Hopewell and Dead Meadow share pre-histories with storied bands and labels, with Hopewell’s founder originally a member of Mercury Rev (at age 19) and Dead Meadow emerging out of the DC/Fugazi scene. Plus, before they both played ATP last weekend, they shared a moment on a boat.
Gliding along the East River with the skyline ablaze and a full-stocked bar on deck seems like the territory of a good hip hop show. Stoner rock, not so much. But a horrifically swollen harvest moon slumped over the buildings, and an autumnal haze crept through the cumulus clouds and everything was slightly yellow-tinged. It was appropriately creepy, and as the boat hummed along while the bands played in the lower deck, there was something mildly apocalyptic to the city streaming past at surface level on the first cool, windy nights in months.
Hopewell and Dead Meadow both share a propensity to separate their album pieces with swirling instrumental abstractions, but beyond that, they keep separate laws. If you know anything about the heavy psych leanings of Tee Pee Records, it helps to know that they released Hopewell’s last album: they’re psychedelic rock in a bombastic, Jefferson Airplane landing on your skull kind of way, tempered by the playfulness of FX, delay, and the occasional foray into synthesized feedback. Founder/singer Jason Russo bends those rules a bit farther towards the kind of vocals Dead Meadow might remember from their earliest DC days: pleading, sensitive, dramatized. They’re at their best, though, when they shout through group vocals rawly, and seem to find a common ground with their spot-on psych music.
As any good stoner ought, Dead Meadow took a few deliberate sidelong glances at the city gliding past and in those moments they seemed a bit forlorn that they were playing music instead of gazing out the whole time. Now that they’ve been a three-piece for a couple years, a lot of focus falls onto Jason Simon’s acute guitar licks and forays into altered consciousness and noodling. This works, as you’re on a boat that’s swaying lightly back and forth, and what else would you want to hear, other than maybe some good hip hop?