“If you don’t know where you are going, any path will take you there.”
-Native American Sioux Proverb
Trust me when I say that Shakori Hills is a sacred place. The magic and energy that I felt every moment I was there is not something that I can capture through words alone. Please understand that the Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival is a really big deal. I was truly shook by my experiences to say the least.
First off, I wanted to say that I have never been camping, I have never been to a music festival and that I have never even been to Pittsboro. However, taking in all of these new experiences was exactly what I needed for my emotional and mental well being.
I stayed for 2 days out of the 4 days that the festival took place. My night started around 7 p.m. on Thursday evening when I arrived to the festival. Then, I met up with my friends at our camp site.
After we all finished getting ready, we walked out of the tent and began to wander around the campgrounds. There was so much to take in. I can recall the sky, which was flooded with bright dancing stars. The sounds of laughter were almost as loud as the music. Everyone felt so comfortable dancing and expressing themselves. The music on stage was incredible and soulful. There were bursts of joy and peace streaming out of my body. I felt like my entire body was on vibrate.
Now I am going to share a series of images I captured on my first night.
On the second day that I attended Shakori, I got to see the pace of the festival change.
I remember waking up to the sounds of nature and community stirring in the morning. The bright rays of sunshine woke me up before my alarm went off. It was a happy morning. I legitimately felt like Snow White.
Shakori during the day had more of a “family feel”. It was very wholesome to say the least.
The weather was gorgeous and the sky was clear.
This festival changed my life. After digesting all of my experiences I realized that Shakori is the place to be. For me, Shakori is a place to escape the hustle and bustle of every day life and a safe space to explore my weird side. I had so much fun meeting new people, meeting farm animals, hugging trees and dancing with my friends. There was never a dull moment where I felt like my life was wasting away. I don’t even remember looking at my phone the entire time I was here. This is one of the best events I have ever attended in my life.
The Friday night of Seun Kuti & Egypt 80’s set had the perfect taste and feeling of a crispy cool Fall beginning, looking back, it was probably due to the rain coming the next day. Their show was an hour before Perfume Genius went on, so I had plenty of time to enjoy my fill of Seun Kuti.
As I sat with a cheap, soggy, broccoli pizza in my lap at Moore Square, Kuti & Egypt 80 started their show. The first trumpet blast could have knocked me backwards. It shot out of Kuti’s lips, bewitching the crowd into movement. Soon everyone and the stage were swaying in the night breeze as Seun Kuti played “Theory of Goat and Yam”.
I feel as if I lost the next 30 minutes of my life through a magical time warp this band created with their music. Stars were twinkling to drum beats, and even the moon was smiling down on all of us as we experienced some of the most special music I’ve heard in my life. It eventually inspired me to write a short poem before I got up to join the swaying masses in front of the stage:
The band on stage
waved to the moon.
As it smiles downward,
reflecting warmth of the sun
poem by the author.
Then, as their set continued Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 kept layering magnificent tracks and solos on top of each other. They played “African Soldier” and “You Can Run”, which were lovely to experience, especially with Kuti’s vibrant blank and red attire. He jumped and we jumped. He swayed and we swayed. Kuti and the band moved the crowd effortlessly, which created a sense of endless joy.
After Seun Kuti & Egypt 80’s performance I was certain I would never see anything comparable to that experience again, but I was very wrong.
On Saturday, it rained all day. I went through two shirts, shorts and shoes, but the weather didn’t go nearly far enough to stop me from attending most events that day. Makaya McCraven’s set was set up the same way Seun Kuti’s was, it was an hour before headliner, Kim Gordon.
With a rain soaked field I did not plop in the grass for this performance. I stood and grooved along with a surprisingly large crowd for the weather. From the stage to the sound booth it was lined with jazz and “cultural synthesizer” (as Makaya McCraven calls his music) fans.
Instead of an opening trumpet blast, I was rocked into a rhythmic wonderland by drum beats. McCraven is a “drummer, producer & beat scientist” as stated by his website, so it only makes sense that he opens with undulating beat patterns and crisp drums.
I went into McCraven’s performance without knowing a thing and it still had a profound effect on me. With a medley of instruments and McCraven’s drums on fire constantly it was hard for me to split mid set and watch Kim Gordon’s set.
