Hopscotch Music Festival Reveiw


Big Thief
The Brooklyn trio, Big Thief, was a thunderous opening to Hopscotch this year. Fresh off the release of their sophomore album “Capacity” they showcased why they are one of the most talked about new bands.Big ThiefAdrianne Lenker’s vocal delivery was enthralling as it echoed through City Plaza with tracks like “Mythological Beauty” and drew the audience in when she was nearly whispering during “Great White Shark.” Most festivals build up and get better throughout the day but Big Thief blew the doors wide open Thursday night and was as deserving of the main stage as any other act. [Thomas Coogan]
Margo Price
I am not a big country music fan but Margo Price made it hard for you not to be one on Thursday night. Her entire set and persona beamed charisma.Margo Price Running material from her great debut, “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter,” as well as some singles from her upcoming record, “All American Made,” as well as a few covers Price was able to charm the crowd and showcase her band’s tight, intricate performing chops. Margo Price may have seemed out of place on the bill alongside hip-hop and indie mainstays but she made her case and won over everyone in attendance. [Thomas Coogan]
Mount Eerie
I knew Mount Eerie’s set would be devastating and I thought I was ready for it given how many times I have listened to “A Crow Looked At Me.” I was not ready. Watching Phil Elverum wipe tears from his eyes after finishing the opener, “Real Death” brought me back to the naked shock of listening to that song for the first time and solidified its message that death is real. Elverum said that he enjoyed performing these songs but did apologize to the audience for making everyone sad. The set was only Elverum with an acoustic guitar and the even more stripped down versions of songs from “Crow” made it feel like he was talking directly to you.
What I was truly not prepared for was that Mount Eerie brought a lot of new songs that further chronicle his life after losing his wife, Genevieve Elverum, with some of the songs reaching the ten-minute mark. He sang about his daughter’s reaction to Mount Eerielistening to Genevieve’s music and her subsequent confusion as to why the voice she recognizes isn’t around anymore. He sang about the absurdity of being flown to a music festival to play songs about his dead wife to drunk teenagers and then wait for a hotel shuttle next to Skrillex’s tour bus and a stack of subwoofers. He sang about the constraints of mortality and wanting to do something that people will remember him for after he dies. “A Crow Looked At Me” felt like a truly individual masterful piece of art that could not be matched. It looks like Mount Eerie will top his own masterpiece. [Thomas Coogan]
Oh Sees
Oh Sees came out strong. With synchronized drummers front and center, I truly feared for my ears that had been already ringing from the last set. The ring of John Dwyer’s guitar drove the set to a start. Their energetic, extended jams were tight and sounded amazing. I think they brought theirOh Sees own sound system too! The drummers were by far the best part of the set. They were so in sync, matching every fill, but still energetic and dynamic. Despite some technical difficulties where John Dwyer had to replace an amp head during the middle of the dream, the three-piece was tight and flexible which made for a really fun show. [Jake Keisler]
Future Islands
Future Islands are well known for their live shows and their hometown return to headline City Plaza on Friday explained why.  Opening with the blissful, reminiscent “Back in the Tall Grass,” Future Islands set the tempo for the evening and never let up. Sam Herring brought his famous dancing and stage presence and the career-spanning setlist balanced Future Islandsenergetic new favorites like “Ran” with somber, heartfelt cuts like “A Song for Our Grandfathers.”  While I have not attended previous Hopscotch iterations that Future Islands played, it was touching to see a band climb the bill to the headlining slot and hear “Vireo’s Eye,” a song they played when they were just a tiny font band, close out the main stage on Friday[Thomas Coogan]
Marie Davidson
“Adieux Au Dancefloor” was one of 2016’s most novel releases. Marie Davidson interwove danceable electronic beats with spoken word vocals and it resulted in a fun, exciting album that has little to compare it to. Davidson brought this to Hopscotch and it made for a phenomenal show.  The rapid and jittery “I Dedicate My Life” kicked off the show and set the tone for the rest of it.  The minimalist song structures combined with Davidson’s knack for crescendo and the spoken word vocal passages made for a dance show that was hypnotic and meditative.  If you weren’t Marie Davidsondancing then your eyes were glued to Davidson who was bouncing on stage while meticulously building the songs up part by part. Even non-electronic music fans cannot help but be enticed by what Davidson crafted at Hopscotch this year. [Thomas Coogan]
