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Seven to see at Hopscotch 2011

by Ryan Snyder

J Mascis — Fletcher Opera Hall, Thursday 12:30 a.m.

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Dinosaur Jr. front man J Mascis has always had something to hide.

With the great Amherst, Mass. indie-rock trio, he hides it behind impenetrable layers of distortion and volume. Solo, however, that concept becomes lyrically introverted. His solo records are essentially Mascis peeling back the layers of eardrum-destroying noise that define Dinosaur Jr. to expose the sweet and simple folk-pop sensibility that practically always been there.

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The Bronzed Chorus and Mutant League — White Collar Crime, Isaac Hunter’s Tavern Friday Day Parties Two years of Hopscotch and Wilmington, Asheville, Charlotte, even Marion have all been represented, but there’s yet to be a working Triad band on the night stages. Progress is being made, however, with two of the area’s best live acts in the Bronzed Chorus and Mutant League securing day-party slots. I was reminded last fall that Pinche Gringo also played a daytime slot last year after noting the affront, but he was also listed as a Chapel Hill artist. Like Marlo Stanfield would say, you want it to be one way, but it’s the other way.

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Apple Juice Kid — Deep South, Friday 11 p.m.

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With his thick-framed glasses and shag of sandy blonde hair, the Apple Juice Kid bears an uncanny resemblance to Galactic drummer extraordinaire Stanton Moore. The comparisons hardly end there, however. Like the famed New Orleans stick man, Stephen Levitin is a beast behind the kit. His live hip-hop instrumentals ensemble the Remix Project barely scratches the surface of his range; Levitin has also produced for MCs the likes of Wale and Mos Def and remixed jazz legends like Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis. That he’s likely to be DJing his slot at Tir Na Nog might eventually make him to Hopscotch much like what Perry Farrell is to Coachella.

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Bandway — Tir Na Nog, Friday 11:30 p.m.

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Bandway don’t need no stinking website (MySpace is good enough for them, thanks very much) nor a bass in order to rock; all they need is a 4-Day Weekend. The Winston-Salem gag-rock duo are coming back from the dead for a one-off that will most certainly be of epic proportion, because that could basically describe how that approach just about everything. They approach the ’80s arena meme like Al Pacino did Scent of a Woman, but it’s okay if their shtick doesn’t have you doubled over in laughter. They rock hard enough to have you banging your head and pumping your fists in sheer cock-rock-fueled bliss.

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Bird Peterson — The Hive, Saturday 12:30 a.m.

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Since Girl Talk proved that anyone with the right software can make respectable electronica, blog house has been to dance music what the Bleacher Report has been to sports journalism. Since Bird Peterson’s 2001 debut and the slew of mixes turning candy pop and hip-hop into club bangers that followed, he’s been a legitimizing force for the disparaged pseudo-genre. Then in 2010, things got real when he put out one of the best (and best named) mixtapes of the year. Taking legendary ’90s trance cuts by artists like Café Del Mar and Paul Van Dyck and lacing it with the filthiest of Dirty South trap music, Drankenstein was a one-stop party. When he takes the stage at the Hive late night on Saturday, expect less of his signature house beats and more of his forthcoming follow-up, Drankenstein 2.

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Budos Band — The Pour House, Saturday 12:30 a.m.

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Bird Peterson vs. Budos Band sounds like the next great remix by DJ Pierre, but it’s actually one of the cruelest conflicts of the entire festival. Either way, sweat is a guarantee. To put it simply, Budos Band is unstoppable. It starts with Vincent Balestrino, who’s indomitable work on the shekere will eventually set off the next big ab fitness craze, and ends with a torrid horn section led by the baritone sax of Jared Tankel. In between, the rest of the Staten Island 12-piece are crispier than a bucket of Original Recipe, churning out thick torrents of Afrobeat that draw inspiration from doom metal and psychedelic funk alike.

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