By some miracle or the beautiful beat gods smiling down on me, I caught the last two songs of McCraven’s set after Kim Gordon had finished. They had played for about an hour and a half straight all while having a large crowd and Kim Gordon’s show going concurrently.
The energy the entire band put into this performance was heartwarming. They shot forth fumbling chaotic noise and made another impression of live music I won’t forget.
Off on Your Voyage
Both Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 and Makaya McCraven’s shows made Hopscotch extremely memorable for me. I want to experience live music like theirs everytime I see a show now, but I know it won’t happen.
Being able to freely give love through that sound must mean these two groups have reached a cosmic understanding with the universe I can only hope to achieve.
Instead of elaborating on any music festival set up or random whatnot, I will jump right into the artist and bands’ performances:
With lots of personal bias, I have to say Perfume Genius’ set was my favorite one I saw at Hopscotch this year. Mike Hadreas slowly and softly destroyed the stage with his magnetic vocals and stage presence.
Opening with “Your Body Changes Everything”, he immediately captivated the audience not only with smooth, hard hitting beats, but also with his suave, baby-blue, tailored suit and white button down. He constantly switched between old tracks and some of his new, popular releases.
Hadreas’ rendition of “Jason” and “Normal Song” were melancholic and angelic as his voice drifted down and graced us all. For “Normal Song”, he shooed everyone off stage except Meg Duffy (Hand Habits) who played a saintly guitar and accompanied Hadreas’ with their own backup vocals.
To finish off the night, Mike Hadreas brought out a light, silky white sheet and played a few of his newer tracks from “Ugly Season”. His sheet was a mask and tool of pure beauty as it covered his face and floated in the air, almost reverberating from the sheer power of the performance.
I have never seen an artist efficiently play some of their best music on stage in my life. There weren’t any hiccups or pauses throughout the show, and Hadreas wore a brilliant blazing smile the entire time. If I could continuously relive that entire performance, I would.
Black Country, New Road:
I was scared of the Black Country, New Road set. I didn’t know how good the band was going to feel on stage after their initial lead singer left, but my fears were almost immediately dispelled.
Every single member of this band brought some sort of key talent that helped make the whole band shine like stars. May Kershaw (keys and vocals), Tyler Hyde (bass and vocals), and Charlie Wayne (drums) were outstanding. These members specifically stole the show for me.
Kershaw’s keys and vocal mixture brought an antsy and dramatic flow to the band’s sound that was beautiful and unique. Wayne’s drums were attacked relentlessly, which brought forth an epic beat. And, Hyde’s bass was the background glue that held everyone together perfectly.
One of my favorite moments during their performance was when Kershaw had a long solo performance, which is still too elegant for me to put into words appropriately. Her soft piano opening led into focused, serene vocals and a chaotic, triumphant closing act with the entire band joining in.
As you might be able to tell from the above photo, Dawn Richard’s stage presence was unmatched. With her incredible backup vocalists and dancers, she mesmerized the crowd by merely stepping on stage.
Richard performed a few of her hit songs like “Bussifame” and “Nostalgia”, but her true power came in getting the crowd (including me) to start grooving and warming up to the music. Preceding her set, I noticed a majority of concert goers had locked hips and knees for most sets. Many people only bobbed their heads a teensy bit.
Then, Dawn Richard took the stage and began to set the night on fire with some delicious vocals, bars and beats. The neon suits and flashing lights were like eye candy, and her funk-inspired, bass-bumping tunes eventually got the crowd all sorts groovin’.
I’d like to think her set was the heat that made Perfume Genius’ set really explode into a wealth of success, so thank you Dawn Richard for that.
Kim Gordon’s performance physically rocked my head and made my eardrums ring for hours after she had finished. Unfortunately, going into her performance I had not sampled enough of her work, and I really wish I had done so.
Gordon’s raspy, sometimes scratchy vocals were intoxicating. Her jumpy and stalky motions used on stage sometimes made for a wonderfully terrifying sight. Honestly, the horrifying sounds and glitchy art she brought to Hopscotch was a sight to behold.
A lot of those words might make the performance seem unsavory, but I had a blast watching her make her art. Her musical beauty comes from the discord she delivers us.
If you ever have the opportunity to see any of these wonderful people live, I highly recommend doing so. All of their performances had a wonderful uniqueness that made each artist more loved and cherished.
