Q:What was the name of the song and the artist for the last song that was played (8:11am)
looks like it could’ve been one of these:
NAS - Life’s a bitch
Jeru the Damaja - frustrated
Etta James - a sunday kind of love
Bobby Hinton - My Baby Likes a big man
If you’re ever curious about what song has been played, you can always check you the live playlist or the archive on wxyc.org. For example, here’s where you can check out the playlist for yesterday’s 6-9 am show: http://wxyc.info/playlists/radioShow?radioShowID=131527
Thanks for listening!
JJ’s Top 20 of 2013 Mix
It’s December, so you know what that means: music year-end lists. We’re still in the process of letting our DJs vote for our top albums of 2013 here at WXYC, but one of our music directors, JJ Lang, has already made a mix of some of his favorite songs this year. Here’s the tracklist:
00.00 “Cracked Flesh” - Raspberry Bulbs
04.29 “Soma” - Invisible Hands
08.44 “Hollow Water” - Okkyung Lee
10.49 “Covertures I” - Yannis Kyriakides
14.47 “The Scarecrow” - Lal Waterson
18.20 “Ainnome” - Laurel Halo
24.40 “My Love Holds The Galaxy In Her Heart” - Richard Youngs
29.36 “Open” - The Necks
40.28 “Started From The Bottom” - Drake
43.20 “Houndstooth” - Unicorn Hard-On
49.24 “Everybody’s Something” - Chance The Rapper
53.52 “Whip In Reach” - Lazy Magnet
58.58 “Wild Horses” - tooth ache.
62.10 “Eternal Return” - Locrian
65.01 “Profile Of Woman In Silk Hood” - Trouble Books
68.42 “Floor Show” - Kelela
73.20 “Belomi Benna” - The Ex/Brass Unbound
77.57 “Tonight. More. Much More.” - Fire!
85.32 “Hegira” - Circuit Des Yeux
88.35 “Ghosts Of A Dead Empire” - Subrosa
Click here to go download the whole thing.
WXYC Does Hopscotch: Saturday
DJ Cozy Brents memorializes the last hours of Hopscotch in her experience of the festival on Saturday.
HOPSCOTCH 2K13; A SWEET SUMMER WEEKEND NO SENSIBLE PERSON WHO WAS IN ATTENDENCE WILL EVER FORGET. Saturday was a bittersweet day, I’m sure I’m not alone in that sentiment.
LUCKILY, the raddest and most EXCELLENT Day Party in the long and storied history of Hopscotch day parties was yet to come. Paradise of Bachelors teamed up with our very own XYC to bring the illest set list ever to hit Raleigh Little Theatre. The amphitheater was a perfect backdrop (It backs up to a picturesque rose garden, can you say prom pix?) for a sunny afternoon of live jams.
Starting it off with a reflective bang, visual artist and musician Lonnie Holley, whose weighty and moving lyrical ballads warmed my inner self just about as much as the sun warmed my skin. Holley compared the universe to a swirling pot of gumbo, each individual having a profound impact on the “gumbous universe” that keeps stirring on and on. I managed to get a picture with Holley post-performance; he had been sculpting twist ties and sweetgum balls in between sharing tidbits of philanthropic advice to anyone who approached him. Holley had an overwhelming presence, and in our photo op, had us raise our thumbs to the universe. DEFINITELY one of the most wonderful individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet.
I will never look at my thumbs the same way again <3
Following mah boi Lonnie, Birds of Maya bassist Jason Killinger’s side project Spacin’, which was totally funky rock that bled seamlessly into the hazy summer afternoon. Things started to chill out a bit as Pelt and Daniel Bachman took the stage. My own sweet mom and pop ended up coming out, and mom was convinced that the entire act was just Nathan Bowles tuning his banjo (It’s ok mom, acoustic drone is an acquired taste, like fine wine). Definitely a perfect lull between Spacin’ rhythmic rock and roll and The Black Twig Pickers, which seriously induced some inner hoedown inclinations. Promised Land Sound picked up where The Black Twig Pickers left off, bringing more mid-afternoon country, totally jam-able tunes.
