Festival Coverage

Five Bands to see at Hopscotch Day and Club Parties

Hopscotch Festival hosts day parties and after parties at clubs and other venues all around Raleigh the weekend of the Hopscotch Music Festival. This year the day parties will be just as stacked as the main event with upcoming artists and bands from all over the world, and some local North Carolina artists. Raleigh venues hosting Hopscotch day and night parties include The Pour House, Schoolkids Records, Slim’s, and more.

For the last two years I have tried to go to day parties and shows after the festival, and have gotten to see acts like Wednesday, MJ Lenderman, and other artists in smaller and more intimate venues, which is a treat in comparison to seeing them on the big stages during the day. This year I have a few artists that I’m really excited to see at some day parties and late night shows. Some of the artists I am most excited to see at day parties are Florry, Horse Jumper of Love, TONSTARTSSBANDHT, Dazy, Sluice, and so many other artists.

Dazy is a band that I have seen live and am excited for the opportunity to see them again. I saw them open for Snail Mail and Water From Your Eyes in May of this year. They play very enjoyable and fuzzy power pop, which I love. Their hooks are catchy and fun, and they played their whole set without stopping once, keeping the energy high during their set. They are playing at Slims on Thursday, September 7 at 4 p.m. as part of the Tiger Bomb x Terrorbird day party. They are also playing at 11 p.m. on Thursday night at the Wicked Witch.

The other four acts I have never seen live and have been wanting to see for a long time. Horse Jumper of Love is a band that I have been following for a while since I heard their debut record from 2017. “Ugly Brunette” and “Spaceman” are some of my favorite songs from the indie rock outlet. The album is beautifully simplistic, it’s full of strange and charming lyrics and gorgeous guitar riffs and melodies. They are also playing the Tiger Bomb x Terrorbird day party at Slims on the 7 at 4:30 p.m. right after Dazy. They are playing at Kings at 12:00 a.m. on Friday, September 8 as well.

Sluice is the contemporary folk project from Durham, North Carolina based-singer songwriter Justin Morris. In March of 2023 Sluice released their album “Radial Gate” which is a filled with Appalachian folk, slowcore, field recordings, and alt-country tunes reminiscent of Mount Eerie or Bill Callahan, he even refers to himself as a “cartoon Callahan” on his song “Fourth of July.” The
album is really endearing and a pleasant listen. Sluice is playing the Psychic Hotline and Glow Management Company day party at Kings on Saturday, September 9.

Florry is a Philadelphia based alt-country band who recently released their newest album, The Holey Bible, which I have been listening to non stop over the last month. The album is full of southern twang fun, clever lyrics, and some heartbreaking ballads like “Song For My Art.” This show will definitely be a must see for fans of Wednesday and MJ Lenderman. They’ll be playing at Slims on Thursday, September 7 at 2:30 p.m. and Neptunes on Friday, September 8th at 1:00 p.m. for the Dear Life Records day party, which is the label they are on.

The last artist I’m really looking forward to seeing is TONSTARTSSBANDHT, a psychedelic, noise rock group from Orlando, Florida. I listened to their album “Petunia” when it came out in 2021 and really enjoyed it. The album is filled with glimmering and fuzzy guitars, sharp drums, layered lush instrumentation, and beautiful harmonies. They’re playing a club show at 12:30 a.m. at Kings on Saturday, September 9, which may be tough to get to after a long weekend of bouncing around to different shows but I heard that they put on a great live performance.

I’m really excited to discover more artists through the main festival, day parties, and club shows. More information about the lineup and schedule can be found on the Hopscotch Music Festival’s website.

Blog Concert Preview Festival Coverage Local Music Miscellaneous

Hopscotch – This or That: Main Stage Guide

Promotional logo for Hopscotch music festival 2023, including date and location of the event.

It’s that time of year again, when thousands of music-lovers take to the streets of Raleigh to vibe with some seriously class acts, whatever the weather. Yes, 13 years after its debut, Hopscotch Music Festival is back (Sep. 7-9), with main stages at Moore Square and City Plaza, and dozens of stellar acts across the city.

With over 120 acts performing, even the choosiest of playlist-makers can find something to enjoy over the three day event. From rock to rap, post-punk to country, indie, folk, and more, diversity and inclusivity is truly the name of the game.

However, as with every festival lineup worth its salt, a dilemma lies in the inability to put oneself in more than one place at a time. City Plaza and Moore Square are only half a mile apart, but those steps rack up quickly if you’re planning on trekking back and forth between every few sets.

While the truly determined festival-goer could yo-yo between main stages and catch every set, the best intentions don’t always pan, out so it’s best to know your must-sees in advance. To help plan your musical voyage, here’s a look at the main stage lineups:

Thursday (Sep. 7)

Smooth Haze vs. Alt. Edge

Moore Square:

On Thursday afternoon, Moore Square opens the festival with a mellow haze of rock, jazz and psychedelics. A trio meant to be, Sam Evian, Mild High Club and King Krule embody that chill, late summer, “almost the weekend” feeling.

