Every time I go to Raleigh for the Hopscotch Music & Design Festival I fantasize about moving there. Raleigh's downtown is filled with cool venues like The Lincoln Theatre and Deep South, populated with masses of music-friendly locals.
Hopscotch runs three days, Thursday through Saturday with a local/regional heavy line-up. Last year, I was only able to make it for Thursday-Friday, so this year I picked up the spare, driving up from Georgia for just Saturday. Not that there weren't some killer acts like The Flaming Lips, Sleep, Lee Ranaldo and Prince's band The Revolution the previous two days, but ya know, work.
I was able to catch MC5 founder Wayne Kramer's all-star tribute to 50 years of the MC5's controversial 1968 debut album Kick Out The Jams for the second time in three days, having just seen them in St. Augustine. The talent of this line up consisting of Kramer on guitar, Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty, Faith No More bassist Bill Gould, Zen Guerilla's Marcus Durant on vocals and Soungarden's riff master Kim Thayil is undeniable, and they absolutely ripped though this set of counter-culture anthems. Jayhawks founder Gary Louris, exclaimed later during the Jayhawks gig at the Lincoln that he felt like "the coolest guy in the room" after sitting in with Kramer and company.
The Jayhawks own more measured set featured music from most of the Minnesota alt-country rockers albums, including their notable 1992 effort Hollywood Town Hall that spawned possibly their best known track, "Waiting for the Sun".
Liz Phair and the Sadie Dupuis fronted Speedy Ortiz made for a great 1-2 girl-power-pop punch as the sun set over Hopscotch's City Plaza stage. Somebody in one of the office buildings overlooking what would normally be a busy downtown intersection hung up a hand-made banner that read "Butthole Surfers". One more reason to love Raleigh.
I managed to catch a little of local funksters Boulevards and country punks Sarah Shook and the Disarmers as I dashed venue to venue trying my best to catch everything I could. Both bands are worthy of more attention.
Arriving late on Saturday also meant that I missed most of the "& Design" part of the gathering. Last year I bought a pretty cool crop of concert posters, but this year most of the artists had packed up their wares by the time I arrived. If you are planning on going next year, get there as early to be blown away by dozens of talented artists, designers and print-makers.
Well past midnight with all venues into their final acts, I was able to see Los Angeles band Moaning at Deep South. This post punk trio, who invoke Joy Division/New Order/90's Shoegaze totally blew me away. I've been addicted to their self titled debut album on Sub Pop ever since.
The announcement for Hopscotch 2019 will be one of my most anticipated festival line-ups in the coming year. I'm looking forward to all three days next time.