Of course, I wish I could have gone back in time and appropriately learned all the words for all of these artists’ songs (besides Perfume Genius because I got them on lock already), but I can’t. It doesn’t mean I was unable to enjoy their sets. I thought all of them were perfect for who the artist or band is.
Hopscotch Music Festival, Raleigh’s very own music festival since 2010, is once again taking place this year. With an amazing lineup including stars like Courtney Barnett, Perfume Genius and Black Country, New Road, this three-day festival will be sure to impress once again.
Although spending money on a three-day festival may be out of reach for many people, Hopscotch has a wonderful (and free) component to their festival: day parties. There are over 37 day parties scheduled from Thursday, September 8 through Sunday, September 11. The venues that these parties take place at are scattered throughout Raleigh at venues including (but not limited to) Boxcar Bar + Arcade, Ruby Deluxe, The Pour House, The Night Rider, Schoolkids Records and more. For the full schedule, see Hopscotch’s website.
The best part is, WKNC along with NC State University Libraries are hosting their very own Hopscotch day party at the Hillsborough Street entrance of DH Hill Library from 1 PM to 3 PM on Thursday, September 8. Kenny Wavinson, Max Gowan and Tiger Beach will be performing. Kenny Wavinson will be on at 1 PM, Max Gowan will be on at 2 PM and Tiger Beach will be on at 3 PM.
Day parties are an amazing opportunity to discover new music, meet new people, and create community with your neighbors in the beautiful Oak City. Support your local businesses, artists and radio stations by attending a Hopscotch day party (or 10).
Tickets for Raleigh’s Dreamville Festival April 2-3, 2022 are upwards of $200, so when I discovered they were charging $30 a day for “Official Dreamville Parking” on NC State’s Centennial campus, I was understandably upset.
Here’s your best option to save some money on parking this weekend:
Although Dreamville has commandeered Centennial campus parking, employee and student lots on NC State’s Main campus are still free this weekend.
If you park in one of these main campus lots, you can take a bus, walk, or bike to Dorothea Dix Park.
Buses that route from Main Campus to the festival are:
GoRaleigh Route 11
GoTriangle Route 300
You can use the TransLoc app to find bus stops routing in the correct direction and be sure to have at least $5 cash for the fares there and back (preferably with a couple of quarters since they require exact change).
If you don’t mind paying some extra money for some convenience, here are the options Dreamville provides for parking.
HOW TO GET TO THE FEST:
Official Event Parking at NC State University’s centennial campus
Costs $30 per day
Located right across the street from Dix Park – first come, first served
Take an Uber or Lyft or Taxi. Designated drop off / pick up zones are located on either side of Dorothea Dix Park (Centennial Parkway and Western Blvd/Boylan Ave), within close walking distance of the Dreamville venue entrances.
Bike or walk to the park
The festival provides two designated locations for bike parking, near each main entrance: on the corner of Centennial Pkwy and Blair Dr. and on the corner of Western Blvd and Hunt Dr.
A new and possibly revolutionary convention is coming to Durham that could arguably be compared to SXSW. That is the Bull City Summit (BCS) which will be running from March 23-26 Sept.15-18, 2022 and will be held in the heart of Downtown Durham at Bull City Summit LLC. This convention converges music, art, science, & technology which will showcase the valuable relationship between each sector and how they can be used to enrich our local communities.
The summit has a stacked lineup with 17 speakers ranging from council members, CEOs, media agents, label owners, & DJs. It will also include several panels covering topics such as music business, crypto, climate change, & artist mental health. Along with that there will be live presentations, one of which will be an augmented reality exhibit to display the rich history of the Bull City which will be put on by Durham based company, Project Aeschylus.
Depsite the postponement of the festival, the music continues. There will be musical performances each night showcasing the talent that our local North Carolina artists have to offer. WKNC’s very own DJ Whippopatomus has recently interviewed two of the artists, Durham native Jooselord & the Raleigh based 3amsound which will be performing on separate nights. Not only that but people can also find a wide range of genres from electronic to blues-rock at local venues including Motorco Music Hall, Pinhook, & Kotaku Surf Bar. Tickets for the shows can be purchased separately on the BCS website.
