Friday, September 06, 2013

Hopscotch 2013 Night 1: Marnie Stern, Oblivians

Photos by Kevin Norris
It will be difficult to find a musician that had more fun than Marnie Stern. Right away, it was apparent from the look in her eyes and the grin on her face. This was full force joy boarding on reckless abandon. The energy in the room was incredible and it fed right back into Stern, who threw herself into her set like few musicians I’ve seen.

Stern’s incredible guitar skills did not disappoint live. Her powerful and intricate style works well on stage and it’s bolstered by the opportunity to improvise and extend solos. On the final song, she found a lick that her and her bassist pounded into the ground over and over until every inch of it was explored.

Stern’s set felt too short, ending just before 12:10 AM, but it left a lasting impression. I don’t think anybody would complain if Marnie Stern was included in every Hopscotch for the rest of time.

Back at CAM, Oblivians kicked of a ramshackle set to end the night. Each member of the band took turns in the lead spot, but Greg Cartwright is the most charismatic of the three Oblivians. When he sang, the band was a force to reckoned with. With Cartwright in the lead, the band can pull off garage burners like “No Reason to Live” and slow, soulful blues tunes.

Cartwright joked that Oblivians were “one third rock and roll and two thirds comedy,” which may have been too true. There was lots of down time between songs and plenty of moments where the band couldn’t remember how to play a song, but when they were on, they were brilliant fun.

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