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Programming director and concert connoisseur JJ Lang gives us his recommendations for the upcoming Hopscotch music festival. His explanations below:
THURSDAY 9p - Chris Forsyth and Koen Holtcamp. Start the weekend in a trance before things get out of control, also looking forward to knowing what Forsyth looks like because I have a feeling I’ll be seeing him around this weekend, scouting out some possible collaborators. 930p - Flesh Wounds. Planning on being bored of Forsyth by now, and checking out the greatest rock and roll band of all time that has a WXYC music director as a frontman. I loved their set at the BBQ, awesome guitar work, and the drumming made it all feel natural. I’m into things that make sense because I’m about to go see… 10p - Deerhoof. THERE’S NO OTHER BAND I WANT TO SEE AT THIS TIME SLOT?! That is awesome. My number one rule for Hopscotch is ‘tie goes to the band you haven’t seen in concert before, unless Alan Bishop is involved.’ And I was planning on kinda sticking to it, but damn there is nothing as fun as watching the lumbering, mumbling Greg Saunier totally overpower a tiny drumset as Satomi leads the crowd through chants of songs we’ve all heard a dozen times and never thought actually had real lyrics. Brilliant, brilliant musicians, and it looks like they have a two hour set so that gives me plenty of time to go in and out. 11p - TIE between Alvarius B, Bill Orcutt and Guardian Alien. Here we go, the first conflict of the weekend. Alan Bishop (Sublime Frequencies mastermind, Sun City Girls bassist) records as Alvarius B, but he doesn’t really tour much at all. I was fortunate enough to see him play a small house show in his current hometown of Seattle last summer, and he had no shame about pulling out a giant song book and ripping through some standards, only to stop mid-song to tell stories of where the lyrics came from. He even through in some SCG classics (Cooking With Satan, anyone?). I would see this again every night for the rest of my life, and I think I’m going to, even if that means missing out on Bill Orcutt tear apart an acoustic guitar in ways I could only dream of. And I really enjoyed the new Guardian Alien 35-minute song/album, featuring the Liturgy drummer who quit the band before I saw them, that show would be intense. 12p - TIE between Julia Holter and Liars. Well I was stoked to blow my ears out to Liars until I heard this new album that sounded like Radiohead (not like anything is wrong with Radiohead, they’re just pretty boring when you could be listening to Liars) and figured if I was going to take a nap, i was going to take a blissful one instead of a complacent one. Holter it is. Until… 1230p - Thee Oh Sees. The band that made me realize I could like garage rock if they just turned up the ugly (you know, without becoming primarily an ugly band a la Cheater Slicks) and really got that sound on the drums that keeps things going forever. Good thing I like beer. On the off chance they disappoint, one of the sturdiest, most reliable sludge metal bands from Georgia, Baroness, will be nearby and even though their new album is too focused on being everything I can’t stand about rock-metal hybrids, I’d be happy closing out my night with that sound.
FRIDAY Too bad that Chris Corsano’s solo set is this early, but I’m hoping he’ll pop up at enough of the things I want to see this weekend to make up for it. Maybe some day parties, too. Because there’s no way I’m missing the Jesus and Mary Chain’s set, assuming the weather is good and the sound doesn’t bleed, it’ll be awesome to see this band that I’m pretty familiar with do whatever it is they do to a giant audience (I’m expecting less than five words of stage banter, less than three articles of non-black clothing, and less than two musicians facing the crowd, drummer excluded). If not, Corsano it is. 1030p - Dope Body. I’m assuming that Jesus and Mary Chain will go until about 10, which will give me some time to change into my gym clothes. I’ve been listening to the new Dope Body album an awful lot, and I’ve heard they really bring the hype live, which makes sense considering how energetic even their slower and more tortured numbers are. Guitars! 1130p - Corrosion of Conformity. Duh. But Pop 1280, if they weren’t here just a few months ago, would be a good pick. 1230p - Enough rock music, I’m going to see ITAL recreate his music live, letting some of the noise sneak in and then dance when Only For Tonight comes on. Also Daniel Martin-McCormick is my biggest music crush right now, so yeah.
SATURDAY 830p - Joint D=. I don’t care if I see them at like a million day parties this weekend, they’re great and I don’t really listen to the Roots. 930p - Burglar Fucker. I haven’t heard any of these bands so I’ll go for the one that has ‘fuck’ in the name unless I’ve found one bar with significantly cheaper beers than the others by now. 10p - Kevin Drumm. Because I listen to stuff that sounds like this and that he’s been a part of, and it feels kind of foolish without a visual component because even if we can’t ever see the view from the window on a recording, let alone understand how they’re interpreting their surroundings, we can at least have a better idea of what’s going on (and be a part of it!!11!!) instead of just saying that it’s just noise. 11p - I’ll stay for Oren Ambarchi, where I’m expecting a Corsano sighting. 1130p - According to my tiebreaker, I’m going to see Laurel Halo sing really well and make some pretty hard-hitting noises in the middle of some trancey dance, which will be a good warm-up for my closing pick, but chances are I’m going to end up watching Colin Stetson a second time, still in awe of his talents and story-telling inabilities. Can’t go wrong here. 12p - Cheater Slicks. They loud. 1230p - Sunn O))). Because Stephen O’Malley has a great twitter. Because I know most of their songs well enough to tell them apart. Because patience is a virtue lacking in music festivals. Because I’m very glad that the loudest, heaviest-hitting band is going last this year. Because I’m going to be sick of anything that sounds like a song at this point. Because I want to see ‘the robe’ in person. Because I will have seen so many damn guitars by now that I would like to see one undo itself.