This year at Hopscotch, I saw fewer bands than ever before, but I ate actual meals, drank less and spent more time with my friends, so I’m still satisfied overall. After my four years of going to Hopscotch, I’ve learned a few things about myself and music; here are just six of them.
1. Friends are essential
I spent a lot of time alone, exploring Raleigh on foot and shopping, but what kept me from going insane was my group of close friends. They were there when I cried during Low, got drunk at the VIP party and had a panic attack on the way back to the hotel from an aborted show (sorry Water Liars, your venue sucked). My experience without them would have been less meaningful and memorable. Cheers, y’all!
2. Discovery makes for a great fest
As recommended by Hilary in the preview post, we went to see San Fermin on closing night. I did not expect to love them as much as I did. I had the same feeling when I saw Lambchop for the first time at XX Merge: joy, excitement and a sense that I was witnessing something truly special. Please go see them if they tour near you, or listen to their record on NPR’s First Listen. That’s right, kiddos, they’re Bob Boilen approved!
3. …but so does seeing old favorites
I wasn’t going to see Low because I had seen them over ten years ago and I was holding on to this idea that I should only see bands I hadn’t seen. Saturday night we wanted to end at a seated venue and due to opener San Fermin, we picked the Low show. And the band was spectacular. Once I heard the beginning parts of “Dinosaur Act” I knew tears were in my future so I let them out. That’s just what Low does to you.
Swearin’ drove from Philly to play a day party before their Friday night show. We sat outside behind the venue for an hour without seeing anyone from the band. Two members of our group left us. But for Hilary and I, we got a kick ass 25-minute set from a tight, professional band who just seemed like SUPER sweet people (I loved Allison’s “sorry y’all” tattoo above her knee). They have a new record coming out this fall on Wichita Recordings and I’m thrilled to have them on my top ten LPs list two years in a row.
5. Ladies first, always
I saw a band with a woman in it every day–there is now zero excuse for having a non-gender diverse festival. Speedy Ortiz (top) offered some fucking rock with smart lyrics and great energy; Angel Olsen’s (middle) amazing voice reverberated throughout Fletcher Opera Hall; and Waxahatchee (bottom) played a set of intimate songs (mostly) culled from her excellent 2013 release, Cerulean Salt.
6. It’s ok to be critical
This year I was disappointed with the main stage acts (The Breeders/Spiritualized/Future Islands/Holy Ghost!/A-Trak) and wish Big Boi hadn’t cancelled. I am hoping for more of a crowd-pleaser in the future like Wilco. And if someone is going to play a classic album from beginning to end (The Breeders’ Last Splash) I think it should be Sufjan Stevens’ Age of Adz. There were also way too many noise/composer/guitarist acts and so many of them opened up for shows I attended. Why couldn’t local country lady Skylar Gudasz open for Waxahatchee instead of Phillip Glass-influenced (but still good) Alexander Turnquist? More country, please! My dream act for 2014: Natalie Maines.
And some more photos:
All live photos by me.