I unfortunately missed out on Chris Forsyth (I dipped out for a burrito, so I guess you could say it was worth it), but allegedly he brought some bumpin’ dad rock (and my dad totally dug it, if you were wondering). Steve Gunn followed with some super sweet folk rock; his three man band was really engrossing, some rockin’ dudes who are each singularly extremely talented, definitely one of my favorites of the day. And as the sun set behind us, Birds of Maya (refer to Spacin’) finished out the day with a bang, bringing to the table some real heavy and hardcore rock jams. SO BASICALLY Raleigh Little Theatre was the place to be ALL DAY LONG.
Steve Gunn rockin 0UT
I skipped out on City Plaza on Saturday, choosing instead to start my night off with Moon King at CAM. I’ve lived in the Raleigh area my entire life, spent a many afternoon putzin’ around downtown, yet I had never had the sincere pleasure to enter CAM, a contemporary art museum, on the outskirts of the main downtown drag. It’s white walls and spacious interior might have had the tendency to feel overwhelming, but there was something super great about not being arm to arm with many sweaty people that you’ve never met who are probably drunker than you and are therefore unpredictable. Moon King started promptly at 8:30, playing to an almost empty room at first, which slowly filled throughout their set. The synth rock trio reminded me at times of Lotus Plaza, yet sometimes veered into a Siouxsie and the Banshees type intensity. I totally dug the Moon King vibe; the drummer, reminiscent of the guidance counselor from Freaks and Geeks, and the female guitar lead, who was wearing an oversized black t-shirt and knit shorts, seemed like friends I hadn’t met yet, totally approachable. Moon King gets the “I didn’t even read their description, I just didn’t really want to see Spiritualized, but ended up being one of the top shows of my night” award, YEA DOG.
Following Moon King, I popped over to Ryan Gustafson’s The Dead Tongues, who were playing at Memorial Auditorium. I dig those fluffy stadium seats in Memorial, but am always not totally sure how to react to seeing a jam band while sitting. The Dead Tongues was maybe the most “fun” show I saw Saturday, you could tell these guys just loved playing music, and really thrived off each other’s energies, which was super cool to see. I know The Dead Tongues is composed of all local artists, but I actually recognized one of the guitarists from Carrboro’s own Open Eye Café, YOU GO JOSH, MAKE MUSIC AND MAKE CARBORRO PROUD! Josh Moore makes killer coffee in his spare time, when he’s not making me wiggle in my seat with his infectious folk-rock tunes.
I had the IMMENSE PLEASURE of seeing ONE Richard Youngs track, and then made the rookie mistake of trying to hit David Grubbs before High Wolf (This was my first official year of Hopscotch [I snuck into Laurel Halo last year] and there is totally an art to timing, that comes with experience I hope). But, the Richard Youngs track I DID see was phenomenal. Immersed in his consuming lyrics and circling acoustic drone, I was not surprised to hear later that it was a favorite of Saturday. And if you were wondering, David Grubbs set was late, and I therefore saw a whooping 0 percent of it, ended up leaving for High Wolf empty and cold inside.
And then, High Wolf, oh what Frenchmen do to me. I had listened to a track or two before I saw “Max” of High Wolf, but nothing could have prepared me for how satisfyingly glitchy and so utterly spine-chilling his set was. Playing to a pretty empty bar, the experience was so intimate, as Max fuddled with knobs and so calculatedly drove such a subtly mellifluous electro beat through the crowd. Favorite show of Saturday night, by far, I am seriously listening to High Wolf as I type this, no regretz.
