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I've ranted in this space about the sadness generated when an older band is trapped in amber, compelled to play decades-old albums front to back in order to sate our ever-growing appetite for nostalgia. I was talking specifically about The Breeders' Last Splash at the time, even. But you know...Kim Deal never stopped smiling. Not once. The band performed all of a really good record on Saturday night, plus the ace Beatles and Guided by Voices covers from their history, in fine form and bright cheer. So, while I still feel strongly that less, not more nostalgia is the only creative way forward for music culture, I can't lie to you and say that this was a bummer while it was happening. Because it wasn't. Do I think noted jerk Black Francis is a better artist for slapping together a new Pixies EP of highly dubious quality in 2013, after years of coasting on old creative fumes? Not exactly the fun corner to be backing.
Complicated thoughts afterwards, but uncomplicated, overwhelmingly good vibes during the set itself.
Kim Deal performing w/o the weight of a 1.0 Pitchfork score on her shoulders. #hopscotch13
— Jeff Klingman (@jeff_klingman) September 7, 2013
Spiritualized, the night's (and after the Big Boi cancellation, the entire festival's) headliner were created for moments like this. Grand, druggy, overblown, but always playing to the back of whatever space they're in, J. Spaceman's band were the biggest crowd pleasers of the weekend. The band takes basic pop elements, simple chords, soul-sick mantras, and repeats them over and over again until they throb like a heartbeat, something internal rather than external. The band is constructed to give these repetitions grandeur. Background singers provide melodic cushion, Oneida's injected drummer Kid Millions plays power ballad drums like it's the only thing that might get him pardoned from death row. As good as Breeders were, you have to note that Spiritualized were able to whip people into frenzy with "Hey Jane", a song they wrote just last year. That counts for something. Of course, it wasn't as good as "Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space" a song that came about an hour into the set, and that I've been singing to myself ever since.
But at some point if you want to catch a wide swath of bands, you just have to pull the trigger and go. So, shortly post "Ladies and Gentleman..." I left, content to float on a feedback cloud to the next venue. Little did I know they'd still be playing when I walked by an hour later, wrapping all of downtown in a smacked out guitar fog. (Note to city planners, this is actually super pleasant.)