Monday, September 10, 2012

Hopscotch 2012 Day 3: Lambchop, Wye Oak

All photos by Kevin Norris
Fletcher Opera Theater is the perfect venue for the current Lampchop tour. The band wants to play as quiet as possible and the theater provided both the acoustics and expectations to make it work.

Early this year at Motorco, Lampchop tried a similar set that was marred by an incessant hum from on of the amps and a chatty crowd. In Fletcher the audio was perfect. Audiences also act differently in seated venues. Fletcher is not a social venue; it’s a place to hear music.

With an attentive audience and absolute quiet, Lampchop’s vision came across. The performances were intimate and it became clear that these songs would lose something played any louder. Even in this mellow format, Kurt Wagner is incredibly engaging. From his gentle singing to the way he takes both hands off his guitar and spreads them wide to allow a note to ring, it’s almost impossible to take your eyes off of him.

A few blocks over, the Lincoln Theater was packed for Wye Oak. The duo from Baltimore had the mighty task of closing out Hopscotch and they did not disappoint.

It’s always impressive how much sound Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack can produce by themselves. Stack assaults his kit to create booming beats and then Wasner crashes in with cutting guitar. The two are a storm with Stack’s percussion playing the thunder to Wasner’s lightning.

Wye Oak owned the stage mostly with powerful songs from their last record, Civilian, but they also played a new track that featured Stack on bass instead of percussion. Wasner called it a dance song and the moving bass line gave it a very different feel from the band’s other work.

After a strong two-song encore, that was it for Hopscotch 2012. Some festivals are just excuses to put a lot of concerts in one place. Some festivals are an excuse to show off, to make money, to camp out, to take drugs, or whatever.

Hopscotch isn’t an excuse. It’s a necessity. It’s a powerful reminder that the Triangle is in love with its music scene and they couldn't live without each other.

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