If Thursday night was Hopscotch cleared for take-off and hurtling down the runway, then Friday night was when the festival lifted off and started climbing into the clear blue sky. Friday afternoon continued the top notch weather and with a stellar list of day parties on the calendar, it seemed like more festival goers decided to skip out of work and start the weekend early. By mid-afternoon the early shows were noticeably more crowded and the party vibe was in full effect. We again started our day at the unofficial center of the Hopscotch footprint in Raleigh, Slims, where we caught Bat Fangs at the Churchkey & The Layabout “¡Que Viva! 2017” party. Consisting of Betsy Wright (Ex Hex) on vocals and guitar and Laura King (Flesh Wounds/Cold Cream) behind the drums, Bat Fangs produced one of our favorite sets of the weekend. Their potent mixture of acid-soaked melodic rock’n’roll was the perfect kick in the pants, and the Slims crowd were blown away. After wandering around Raleigh and checking out a few other acts, we closed out the afternoon back at Slims for Spider Bags. Having played earlier in the day with Reese McHenry, this time the Chapel Hill roadhouse punk band played a roaring set on their own.
Friday was the first night of the festival to feature dueling main stages with acts performing simultaneously at both City Plaza and Red Hat Amphitheater. While Rapsody and Busdriver got things going at Red Hat, we started the evening at City Plaza. After delivering one of the best afternoon sets at Hopscotch last year, Birds Of Avalon kicked things off at the City Plaza stage this year. Always a solid live band, their spacey psychedelic prog rock was massive as it filled the plaza. They were followed by Washington DC-based 90’s post-punk garage rock act The Make-up. Led by wild frontman Ian Svenonius, the band made a huge impression on the crowd. In fact, Svenonius spent almost as much time in the crowd as he did on stage, often climbing on the barricade and jumping into the crowd to confront the audience. From there we hoped over to Red Hat to catch the headlining set from Run The Jewels. Taking the stage to Queen’s “We Are The Champions” and one of the biggest crowds of the weekend, Killer Mike and El-P delivered. Their hour long set was thunderous and certainly a high point of the weekend. Still buzzing from Run The Jewels, we hoofed it back to City Plaza to catch the haze-filled techno dance party of Future Islands. The band has built a reputation for having a powerful live presence, and it was on full display at City Plaza. Frontman Samuel Herring was the primary focus as he prowled the stage oozing intensity and energy while the rest of the band were content to stand back and let the music do the talking.
With Future Islands closing down City Plaza, the main stages went dark and it was time to study the schedule, make some tough decisions, and head out to more shows. Highlights from the late evening run included: Har Mar Superstar, Museum Mouth, Lee Fields & The Expressions, Preoccupations, and a wild sweat-soaked finale rom Afghan Whigs at the Lincoln Theatre. Check out the photo highlights from Day 2 of the Hopscotch Music Festival below.