Last show of the night was tough for me; I was so enthralled by High Wolf that I just wanted to groove, but there weren’t a lot of dance options in the late night repertoire. I made the unpopular decision to hit Gent and Jawns at Kings, rather than Sleep, which was ALL THA HYPE. I was running off a vague connection to Diplo as thus described in the Hopscotch schedule, but nothing could have prepared me for the insanity that was Gent and Jawns. Two dudes and their laptop hooked up to a nice speaker system, Gent and Jawns was essentially a less revolting frat party. I have no idea where the people at Gent and Jawns were for the entire rest of hopscotch, because these people were CRAZY. I made it through like 6 beat drops before I just dropped and rolled out, right about the time some dude in a cowboy hat started making out with a chick in a skin tight dress wearing cat ears on Gent and Jawns’ equipment. Definitely a lot of LOL moments, and I don’t regret choosing the dubstep dance party over the stoner metal rock off that was Sleep, but not anything I would likely ever see again.
ALL IN ALL, Hopscotch 2k13 was a TOTAL AND COMPLETE SUCCESS. Like I said before, I’m a Raleigh native, and it makes me elated to think my hometown could bring in such a big crowd and such eclectic lineup. Every single night there were punk, drone, folk, rock, metal, electro, ambient, and hiphop shows going on, so literally something for everyone. I hazard to say Hopscotch was more successful than Bonnaroo 2k13, in my eyes. After one year, I’m hooked 4 lyfe.
(James Franco in Springbreakers voice) HOPSCOTCH 4 EVA
WXYC Does Hopscotch: Friday
With so much to choose from at Hopscotch Music Festival, it’s hard to capture the true Hopscotch experience. Here, WXYC DJ James Butler describes his own Hopscotch experience on Friday night.
Ah Raleigh. Going back to Raleigh (my hometown) always manages to conjure up some memories but Hopscotch in particular dredges up some of my first great musical experiences. I saw my first rap show at the first Hopscotch in 2010 (Public Enemy), and some of my first concert experiences were at the Lincoln Theater and the Berkley Café long before that. So returning to these venues now; not just to see established acts that my 5th and 6th grade self would have liked, but also artists that older versions of me would have scoffed at; has a complicated and exciting place in my heart.
The great (and terrible) thing about a festival like Hopscotch is the truly staggering amount of choosing that one has to do. I know that I forsook some absolutely AMAZING bands in favor of others, but, alas, c’est la vie.
All (grainy, cell phone) photos below were taken by yours truly.
Future Islands, 7:00pm, City Plaza
My first show of this year’s festival was the Baltimore based synthpop group Future Islands. Having only a passing familiarity with their music, I was excited to see what they had to offer. What I saw was a band tinkering with a classic ‘80s sound (Echo and the Bunnymen especially came to mind) and succeeding at making it their own.
As Future Islands took the stage, the sun was still bright and shining, but as their set worn on, the light breeze carried their shimmering synths across the crowd and head bobbing spread like an infectious disease. In my past experience, early City Plaza openers have some of the worst crowds of the entire festival, but Future Islands demanded attention. Singer Samuel Herring roared and grunted his way across the pretty arrangements, making the sound visceral and full of emotion without ever being jarring. As bass pulsed the bricks beneath our feet, you could see in each person’s eyes the look of slowly being won over by Herring’s charisma. As the set drew on and the sun went down, the front of the stage gradually devolved into what can only be described as a dance party, even on the slower tracks, which soon spread out to the far reaches of the crowd. Beers were spilled, awkward contact was inadvertently made, and for a moment, I could have sworn I saw someone flashdance.
Holy Ghost!, 8:20pm, City Plaza
I take back everything I just said about Future Islands and the ‘80s. Future Islands, despite its influences, is still a distinctly modern band. Holy Ghost!, on the other hand, has seemingly never listened to anything but Tears for Fears, New Order, and Thriller all of their lives. At the start of their fantastic set, I could have sworn they were about to play “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” to a sea of upraised fists.
But instead, like their ‘80s revivalist contemporaries like Twin Shadow and Toro Y Moi, Holy Ghost! merged the dance pop of the era with an innate knack for catchy songwriting. Having known nothing about the band whatsoever going in, I had no idea what to expect. But as I quickly observed: as more and more people filed into City Plaza, got their beers, and settled in, Holy Ghost! forced those movements into an awkward dance-walk that even I found myself committing.
