I’m going to be honest with you. I didn’t get to as many shows as I wanted to. It rained a lot, I hardly slept or ate and I was sore from all the walking in the heat/getting beat in the pit. However, I did see most of the bands on my must list, I made some new friends and had some rad adventures (including thrifting!).
I normally shoot film, so I borrowed my husband’s point and shoot since he was using his DSLRs for Spin. I also took a ton of pictures on my phone, so these are a mixture of those. I’m only posting about bands I really loved and of whom I had good enough photos.
When we arrived in Raleigh, the first show we hit was the day party at King’s Barcade, a venue known for its hardcore past and excellent sound. Also their local beer selection was superb–$4.50 for a Fullsteam Carver? Yes please!
I really loved Derek from TOW3RS, a local band that impressed me last year at a day party. He played “One With the Freaks” by the Notwist and a few songs from TOW3RS new EP, Wyatt. They hid tapes all over town, each one a different split with a local band. I only found two, but I’m sure it will be released digitally soon. Derek played his last song at the back of the club to be close to the windows.
Airstrip, another local band, is led by Matt, a former Richmonder who was previously in Veelee and Opening Flower Happy Bird, two bands I saw many times and enjoyed. I went to this show alone and talked to a neat older couple about the bands they were planning to see. Raleigh is super friendly and you never feel like you are alone.
Next was Raleigh’s Gross Ghost, who I mentioned in my preview. They remind me a little of Spoon and The Love Language–they’re a really great, straightforward rock and roll band with a pop edge.
I walked a few blocks with a friend to CAM, a modern art museum that flooded early that day with the fast rains we’d had. Sadly, we missed all of Tenement’s 15 minute set, so we parked our butts on the floor, charged our phones, and waited for Sweden’s Holograms. They sounded like an 80s punk/new wave band and they were SO fun to watch. Unfortunately, what was not fun was that the cardigan I planned to wear all weekend was soaked with cheap beer and a pit formed full of strangely excitable, drunk young kids who were kind of jerks. It caused my friend and his girlfriend to take an early exit.
Friday I had planned to day drink and see tons of bands, but I only made it to one show at Kings and then Long View Center to see my hometown hero, Matthew E. White, since I missed his show the night before with the 32-piece band. He was with a smaller band and members of the chorus, who were unfortunately not miked so I didn’t hear much of them. Otherwise, the performance was wonderful and the beautiful church venue was the perfect setting.
At night we watched Built to Spill and Jesus & Mary Chain at City Plaza from our friends’ hotel room. We could hear everything, and this is what it looked like:
Then I headed to Fletcher Opera House for The Weather Station, Hiss Golden Messenger and The Mountain Goats. I don’t have good pictures of this show, so here are my one-line reviews:
The Weather Station: Sounded like 70s folk music; was very genuine, which made me like it very much.
Hiss Golden Messenger: One of the festival’s highlights; band included the Cook brothers from Megafaun and the ultra-talented William Tyler.
The Mountain Goats: Only saw the first set, which was metal covers and was AMAZING; I love John Darnielle.
Saturday morning I walked by myself in the heat to go thrifting. The Goodwill on Hargett St has lots of really great brand-name clothes (many of which were too small for me, damn you Theory shift dress!) and cheap but shitty housewares. I bought some good stuff. Sadly it’s cash-only, unlike any other Goodwill I have ever been to.I passed on day parties to eat French Toast and attend a panel about the Internet and weird music. The panelists were Brandon Stosuy (Pitchfork), Maura Johnston (The Village Voice), Kid Millions (Oneida), Arnold Dreyblatt (minimalist composer), and Rich Ivey (from punk rock Raleigh band Whatever Brains). It was lively, fascinating, and everyone got a fair chance to speak. The questions from the audience were smart and comprehensive, which is why I put my hand down as soon as I raised it.
Afterwards I took a nap and was awoken by pouring rain (truth: it was cutting out the cable and I was annoyed). There would be no outdoor show for me. Instead I drank pumpkin beers with my friends (’tis the season, y’all) in their hotel room and had a Grimes dance party.
The rain subsided and The Roots started late so I only saw a song or two (so sad but still one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen) before I had to walk to the Lincoln Theater to see three kick ass Merge Records artists.
Did you know Superchunk is my favorite band of all time? No? I am sure I will remind you of it often. Mac is Superchunk’s frontman, and he has a solo project called Portastatic. He took requests and played classic ‘chunk tunes (“The Question is How Fast”) and Portastatic favorites (“Spying on the Spies”). Then, to make things even more amazing, he brought out Versus as his backing band and did Neutral Milk Hotel’s “Where You’ll Find Me Now.” THEN Kurt from Lambchop came out and they did that band’s “Nine” and the whole world collapsed from awesomeness.
I was getting tired but knew that if I stuck around I would be able to see two more of my favorite bands. I’ve seen Versus many times over the years, and I think I take them for granted, especially since they reunited in 2009 and put out the excellent record On The Ones and Threes. They’re just a great band that sincerely make me smile. At the end they did “Double Suicide” from my favorite record of theirs, Secret Swingers, and it was fanfuckingtastic.
The first time I saw Wye Oak was at XX Merge in a larger sit down theatre. Right after I said to PJ, “I’d rather see them in a club.” Saturday I was finally able to see them play a smaller packed club, full of devoted fans. Wye Oak was my last band of Hopscotch and they were by far my favorite. Not only did they preview some great new songs, but they played “Take it In” from The Knot & “Holy Holy” from Civilian so I was very satisfied.
I have run into several people since the festival and we are all wishing we were day drinking & seeing bands instead of returning to our normal work lives. We will have a year to build our alcohol tolerance and late night stamina to do it again.
I will leave you with a popular tweet from Brandon Stosuy:
Hopscotch felt less like a festival and more like a reminder of why I got into music in the first place.