The first day was a lot of false starts, starting almost at the very beginning, but I'll get to that. We got to Durham and had lunch at Elmo's and then headed over to the hotel, the new Renaissance in Durham just East of East Campus. Our room wasn't ready (which was expected as it was only noon) so we went downtown on foot to check in. After checking in we cruised over to the PLAY and Pollinator installations (Balls and Bees!), finally heading back to the hotel to actually check in.
Unloading the car showed us our first false start of the day. I'd forgotten my CPAP. A quick trip back to Raleigh and we'd really not missed anything as a result. We had a sweet dinner at Bull McCabe's, and then had to go back to the hotel to retrieve Laurie's phone. We made the "Unmanned" talk in plenty of time.
Post talk, we tried to get some coffee at Loaf, only to find it closed. Coffee was found at the cupcake shop, and we headed over to the Carolina Theater to see Dawn of MIDI. We'd almost made it to our seats when everyone was inexplicably ushered back out into the ballroom because even though the front doors were open "the house was closed". Eventually we got seated.
DOM is like if The Bad Plus spent a summer listening to 90's minimalist techno and said "We should start a jam band, but like this". An unfortunate side effect of this is that a lot of their music sounded like the intro to a Battles song. This wasn't a bad thing! I really dug it, but occasionally found myself waiting for the song to "Start". steady all the way through. We stuck around for Julia Holter, afterwards.
Julia Holter is sort of a mix between Syd Barrett and Kate Bush, with a little Dead Can Dance thrown in, except she sounds like Siouxsie Sioux, and it was sort of marvelous in the way that makes you want to use the word "quriky" but also hate the reductiveness of that word and so you ultimately don't but you're still kind of stuck. A beautiful voice and at times large lyrical operatic and small lyrical confidentially poetic.
We slid down to Motorco in hopes of getting in to see Gary Numan by way of checking out Zombi beforehand, but of course we weren't the only True Fans that had that idea and the line was LONG and IMMOBILE. Blood Orange had just started in the parking lot next to it, and the HUGE line for that simply evaporated as it emptied into that space. We knew we liked Miike Snow so after a bit we went to the parking lot.
Blood Orange was a mixture: occasionally 80's style quiet storm with some 90's light funk thrown in (I've tried to remember that 90's 00's band that really drove that style, but it was so forgettable that I can't even remember the name. I eventually got the search terms right: Jamiroquai). Solid grooves and decent guitar playing, though. The video wall was showing postcard-perfect shots of NYC superimposed with ballet dancers, occasionally resulting in a cringing image of a dancer slithering across the Ground Zero memorial.
Miike Snow was spectacular. A few technical problems plagued their set, but their ability to work around and through them was top notch. They mixed the old and the new and the dancy and swayey and finished really really strongly right on the nose at quarter to one. We made our way back to the hotel and literally crashed into bed.
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