Two weekends ago now, I went down to Raleigh, NC again, for the Hopscotch Music Festival — the sixth year of the festival, and my fourth year going (my previous Hopscotch posts are tagged hopscotch).
No one else came down with me this year, and Aggie didn’t attend most of the festival, because Speakers In Code wasn’t covering it this year. But she and her boyfriend came into town for the Saturday day parties, and she ended up getting hold of a photo pass so she was able to shoot the main stage acts that night. Check out her post over at her blog.
New Belgium was replaced as the beer sponsor on the main plaza this year by Stella Artois and Goose Island — which is to say, by Anheuser-Busch-InBev. That’s a shame, both because New Belgium is an independent, employee-owned craft brewer while AB-InBev is a massive multinational conglomerate, and because though Goose Island’s brews are fine, New Belgium’s are just better.
That aside, however, downtown Raleigh’s food and drink options are as excellent as always, and I hit the key highlights as usual: brunches at the Times and Joule, dinners at the Busy Bee and Beasley’s, the city plaza gyro shack, the late-night pizza truck.
I saw 31 bands this year, down from 38 last year, but that was an intense time, and a record I don’t feel a pressing need to try to break. Coming up this weekend is the smaller Boston Calling festival, whose September installment is a different weekend than Hopscotch for the first time this year.
I delayed too long in writing this recap and my memories of the shows I saw aren’t as clear as the past couple years, so I’m just going to bullet-point most of the bands I saw (especially at day parties) instead of discussing them. Bands I’ve seen before are italicized, bands I’ve seen before at Hopsctoch are also bolded.
- Godspeed You! Black Emperor
- Some Army at the Lincoln Theatre
- Solar Halos at the Pour House — A perennial Hopscotch favorite, impeccable psych-doom.
- Lizzo at CAM — I previously saw Lizzo at Doomtree Blowout 10, and then opening for Sleater-Kinney. She’s everywhere, and she’s amazing.
- Warehouse at Tir Na Nog
- Las Rosas at Slim’s
- Ghostt Bllonde at the Pour House
- TV on the Radio
- New Music Raleigh at Fletcher Opera House
- Nocando at Kings Barcade
- Tombs at the Pour House
- Natalie Prass at Fletcher Opera House — I really enjoyed this set. I haven’t gotten very into Prass’s recorded music, but live she’s a joy.
- Flock of Dimes at the Pour House — A side project by Jenn Wasner from Wye Oak; a day party Flock of Dimes set at the Pour House back in 2012 gave a little bit of a preview of the synthier, dancier direction Wye Oak would eventually take.
- Jenny Besetzt at the Fayetteville street party
- Vattnet Viskar at Neptune’s
- Wailin’ Storms at Legends — Smoky, punky country doom. These guys rock.
- American Aquarium
- Dwight Yoakam — Obviously a very polished performer, this was a fun set. Full band in sequined suits: good aesthetic. I thought the “no photos from the photo pit” announcement was kind of a dick move, though.
- River Whyless at Tir Na Nog — I had no idea who these folks were, and popped into Tir just to see what was going on, and it turned out they were great! They have a bandcamp page.
- Black Clouds at the Lincoln Theatre
- Chelsea Wolfe at the Lincoln Theatre
- Katie Crutchfield (Waxahatchee) filling in for Owen Pallett at Fletcher Opera House
- Flock of Dimes again, at Neptune’s
Hopscotch felt a little smaller and a little quieter this year, and I’m still a bit sad that New Belgium was replaced by AB-InBev (and not a huge fan of the e-cigarette vendor booth on the main stage, for that matter), but it was a great time as always, and as always I can’t wait to go back next year. One big plus this year was unrelated to Hopscotch itself: Boston Calling, which puts on one festival in May and one in September, put its fall date two weeks after Hopscotch, instead of on the same weekend like they did the last two years. I’m very glad to be able to go to both this time, especially since Minneapolis hip hop collective Doomtree, one of my all-time favorite groups, will be at Boston Calling.
Best acts I’ve seen before: See Gulls, Solar Halos, Lizzo, Wailin’ Storms, Flock of Dimes
Best acts I haven’t seen before: New Music Raleigh, Natalie Prass, Dwight Yoakam, River Whyless, Chelsea Wolfe