The Preoccupations set lasted 45 minutes but only had 5 songs. Some may be repulsed by this seemingly boring setlist, but they milked it so much, I felt that the songs ended too soon. The ritardando during death (a track Preoccupations 1that lasts 11 minutes on the record) seemed to slow to a full stop. Every time they kept on slowing down, my mouth dropped even further. The energy that existed in the relationship between the bandmates was truly something to behold. After seeing a noisy, chaotic lo-fi set lastnight, I had my doubts, but they blew me away in every aspect. [Jake Keisler]
After seeing Solange, my life changed. I had thought I knew what made a great concert, but this changed the game. Solange choreographed the entire show, which added so much, the musicians were dressed in a Solangebeautiful red and played so cohesively. When she sang to the audience, she looked them in the eye. I had never felt like lyrics were so sincere and so intentional. Solange’s delivery was something that I couldn’t have imagined possible for a touring artist. Not to mention her voice was sublime. If you ever get the chance to see her, take the chance. You will not regret. I had my doubts because I am not a fan of the Beyoncé craze and I was fearful of this being a diet-Beyoncé concert but it was something so distinct and something so real. [Jake Keisler]
Aldous Harding
I thought it would be impossible for any artist to follow Solange and be able to capture my interest even slightly. Aldous Harding proved me dead wrong.  Walking out alone with only a guitar and opening with a near seven-minute version of “Swell Does The Skull,” Harding washed everything else away and had all eyes locked on her for the duration of herAldous Hardingset.  It was truly amazing to see how easily Harding and bandmate were able to bounce between genres and styles.  The groove filled and hypnotic cut “Blend” had everyone swaying in their chairs and the uncontrollable “Horizon” almost knocked everyone out of them.  “Party” was one of my favorite albums of the year before her set but it has skyrocketed since. [Thomas Coogan]
Hurray For The Riff Raff
Leading up to Hopscotch I wrote that if Hurray For The Riff Raff played “Pa’lante” it would be worth the price of admission alone.  I think everyone in the crowd would agree with me.  Alynda Segarra gave reason to call her the voice of a generation. Her newfound persona of The Hurray For The Riff RaffNavigator, the ancestral guiding voice for Puerto Ricans, rang through Lincoln Theatre. Often overly political songs or stage banter can come off as forced and disingenuous but Segarra was as authentic as they come and I walked away inspired which is not a feeling I think I have ever felt after a show.  It was beautiful, sincere, motivating and it made me weep. See Hurray For The Riff Raff live if you ever get the chance. [Thomas Coogan]
Cloud Nothings
Cloud Nothings have been a staple of the indie rock scene for five years now and Hopscotch was a nice reminder live. Raw instrument playing Cloud Nothingscombined with strong pop sensibilities in their melodies and hooks creates a great rock show atmosphere.  The band was fully in sync and the crowd was jumping and singing right along.  Everyone especially adored the run of singles “I’m Not Part of Me,” “Stay Useless” and of course their most well-received song, the fiery raucous epic “Wasted Days.” “I thought I would be more than this” is one of the best and most memorable refrains in rock this decade and hearing the song devolve and build back up over the course of ten minutes was one of the best moments of the whole festival.  [Thomas Coogan]
Angel Olsen
Let’s get this out of the way right up front; Angel Olsen has one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard.  I always thought it was lovely but hearing it reverberate through Red Hat Amphitheater is not something I’ll soon forget.  The mantra “All my life I thought I’d change” knocked the wind out of me during “Sister” and just as I was catching my breath the ending guitar solo knocked the wind right back out.  Olsen and her Angel Olsenbacking band are masters of pacing as the rapid rugged aggression of “Shut Up Kiss Me” was perfectly stabilized with extended barnburners like “Special.” Olsen is on her last run of shows with “My Woman” and it is riveting to watch a set of songs divinely brought to life on stage and it was the ideal ending to an impeccable weekend. [Thomas Coogan]

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