Hopscotch Music Festival 2014 Sun Araw makes a crystal den, Lescalleet makes a joke, Thurston makes nice with Tony Conrad

I’ve attended hopscotch every year since its inauguration in 2010. It’s been amazing seeing the fest morph into a flaming sword of experimentalism in the minds of ravenous South-easterners and bloggers alike. Hopscotch was the first time I saw the wild-style percussion of Chris Corsano and the stuffed-animal-cuddling, wine-sipping of Charlemagne Palestine. It was also the first time I realized there is a “maximum brutality” level in music: That occurred during the Merzbow x Wolf Eyes set in 2013.

This year presented its own challenges. Although Hopscotch is a mere five years old, it seems to me there was a lot of complaining flying around the streets of Raleigh. Most of the festival coverage I’ve run into has lamented the fact that “Mark Kozelek called us a bunch of hillbillies!” or “the festival still looks to find a stable place.” I find this unfortunate. Although there was much boo-hooing about Kozelek’s mood and the fact that indie-rock dominated the lineup, Hopscotch is a people’s festival. Hell, the fest bent over backward to make every possible music fan have some options. Metalheads got Mastodon and Death. St. Vincent and Spoon fulfilled the “middle-of-the-road-core” fans. Rap classicists and progressives alike got a full spectrum of hip-hop, ranging from De La Soul to clipping.

I saw none of the aforementioned acts, but I did help organize the TMT day party. Seeing D/P/I RIP on a midi-saxophone, Tony Conrad get wild with Thurston Moore, and Giant Claw play Dark Web made the whole thing feel razor-sharp, with or without Kozelek. All objectivity aside, I LOVE the Hopscotch Festival so much it’s almost hard to talk about, primarily because I got completely drunk and probably lost myself a few times. After coming to terms with that, I tried to recall my experience by channeling the festival vibes through improvisational image-making.

I offer you an impression-based, primarily visual essay attempting to chronicle my experience at Hopscotch 2014.


1. New Music Raleigh Presents: Future Shock. I discovered William Britelle is a genius. I yelled out during the performance “Doesn’t this sound like Rustie’s Glass Swords!” *sigh*.
2. IIII. Never before have 10 drummers playing syncopated rhythms been more underwhelming *sigh*.
3. Tim Hecker. Extremely moving. I visualized a Roman soldier made of magma storming out of my heart and defeating my worst enemies *sigh*.


1. Tony Conrad. Dude shredded on a viola for two movements. Was joined by Thurston Moore. Then, they shredded together.
2. Helm. There were eight people in attendance: myself, Jeff Witcher, and some scattered others. Helm emitted massive metallic sounds into a church. An upset churchman walked around in circles outside. Brilliant.
3. Nguzunguzu. Masterful, amazing club vibes. They had an entire contemporary art museum bumpin’ and grindin’. They were “on-top” — the tastemakers of now. Fucking awesome.


1. Jason Lescalleet. He began by spinning a vinyl copy of Benji, gradually ripping Kozaleck’s song into brutal noise. He read the blogs. It was a great joke!
2. Nest Egg. Secretly one of the best “band” bands of the festival. Pure, driving kraut-rock that turned the whole venue into a cruising bad-ass-wagon careening through the night.
3. Sun Araw. My favorite of the weekend. Alien Dancehall, MIDI-instruments, Cameron Stallones, Alex Grey, and Tony Lowe envisioned the newest, chillest, weirdest mental den — made of crystal. The set challenged everyone, but gave enough room for the groove. By the end of the set everybody was moving.

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