(I wrote like 85% of this article months ago, but never finished it or posted. Sorry bout that! Finished this morning and here it is)
By Day 3 of Hopscotch, I’m pretty sure I was running on pure adrenalin. It was really tough getting out of bed and getting downtown to open the gallery, as I had only had a few hours sleep each of the last two nights. But I was very excited about the day ahead. The gallery was located next to the Lincoln Theatre, which was hosting a huge day party for Hopscotch, with the Rosebuds headlining. I knew we’d draw a nice overflow crowd looking to beat the heat (and there was a LOT of heat that day).
After opening the gallery and getting the first volunteer all set, I bounced over and caught just a few minutes of Shirlette Ammons next door. She and her band sounded great, but it really unbearably hot standing in front of the stage. I decided that I had better find an indoor location out of the direct sun. The day party lineup on this day was exceptional, so I had no shortage of choices. I popped into Pour House for a bit, catching up with Scott Carle before he took the stage drumming for Brice Randall Bickford. I’d caught them the night before and enjoyed getting a second listen. I think I bounced next door to Tir na Nog for a bit, too.
Eventually I wandered up to Slim’s and worked my way through the crowd and found a spot beside the stage with decent sight lines. Another band from the night before, The Annuals, were playing (although I was a tad confused because their beautiful red-headed keyboardist was no where in sight). I’d left early the night before, but wasn’t going anywhere during this blistering set. Slim’s is a pretty small club and the crowd was really into things. It was a very different experience from the larger venue, the Lincoln, were they’d played the night before. Although I was literally dripping sweat for most of the set, it was among my favorites of the festival.
I really wanted to catch Free Electric State next. I’d seen them at a day party the year before and really enjoyed their style of music. So for the first time during Hopscotch I made the long trek over to the warehouse district area, where they were already playing at White Collar Crime (sort of a weird venue for this thing, but I digress). As I walked up, I could here the wonderful “Six is One” blasting from the venue. It is a shame so few people had made it to the venue that afternoon, as the set was tight and loud. Normally I’d have stuck around to say hello to those guys, but with so many overlapping shows, I headed off to the next one.
John Vanderslice was playing around the corner at Deep South, to a packed house. I was meeting friends at the gallery across downtown soon after, so was only able to here a little of the set, unfortunately. As I hurried across town, I passes by the Raleigh Downtown Amphitheater, a scant 2 blocks from where the City Plaza shows would be held that evening. I heard a loud sound that sounding like two cats being anally raped. Turns out, it was Sebastian Bach, who was performing a $5 Bud Light show at the Amphitheater. Massive fail, City of Raleigh.
After meeting up with friends, I had hoped to catch a bit of the Rosebuds, who were performing next to the gallery. Alas, the show was running late. I did manage to catch 2 songs, but then had a shift at the gallery to pull (the last shift of the weekend). I was amazed at how packed the gallery was. Lots and lots of people looking at photography and beating the heat.
My wife met up with me to catch the City Plaza shows that evening. It was really nice getting to see her after a hectic few days. We headed over to the plaza, and I got in line to get my pics of the first band. They decided to change things up, which was probably a good thing. Instead of dozens of photographers all shooting for three songs, they let us in as small groups of 5-6 photographers for just a single song. It actually ended up better. The first band of the night was Dreamers of the Ghetto. I didn’t envy them. Almost no one at the show had every heard of them, or heard their music. They were a last minute replacement for the Light Pines, who had broken up. It is always tough for a band playing to a crowd that just isn’t into you. They made the best of it, but might have had a warmer reception at the Lincoln or another venue. (I’ve since listened to their forthcoming album, and it is quite strong. Hopefully others will hear it and they’ll get a warmer reception next time). Next up were local heroes Superchunk. Playing at a high energy level and pogoing all over the stage, the crowd was starting to get nicely warmed up.
Then came the Flaming Lips.
Pretty freaking amazing. Light show was so crazy I had to switch out of manual mode and let the camera start making some decisions for me, I just couldn’t react fast enough. Got some amazing shots during the 1 song I was allowed to shoot.
The rest of the night was pretty amazing, too. Ended up just heading over to Lincoln so I could work my way up to the stage. Caught a bit of Toro y Moi while doing do. The big act I wanted to see in the clubs that night was next, Future Islands. They didn’t disappoint. At all. Sam is among the most energetic performers I’ve ever seen. It was riveting.
I also wanted to get some shots of Yelawolf, a rapper who is getting a lot of buzz as the next big thing. I’m not a big rap fan, but still enjoyed what I saw of his set. I wish I’d stuck around a couple more songs to get some pics of him without the tie-die hoodie. He has quite the tattoo-fest going on, apparently. But the last few days were catching up to me, and I decided to beat the crowds out of downtown and get a good nights sleep.
Thank you Hopscotch, you were awesome!