This year’s Hopscotch was truly the best year I have had the pleasure to attend. It was clear that the organization of this year’s festival has evolved to a quite efficient design. The main complaint I had about past Hopscotch festivals was that I was unable to see all of the bands I hoped to. This was mostly due to poor schedule arrangement with overlapping acts and/or inconvenient venue locations. This year seemed to flow quite naturally, where I could seamlessly go from act to act without feeling crunched for time or like I had to make many decisions between shows. There was rarely time that felt wasted and I was constantly in transit between shows or enjoying great music. One of my favorite sets was G Yamazawa where he played Lincoln Theatre on Thursday night. He used his stage time to continually include the audience and even took some time to preform a heartfelt spoken-word poem he wrote. I felt more and more connected to him as he opened up his past to the audience and he kept us dancing throughout. So many people came on stage to collaborate on his songs through rapping, trumpet playing and a troupe of dancers even made an appearance. This was my first time seeing G Yamazawa and it certainly will not be my last. if you ever get the chance to see him live I would urge you to take it.
DJ Short Strides
One of my favorite Hopscotch acts that really surprised me was Tei Shi. I went to Red Hat an hour and a half early for Solange so that I could get a good spot and I ended up seeing the entirety of Tei Shi’s set. I had never heard her music prior to Hopscotch but I was instantly hooked. Her music has been described as a R&B-inflected indie pop tune and I think that description fits her style of music very well. It was like nothing I had ever heard before. It had the perfect combination of R&B, indie and pop. I grew up listening to primarily indie and pop music but have recently been listening to more R&B and hip-hop, so it was really cool that she was able to encompass my entire taste in music in one performance. Not only was the style of music amazing, but Tei Shi’s voice is impeccable. She hit every high note perfectly. My favorite songs she performed were “Crawl,” “Bassically,” “Keep Running,” “How Far,” “Year 3K” and “Lift Me.” Hearing the song “Crawl” live was absolutely phenomenal. She blew me away and I can now say I am a dedicated Tei Shi fan.
Now that the FOUR DAYS of Hopscotch 2017 are past us, we’ve all had a little time to reflect on the sights, sounds and smells of the past weekend. I was surprised that my favorite acts ended up being Mourn, Sand Pact, Beverly, Tei Shi and Angel Olsen. Honestly, I haven’t listened to any of them that often; I was familiar enough with each to play them on KNC (and I’ve seen Sand Pact live before), but now that I’ve seen them I’m going through each of their discographies. For the past few months, I’ve been pretty bad at listening to new music, opting to stick to my longtime favorites instead. This year’s Hopscotch made me want to seek out new music again. A couple of local acts who I had never seen surprised me, too, specifically The Tills, Rapsody and The Coke Dares (okay, they’re two-thirds local). The Tills were so high energy that I couldn’t help but enjoy it, Rapsody was super talented and clever and The Coke Dares were hilarious and had short songs that kept the crowd on our toes. I expected to enjoy each of their sets, but I didn’t think I’d necessarily want to come home to listen to them. Welp, I was wrong, so that lengthened my song queue. But I’m excited to keep on listening. It was a really awesome Hopscotch and I’m glad that I got to go!
Hopscotch weekend shifts the environment of Raleigh, North Carolina, unlike any other major event I have attended since my time living here. My favorite act was the immersive and light-hearted performance of Angel Olsen on Sunday night. I have been a fan of Olsen since her 2012 album “Half Way Home.” Her performance felt personal and down-to-earth, despite headlining the main stage on the last day of the festival. She played alongside an energetic and bolo tie-clad band, but came back on the stage after extensive cheers and applause, to perform solo with only her voice and her guitar. Although her music is laced with heavy themes of love and loss, the performance was obviously a fun time for Angel Olsen; she cracked jokes with the crowd and interjected songs with witty one-liners, but somehow dove back into vibrato sustained notes. Lindsey Jordan of Snail Mail was even seen sitting on the left of the stage enjoying the show. Angel Olsen’s set was the perfect ending to an exciting, unique, and exhausting weekend.
The most memorable moment of my Hopscotch weekend was seeing Mount Eerie for the first time on Thursday night. En route to Mount Eerie, I mistakenly went into Lincoln Theatre after misreading the venue for where he was performing. After realizing that Lincoln had an entire bill dedicated to hip-hop, which is nowhere near Mount Eerie genre-wise, I went off to find the A. J. Fletcher Opera Theater (located inside the Duke Energy Center). I ended up being a little late to his set but was surprised when I walked in to find an entirely quiet, packed room full of occupied plush red seats. The audience was dead silent and the singing and playing of Phil Elverum were almost entrancing. His set was a jarring transition from the other acts I had seen throughout the night like Big Thief and Kayo Dot. After finding an empty seat (refreshing after a long night of walking), I settled in to listen to 45 minutes of melancholy, thought-provoking songs that seemed to run into one another in a lilting fashion. As an occasional acoustic artist, I found his singing style unique with long drawn out vocal phrases and timid accompanied strumming. Having not heard any of his material prior, it was interesting to experience everything for the first time in the context of Hopscotch. Mount Eerie was the last artist I heard on Thursday night and it was a calming way to finish my first night of Hopscotch. The next artist I saw on Friday was Run The Jewels, which is a large leap in dynamics, but that’s the beauty of a festival like Hopscotch. There’s something for everyone.
Tune in on Monday for more favorite moments of Hopscotch!