Friday, September 9, 2011

Hopscotch '11 - Day One Review

The Love Language played a stellar set at the
Lincoln Theater last night.
I began my endeavor into Hopscotch's first day with high hopes. As I've previously mentioned, the sheer atmosphere of downtown Raleigh during the festival is electrifying. The Myxem staff spent most of the day exploring the downtown area, learning the lay of the land and such. We unfortunately did not get settled in time to attend a day party but were instead indulging ourselves in local cuisine (check out Kyle's review of Beasley's Chicken + Honey, which was stellar) and making a stop into Shopscotch, a "pop-up store" forged by online merch retailer Kung Fu Nation and a handful of local artists to sell their wares to the public. The selection of vinyl records in Shopscotch is definitely worth a look; I'll be going back tomorrow with cash in hand. In addition to new releases, reasonably priced t-shirts, and other assorted swag, the selection boasted a variety of rare and out-of-print records that any collector would drool over. If you have the time, I highly advise taking a second to stop in and see what's for sale.

The Myxem staff began our night at King's Barcade for Brooklyn-based quartet Dinosaur Feathers. In my personal opinion, there could have been no better way to kick off the festivities. The venue was packed to the gills, but the band was sure to bring enough energy to go around. Their infectious breed of intelligent pop-rock kept the crowd moving, and their performance was absolutely flawless. I left King's exhausted from the dancing that I couldn't help but partake in and filled with even higher hopes for what my night would have in store.

From there, our staff began the long hike to the Union, a former warehouse transformed into a tasteful bar, for Cassis Orange. For quite some time, I've been enamored with the moody, atmospheric songwriting of Chapel Hill's Autumn Ehinger, and was excited to see her in a live setting. Sadly, because the Union was lacking actual stage, I was unable to physically see her or any of her band. The sound was pitch-perfect though, and I enjoyed every bit of what I stayed for.

From there, we headed to the Lincoln Theatre to get in line for what was sure to be one of the most crowded of the night: Raleigh's own The Love Language. I'm glad we did: the entire floor was packed shoulder-to-shoulder and part of me was afraid the balcony was going to collapse. The excitement in the room was palpable to the point of pulsating and lasted throughout the set. It was a simply incredible show in every respect, and the chemistry between frontman Stu McLamb and the crowd was impossible to ignore. This was undoubtedly the highlight of day one for me.

Last but certainly not least (unless measure by attendance) was Empress Hotel at Deep South. This seven piece from New Orleans is impossible to describe in terms of genre but are highly energetic and put on a show that is, above all things, fun. I was disappointed that they had such a weak showing; with a solid showing, this could have been the most danceable show of the day. The septet definitely had all the right elements and commanded the attention of all present. A perfect way to close out the night, and I wish more people had paid attention.

All-in-all, day one was just plain great. I feel like the luckiest man in the world to have two more days of this ahead of me.

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