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Into the Night

Decision time for festival attendees started at sunset when as many as 10 bands were overlapping performances.
The Sludge and the MetalSleep was the heaviest highlight on the opening night of the festival, performing a full set matching shows from their recent tour (sans the encore of Dopesmoker) to a headbanging crowd in a comfortably cool convention center basement. Loud and tight, this set kept diehard stoners and the curious happy throughout, and more than one of the audience members could be seen after the show rolling up their black t-shirt to compare their stomach to Matt Pike’s.  Vacant Company, an energetic Raleigh local hardcore band opened a four-band metal set at the Lincoln Theater on Friday night, quickly drawing a large crowd as lead vocalist / guitarist Jason Wornoff split time between on-stage and pounding chords on the club floor.  Later that evening, Sweden’s Monolord powered through a set of fuzz and doom, blistering songs from their latest album, Rust, proving that the future of sludge and metal is in good hands.

The Experimental and the FunkGudiya, a North Carolina artist who blends Indian raga elements with noise and high-tempo beats, performed a composition to an artistic video presentation while immersed in a peaceful setting that absorbed the crowd in the basement bar Neptune’s Parlor.  Yamataka // Sonic Titan, who define themselves as a Noh-Wave prog collective, a black-and-white (and sometimes red) theatre company, an operatic psych cult, and the speculative prophets of humanity’s impending doom, demonstrated all of that and more in a dramatic set full of intense musicianship that expanded the difficulty of labeling them to any genre with each song.  Saturday night at The Pour House, Nicolay and the Hot at Nights took the word “funk” and turned it into a forty-minute absorption of grooves and extraordinary musicianship that was only matched by the enjoyment the quartet was obviously having on stage (and perhaps worth mentioning, caused me to walk to the merch table and request “give me one of everything” regarding the pile of their collective releases).

The Noise and the Beauty:  Closing out Friday night was Kim Gordon and Bill Nace’s collaboration, Body/Head, who turned feedback and harsh, droning notes into a symphony that found a perfect balance between bliss and torture.  There was no amount of preparation by listening to Mind Over Mirror’s Bellowing Sun to prepare for the onslaught of energy and dimension that its live performance would elicit.  Filling the large Fletcher Opera House entirely with instruments, Mind Over Mirrors rotated between percussion, noise, and beauty to rattle the atmosphere and audience ears. Shortly thereafter, surrounded by a grand piano, effects table, and electric guitar, and under a dim light and soft illumination of the Hopscotch “H” logo, Grouper patiently and unassumingly darkened the house with mesmerizing drones and her soft, haunting voice.  As the last show I would see on a fun but exhausting weekend, I (honestly) started hallucinating shadowy figures who were pointing at either me or the sky during her hypnotic set, convincing me she was actually raising the dead during her performance.  I suspect I’ll never know if this was true or an illusion.



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