Every week, I will post what I have been listening to, watching and reading lately.
After spending four days in a giant beach house with our extended family, PJ and I drove to Raleigh for the 6th annual Hopscotch Festival (my fifth, since I skipped last year and missed all the Sun Kil Moon nonsense). I saw or heard about 40 bands last weekend. Here is an extremely abbreviated recap of the festival with the most mediocre cell phone pictures you’ve ever seen.
Most charismatic frontperson
TIE, Veronica Torres from Pill and Bo White from Patois Counselors
Torres is frenetic and powerful when she performs, throwing herself into Pill’s art punk jams. When improvisor-in-residence Greg Fox (Guardian Alien) joined on drums, she sat on the left side of the stage, wailing with Alexandra Drewchin (ALSO Guardian Alien). It was glorious. And White jerks around on stage, expressing himself in a talk-singing voice over his band’s layered noise. They were still a hot ticket when I saw them at their second of three shows, with many people coming specifically to see them based on their earlier, buzzy performance.
For most of her set, new Richmond resident Natalie Prass looked like this:
She wore a beautiful vintage jumpsuit and sang with a voice that is even more lovely than it is on record (I am not kidding). I love her. After her set, she changed into this:
And performed a dance to “Space Jam” with her girlfriends. What I loved about it is that it didn’t feel like cultural appropriation–no one was pretending to be something they were not, they were just three girls performing a silly routine that they probably did in dance class fifteen years ago.
Most audience tears
I’m just guessing it was during Waxahatchee’s (Katie Crutchfield) solo acoustic set that was announced 48 hours prior when previous headliner Owen Pallett cancelled. I wasn’t going to go because I’d seen her before, but the allure of seats on the final night of the festival was just too strong. She covered Lucinda Williams’ “Greenville” AND did “La Loose” exactly how I hear it in my head. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I listened to Katie sing about her life, which seemed so close to how I felt in my 20s.
Lydia Loveless’ Somewhere Else was my favorite record of 2014, and she was the artist I looked most forward to seeing this year. I even sat through two bands before her I didn’t want to see (one of which, Grand Champeen, turned out to be great) because I didn’t want to risk not getting in. Sadly, I shouldn’t have worried, as the venue was not full–apparently everyone was in line at Bully. The sound was weird in the Irish pub, but she ran through so many songs and her voice hit me in just the right place.
I listened to some of Elisa Ambrogio’s music before seeing her–it’s noisy rock, fine. I also like her band, Magik Markers. It was all enough to get me to her show, which turned out to be fanfuckingtastic. She has an amazing band (Black Twig Pickers’ Nathan Bowles, also a fine solo musician, played drums) and her songs sounded both quirkier and more straight forward live. I likened her to Helium on social media, which is definitely an apt comparison.
I mean, I already mentioned how great Lydia Loveless and Natalie Prass sounded, who is left? Oh, that would be Ian William Craig, a trained opera singer who loops his voice live and makes weird, wonderful music. He might have the most beautiful voice I’ve ever heard live. I will definitely spend more time with his record.
Some of my friends played, too, mostly at two day parties my friend Chris put on. Friday’s venue was terribly dark, but some highlights from Saturday’s show at Legends:
Yep, that’s my husband, playing a solo Hoax Hunters show behind a stuffed cat.
I’ve written about Positive No on this blog a bunch of times, and I might next week too since I’m seeing them tonight, but I loved seeing them in a new town. They bring me much joy.
My friend Evan plays drums in Charlotte’s Black Market and I am SO SAD I hadn’t seen them before. They were so polished, like a band of grown ups who actually practice and get better.
And here’s the only decent photo I got of a band at City Plaza. This is Tycho, who lost power TWICE. I was in my hotel room eating snacks, which is mostly how I got through the weekend: spend a few hours during the late afternoon/early evening eating and napping, missing some day parties and also headlining acts. Oh well.
My least favorite artist? I wouldn’t normally announce something like this but I just have to tell you that I accidentally saw Prurient. I was headed to see Ian William Craig/Elisa Ambrogio/Waxahatchee, and I didn’t hear anything in the lobby of the opera house, so I walked through the doors and immediately realized my mistake. On stage, a man in leather pants and a ripped shirt was making noise and screaming. This was my response:
I think Prurient wants to kill me. #hopscotch15
— Melissa (@bunnycaper) September 13, 2015
He seemed like a SUPER nice guy, talking to fans after the show. His persona, though…not for me.
I know everyone is sick of Fred Armisen, but Bill Hader is a GEM, and he is doing award-worthy stuff on IFC’s Documentary Now! His Little Edie is a work of art. Each episode is a satire of a different documentary (or style of documentary, in the case of VICE), and although it’s much funnier when you have seen the doc (or have deep pop culture knowledge of it), you can enjoy the show on its own. For the first time, my husband was thankful I made him watch Grey Gardens many years ago.
Also, Project Greenlight is back, and you should watch (on HBO OnDemand) just for Matt Damon’s racist/mansplain-y comments in episode one (for which he has since apologized, whatever). There’s a reason white men prefer the work of other white men and champion them, leaving others behind. Anyway, they picked the asshole white guy who hated the script and made demands as soon as he was selected. He’ll make good TV, I guess.
We have actually been spending a good portion of our evenings in the record room, going through some things we thrifted (Count Basie in the 70s: highly recommended!) so there hasn’t been as much TV watching in the house. I’ve been dabbling in Bloodline and a few other things (one day I SWEAR TO GOD I will finish Wolf Hall), so I will quickly say, Ben Mendelsohn and Mark Rylance should get ALL THE EMMYS. (Note on the gif: all Wolf Hall gifs on giphy include that Tom Holland kid AKA future Spiderman. Mark Rylance: not hot enough for tweens on tumblr.)
On the way to the beach, my husband and I listened to Patton Oswalt’s Silver Screen Fiend, which I enjoyed for its history lesson on the classic L.A. comedy spot Largo in the 90s, but I wish there was more about his movie obsession and less about the comedy. Really, I wish this was two separate books. I would have read both.
I also couldn’t stop calling him Constable Bob in my head.
I read a few on Nancy’s fiction books, but never any of the Mitford non fiction, and I sped through Jessica’s Hons and Rebels in a day. I even drunk ordered two more Mitford books (Nancy’s letters and Deborah’s autobiography, which seems to mostly be about how she restored a castle) while playing board games with my family.
There will be more next week, when I am (hopefully) more adjusted to my new job and can find time and energy to blog and watch TV and not just yell at the GOP presidential candidates. Oh! And Katie is coming this weekend! I am making pizza for her and our good friend Leelee! It will be like old times except L is bringing her two kids and I am cutting my wine with orange soda so I don’t cuss too much in front of children! FUN!
What pop culture have you been getting into this week?