Saturday, September 10, 2011

Hopscotch 2011 Day 2: Guided by Voices, Drive-By Truckers and The Dodos at City Plaza

All photos by Kevin Norris
One of Hopscotch’s weaknesses last year was headliners that looked good on paper, but didn’t deliver on stage. This year the festival addressed that problem by finding bands that can live up to their promise.

Top billing went to the classic lineup of Guided by Voices. Leader Robert Pollard and the band were sloppy, incoherent, drunk and exuberant. In short, they were a rock band and their experience showed.

Before each number, Pollard shouted out the song titles before counting the band down and signaling the beginning of a song with a kick or a microphone twirl. GBV wasn’t messing around. They ripped through songs one after another, whipping the crowd into a frenzy.

If taken at their word, this was the last GBV show ever, but it didn’t feel like it. There wasn’t any closure. It felt like a good set from a good band that looks like they’re having too much fun to quit now.

Earlier in the night, Drive-By Truckers brought their fans out in droves. The audience was packed with fans singing every lyric.

For a front man, Patterson Hood is about as genuine as they come. Stories about his grandma and his kids served as interludes between songs where his distinct voice had more edge live than in recordings.

The audience loved Hood, but they responded with even more affection for the bands other two guitarists, Mike Cooley and John Neff. The deep, classic country timbre of Cooley’s voice was a welcome respite and when either Cooley took the lead on vocals or Neff launched into a pedal steel solo, the crowd lit up.

Opening the set was The Dodos who spent no time introducing their songs. They seemed to be on a mission to shatter people’s expectations of them.

Their records certainly can lead one to believe they might be too quiet for a venue the size of City Plaza, but the band cranked the volume up and kept the energy level high. Lead guitarist Meric Long attacked his guitar during some extended breakdowns as if trying to beat every last ounce of volume from it.

Guided By Voices

Drive-By Truckers

The Dodos

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