If you found yourself anywhere near downtown this weekend, chances are you experienced at least a morsel of Hopscotch Music Festival. Gigs were taking place from noon to late-night all weekend long -- 175 bands, 15 venues, 3 days. That’s a lot of music and whole lot of energy.
Hopscotch Day Parties were a huge hit, featuring an assemblage of local bands playing at hotspots around town for free. The weather was beautiful and good vibes abundant. Friday afternoon outside of the Contemporary Art Museum, The Love Language, an indie rock band straight out of Raleigh, gathered a sizeable crowd in the street between tables pushing PBR and local food trucks. The next day, in front of Raleigh Times, hip-hop group Kooley High seriously repped the City of Oaks leading a spontaneous NC State cheer and dropping songs like “Dear Raleigh”. A few minutes later, one street over in front of the Mecca, folk-rock group Megafaun pleased the crowd accompanied by Adam Granduciel from War on Drugs.
At the post-5 pm shows, wristbands were needed for entry. I tried to keep it local as much as possible, seeing Durham-based Lilac Shadows at King’s and Raleigh’s Birds of Avalon at Tir Na Nog. Other notable experiences included bigger names from more distant locales like Deerhoof, who lit up Memorial Auditorium Thursday night, Thee Oh Sees, who had a crowd going nuts late-night at CAM, and of course headliners The Roots, who braved inclement weather to play for the masses at City Plaza Saturday night.
On more than one occasion I didn’t quite make it to a show that I had sworn I would attend. More than a couple of times I needed to take a step back and re-center to keep from stressing over what I was possibly missing. At a festival jam-packed with worthy acts it is sometimes necessary to reimagine your schedule and make tradeoffs. Wander in to see a group you weren’t previously familiar with and you may just walk away with a favorite new band. That’s the beauty of Hopscotch.
After much time spent weaving through a sea of hipsters I couldn’t help but think that Raleigh had finally “made it.” Maybe it was because I was previously a Hopscotch newbie and had yet to experience such a weekend in my hometown, but I emerged on Sunday with a serious case of Raleigh pride. All weekend, one could sense the surreal bubble that had descended here as an amazing and diverse group of people fellowshipped for three straight days under a common love of music.