Festival Coverage

Hopscotch AAR (After Action Review)

In the military, we have this cool thing we do called an After Action Review (or AAR), where after an operation, we break down the positives and negatives of the operation, what can be fixed, and what should be sustained for future operations. It’s a great way to analyze your team’s work and provide constructive criticism.

Now that Hopscotch has been over for a couple days, and we’ve had time to digest the whirlwind of a weekend that it was, I think it’s fair to realistically judge 2016’s festivities.


  • In a year that has caused NC’s ability to book and retain quality artists for tours and concerts due to HB2; Greg, Nathan, and everyone on the Hopscotch team secured one of the best lineups I’ve ever seen in the festival’s seven-year run.
  • Our local artists shined the brightest this year. There have been a couple instances in Hopscotch history where some local artists didn’t really deserve to be there, and their performances reflected it. That wasn’t the case at all this year, at least at the places I made it to. Sylvan Esso did an electrifying show in City Center, and Oak City Slums burned CAM to the floor as the first act in Saturday’s lineup!
  • Saturday didn’t end with a fizzle compared to Friday. That was my biggest complaint last year, and I was feeling kind of skeptical going into Saturday night 2016, but between Vince Staples, Sylvan Esso, Oak City Slums, and Mr. Carmack, Saturday was one of my best nights at a music festival ever. I knocked my head for seven hours straight!


  • The daytime heat was brutal, and my wardrobe being limited to mostly black didn’t help things. Doing the math, I spent almost $100 on trying to stay hydrated. There’s not much we can do about that though.
  • Hip hop acts were clumped together on Friday night, and I missed a lot of artists that I wanted to see because I was forced to pick between Erykah Badu, Young Thug, and the King’s lineup. Queen Badu always wins.
  • I missed Big Freedia and it was no one’s fault but my own.
  • The whiplash I gave myself from knocking my head for seven straight hours on Saturday night.


  • I really wish there was a way the Hopscotch team could improve how they space out rap artists. Last year and this year, the bulk of hip-hop acts was on Friday, so if you are a hip hop head, there were some really difficult choices to make.
  • Some artists seemed mismatched in their venues and time slots. A prime example was Swizzy Mack. He killed, but I feel like he would’ve been better placed at CAM on Saturday night, than closing out Thursday night at Neptune’s.
  • There was no incentive to go bring people to the Maker’s Space. Not that there weren’t really cool artists there, but it just felt like something you had to walk by to get your bracelet, rather than something to go out of your way to check out.
  • Some of the vendors at City Center were straight up dumb. That whole area could’ve been filled with more interesting and immersive booths. Not much creativity was put into product placement in the one area where product placement was ok.
  • Next year there should be a Hopscotch app. Many festivals have done this, and it’s really helpful to stay on top of the schedule and events/attractions that attendees may not know about.


  • The utilization of City Center as a venue was perfect. It didn’t gum up traffic throughout the city, the acoustics were great no matter where you were standing, and if you didn’t want to be in the pit, you didn’t feel like you were 100 miles away from the performance.
  • Once again, the lineup was curated very well. Better than in other years. A perfect balance of mainstream, up-and-coming, and obscure was achieved, and the way the artists were lined up made it so that finding new artists wasn’t like taking a gamble.
  • The lighting used at CAM of EDM artists was DOPE this year! Last year I felt that the lighting was bland and took away from the excitement of the acts. Their use of ambient lighting in different colors set an awesome mood, and changed my mind 100% of CAM as a music venue.

DJ Iron Mic