May 19-24, 2015

Yesterday it was announced that another black-owned business downtown, Hairizon (next door to Toast) will have to move because their building has been sold. They say it’s going to be turned into condos. I can’t imagine that the ground-floor retail space is going to become residential, but for whatever reason, they won’t be able to stay there. We’ll see what winds up there – and whether it’s as white and bougie as I expect it will be.

These are the same folks who struggled back after their store was destroyed by a drunk driver who barreled the wrong way down Morris St & headlong into their storefront: 

So they’ve started a crowdfunding campaign to raise capital for the move. Like most such campaigns, it’s not so much an investment drive as it is a donation drive, although some of its premiums at least offer a credit at 50% of the amount of the donation. 

These folks have been in business for four years, which would suggest that their business model is reasonably sound. It’s not at all surprising that they can’t source capital in “traditional” ways – small business lending has never recovered from the financial crisis of 2008, and it was always biased against anyone who wasn’t a white man with an established network anyway.

But it’s possible to structure a crowdfunding campaign in such a way that the investors actually get a return on their investment, or at least get their money back. CocoaCinnamon have become the local experts at this. 

Even then, though, successful crowdfunding campaigns are less about the soundness of your business plan, and more about how media savvy you are. Although with the rise of social media as marketing platform, I suppose exhibiting savvy at crowdfunding might be a reasonable proxy for savvy at marketing in general.

In any case, I wish them luck. But I also wonder whether they would be more successful if they restructured their campaign to offer something closer to an actual return on the investment.


This past week was hectic. On Tuesday the Hopscotch lineup was announced. Again this year there’s nothing to rival, say, sunn o))) at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium … but how many experiences like that are there waiting to occur? You can’t expect an annual festival to consistently create once-in-a-lifetime events. (or, I mean, you can, but you’ll probably be disappointed)

Looking back at previous lineups, in fact, what I notice is that in several cases, the shows I was most psyched about – Fucked Up, Swans, Pallbearer – were at the time ultra-rare, but are now seemingly annual events. Fucked Up played Hopscotch in 2010 and then played the Triangle twice in 2011, and have been back again more recently. 

Was this just coincidental timing with the rise of their prominence in the US, fueled by some great records & a deal with Matador? Or was (is) one real contribution of Hopscotch that it turns bands on to the fact that the Triangle is a viable market? I think that’s an emphatic yes. The Hopscotch dividend has been paying & paying for 5+ years now.

Mostly, though, when I look back at old lineups, I’m reminded of how few of the bands you actually get to see at any given Hopscotch. Even if you’re ultra-disciplined & only catch 20 minutes of each set, you’re probably going to hit at most ~12 bands a night, which still only gives you 36 out of the 138 bands who play.

And I usually only wind up catching maybe 20 bands (plus day parties, which is a whole different thing). I *think* I have 20+ bands that interest me enough this year. I have some more listening to do. It’s still fewer than in most previous years – like I said, there are no “holy shit” moments for me in this lineup – but as long as the ones I like don’t all wind up booked in a single timeslot against each other, I’ll be into it.

On the local front, on the one hand it’s disappointing to see some of the same bands coming back year after year, while others still wait to be invited. But on the other hand, I’ve been working my way through the list and I’m totally psyched to have been turned on to some locals I’ve either never heard of (Asheville’s Morbids) or had been totally stupidly ignoring for too long (like, say, Naked Naps). 

Tuesday night my friend Mark & I attended a special dinner at Dashi, focused on fermentation. Lots of sour beers, and foods involving miso & kimchi & other funky things. The highlight for me, I think, was the black garlic ice cream with fish sauce brittle. I can also definitively state that most sour beers just aren’t my thing. 

The rest of the week … I don’t remember the rest of the week. I had developed a 15+ issue backlog of New Yorkers that I finally dug my way out from under, so that’s probably part of it. 

Friday night I went to Raleigh with my friend K to see Make, Usnea and Ufomammut. It wasn’t as mindblowing for me as it was for some people – although it was good to near new Make tunes, especially with Luke Herbst now on drums – but it was a good way to empty out the brain and just sort of exist in this plane of raw throbbing noise for a couple of hours.

Saturday evening we attended a screening of American Movie, hosted by Jeff Tweedy, part of this hilariously erratic series at the Carolina Theatre. Tweedy seems like a genuinely good guy. And I was reminded of how much I love Uncle Tupelo’s Anodyne. That’s a good record to be reminded of.

And of course American Movie is still profoundly moving and hysterical, and it was magical to see it in a room full of people, many of whom were there because of Jeff Tweedy & thus (a) hadn’t seen it and (b) didn’t even know what they were in for. That’s actually the best thing about this series, and one reason why I keep going, despite the fact that its organizer is literally the most annoying human being on the planet.

Last night we watched Leviathan. Jesus what a Russian movie. Like, I feel like I know almost nothing about Russia, but nevertheless I feel confident in saying that this is a quintessentially Russian movie. It’s all corruption, drinking, and God. Fascinating. 

May 19-24, 2015