An account from Hopscotch, Raleigh's yearly music fest

This past weekend was the sixth year of Hopscotch, a three-day music festival in Raleigh with 120 bands you’ve never heard of, six bands you think you’ve kind of heard of, and two totally sick bands you’re absolutely in love with.

The festival is usual because it doesn't follow the all-day format—the headliners come on first, sometime in the early evening, then everyone splits off to different club venues within a few blocks of each other. Hopscotch hosts a diverse set of acts from Coffeehouse mainstays Silent Lunch and Natural Causes to Baltimore rapper Goldlink and garage scum King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. Yes, that’s their real name and no, it’s not stupid, they shred.

I stuck out a spot at City Plaza around 6:45, in anticipation of TV on the Radio, who were supposed to come on at 8:45. We got to see the very end of Carlitta Durand. By that I mean we caught the very end, when she said “I’m Carlitta Durand from Durham, thank you everybody!”

When Tycho was getting ready to start his set, no one was really paying attention at that point because Tycho is just some slouchy guy, and everyone was thinking they didn’t come to this thing to see a nerd twist dials on his synthesizer. Besides, this year was sponsored by Squarespace and there were probably some cool promotional booths somewhere. But after emitting a few doops from his electric box, Tycho invited his whole band to come on stage.

To everyone’s disappointment, Tycho was extremely likable throughout his entire set. There were some technical difficulties, and he handled them like a pro. His light show was tasteful and attractive. I think there might’ve been some music, too. After some half-hearted applause, Tycho and his band left the stage and the Plaza began filling up in anticipation of TV on the Radio.

Known for their postmodern masterpieces "Return to Cookie Mountain" and "Dear Science," and their most recent album Seeds, TVOTR was the band everyone was psyched to see. Unlike Tycho (why did he have to be so damn likeable?!), TV on the Radio did not disappoint. They played their best song “Golden Age” early, and I could’ve left the festival after hearing that and been satisfied. They also played “Wolf Like Me,” a real scorcher and fan favorite, plus a whole bunch of their newer stuff, if you’re into that.

Satiated aurally but kind of hungry, my friends and I went off in search of food. Downtown Raleigh is pretty cool at night and there were tons of places to eat. We decided on the Mecca Restaurant, described by Google as an “old-timey, family-owned mainstay serving Southern comfort food & drinks since the 1930s.” I would describe them as having heady burgers. The place was packed with fellow Hopscotchers, all murmuring about where the cool place was to go next. We knew exactly where we were going, though—CAM, to see Moon Duo.

CAM, as we were to later discover, is the Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh. Moon Duo, as we already kind of knew, is an intoxicating psych band on Sacred Bones Records. When we got there, the CAM had already reached capacity and there was a line to get in. Especially egregious was the fact that the hordes of VIP wristband holders (there were more of them than us) were allowed to bypass the line and go right in once someone else had walked out. The bouncer was appropriately ashamed of his taking part in this mockery of underground music culture. After several impassioned mutterings of "didn’t know I paid all this money to stand in line outside a club," the poor kid couldn’t take it anymore and let us in.

Moon Duo was great. Their psych jams were repetitive and mind-altering, hallucinogenic in the acoustical sense. Not realizing that TomorrowWorld is next weekend, a couple of dudes in tank tops had brought out glow sticks, and so after a long night we decided to head home.

And so, the moral of the story is this: don’t bring glow sticks to Hopscotch, and if you’re going to ask for media passes, see if you can swing some VIPs.


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