Music isn’t the only art form being offered at the rescheduled festival, there will be an art fair throughout each day of the summit curated by local visual creators. BCS will be partnering with local art galleries, hotels, & public spaces to facilitate their art shows.
This is a pivotal event for the Durham creative community. With the amount of various forms collaboration and diversity, BCS has the ability to change the landscape of the local art scene in the Triangle and even for the entire state of North Carolina. The convergence of art, technology, & science has the potential to provide powerful tools of knowledge to elevate and bring forth the exposure that our local art scene deserves.
Remember, we are stronger together so show each other some love.
-Brandon Whippo, Asst. Music Director, DJ, & Interview Content Creator
I think it was partway through Sister Brother’s set, a ski mask-wearing punk duo with anti-capitalist vocal samples and attacking guitars when I realized just how good of a weekend this would be. For reference, Sister Brother was the third set I went to.
Manifest did not pull punches. This was an event that threw punk and metal bands at you and you had to hold on and enjoy the ride. I spent most of my time in the Local 506, the main venue of the three, and the intimate size combined with the sheer ferocity of the instrumentals meant I had to pull out earplugs at a concert for the first time ever.
Bands blurred together, but saying that sounds bad, like things were getting stale. When I say blurred, I mean that one band perfectly picked up the energy level from the previous group while adding their own spin on the rebellious under (and over) tones. Of course there were individual highlights. BANGZZ lived up to its name by getting the whole crowd headbanging and kicking off the night with interludes talking about the importance of taking up space and respecting others. Pie Face Girls described themselves as a “comedy troupe first, band second”, and their stage banter was as hilarious as their songs were captivating, with groovy instrumentals and repeated vocals that wormed their way into the brain and didn’t leave in a hurry. And Sand Pact came from left field with an experimental electronic set paired with performative dance that brought a bit of the club with them.
Of all the pedal to the metal guitars and screaming vocals this weekend, the most memorable act I saw was Raleigh “conjurer of sound” Spookstina. Their set consisted of the artist crouching over their decks and playing a continuous wall of distorted sound for over half an hour, punctuated by a couple minutes of vocals and some plucking of guitar strings and, most notably, the rattling of chains. Some of the rattling was recorded, but a lot of it came from them picking up and dropping chains that were on the small triangular stage in the corner of the room. This crescendoed into one of the most surreal experiences of my life: Spookstina picked up what they later told us was a sewer ladder, walked into the audience, and started hitting it with a chain to a beat that apparently only they could hear.
What really made that work was how close the audience was to the action, and that was a major part of the experience. Artists were just hanging out in the bar after the show and were happy to be interviewed by a college radio station. Indie folk band Honey Magpie didn’t have any merch at the merch table; my friend and I got t-shirts by talking to them after their set and paying the lead singer on Venmo. It was adaptable too. There were plans for an outdoor day party with an art market on nearby Graham Street, but when rain started coming down, they just moved everything inside the Local 506 and kept the fun going. There weren’t many people there during the day, but those who showed up between 1 and 7 p.m. got to experience some great sets. I didn’t expect to hear much country music at Manifest, but Charly out of Lumberton NC surprised me with an emotionally resonant and personal hour of music.
But Manifest, in structure at least, was still a music festival like any other, and this means that its greatest strength is in allowing for the creation of certain moments, pockets of infinite joy, where you stop and realize just how much fun you’re having. The alley in front of The Nightlight, maybe the most underrated venue of the weekend, is perfect for squealing with your friends about how insane a set was, and the distance between venues allowed festival goers to slow down and really sit with the experience they just had. History dictates that, barring another global pandemic, Manifest will return to Chapel Hill next fall, and I’m already counting the days.
During Parquet Courts’ set at Hopscotch Festival, the bass player, Sean Yeaton, broke one of his bass strings. He didn’t have extra strings or a second base. While discussing with the band about whether he should pick up a guitar or try and play with one less bass string, Eric Johnson, the guitarist for Archers of Loaf brought out Matt Gentling, their bassists, bass for Yeaton to use. Yeaton played the rest of the set with Gentling’s bass and the show went on. This is the perfect story to show the sense of community the Hopscotch Festival created.
The Hopscotch Festival took place over a month ago, but I still think about this moment. I was so excited to go back to festivals and be around people who were eager to see the same artists as me, and that moment reminded me why I love seeing live music. It is so delightful to see your favorite artists interacting with each other, and it’s even better when it’s happening in the city you live in.