Live concerts are not the best place to listen for lyrics, and this was no exception. The groove and relentless beat of Holy Ghost!’s set rendered any critical analysis moot, and simply created a huge glow stick dance party free for all. The frontman coolly lit a cigarette as he banged on his auxiliary drum kit, fully aware of the bacchanalia he was creating in the front of the stage.
Interestingly enough, the majority of the crowd appeared to be treating Holy Ghost! as a main headliner, filing out of the Plaza immediately after their set (in fairness, Big Boi was the scheduled Friday night headliner, and was replaced by the far lesser known A-Trak). And as I, too, filed my way out into downtown, I couldn’t help but be satisfied by two spectacular unexpected performances.
Rose Windows, 10:00pm, Berkley Café
My next stop was the impossibly tiny Berkley Café for the Seattle folk rock group Rose Windows. Having heard their mostly fantastic debut record on Sub Pop earlier this year, I figured this would be a good stop before my more anticipated shows later in the night.
Unfortunately, I had not only underestimated the size of the Berkley, but also the size of Rose Windows’ fanbase, as the bar was packed to the brim for their set. I had (and have) mixed feelings about the record, as the bombastic, 7 piece band brings an interesting Eastern flair to their songs, but their usage of the flute often brings them closer to Jethro Tull than is often to my liking.
This all changed in the live setting. The flute now seemed essential to the texture of the songs, and none of the 4 songs I heard stretched out beyond their welcome. My personal highlights of the record, “Wartime Lovers” and “Heavenly Days,” were both played as the 2nd and 3rd songs in the set. These more folksy tunes give way for singer Rabia Shaheen Qazi’s gorgeous voice to really shine in a simpler setting, despite her onstage head banging and rogue hair antics that often seemed to overshadow the simple beauty of her voice.
After four tracks of Rose Windows’ set, the cramped setting of the Berkley got to me (I was quite tired of rubbing arms on both sides with complete strangers) and I soon departed for the Kennedy Theater.
Speedy Ortiz, 11:00pm, Kennedy Theater
Speedy Ortiz was perhaps my most anticipated show of the night, and I wasted no time in getting to the Kennedy Theater. In my rush, I arrived at the Kennedy with about 10 minutes to go in Alexander Turnquist’s set. Being unfamiliar with the theater, I simply walked right in to find about 40 people sitting on the floor listening to Turnquist’s solo acoustic guitar playing, with all of them now looking straight at me. This bizarre encounter only made the setting that much weirder for Speedy Ortiz’s heavy and angled rock edge that followed.
Speedy Ortiz’s debut, Major Arcana, is a frontrunner for my 2013 album of the year, and if nothing else the show only confirmed that notion. Sadie Dupuis, the songwriter and frontwoman, brings so much anger, innocence, and poetic skill to her songs that you can’t help but empathize. This is not to mention the great ‘90s rock sound that the band has adapted from luminaries like Pavement and Sonic Youth.
Dupuis spit out the lyrics with all of the ferocity of the record, and the band rarely strayed from note for note recreations of the studio versions. But seeing Dupuis’ eyes as she sings of the sexual betrayal in “Plough” or the wishful longing in “Cash Cab” was almost the entirety of the experience. The way she closed her eyes when reaching a personal lyric or the execution of an eye roll at just the right moment lent the songs an emotional intimacy not seen by the people in the back of the small theater.
However, the band’s small catalog meant that the set only lasted for 35 minutes. This unexpected surprise had resolved one of my greatest scheduling troubles, and I hurried next door to catch the end of Local Natives’ set.
Local Natives, ~11:40pm, Memorial Auditorium
My ‘Local Natives or Speedy Ortiz’ debate had been raging in my head ever since the schedule was released, and my decision to hit Speedy was almost entirely due to the strength of Major Arcana. But Hummingbird, Local Natives’ latest record that was released earlier this year, is also a fantastic record in its own right, yet during the portion of the Natives’ set that I caught, the tracks from Hummingbird seemed less suited to the festival setting than to the countless bedroom listens I had given them.
