As with previous years, by Saturday afternoon the Day 3
Hopscotch attendees had lost a step.
The late nights and early afternoons spent shuffling between venues
started to take its toll on even the heartiest of music fans. Despite the fatigue, the excitement is still
palpable and festival goers once again set out in the warm afternoon sunshine to
buzz between venues taking in the myriad of Day Parties. This year enticed us into a first visit to Person
Street Bar, a slight stretch outside of the downtown core, to catch some of the
stellar local acts from the triangle area of NC (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel
Hill). Our musical journey began with
the extended psych-flavored instrumental exploration of Carrboro’s Object Hours,
and extended through the infectious garage pop of talented trio Stevie,
followed by the easygoing spirit and fierce vocals of Reese McHenry. Unfortunately, we made the tough decision to
ramble back downtown before one of our local favorites, Pie Face Girls, took
the stage to close out the afternoon at Person Street. Festivals like Hopscotch, with soo many bands
playing opposite each other, often force some hard choices… This one stung a bit.
After recharging the batteries for a bit, it was off to City Plaza for a run at the headliners. First up on our agenda was Raphael Saadiq who, despite playing early in the evening lineup, delivered an assured and noteworthy set of old-school R&B. Next up, and closing out the weekend at City Plaza, was the anticipated return to the stage of Durham-based hip hop duo Little Brother. Consisting of rappers Phonte and Big Pooh, Little Brother ignited the crowd, and created a crackling energy that surged through the plaza. Still buzzing from Little Brother, it was down the hill to Red Hat Amphitheater for the electronic rock and psych pop of Phantogram, followed by the synth-pop and electronic dance vibe of the lovely Lauren Mayberry and Chvrches. The one-two sonic and sensory assault of Phantogram and Chvrches knocked attendees back on their heels and proved to be an inspired bit of booking and scheduling by festival organizers. Now that is how to wave a music festival around third and into home… And Saturday night still had plenty to offer! With the headliners in the rearview mirror, it was off to Fletcher Hall for some low-key, but stunning performances from Gruff Rhys and Kate Le Bon before ending the evening at the Lincoln for a return visit from local badass Sarah Shook, who along with the Disarmers, ended our weekend with a rough-around-the-edges, mix of country, Americana, and good ol’ gritty rock n’ roll. And just like that, the tenth iteration of Hopscotch was in the books, leaving fans reeling from a weekend of vital and inspired music. As we look forward to what will hopefully be another ten years of Hopscotch in Raleigh, its easy to see why it was described as “America’s (secretly) best festival” and “the premiere experimental and underground festival in America.” But at this point its probably safe to say that the secret is out, and Hopscotch is simply one of the best in the crowded music festival landscape.