Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Hopscotch 2014 Night 3: T0W3RS, Phosphorescent

All photos by Chris Powers
My Hopscotch ended as a music festival should: with the two performances that ended up being my favorite from the weekend.

At the Pour House, Derek Torres led a host of gymnasts and musicians for a show that will go down in Hopscotch lore. As T0W3RS, Torres is free to explore all angles of the musical spectrum. He started with a quiet solo introduction while the gymnasts danced behind him. Soon, several musicians joined him and they launched into an exhilarating, life-affirming set of pop.

Torres is a rare personality. His genuineness is immediately apparent, even from the stage. He finds happiness in the little things, like the smiley face balloon that drifted above the stage. It’s infectious and the front of the crowd was going nuts.

The role of the gymnasts grew as the set went on. First, they danced. Then they performed various lifts and contortions. During the final song, T0W3RS revealed two silk cloths hanging from the ceiling and the gymnasts performed their acrobatics while suspending in the air. 

It was quite a site to behold. It seemed ridiculous, like some overly ambitious talent show, but it was fun. Same goes for the cover of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer” they performed. Before revealing the song, Torres told the crowd he was worried how his voice would hold up. “I your help with this one. I think you’ll all know it.” Standing there, shouting “my love for you will still be strong,” it hit me like it does every year: Hopscotch will be over soon and I need to savor every moment of this.

I couldn’t pull myself away from the T0W3RS until it finished. Worried, I rushed down to Fletcher Opera Theater to see a solo set from Phosphorescent, aka Matthew Houck. I only missed one song as Houck was late to start.

Standing alone on stage with his electric guitar and a keyboard, Houck performed a mix of familiar and old, rarer songs. The sound was mostly sparse, but one time he did loop and layer his guitar and vocals to create surreal one-man choir. The one misstep was an unnecessarily bouncy version of “Muchacho’s Tune” accompanied by the keyboard. 

Houck seemed surprised by the intimate nature of the venue and was impressed with the crowd in general. His playful back and forth with the audience eventually led to someone buying him a shot (he asked for whiskey, got bourbon, and then went on a joking rant about the difference between between the two) in exchange for a request.

For an encore, he played Vern Gosdin’s “Any Old Miracle,” a pleading prayer for God to ease a man’s heartbreak, that left the crowd in stunned silence. I looked at my friend and could only whisper, “Damn.”

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