This is basically my own personal schedule, meaning anything that’s not on my schedule I’m almost certainly not going to. The bands on my shortlist are either ones I already know & love (I am NOT missing Charlemagne Palestine) or ones that have sparked enough interest in me to risk choosing them over a sure-fire winner (maybe Alexander Turnquist is better than either Dan Friel or High Aura’d but come on). I know there’s lots of other cool shit going down at Hopscotch that’s not on my list, that’s what makes it a near-perfect fest, but I can only see one band at a time (hope there’s some top men working on a solution to that) and this is to help me (and maybe you) narrow shit down before you panic in the moment and accidentally see Saints Apollo instead of Cian Nugent.
Anyway, here’s the night-by-night breakdown, here’s my recs in spreadhseet & PDF forms. There’s also gonna be some KILLLERRRRR day parties that haven’t been officially announced yet but keep an eye on Cory Rayborn’s/Three Lobed’s insane Kings Barcade day show. Last year it was one of the highlights of the fest and this year it looks to be even better OMGGGG.
First things first, Black Twig Picker & Pelt dude Nathan Bowles kicks things off at the Fletcher Opera Theater at 8:30 with his high brow banjo, followed by an hour and a half of the intimate dreamfolk from the lovely Angel Olsen at 9:30, which bleeds right into crowdpleaser Grouper at 11. Definitely a stacked chill venue for the opening night.
The Dreebs bring their avant anti-punk noise pop blasphemy to the Kennedy Theater at 9, then this year’s superhyped-with-good-reason Pharmakon will rupture guts and bang heads with her sleazy atomic darkwave at 10. The new Jamie Stewart (Xiu Xiu) and Eugene Robinson (Oxbow) collab Sal Mineo follows at 11, who I haven’t heard yet and while I’m not a huge fan of either of those dudes’ respective bands, they have an upcoming album on Important so I’m game. Then finally, FINALLY, motherfucking WOLD will play their fifth show ever at midnight. Their nightmarish black noise is not to be fucked with (that recent vinyl reissue of Freermasonry on Ideologic Organ was hellish) and they’ve got that whole mystery thing going for them so long story short I am fuckin PSYCHED for this set. Sadly, there’s a problem…
They’re right in between a killer bill at Kings Barcade. Japanese noise legend and this year’s “Improviser In Residence” Merzbow starts at 11:30 and everyone’s favorite ferocious dudes Wolf Eyes are at 12:30. What’s a noisehead to do? Not only that, but Ohio’s Mike Shiflet will set the scene at 10:30 with his beautiful & precise massive darkness. Fuckin bill of the century right there. A couple of guys named Boyzone start off at 9:30. I don’t know em but their picture on Hopscotch looks like they put on a good show of “playful mayhem.”
Golden Void’s brand of San Franciscan catchy shreddy psych is sure to be awesome, they’re on at 11 at Deep South. Also at 11 but at The Hive is sprawling spaced droner Expo ’70. If you’re looking to math it up, Liturgy’s Hunter Hunt-Hendrix is also in the band Survival, who brings some sweet modernized math rock jams at Lincoln Theater at 10:30, then my #1 guitar tappin lady Marnie Stern will get your existential self racing on an endorphin high at 11:30 (also at Lincoln).
Endless Boogie kinda speak for themselves, and righteously so. They play at 11:30 at Slim’s and I’ve heard their shows are pretty fuckin great. They’re followed by Jonathan Kane’s February, who’s up against Wolf Eyes at 12:30. They’re new to me but with comparisons to Swans and Jon Mueller’s Death Blues set last yet, I can safely say this show will be fucking awesome.
The main stage at City Plaza has Future Islands at 7. Even though I’m not into huge stages/crowds like that, Future Islands are cool enough to maybe venture into that abyss. Plus, nothing else will be going on.
CAM has what seems like a pretty sweet lineup all night with OXYxMORON at 9:30, Helado Negro at 10:30, XXYYXX at 11:30, and Ryan Hemsworth at 12:30. I’ve only heard of Hemsworth but I’ve never listened to anything more than a song or two by him. The other artists sound similarly cool if not more so and the laid back electronic jams, soft pop & sharp hip hop might be a good way to spend the night. And CAM is a great spot too, albeit a little out of the way.
Another venue that has a bill I don’t know much about save for the 100% incredible noise pop of ex-Parts & Laborer (RIP) Dan Friel is The Hive. Friel is on at 10 and if his solo set is anything like a P&L show, be prepared to get the fuck down. Just before him at 9 is Waumiss, a husband/wife duo crafting a strange & extraordinary bedroom pop. Then there’s the new project from Brian Foote of Nudge called Leech, doing what sounds like a minimal classy ambient techno kinda thing at 11, followed by Nightlands at 12 playing a lush harmonic pop with a dash of sunny psych.
