This past weekend the annual Hopscotch Music Festival took place city-wide in Raleigh, North Carolina. Since it’s inception in 2010, this festival has continued to grow exponentially. The organizers lean towards a horizontal approach, striving to reach a larger area of the city with more music, rather than big-ticket artists and larger venues–though they’ve hosted some very strong headliners such as Spoon, St. Vincent, The War on Drugs, and Thee Oh Sees in past years. Because of this unique set-up, fans are able to move about the city freely, take part in dozens of free day parties, and continue on into the night listening to artists at their local bars and music halls. This year, 140 bands played in 12 venues across the heart of the southern city and fans came from across the state and southeast to take part in the excitement.
Day 1 began with some strong day parties. Deep South hosted artists like JKutchma and She Returns from War who played emotional and moving acoustic sets. Scheduled headliner Deerhunter unfortunately canceled their performance a few weeks before the festival, so Ought kicked off the night with a fun and upbeat show at City Plaza. They were followed by the fantastical sounds of main headliner, Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The best show of the night, though, was Bully’s performance at Slim’s. Despite the small venue and stage, the sound was incredible and Alicia Bognanno’s screams sent the best kind of chills down everyone’s spine. It was perhaps one of the most thrilling shows I saw all weekend and I hope next time they get a bigger stage to really showcase their energy.
Day 2 began again with some excellent day party lineups. Tír na nÓg in particular showcased some strong talent with performances by Echo Courts and Breathers. Tycho then kicked off the night with their smooth sounds and despite some frustrating technical difficulties, they maintained a positive attitude. TV on the Radio then gave an incredible set, showcasing songs largely from their new album Seeds, in addition to old favorites. Later in the night, Leapling gave an awesome performance at Tír na nÓg.
Day 3 perhaps had one of the strongest schedules all around. Day parties showcased excellent performances by Tuskha and Made of Oak at Pour House. Headliners took a bit of a country turn with captivating performances by American Aquarium, X, and Dwight Yoakum. And then it was back to the bars. Oulipo played some of their first songs at Neptune’s under their new name, Hotline. The performance was complete with a cover of Adele’s of “To Make You Feel My Love”. Following that show, it was time for one of my most favorite folk performers of the weekend, River Whyless at Tír na nÓg. To top it all off, three incredible rock performers closed out the night at Pour House. Birds of Avalon blew me away with their incredible female vocalists. Zack Mexico smashed guitars and left us all feeling like we survived something spectacularly crazy. And finally, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard played with some of the most incredible energy and charisma I’ve ever seen. I can’t get enough of their live performances. The drums are still beating in my head.
Hopscotch is really unlike any other festival taking place right now, and that’s one of the things that makes it special. It’s an experience in itself, and an opportunity to hear an incredible array of talented artists. It’s really exciting to see it grow in its unique way.
Birds of Avalon
King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard
Laney Jones and the Spirits
Made of Oak
Must Be a Holy Ghost
She Returns from War
The Antique Hearts
TV on the Radio