Additional contributions from Lily Oberman, Ethan Simonoff, and Dan Sloan
Our last day in Raleigh came to a rainy close with a great mix of acts. After the jump, our thoughts on Sunn O))), Oren Ambarchi, Oneida, and more.
We started out the day with a performance from the New York experimental rock vets Oneida at an open-to-the-public block party curated by the Durham-based psych-folk band Megafaun. Oneida’s sound is sometimes pretty brutal, so we were surprised by the number of families with small children at the concert. In a departure from their most recent release, 2011’s droning Absolute II, the band played a set of heavy, driving, kraut-y material that left us more than a little dazed—one can only imagine how the many toddlers in attendance were holding up.
GDFX, the solo project of Greg Fox (drummer of Guardian Alien and formerly of Liturgy) performed during a day-party at a near-empty bar on the edge of downtown Raleigh. We weren’t too familiar with the guy’s solo work, but we were really into his set, which included live electronics being played over intricate drum sequencing. After he finished, some interested fans hurried up to the stage area to inquire about his equipment.
Rachel Evans’ solo work as Motion Sickness of Time Travel is excellent, but we were unfamiliar with the music she’s put out with her husband Grant (who also records solo, under the name Nova Scotian Arms) as Quiet Evenings. Still, we were eager for another act to see in the Long View Center, and the their subtle, half-hour set got us ready for some of the night’s heavier drones to come.
Quite possibly the least attended (and most enigmatic) event of the festival was the performance by composer Michael Jacaszek at the Long View Center. Joining Jacaszek on-stage were two burly Polish musicians, whose names we didn’t catch, one on harpsichord and the other clarinet. Jacaszek performed his most recent album, Glimmer, in its entirety. Per the festival’s program notes, his (and presumably his two friends’) appearance at Hopscotch was made possible by the Polish city of Gdansk and the Polish Cultural Institute of New York. Thanks, guys!
This was our second time seeing Oren Ambarchi, and his only solo performance of the festival. We’re all big fans of the man’s work, and his performance at Memorial Auditorium displayed his prowess in and mastery of loop-based improvisation and table-top guitar. Though his duo with David Daniell the day before featured the same instrumentation, the solo set really allowed him to cut loose. In a surprising turn of events, Ambarchi was not joined on-stage by drummer Chris Corsano.
Sunn O))) finished off the festival with a fantastic ninety-minute set that made Dan really wish he hadn’t lost his earplugs. The band revolves around Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson, who were joined on the fog-filled stage by Attila Csihar (vocals), Thomas Nieuwenhuizen (Moog), and a hell of a lot of speakers. Not like anybody was surprised, but boy, these guys were loud. After an hour or so, Dan’s body had been pushed to its vibrational limits; he went outside, where he was asked by two different confused concertgoers, “Do they always sound like that?”