Cloaked in a heavy cloud of artificial fog, Local Natives banged out favorites from their excellent debut Gorilla Manor as well as newer tracks from Hummingbird over the 40 minutes I saw. The crowd, while only filling about 1/3 of the huge Memorial Auditorium, was singing along to every word in a show of love and enthusiasm that was unmatched by any other act I saw at Hopscotch.
However, the set often got bogged down in the inherent slow pace of many of their newer songs, killing any momentum brought by their rarer, faster paced tracks. Watching the show, I felt justified in my earlier decision to go with Speedy Ortiz’s set, despite the fantastic light show that came with the larger venue in Memorial Auditorium.
The way the set began to drag, combined with my fears of the Earl Sweatshirt show hitting capacity, soon led to a mad dash down the street to the Lincoln Theater.
Earl Sweatshirt, 12:30am, Lincoln Theater
Earl Sweatshirt’s enigmatic persona as both the youngest, and the most talented, of alternative rap group Odd Future lent his solo show an odd vibe of unpredictability as my friend and I debated what exactly Earl would play. Hot on the heels of his official debut album Doris (not including a widely heard mixtape entitled Earl), it would seem that Earl would stick to promoting his new record.
But ever devoted to his fans, Earl made the show a type of conversation, as he walked out on stage only to divulge that he did not make a setlist and wanted requests. As the fury of shouting ensued, Earl began to dig into his Odd Future back catalog, casually joking that he couldn’t play that much given that he only has about 30 songs. In any case, the selections from Doris were few, though when that album’s highlight (“Chum”) was played and Earl asked for “sad lights,” he was met with a blanket of blue light that only enhanced that song’s lyrical philosophical wanderings.
Honestly, having heard stories of mosh pits and assault charges from previous Odd Future shows, I was expecting a much more energetic crowd. But the crowd at Hopscotch seemed uninterested in what Earl was doing most of the time (though there were still a few people thrown out for rowdiness). The Lincoln was packed tight, but Earl’s backing production never really rose to a volume level that seemed to fit the songs. At the end of the show, he unceremoniously played “Whoa” (a single from Doris), said “bye,” and promptly left the stage.
And while hearing Earl play some of the best songs in his catalog was definitely a treat, I found myself wishing for a different venue and a crowd whose energy Earl could feed off of.
Overall, though the Friday lineup would have been improved by a Big Boi appearance, it didn’t seem to suffer too much from it. The club shows were just as good as they were on any other day, and the City Plaza openers were strong enough that they made up for the lack of a true headliner. I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like if they had moved true headliners like The Breeders or Spiritualized to Friday to make up, but the sheer starpower of the Friday club shows (Local Natives, Earl Sweatshirt, etc) is a testament to the greatness of the lineup this year.
Am I sad that I am only attending Friday’s shows? Of course. But could I have asked any more from this incredible day of music?
WXYC Station Manager Olivia Branscum’s Hopscotch Schedule
WXYC Station Manager Olivia Branscum shares the bands she’s hoping to see at Hopscotch in September.
Angel Olsen, 9:30: One of the best female vocalists working in contemporary avant-folk (my term, not hers), and a member of Asheville’s Bathetic Records roster. Her raw, pliable voice and quasi-traditional songwriting create a great starting place for a festival experience that’s sure to wander all over the map.
Pharmakon, 10:00: Dip out of Angel Olsen’s show early to catch part of Pharmakon’s at ten. Pharmakon, aka 22-year-old noise musician Margaret Chardier, is worth seeing for her gloomy industrial noise concoctions, but is even more noteworthy for her status as a young female noisemaker. I haven’t had the opportunity to see her perform, and am pretty excited about it.