Large and small bands came together in Raleigh to perform to an excited crowd, for many of the people there it was probably their first shows back since the pandemic. I got to talk to some of the artists about their festival going experience and they all had nothing but nice things to say about Hopscotch.
For Hannah Jadagu, a young indie-pop artist from New York, Hopscotch was the first festival she’s ever performed at. She had a prime spot on the City Plaza stage at 4:30, before Anjimile.
“I was really nervous to play a festival, especially on the big stage, but I felt the performance went really well and I got more comfortable on stage as time went on,” Jadagu said. “ I was also really happy to see the crowd filling in during my set and I was able to play off of the crowd’s energy.”
Jadagu was just as thrilled to be at the festival as the audience. She noted she was excited she was able to catch the Caroline Polachek and Flying Lotus sets. One of her current favorite artists is Caroline Polachek and she took inspiration from her confidence on stage.
Wednesday, another act who played Hopscotch was excited to be back in Raleigh and at Hopscotch. This was their first time playing one of the main stages at Hopscotch and the lead singer, Karly Hartzman was excited to finally perform songs from her new album, Twin Plagues, for a responsive audience.
“It was so validating to play on one of the main stages, we played a few day parties in 2019 which were great, but it was so exciting to come back and be asked to perform on a main stage,” Hartzman said.
She was also happy to be able to play after the Pandemic at all outdoor sets because the band and audiences felt more comfortable being outside.
“The last time we were at Hopscotch was really stressful because we were playing sets and still wanted to go see other acts, so we were running around all weekend.” Hartzman continued, “It was overwhelming because there were so many places we wanted to or had to be. This year it was a lot easier to go back and forth between the two main stages and play the next day [at Ruby Deluxe].”
Playing her new songs for the Hopscotch crowds was also very rewarding for Hartzman. Her lyrics are so vulnerable and she was thrilled to share them with the crowds.
“Practicing can be mind numbing because I have to put myself back in the place I was when I wrote these songs, but knowing my songs are being accepted and recognized by listeners was amazing,” Hartzman said.
The last act I got to talk to was Archers of Loaf, who like Wednesday are also North Carolina Natives. Archers of Loaf headlined the Moore Square stage on the last day of the festival, and hundreds of people came out to see them return to Raleigh.
“When we first started as a band it was really hard to break into the scene in Raleigh, there were so many good bands and it took us a while to get our name out there,” Guitarist Eric Johnson said. “It’s so gratifying that we are now headlining a festival in Raleigh.”
The band was pleased with the turnout and the energy from the crowd at Hopscotch. It’s nice to know that the artists enjoyed the festival as much as I did, because it makes me want to attend even more next year. Having a great music scene in Raleigh is an exciting privilege and I can’t wait to see who will come through the city next.
From her bedroom to the main stage at Hopscotch, Hannah Jadagu is starting to make a name for herself in the indie music scene.
Hannah Jadagu is an indie-pop artist who now lives in New York City, but is originally from Mesquite, Texas. The 19-year-old singer only started her music career a few years ago when she was in High School. She was 16 when she first learned how to play guitar, and instantly felt connected to the instrument. She started writing songs and recording them on her iPhone and released a few online.
Now, a few years later she is signed to Sub Pop Records and is starting to play live shows. Her first festival performance was at Hopscotch in Raleigh, and we got to share that sweet experience with her.
As she took center stage she felt nervous about how the set would go over. She had two other people in her band, a drummer and a member who jumped around between playing guitar, bass, and samples on his computer. Overall she felt their set went really well and she was excited to play in Raleigh for the first time.
With this show in the bag, Hannah felt ready and excited for her upcoming tours and projects. She is currently working on an album and is opening for Beach Fossils and Wild Nothing on their North American tour. She also announced that she will be opening for Ritt Momney in 2022.
Because of Covid she wasn’t able to share her music with as many people face to face, but it gave her the opportunity to work on her music and create music videos and more content for fans.
“I took a leave of absence from school so that I could tour and focus on my music,” Jadagu said. “It was too much to balance, and I’m so happy with my choice because now I get to have these amazing experiences like playing festivals.”
Hannah started her musical career by putting the songs she was working on out, and spread the word through her instagram which landed her a record deal with Sub Pop.