There’s two other places, Kennedy Theater & Long View Center, with bills running parallel set times and similar genred bands, but Long View strays more towards the experimental, especially as the night progresses (so they win I think). Kennedy Theater starts with the gorgeous expansive calm of Villages at 9, Alexander Turnquist’s exquisite 12-string picking at 10, MA’s own garage freaks Speedy Ortiz at 11, and the gloomy glamour of Waxahatchee’s brooding folk at 12.
Pair that with Long View Center’s damn near perfect lineup of the thick fuzzy Ilyas Ahmed dreams at 9, Boston’s chief dark guitar drone hero High Aura’d at 10, Daniel Bachman’s dizzying & dazzling acoustic wonderland at 11, and thee mighty Charlemagne Palestine performing some manner of experimental minimal weird perfection at 12. Oh the things you’ll hear.
The killer hip hop show is going down at Lincoln Theater with Alpoko Don at 10:30, Action Bronson at 11:30, and Earl Sweatshirt at 12:30 (assuming he doesn’t cancel). And playing late into the night at Five Star starting around 12:30 is the beloved all over the place Magik Markers, doing stuff for the first time in a long time. Pretty fucking exciting.
Things start off at City Plaza with The Breeders at 6:50 and Spiritualized at 8:40. Not that crazy about The Breeders and Spiritualized is cool but I don’t really listen to em all that much so this is a definite maybe.
Cian Nugent is at the Fletcher Opera Theater at 9 bringing his experimental Appalachian folksy brilliance all the way from Ireland. Definitely a rare set. The slow magic of Low graces the same place at 11. Fingers crossed they’ll do something like that droning 30 minute version “Do You Know How To Waltz?” Smack in between them at 10 but over at Kennedy Theater is Scout Niblett with her awkward & angular sparse creeprock.
Then things start getting dicey with lots of painful overlapping sets.
The Long View Center has a fantastic bill with Pelt, Lonnie Holley, and Califone at 10, 11, and 12 respectively. Pelt plays an incredible folk drone that kinda reminds me of the theme to the show Carnivàle in the best way possible. Lonnie Holley is a 63 year old dude doin some crazy fuckin anti-folk/pop/blues bizarro shit whose debut was just put out by Dust To Digital. So, don’t miss that, obviously. Then the criminally underrated Califone share their patented avant dust rock to a hopefully massive crowd.
The Scottish Richard Youngs plays for an hour and a half at Memorial Auditorium starting at 10:30. Never totally sure what to expect from his sets but it’s guaranteed to be some next level experimental folk genius. John Cale plays after him at 12 if you’re into that but I’d rather put my money on…
The muthafuckin Charalambides at Five Star at 12:30. Tom & Christina Carter’s slow spectral/spiritual folk knows no bounds and is exceptionally exceptional. Before them at 11:30 is the French weirdo High Wolf who plays some warped & spacey psych drone pop stuff. Sure to be out of this world. And before him at 10:30 is Arborea from the wilds of western Maine, and while I haven’t heard much from them, the instruments all hit the sweet spot for me (banjo, harmonium, Basho-esque guitar, etc). Pretty sure this whole lineup is A+ work.
But then there’s the fuckin metal show of the year at Lincoln Theater. Inter Arma is at 10:30 who seriously have one of the best records this year, Sky Burial, which crams heavy psych black post metal death folk doom monstrosities all into one insanely amazing album. Then the almighty doomlords Evoken, who admittedly aren’t the same as they used to be (only one original member remains) but that one dude has been perfecting funeral doom for 20+ years and goodgod they deserve all the fucking medals. Their latest, Atra Mors, is some mantle-worthy shit. Then venerable dopesmokers Sleep close out the night with some hefty fuckin doom that’ll crack open your head and let the craziness soar.
And if the electronic bug is bitin, then CAM is where it’s at with Horse Lords at 10:30, Holly Herndon at 11:30, and Matmos at 12:30. I just saw Matmos and Horse Lords a couple months ago, so I’ll probably skip out on this, but that shouldn’t tell you anything about their awesomeness, they’re both totally worth your time, especially if you’ve never seen Matmos before. Herndon is extra desirable though, her debut from last year Movement is still in rotation here, with some of the best contemporary composition mixed with sweet & sexy strange beats, it’s almost too much for a brain to handle.
Majical Cloudz goes on at 12 at The Hive. That new record is pretty cool in the slow dark catchy sorta way but I feel like it might be less inspiring live. Who knows. There’s also Foot Village closing out Slim’s at 12:30 and their bombastic shriek ‘n’ drums cacophony is hands down one of the best ways to end a fest.
So, pray tell, where are you gonna be?