Grouper, 11:00: Ahh, Grouper. Having missed several opportunities to see Liz Harris perform in the past couple of years, I’m promising myself to make it to her show on Thursday. Expect warm drones, soft vocals, and impeccable songwriting. It doesn’t hurt that for many of us, her music is a deeply emotional experience.
Merzbow, 11:30: Slip in for the tail end of Merzbow’s show, which may involve the use of a drum machine, the prolific Japanese noisemaker’s ‘first’ instrument.
Wolf Eyes, 12:30: Another prolific noise outfit, this time centering amorphously around Nate Young, Aaron Dilloway, and John Olson. If you haven’t seen Wolf Eyes yet, now’s the time, as they’re traveling with all three original members and recently released a pretty slammin record.
Gross Ghost, 5:50: I’ve little interest in Friday’s headliners (and I’ll need to eat/sleep SOMETIME), but I’ve been hankering to catch a Gross Ghost show for a while now. Their 2012 release Brer Rabbit is still catchiest rock album on my iPhone (which hasn’t been updated in almost as long, BUT still). Local alert!
Double Negative, 9:30: Precise, urgent Raleigh hardcore punk. Double Negative are another one of those bands I’ve managed to miss live despite two and a half years absorbing the Triangle’s best, so I’m doing whatever I can to make it to this one.
Swearin’, 10:30: So, for those of you who may not know this, I’m in love with the Crutchfield sisters. I caught Waxahatchee at p4k2k13, and I think it’s really rad that they’re playing this festival together. Allison, of Swearin’, started as a drummer in the sisters’ first punk bands, which I think adds an interesting element to her treatment of the ‘frontperson’ role. Don’t miss it!
Daniel Bachman, 11:00: Daniel Bachman is like 22, an impressive guitarist, and an all-around cool human being. WXYC has collaborated with him in the past, and I love supporting his work whenever I can. Plus, it’ll provide some much-needed space in my Friday. If nothing else, my first Hopscotch experience taught me the truth of the following statement: Pace Yourself, Please. Pace Yourself.
Waxahatchee/Charlemagne Palestine, 12:00: Am I allowed to say I don’t know yet? I recently saw Waxahatchee perform live, but Katie Crutchfield’s music makes me feel giddy and tuned-in and alive in a way I’ve rarely experienced since like the tenth grade. On the other hand, Charlemagne Palestine is a crazy-influential representative of the post-minimalist composition situation, one of my all-time favorite situations, ever. Go to either. They’ll be different, but they’ll both probably be worth it.
Pere Ubu, 1:00: Not sure I could walk away from a Pere Ubu opportunity at this point in my Personal Musical Journey. One Of The Most Important Punk Bands Ever. But really, it’ll be worth it.
I’m historically pretty bad at making it to headliners, but ideally, I’d bum around the mainstage from 5:45 to 8:40 to get in The Lollipops, The Breeders, and Spiritualized. One of the best things about Hopscotch is the sheer opportunity it provides to people who’re interested in more challenging or perhaps even marginalized music, and as the festival grows, its offerings expand in kind to make it shockingly easy for someone like me to see a wide gamut of genre-founding groups along with much newer artists.
The Human Eyes, 9:00: Oh boy oh boy oh boy. When I said Gross Ghost’s record is the catchiest rock album on my iPhone, it’s only because I accidentally removed Guiding Eyes for the Blind a couple of months ago. The Human Eyes lovingly fold their influences (new wave, post punk, etc.) together in a uniquely delightful way. I say delightful, and I mean it. A must-see! And they’re local!
Richard Youngs, 10:30: Truth be told, I am new to the world of Richard Youngs; I don’t have anything particularly clever or informative to say about him. I do know, however, that I am choosing his show over Pelt’s, if that means anything to anybody.
Lonnie Holley, 11:00: In my opinion, one of the best on the lineup. It almost seems like an insult to describe Lonnie Holley’s weird, inspired, prophetic, exultant outsider folk as folk, outsider, weird, inspired, prophetic, and exultant. Please do yourself a favor and make time in your schedule for this experience. Plus, Lonnie Holley is fairly new to the live performance joint, so it will be interesting to see how he chooses to piece things together.
