Note: A subset of my photos are displaying here in random order. For the full gallery of photos, visit here.
That was fun. And exhausting.
Hard to believe it had been a whole year since the last one, but Hopscotch roared into Raleigh again last week. The music festival, now in it’s fourth year, was bigger than ever this year with over 200 bands playing at the 14 official venues, City Plaza’s main stage, and numerous other day parties and unofficial events over the 3 day festival. I’d done my research, as I always do, and was anxious to see a couple of dozen shows, and then wing the rest. I didn’t spend much time at the plaza shows this year, with The Breeders being the only full set I caught there. Overall I saw 36 bands for at least a few songs.
Best Day Party Shows
Valient Thorr – It brought a huge smile to my face, and it provided some of my favorite photographs of the festival.
Spider Bags – I was determined to catch at least one of the 3 scheduled sets. Turns out they played a 4th, filling in for Ex Cult, who for whatever reason couldn’t make the festival last minute. Up close and personal with them at an absolutely packed Slim’s downtown, it was everything you could ask for in a punk-y, rocking set. I absolutely love this band.
Torres – I asked for some new music recommendations on Facebook awhile back, and based on listing some music I really liked, Hopscotch’s Grayson Currin recommended Torres to me. I fell in love with the album and knew I’d have to see her at Hopscotch. When I found out she was also playing a day party at The Hive, I was delighted as it provided a less crowded show and a brighter venue for photographs. She/They didn’t disappoint. At all.
Honorable Mentions: Goner (the set was perfect, but the sun and heat were tough), Jenks Miller Band, Last Year’s Men and The Everymen (who’d have made this list if I didn’t already have them elsewhere)
Best Club Shows
Golden Void – Although I hadn’t heard a lot of buzz about this band prior to the festival, I had really enjoyed listening to their album of 70’s-style hard rock. Guess I just hadn’t been paying attention because the venue ended up filling to capacity (despite being a bit off the main Hopscotch path). They were as good live as on the record (not the case with two other bands I saw that night).
Cy Dune – the best finale of any show I saw at Hopscotch. More bands should pay attention to closing this strong.
Mikal Cronin – from top to bottom this was the best set I saw at Hopscotch. Catchy harmonies. Excellent guitar work. Local label Merge Records has been on fire lately, and Cronin is one of their best and brightest. I’m downloading nyctaper’s audio recordings as I write this. One hour left. Can’t wait to hear it again.
Best Alternate Venue shows
Lonnie Holley – I’m a big Megafaun fan, and guitarist Bradley Cook was announced as joining Holley. There were moments when these performers hit that zone where music becomes almost transcendent. I can only hope my photo from that moment captures the feeling.
Mount Moriah – I’m a huge fan and have seen this local act a few times. I initially was going to skip this and focus on catching some out of town acts that I might not get a chance to see again. But when the time came, I just needed to see them, if only for part of the show. It felt like a special sort of homecoming for them. I wish they’d do this again outside of Hopscotch, as I left after the first album was performed and really wish I’d seen the new one live.
Ryan Gustafson/Dead Tongues – Yes, I blew off the second half of Spiritualized to see this. I wasn’t planning to because I’ve seen them perform recently, but I love the music so much. I don’t regret it at all.
Best New Discoveries
The Everymen – I had just finished catching Last Year’s Men inside at Slim’s, and had stepped out to get a free-but-donation-requested beer on the patio. I was supposed to meet up with a friend, so instead of heading off like I had planned, I stuck around. So glad I did. These guys absolutely rocked. I don’t really know how to describe them. A little bit punk band, a little bit Mighty Mighty Bosstones, a little bit E-Street Band maybe. Very high energy. Not sure how it all translates on record, but live it was great fun.
Scout Niblett – I had planned to be at Ex-Cult, but when that show was cancelled, I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do. A friend dragged me over after The Dead Tongues set next door. I only got to see a little of the set, but it was intense and amazing.
Biggest Mistake I Made
Trying to squeeze in too much. Case in point, I was really enjoying Golden Void’s set at Deep South, but Purling Hiss were starting around the way at CAM, so I left midway through and headed over. Just as Purling Hiss was finding their groove, I then rushed out to catch some of The Rosebuds doing Sade’s Love Deluxe album. I needed to remember that most sets get better as they go. If I’m only going to do a partial, do the end of a set (like I did with Cy Dune). I should have just stayed at Golden Void to the end, then caught the end of Purling Hiss, and saved Rosebuds for another day (even though the Sade thing might not repeat).