“It was such a surreal moment, I got a DM on instagram from a manager at Sub Pop saying they loved my music and wanted to work with me, I didn’t think it was real at first but after a few zoom calls I signed to Sub Pop and now they’re helping me put out my music,” Jadagu said.
Jadagu takes inspiration from any music and media she is consuming at the moment and turns them into her own interpretation.
“Usually I just start strumming my guitar and see where that takes me. I like to freestyle and record all of my ideas so I have a basis to work off of when I’m ready to put the song together. When I play something that makes me excited I hone in on that part and work around it.”
Hannah was excited that she could perform her songs to crowds again and not just for her computer in her bedroom. Many artists probably feel the same way now that shows are being set up again. You can listen to her new single “All my Time is Wasted” here.
In my training class to become a WKNC DJ, among the many pieces of advice our then station general manager gave us was to “not just play music made by four white guys”. This was met by laughs, but that line stuck with me because of how relevant it still is. When I was a daytime DJ I tried to have sets with a strong female representation, but four or so guys still made up most of the songs aired from 10 to 11 p.m. on Thursdays. And that doesn’t even take into account the “white” part of that; many genres such as modern indie rock are overrepresented by white artists and artists of color will often have their work labeled as R&B even when that label doesn’t fit the music, which can box in both exposure and creative freedom.
Enter Manifest. This is a festival that, according to the website, is “focused on dismantling patriarchy, misogyny, and white supremacy” with a diverse lineup that draws from a wide variety of races, sexualities and gender identities. Now dismantling vast social hierarchies is a lofty goal, but they’ve definitely got the lineup down. This is a festival that has seen acts like Skylar Gudasz and Hopscotch 2021 attendeeSarah Shook, and this year the acts range from Basura who make minute-and-a-half long death metal bangers to trans experimental artist KHX05 who brings a nervy and rebellious energy to her mixtapes and remix EPs.
Manifest bills itself as mostly a punk festival, and there are a number of punk bands making an appearance. Gown is a hardcore metallic punk band that has seven members, three of whom play the cello, while Fortezza is an doom punk band out of Asheville whose long guitar solos and verses screamed over a lone drumbeat create a chaotic and apocalyptic feel to fit their hand-drawn album covers. The artists have a distinctly local flavor too. Of the 28 acts coming to Chapel Hill this weekend, 21 are from the Triangle area, and five of them won’t have to leave their hometown to make it there.
This is the fifth iteration of Manifest, and it’s the fifth time in these exact three venues. The festival is mostly based around Local 506, a bar and club that, when not hosting live acts, is known for having themed dance parties such as the 80s-style one that I went to this summer. This is where tickets and wristbands are picked up and where WKNC is running the merch table. When not at the Local 506, festivalgoers can head to two other locations, one of which is The Cave. This is another bar/club hybrid, iconic in Chapel Hill for its alley location and will often host rock and punk rock bands.
Now despite having essentially grown up in downtown Chapel Hill, I’ll admit I had to look up the last venue, Rosemary Street’s The Nightlight. It’s the only one of the venues not located on Franklin Street, and its website is at time of writing a single page detailing its closures due to COVID and in the spirit of Manifest, a link to a mutual aid fund. All of these are within a quarter mile walk of each other so it should be easy to go between any of the simultaneous shows being played.
Continuity is a major theme here, and not just in the venues. Manifest 5 marks the fourth appearance of Raleigh’s Fruit Snack at the aforementioned festival, a band whose members work at multiple venues in the Triangle and whose themes of anti-capitalism, openness about sex and dislike of the police fit right in with Manifest’s mission statement. It also features a ukulele player. Meanwhile, punk act Pie Face Girls has attended every single iteration since the festival began in 2016. This in combination with its many local sponsors including Orange County Arts Commission, Chapel Hill’s own Midway Market and this radio station gives this festival a strong feeling of community that puts those goals of social change front and center.
I’m personally quite excited to cover Manifest. While I won’t be able to see every artist (The Cave being 21+ is unfortunate but understandable) there are a lot of acts I really want to see and blog about, and a lot of artists I had never heard of before and really want to get to know as part of my ongoing efforts to further connect with the local music scene here. After all, homegrown music with a message is the new punk rock. And the old one too.