Bringing in the heat: Hopscotch Music Festival preview

Summer may be receding, but the eclectic Hopscotch Music Festival promises to bring back the heat to the Triangle this week from Sept. 7–9. Over 120 artists and groups will perform at Hopscotch, with headliners including Pavement, Japanese Breakfast, Denzel Curry, Alvvays, Margo Price, King Krule, Sunny Day Real Estate and Dinosaur Jr. 

Hopscotch Music Festival is a three-day music event held annually in the heart of Raleigh, N.C. Hopscotch was founded by Greg Lowenhagen and Grayson Currin in 2010, while they worked for former Mayor of Durham Steve Schewel. 

In 2022, the festival reduced lineups and guests due to COVID-19. This year, Hopscotch will take place at Moore Square and City Plaza for its main concerts, and at various clubs including The Pour House for daytime parties with music performances. Many but not all of these day parties are free to attend. 

Described by INDY Week as the festival’s “biggest get ever,” Pavement is at the forefront of the sterling talents at Hopscotch. This marks the first time the band has performed in North Carolina since 1999, when they released their album “Terror Twilight.” Pavement’s low-fi sounds, as heard in songs including “Range Life,” “Major Leagues,” “Spit on a Stranger” and “Cut Your Hair,” are characteristic of the 1990s. The band's underground, casual style has inspired many indie rock bands, including Blur and Animal Collective. The band split up in 1999, reunited in 2010 and has been on tour since last year. 

From roughly the same time period as Pavement is Dinosaur Jr. Described by the band’s vocalist/guitarist J Masci as “ear-bleeding country” in their namesake “best-of” album, the group’s boisterous style has been prominently labeled as alternative rock. They are scheduled to perform a finale show at Moore Square on Saturday. 

This year’s Hopscotch lineup includes rising indie artists as idiosyncratic as Japanese Breakfast (Michelle Zauner), an indie-rock musician with four distinct albums and author of the tensile, moving memoir “Crying in H Mart.” Varying from lo-fi in her debut album to stylistic indie-rock in her latest release, Zauner’s music captures the nuance and subtleness of human condition with a great emotional sensibility built upon both grief and joy. Soccer Mommy (Sophie Allison), an indie-rock icon and an upcoming highlight of Hopscotch, has her musical signature over pop punk and shoegaze. With her latest album “Sometimes, Forever,” Allison explores the fusion of synthesizer and noise pop, writing on her self-discovering journey with an openness toward lie and pain.

As one of the new-generation indie music forerunners, LA-based Mild High Club brings its one-of-a-kind psychedelic jazz and pop tunes to the festival. Their songs, such as “Homage,” “Note to Self” and “Windowpane,” are perfect accompaniments to daydreams on steamy, lethargy-inducing summer afternoons.

An even fresher appearance in the indie pop scene at Hopscotch is corook, the professional name of singer-songwriter Corinne Savage. Active only since 2021, they have put out numerous memorable pieces such as “it’s ok,” “hell yeah” and “degree.” corook’s songs feature melancholiness and adulting fatigues disguised under soft melodies and a delicately sweet vocal.

Denzel Curry, one of the most well-known musicians at Hopscotch Music Festival, stands out as a light in the kaleidoscopic world of modern hip-hop. In his newest album, Melt My Eyez See Your Future, he draws inspiration from jazz, traditional hip hop, funk, neo-soul and punk. His discography has always been a symphony of inventiveness and a confessional sentiment of self-discovery and societal reflection. As Curry described his latest album,"This is my green lightsaber moment!" —now Curry is ready to ignite the musical galaxy with each of his tracks. 

In comparison to Denzel Curry's eclectic energy, the hip-hop trio Digable Planets offers a jazzier and laid-back groove. Digable Planets draws their inspiration from the nuances of urban life. Their debut album, “Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space),” remains a classic, blending jazz-infused beats with socially conscious lyrics. Their first single in this debut album, “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat),” won the 36th Grammy Award and reflects on the mainstream city memory of the 90s. Their follow-up, “Blowout Comb,” further cemented their reputation and talent for intricate rhymes and soulful soundscapes. 

In addition to its groundbreaking hip-hop acts, the Hopscotch Music Festival also celebrates rock music. American Football, an influential band from Urbana, Illinois, is known for their unusual blend of emo—twinkly, mathy rock—and indie rock. Their self-titled debut album, released in 1999, is signatured with exquisite guitar work and introspective writing. Their artistic journey, defined by a lengthy absence followed by a triumphant return, has solidified them as forerunners in the emo scene.

Hopscotch also features Alvvays, a Canadian jangle pop band formed in the 2010s. Exploring thematic adolescent scenes on synth-pop soundscapes in their eponymous debut album, Alvvays breaks traditions in indie-pop–be it their blazing melodic lines in power-pop hits or jangling nu-pop collages. 

Country artist Margo Price will also come to Hopscotch this week. Author of the 2022 memoir “Maybe We’ll Make It,” Price is also a lyrical storyteller in her music. From her autobiographical, self-exploratory debut “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter” to a self-revelatory documentary style in her second album, Price now will bring her latest personal and collective experience in “Stray” to the stage and be long-lasting free, feral, and stray with the audience.

Twelve years after the inaugural Hopscotch Music Festival, the festival continues to push the boundaries of musical diversity, showcasing acts of all genres, from indie rock, metal, folk, and hip-hop to electronic music. It has evolved into a crucial forum for young talent to obtain exposure and recognition, serving as a springboard for many industry rising stars and putting Raleigh on the map as a music destination (along with Dreamville Festival) with such acts as Animal Collective, The Flaming Lips, 9th Wonder, The Roots, Jesus and the Mary Chain, The Grizzly Bear and Real Estate. Among its NC-based lineups this year are Anjimile, Rosali, Chessa Rich, Truth Club, Larry & Joe, Pat Junior, Skylar Gudasz, Tiacorine, Truth Club and more. Comedy has also been added to its schedule for the first time this year. There is truly something for everyone.

Katherine Zhong | Local Arts Editor

Katherine Zhong is a Trinity junior and local arts editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


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