Raleigh’s eclectic Hopscotch Music Festival will celebrate its 10th anniversary Sept. 5 to 7 with headliners like James Blake, Sleater-Kinney, CHVRCHES, Phantogram, Little Brother, Raphael Saadiq and Jenny Lewis. The festival will take place all throughout downtown Raleigh at 11 locales, with outdoor venues City Plaza and Red Hat Amphitheater serving as the main stages.
Hopscotch sets itself apart from other music festivals by featuring approximately 25 percent in-state bands. The festival has partnered with Come Hear NC, a promotional campaign from the North Carolina Arts Council and the North Carolina Department of Natural & Cultural Resources, to promote the many groundbreaking and boundary-pushing North Carolina artists making an appearance. Come Hear NC’s mission is to highlight the impact that current and former North Carolina artists have made on American music, celebrating pioneers like John Coltrane in jazz, George Clinton in funk and James Taylor in rock.
The critically acclaimed Durham hip-hop outfit Little Brother may be making the most significant appearance of any local band at Hopscotch. This is the band’s first festival appearance and first show in Raleigh since it disbanded in 2010. The band released an album just last week titled “May the Lord Watch” that has already received dazzling reviews. Other headliners — such as James Blake, Sleater-Kinney and Raphael Saadiq — also released new albums this year, meaning there will be plenty of new material on display at the festival.
Hopscotch has a lot to offer music fans with any taste. Venues range from outdoor amphitheaters to small local clubs and bars. The festival’s more than 130 band lineup includes rock, hip-hop, electronic, folk, experimental and metal artists. The festival’s unique setup — spread out across Raleigh with no centralized grounds — allows it to cater to music fans who just want to see the headliners or cannot spend the whole day at the festival. In addition to General Admission, VIP and Day Pass options, single show tickets cost anywhere from $37.50 for Jenny Lewis on Friday and Little Brother and Raphael Saadiq on Saturday to $49.50 for Thursday night’s main show at City Plaza featuring Sleater-Kinney and Kurt Vile.
However, it may be worthwhile to seek out the acts earlier in the day, as Hopscotch is known for being one of America’s best underground music festivals. The festival brought back artist-curated bills this year, asking 10 North Carolina artists — including some who were already attending the festival — to help fill out the lineup. This should improve the festival’s already stellar set of local, up-and-coming and underground bands. For those interested, Kings Bar is the only venue exclusively showcasing these artist-curated bills, although other venues will feature some of these bands throughout the weekend.
While the festival itself is great, Hopscotch may be just as well known for its Day Party Series. The parties are free and open to the public, usually running from noon to 5 p.m. Most of the day parties still feature live music from an eclectic set of bands, but they are a more casual and accessible environment than the official festival. For something different on Saturday, visit the Day Party Market from noon to 7 p.m., which will feature more than 40 vendors on the streets of downtown, or the Haha Hopscotch Comedy Showcase from noon to 5 p.m. at The Night Rider. At the same time as the comedy show, local group G.O.U.G.E (Gimmicks Only Underground Grappling Entertainment) will be showcasing comedic wrestling fights at Ruby Deluxe. Poking fun at the silly outfits, excessive violence and bizarre self-seriousness of professional wrestling, G.O.U.G.E should be one of the more interesting groups performing throughout Hopscotch.
A strong lineup of headliners, local bands and underground acts gives the Triangle area much to look forward to in Hopscotch’s 10th year. The festival had its biggest pre-sale ever this year, so make sure to grab a pass before it’s too late.