzly Bear as well. Miguel is one of singers that initially got slept on but the real R&B fans knew he was a keeper.
Since that first single “All I Want Is You” featuring hip hop artist J. Cole ( also slept on during that time), I knew I wanted to hear more. He’s currently on his “Ascension Tour,” promoting his newest album War & Leisure. The crowd was a little sparse at first due to the weather but the tried and true were ready to dance! At first all you hear is Miguel singing on a dark stage as the lights slowly come up to reveal him on a staircase. This is no casual stroll across the stage.
Miguel was reacting to the music: posing, dancing, kicking whatever as the background screen lights up with different psychedelic images. I mean I KNOW it was a practiced performance but it FELT authentic and in-the-moment.
I enjoyed it, Miguel is sexy without trying to be. It makes it easier to pretend he’s singing to you in your mind! The show is well paced and he can actually sing live. Not every singer can pull off dancing hard and hitting those notes without skipping half the dang song. Miguel can, and looks fly as hell while doing doing it. Much as I enjoyed myself it was onto Grizzly Bear.
I got lucky, Grizzly Bear must’ve started late because they were still performing when I got to City Plaza. Brooklyn based indie rock Grizzly Bear grew on me after this show. Lead vocalists Edward Droste and Daniel Rossen work well together. They had quite a crowd gathered when I got there. Droste kept joking about the heat and how NC had him sweating (NC heat isn’t a game) but he sounded heavenly so the heat didn’t seem to bother him too much. Their music has a dreamy, ethereal feel to it, you literally feel transported by the chords, the harmonies, all of it. Hopscotch always delivers when introducing me to artists I might not have listened to before. Grizzly Bear is on tour right NOW for their latest album, Painted Ruin on RCA Records.
Hopscotch had a few more schedule changes so I once again had to adjust my itinerary. I decided to check out the Breathers next, best last second decision ever! I walked up to the stage to peep lead singer Lee Gunsel, dressed in a tank top and high waisted slacks. I took it as a sign of good things to come. Lee is originally from Durham so the band has local roots but the three-man jam is based out of Atlanta right now. Let me get to the real point though: they were awesome!
They remind me of late 80s pop rock but I guess technically I should call them “synth pop” since they came armed with synthesizers on stage. Remember that story keyboard feel 80s rock all had? That’s The Breathers! Afterwards I heard people commenting on how surprisingly great the band was so hopefully they walked away with plenty of new fans. Their new album Designed To Break was released this week and is available on digital platforms through Skeleton Realm Records.
From there I went to Deep South to catch Paint Fumes only to run into a group leaving because the line was around the block to get in. I tried to wait it out but once another photog came back from trying to get in, I took my L and went to catch The Revolution instead since their time got moved up an hour.
This was a historic set and I caught other acts like Thundercat and Miguel in the crowd watching with the rest of us. Since their younger days when they were known as Prince and The Revolution, this band is and always will be iconic. Straight out of Minneapolis. Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Coleman, Mark Brown (Brownmark), Matt Fink (Doctor Fink) and Bobby Z, brought together by the Purple One.
Back then the band was considered far ahead of its time because it eventually diverse but that’s right about norm for Prince. He never gave us the usual format with anything that included him. They performed “America,” a song I haven’t heard in years. The crowd was super hype, and by then a little inebriated. I got to dance to “Raspberry Beret” which was surreal to say the least. It was beautifully chilling to hear Lisa say the opening to “Let’s Go Crazy.” I didn’t even realize I’d been holding my breath until after I heard the words “Dearly beloved….” It was like mourning and healing at the same time, listening to them.
Conflicting because you couldn’t help but dance and be joyous yet Prince’s absence was thoroughly felt. Stokley Williams of Mint Condition, another Minneapolis band, came on stage later to sing a few songs. I get the collab because I’ve heard people compare him to Prince over the years but I personally don’t hear it. I don’t think his voice fits the structure of Prince’s music but that’s me. Now Stokley can sing his ass off but I’m a firm believer in everything isn’t for everybody. He’s been touring with the band for over a year now while pushing his own solo project, Introducing Stokley.
My last stop was to squeeze in one last band at the Pour House. I had no idea about them but with a name like Swearin, how could I NOT be intrigued? The indie rock group is based out of Philly, and was performing for a packed house. I had to play tetris to get close enough get a pic and even then it was a struggle because fans of were literally sitting on the stage just to get closer.
I dig vocalist Allison Crutchfield and the music itself was great. They’ve actually got a new album coming this October on Merge Records now that the band is formally back together after a 5 year hiatus. You can preorder yours here!