RECAP: Raleigh’s Hopscotch Festival
RECAP: Raleigh’s Hopscotch Festival
By Shumara Thomas
There’s nothing not to love about Raleigh’s Hopscotch Festival. True to its name, music lovers can literally “hop” from venue to venue in downtown Raleigh over a four day period. Since it’s inception in 2010, Hopscotch has not only showcased popular artists like Earl Sweatshirt and Angel Olsen, but it also t gives a significant voice to local acts as well, like Mount Moriah and G Yamazawa. It’s the all-you-can-eat of music festivals with a line up of artists from all different genres and locales for you to sample. It’s almost too much to choose from, really, and I haven’t even mentioned the numerous day parties, each with their own individual lineups and schedules.
This festival had me jogging back and forth like a madwoman trying to catch a note from every musician I could, and I enjoyed every hair brained moment. Last year I only attended one day, but this year I planned to go as much as possible. I wore the comfiest shoes I had in my arsenal, knowing my legs probably would be on fire by the end of the weekend from all the walking.
Hopscotch exposes you to a multitude artists, so I chose to stick with local acts on Thursday. Lincoln Theater had a phenomenal hip hop line-up and it was a great decision on my part. P.A.T Junior opened, reminding me of Rick Ross, appearance wise, but with far more soulful music, surprisingly. He shouted out his wife, who is also his backup singer (gotta love team efforts), on the track “Better Days,” and closed out with “Out the Batcave,” a call to action anthem, full of bass that had his whole crew and the crowd jumping like crazy.
Next up was local favorite G. Yamazawa. He brings you immediately back to Rawkus Records golden era of hip hop, with punchlines like “You ain’t gotta clue son. I call it double entendre because I speak in two tongues” that pop perfectly over his jazzy beats. He even kicked an acappella, be still my heart. Veteran and DMV native Oddissee and Good Company were next up. He and his band never disappoint, jumping right in with “Thank You for the Music” and “Hooded Rap.” I’ve long been a fan of his production skills and as usual, he gave an electrified performance.
Female emcee NoName was last and is an artist I’d heard of, but this was my first real introduction. I completely went into fan mode. Listen, not only can she vocally ride a beat with perfect execution, but she had lyrics and great production value to boot. Winning all around, so Thursday did not disappoint by any means.
I ended up sitting out Friday’s festivities and made the rounds again on Saturday night. Big Boi was the headliner at City Plaza, making us all reminisce on the days of Outkast as a formidable duo. He was accompanied by singer Sleepy Brown, and together they performed favorites like “So Fresh So Clean,” keeping the entire crowd dancing. I caught the tail end of the band Laser Background’s show at Deep South Bar afterwards. They have a unique, almost psychedelic sort of sound and frontman Andy Molholt is pure entertainment to watch on stage.
The last artist of the night was Canada’s Lunice. He is one half of the production team TNGHT and his performance was part artistic performance piece, part listening party. It was hard not to get caught up in watching him dance as he played electronic laced beats so full of bass that it made my teeth rattle. Production wise, the music was crazy and he had the younger crowd losing it.
On Sunday, I managed to finally catch Natural Velvet, and I was impressed. Not only is the band diverse but they play the kind of soul wrenching punk rock that entrances you, whether you’re a fan of punk rock or not. I haven’t enjoyed punk rock music like that in years and the fact that they now reside in my music playlist is a testament to just how awesome they really were.
I topped off the final day with local band Mount Moriah at Red Hat Amphitheater. They were suggested to me by a fellow music lover and I was happy to say he was on point. They have a mixed sound, country but pop with some soul and rock mixed in it. The type of music that can fit every mood and any taste. The band’s singer, Helen McEntire, has a gorgeous twang with poetic melodies that would be a welcome addition to any music rotation you have.
Hopscotch is just the sort of festival we all need. Why? Not only does it give you the best of those artists you already love, but it also introduces you to your new favorites and allows you to expand your tastes with a methodology no other festival can imitate.