If you’re not from North Carolina, you’ve
most likely never heard of Hopscotch Music Festival. Maybe you do live in North Carolina, and you
still haven’t heard of it. Stemming from the state’s vibrant music scene,
Hopscotch is one of the newest premiere festivals for underground artists of
all genres. I was lucky enough to attend it this year, from September
Hopscotch was created in 2010 by Greg Lowenhagen of
the Independent Weekly, a popular
newspaper based in the Raleigharea. Hopscotch sets itself apart from other festivals because of the fact that
almost all of its artists are independent and underground, and they span across
many genres. Local artists are heavily represented as well, and the festival is
the brightest weekend of the year for the North Carolina music scene.
The festival is held at twelve venues in downtown
Raleigh, ranging from the giant City Plaza main stage, which is at the end of
one of downtown’s central roads, to Slim’s, a dive bar that has about a one-hundred-person
capacity. The bar-crawl set up of Hopscotch takes away the tiresome “festival-ness”
that often accompanies being sweaty and sunburnt, stumbling through a giant
field. The farthest distance between venues is less than a ten minute walk. My
only complaint regarding the set up of the shows is the fact that artists of
the same genre often ended up playing at the same time, forcing you to choose
which one you wanted to see.
Last year, Hopscotch also introduced the Hopscotch
Design Festival, where designers of all disciplines met up to collaborate and
discuss new methods of innovation in design. This is yet another aspect of the
festival that sets Hopscotch apart from others; so much of it revolves around
collaboration—between artists, local residents, college radio stations, local
businesses, and more. The music variety and excellence alone is enough to put
Hopscotch on the map as one of the best festivals going on today, but the
additional aspects make it unbeatable.
In addition to artist collaboration, Hopscotch is inclusive
of music lovers across many genres. As festival prices go, Hopscotch is on the
cheaper end of the large-festival spectrum. Admission to all three days of the
festival this year was $165, and single day admission was $85. For those who
can’t afford admission, the paid part of the festival runs from 7:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m.,
but the same venues host free day parties. Mainly local artists perform during
the day parties, and they’re sponsored by local businesses and organizations.
This year my favorite day party was the WKNC/WXDU/WXYCDay Party at Kings Barcade and Neptune’s. WKNC, WXDU, and WXYC are the student radio stations for
NC State, Duke, and UNC, respectively. They host a day party between two venues,
which are both in the same building. Neptune’s
is in the basement, and Kings is right above it. Kings is by far my favorite
venue in Raleigh, and I got to see one of my
absolute favorite local bands Museum Mouth, a pop punk trio from Southport, NC,
I spent most of my time during Hopscotch at Slim’s. Slim’s has a
capacity of around one hundred—the stage is scarcely bigger than a king-sized
mattress. This year I saw Loud Boyz, a punk band from D.C., for the first time.
They were the most energetic performance I saw all weekend; the singer’s demand
for a circle pit in a ten-by-ten foot area crammed with at least twenty dudes
was a little bit outrageous, but in a good way.
Immediately following Loud Boyz was No Love, a punk trio from Raleigh. No Love is vital
to North Carolina’s
music scene in many ways. They performed at WKNC
Double Barrel Benefit concert last year, which is the station’s annual benefit
to raise funds to keep the station going. Furthermore, their guitarist Daniel
Lupton is an English professor at NC State and the founder of Sorry State
Records, a punk label out of Raleigh.
On Friday, I saw Torchrunner perform during a day party at Legends
Nightclub. Based out of Greensboro,
Torchrunner is a grindcore band that’s been around since 2010. I was really
looking forward to seeing EYEHATEGOD but they cancelled at the last minute.
Iron Reagan filled in for them, and they were excellent. On Saturday I got to
see the legendary punk band X on the main stage—Billy Zoom was unable to
perform due to illness, but they were still incredible—but the last band I saw
was the one that I had been looking forward to the most. Hank Wood & The
Hammerheads are a garage punk band from NYC, and they played at a max-capacity
Slim’s on Saturday night at 12:30 a.m.
Hopscotch is always my favorite weekend of the year.
I’ve lived most of my life in Raleigh,
and the vibrancy that the festival has brought to the music scene and the area is
immeasurable. It’s more than just a music festival to me, and to so many of the
people who are a part of it or attend it.
is a freelance journalist from Raleigh,
North Carolina. Follow her on
twitter @_rachel_bridges, or email her at email@example.com