Our Hopscotch Music Festival experience began pretty early on Friday with both sook and I performing sets at Bitchfork, a day party held at Cirque de Vol in Raleigh showcasing women-led bands.
This was also the first time the Berliners met the new NC Pretty Precious comrades. Introducing Gabe (left) and Tommy (right). I took this photo in Asheville the morning after a gig. Gabe and Tommy are in fact, holding tiny cups:
Gabe handles knobs and whistles. Tommy’s in charge of strings and thistles (makes sense once you see us live:)
Cirque de Vol
The space was really vibrant with energy and made more so by the presence of kids and aerial dancers. We arrived and ran into a slue of familiar faces including the homies from Pink Flag. They asked me to sit in with them on a song. Jess and I talked through the percussive details and here’s the the thing that resulted:
I can now effectively remove ‘perform with Pink Flag,’ from my bucket list, although, I hope more intentional collaborations wait on the horizon. As aforementioned, their was some artistic intersectionality going on, the aerial dancers taking turns scaling the cloth, defying gravity in time to indy rock and hip hop beats. It was an awesome sight from any vantage point:
Photographer Extraordinaire, Ash Crowe immortalized the entire event. Get dizzy HERE.
Also, I’d be remiss not to shout out the crew of lil cats ‘trying out’ hip hop for the first time. Not too much in age or height, this crew of about 5 dudes ages 6-10, were working out hip hop moves they’d never tried before and it was a pleasure to have them rocking with me up front and center.
Pretty Precious Encounter
After the inspiring (and tiring) Cirque event, we, the Pretty Precious Crew, decided to head back to the hotel for a bit of R & R before my official Hopscotch set that evening at Tir Na Nog. En route to the hotel, we noticed this strikingly gorgeous human, maybe the only person to ever make a tie-dye t-shirt look like the unrepentant choice of a hip hop fashionista. Upon a short moment of calculation, we recognized this human to be Mykki Blanco, AfrofuturistQueercorePunkRaspyRapper hailing from Raleigh. I knew Mykki as “Michael,” in days long past when Raleigh was my formative stomping grounds. We pulled up next to Mykki and chatted, me taking a moment to remind him/her of memories I worked hard to conjure and make concrete. I saw Mykki doing the same before a moment of recognition turned the entire exchange into a truly heartwarming, time-lining experience. “You had long locks and you used to work at Fresh Mart,” Mykki recounted. Even I had forgotten that I worked at Fresh Mart. My memory was jarred and I could recall standing at the counter while this awesomely nerdy black kid who won The Indy’s Indie Spirit Award at 15 for the performance collective he founded called Paint In Consciousness Experimental Theatre, aloofed about. We exchanged salutations and made plans to catch Mykki’s set at CAM later that evening. PPC in-car Photographer, Just captured the exchange:
After some down time at the hotel and dinner at The Burrough, we headed over to Tir Na Nog, mobbing through a downtown Raleigh crowd that had certainly thickened over the past hour or so, lots of folks wearing Hopscotch wristsbands, as many not. It was cool to see so many folks trampling around the Cap City, music seeping out of every possible cranny and joining us in the streets. Twin and I stopped to people watch at a bar on Fayetteville Street neither of us had ever visited. I felt good, my butterflies were stirring, the night was ripe with promise.
The thing about hip hop–the thing that even I as an old skool, black queer, woman rapper succumb to at times–is the posturing, the need to pump oneself up on competitive energy that posits one emcee against another as opposed to pulling on the energy within. Hopscotch is a firebomb for such a thing, so many acts playing at the same time, so much vying for the attention of a finite audience who are deciding between national touring acts and local favorites, the latter desperate to use the experience to expand their own audience. When I have a moment to breathe and stop (as Q-Tip so eloquently asserted in the nineties), I’m able to re-channel this energy and center myself in the notion that all I have to bring is my best self, and then, as my high school basketball coach would instruct before each game, leave it all on the court.
Hence, I carved out a moment to mentally chill and focus on what I wanted to bring: good energy, crisp, savvy, articulate lyrics, a party wide open to all. The crowd that had gathered for Dub Addis (who played before us) was warm and set the tone for the evening complete with a rambunctious 4-year old who refused to detach herself from the dancefloor.
It was so comforting to see the mix of familiar and new faces as we took the stage for our 45 minute set. As folks inched toward the front, Tommy, Gabe and I, launched into our set, which felt oozy-good from beginning to sweaty end. Thanks to www.wral.com for the following photos:
As per always, my favorite part of the Pretty Precious Cargo experience is when sookee and I team up for “Eatin Out.” The Hopscotch version included a bit of call and response. Video courtesy of THE Ash Crowe:
…also a couple snippets from our Hopscotch set courtesy of an old friend, Trevor Holland. First, a mash up of “Microphone Fiend,” and “Lost Ones:”
This is “Gut Lightning,” complete with orgasms and melodica:
I hopped off stage spent, but eager to make it over to CAM for Mykki’s set. Oh, and shouts to Blurt Magazine for naming shirlette [T4GB]‘s performance a festival highlight:
“6) Shirlette Ammons T4GB. Militant-yet-personal hip-hop from this proud ‘n’ loud black lesbian MC—utterly riveting rhymes and tales. Special props to her band, too, and in particular to German rapper Sookee (also lesbian, white) who came up to guest on a couple of songs during Ammons’ Tir Na Nog showcase.”
I’ve attended the past 3 Hopscotch Festivals and have had an amazing time discovering new artists and seeing artists live whom I’ve only heard on record or seen in YouTube videos. To characterize the difference between a 2-D and a 3-D Mykki Blanco experience is like differentiating between Kix with sugar and Kix without sugar (“crunchy lil cornballs, no color, no flavor…”). After a dope opening set by Psycho Egyptian….
No lightbeam or rafter was safe from Mykki’s Spidergrrl act, slinking about the stage asserting a most theatrical type of ownership. At times, wielding the mic stand like a crucifix across his/her shoulders, Mykki’s eyes appeared fiery, transfixed and possessed, and also free. I searched the interwebs for video of Mykki’s Hopscotch performance to no avail. Here is video from Mykki’s OFF Festival performance earlier this year:
Mykki’s been quoted as saying, “Hip hop is scared of me.” I find so much truth (and so much Bentley Mode) in this statement.
After meeting Mykki’s mom (who was at the show with Mykki’s nieces and nephews), sook, Mykki and I had the opportunity to hang out and politick on the steps of CAM:
It was truly a pleasure to share each Friday Hopscotch experience with the Pretty Precious Cargo crew. Every moment seemed specially designed for us.
Tomorrow’s recap includes sook’s day party performance with Toon and Laww and a road trip to Charleston.