At the end of every summer, downtown Raleigh plays host to over 175 bands during the Hopscotch Music Festival.
Hopscotch was September 5-7 and included local bands like Black Zinfandel and The Lollipops and many national and international bands like Nightlands (from Philadelphia) and Spiritualized (from London).
Hopscotch debuted in Raleigh in 2010 and since then, has grown to become more of a national event. Receiving recognition from The New York Times and Pitchfork (a music reviewing site), Hopscotch is becoming one of the US’s essential summer festivals, bringing growing fame to Raleigh.
Though the majority of Hopscotch is at night and requires tickets purchased in advance, there are free-entry day parties all weekend long. Rebus Works hosted Saturday’s day party, ShopScotch, which featured the Bleeding Hearts and Goner, local bands, in addition to food trucks and local art and jewelry vendors.
The sweltering heat could have been an issue if the food and bands weren’t as good as they were. I spent Saturday downtown at Hopscotch, sampling the Korean barbecue truck, Urban Street Grill, and LocoPop’s post inside Rebus Works. The bands, playing on an outdoor stage just outside Rebus Works, sounded great — their music filled the areas around Rebus Works and woke up a usually industrial area. Seeing live music for free, surrounded by good food, is always an enjoyable experience.
Chris Dalton, Goner’s drummer, says this Hopscotch was the best one yet.
“I was prepared to just go with the flow of the night and see where that would take me but I had no idea it would turn out as magnificent as it did,” said Dalton via email.
Dalton attended the festival in addition to playing one of the day parties. According to Dalton, the three bands he most looked forward to seeing, Gorguts, Evoken and Mikal Cronin, completely exceeded his expectations.
“85% of everyone else was really good, [but] the three bands I was most excited too see totally blew my mind,” Dalton said in an email interview.
In addition to being a great festival, Hopscotch is particularly good at breaking new talent, sending many bands who play Hopscotch (including Weekend and War on Drugs to name a few) on their way to breakout albums with their next records. Both Dalton and Sam Madison, lead singer of the Bleeding Hearts and Hank Sinatra, say Hopscotch is perfect to introduce their music to a wide audience — one they may not be able to reach out to otherwise.
Madison has played at every Hopscotch so far, and though he likes Hopscotch, said he doesn’t usually like the bands headlining.
“ [The headliners are] often 90’s acts or hipster bands I don’t listen to[,] but overall it is a great festival and is very good for the local bands and… Raleigh,” said Dalton via email.
Hopscotch is certainly good for Raleigh. The day parties alone attracted crowds of people, and Friday and Saturday night filled Downtown with hundreds of attendees.
As Hopscotch continues to grow, Dalton remembers playing the very first Hopscotch and even then thinking the planners were onto something.
“If Hopscotch eventually becomes this huge national event like Coachella or SXSW, I can always say, ‘Hey! My band played the very first one!’” Dalton said in an email interview.
Hopscotch has come and gone for the third time, and Raleigh will be waiting for it to come again soon.