Holly Herndon, 12:00: With her dual experience as a DJ in Berlin and a PhD candidate in music composition at Stanford, Holly Herndon is about as overqualified as they come. Her most recent record, Movement, explores that complex space between intellectual analysis and visceral response; not quite a ‘dance’ record, it nevertheless can be hard to stand still to. Excited for this one!
Sleep, 12:30: Dopesmoker. Haha, just kidding. But really, if last year’s showing is any indication, slow burn is about all I’ll be able to handle by this point in the weekend. And if I can administer some slow burn along with a healthy dose of – and I’m going to quote JJ here – “the guitar tones the lyrics the theme the drums the meticulous song-craft the experience…”, in other words all that is Sleep, I’ll have done pretty damn well for myself.
Image: red, white and black eyes forever on Flickr
Hopscotch Featured Artist: Charlemagne Palestine
WXYC Music Director JJ Lang’s Hopscotch Schedule
WXYC Co-Music Director JJ Lang (aka @SwagAndTheFury) is back, this time to talk about what his ideal Hopscotch schedule looks like.
Hopscotch Featured Artist: Whatever Brains
WXYC Music Director J.J. Lang (aka @SwagAndTheFury) talks about one of his favorite Hopscotch acts: Whatever Brains.
The six of them half-stumble onto the stage, too dazed to be accused of being bored. Guitarists Rich Ivey and William Evans nod in each other’s general directions before starting the sound-check. “WAAAAHHHHHHH,” Ivey bleats, his eyes rolling back into his head, as he and Evans slowly begin tuning their guitars in opposite directions. Satisfied, Ivey begins stomping around the stage, eyes still not facing outward. He is surrounded by a pummeling combination of drums, angular guitars and horror movie synths, and they are very much in control of this nightmare. Welcome aboard!
Do I really have to describe the brains’ sound now? Okay, they’re definitely a punk band, which I guess means their rhythms can get fast and their guitarists play chords sometimes. And they’re definitely not a punk band, with more recent songs absconding the guitars and plenty of older deep cuts eschewing traditional verse-chorus-verse structure for meandering, psychedelic explorations about marquee warfare, looking for the perfect pet (“and it’s not a metaphor for women so f—k off!”), and, uh…reciting Shakespeare? Vocals range from snarls to confrontational howls to an urgent chant-like cadence reminiscent of Kurt Weil on acid, and it totally makes sense, trust me. And in case this sounds off-putting (and listening to an earlier record, it very well might literally ‘sound’ off-putting to some of you squares), let me make this very clear: it is not off-putting because it is engaging because it is amazing to see how they fit this together into a terrifically cohesive package and this thrill is what going to concerts is all about.
The first time I saw w/e brains was at the inaugural Hopscotch, where they opened for sludgelords Harvey Milk and their keyboardist, still in high school, wore his football team’s eagle mascot on stage. Now, I’m pretty sure they’re the only band who has played Hopscotch all four years, and I will not be the only person to be at all four of their shows (and at least ten others in between). Since that first show, they have added a second keyboardist, dropped the eagle costume (I heard the keyboardist was actually fired from his position as school mascot after that show, actually), added a second drummer, and moved away from the guitar. And far from being some sort of obnoxious shtick or feeble attempt to remain relevance, this is a band that has been chasing a singular vision that has been changing and evolving ever since the early 7”s. Which makes being a Brains fan even more exciting: you never know what’s next, and you never know what band will show up. Whether you’re going to Hopscotch to explore local music or because you’re excited to see your favorite internationally touring musician (hint: it’s Richard Youngs), you will not regret seeing one of the smartest, sharpest and most original live bands on the Triangle’s biggest stage.
If you can’t wait, check them and fellow Hopscotch artist Daniel Bachman out this Friday, July 19, on UNC’s upper quad for a free show.
Image: Whatever Brains’ Facebook page