City Plaza:

Summer is also ending over at City Plaza, but with a bit of an edge, as brooding, post-punk takes the stage with Raleigh’s own Truth Club, followed by similar hints of angst from alt-rock groups, Palm, and Alvvays. Late-90s icons, Pavement, follow suit, closing the alt-rock set in style.

Friday (Sep. 8)

Urban vs. Country

Moore Square:

All things country take the stage on Friday at Moore Square. Sunny War brings modern folk-blues, and Neon Union epitomizes that all-American country sound. Cut Worms and Margo Price add pop and rock slants to the genre respectively, with a singer-songwriter angle.

City Plaza:

Raleigh native, Pat Junior, leads the urban parallel happening at City Plaza. TiaCorine builds on Pat Junior’s pure, simple, rhythm and flow with dreamy beats, while Digable Planets bring retro to the party in the style of 90s hip-hop and jazz. Rapper, Denzel Curry, completes the lineup with his signature emotional style.

Saturday (Sep. 9):

Emo vs. Indie

Moore Square:

Saturday is the host with the most with both main stages kicking off at at an earlier time of around 1pm. Max Gowan play emo, indie tunes to his hometown at Moore Square, before Quasi picks up the pace a little with alt-rock, indie hits. 90s emo heavyweights, American Football define the emo mood of the set with electric guitars and pining vocals.

Things get louder when Sunny Day Real Estate introduce prog rock energy to the lineup, and alt-rock, genre-changing, Dinosaur Jr. round off the set.

City Plaza:

Singer-songwriters start Saturday at City Plaza, with the soft vocals of Chessa Rich and the country twang of Florry. Anjimile adds a hint of melancholy to the mood, before ESG shake things up with post-punk and house.

Singer-songwriter, Soccer Mommy, brings rock and gentle vocals to the set, before the dreamy vocals and beats of indie sensations, Japanese Breakfast, close the festival.

More Info:

Having a better idea of the headliners might make planning a little easier, but with acts like these and almost 100 others playing smaller venues across the city, deciding where to be might just take a little more time. Check out the official website, Instagram, Facebook, X (f.k.a. Twitter) and the official Hopscotch app for more information on the lineup and the latest event updates to best Hopscotch your way around Raleigh next week.

Festival Coverage

Shakori Hills Shook My Soul’s Core

By: Maha Syed

A woman playing with beaded lights caught on raw film.
A picture of a woman at Shakori playing with her beaded lights during Kaleta and Super Yamba’s performance on stage. This picture is a visual representation of how I felt post-Shakori.

“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.

A cute picture of my friend Mary getting ready to go out for Shakori. She is brushing on her eyeshadow and holding a lightbulb and makeup palette in her other hand.
A cute picture of my friend Mary getting ready for a night out on the town.

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.

A gorgeous shot of the tall trees during the full moon from Shakori Hills.
A man stepping out of his very beautifully decorated tent.
This man had a beautifully decorated unicorn RV in the spirit of Shakori.
A woman holding an engraved wand made entirely of wood.
This woman was holding a wooden wand that was engraved by a witch at Shakori.
Kaleta and Super Yamba Band jamming on stage.
Kaleta and Super Yamba Band jamming out on stage.
My sister and a girl posing for a picture during Kaleta and Super Yamba's stage performance.
Beautiful people that are vibing to music.

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.

A picture of a decorated golf cart and one of four performance stages.
A long shot that captures the “Shakoriness” of Shakori.
beautiful couple at shakori looking lovingly into one another's eyes.
A beautiful couple looking lovingly into one another’s eyes.
Mad element is pictured here. They are a vendor at Shakori that sells jewelry and crystals.
Mad Element is one of the vendors at the festival. They sell very cute jewelry and crystals.
SLC Dingles and Things is a windchime vendor at the festival.
A woman at the festival who runs and owns SLC Dingles and Things.

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.

Concert Review Festival Coverage

Hopscotch ’22 and Cosmic Jazz

Only a few other performances at Hopscotch ‘22 blew me away like the Perfume Genius set, and they were Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 and Makaya McCraven’s cosmic, explosive jazz performances. 

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80

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

they made


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. 

Makaya McCraven

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.

Festival Coverage

Triumphant Hopscotch ’22 Performances

Last week’s Hopscotch 2022 had some big names in indie music, and their performances were electric. Perfume Genius gave us his heart, Kim Gordon shredded my ear drums, Dawn Richard got me groovin’ in new ways and Black Country, New Road had epic sounds exuding from every one of their members. 

Instead of elaborating on any music festival set up or random whatnot, I will jump right into the artist and bands’ performances:

Perfume Genius:

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. 

Mike Hadreas with arms extended and a a taught microphone cord between them.
Hadreas slings his mic cord across the stage. Photo by Doris Enochs.

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.

Mike Hadreas bent over with his faced scrunched up belting his songs into a mic.
Hadreas giving an emotional performance. Photo by Doris Enochs.

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. 

Dawn Richard:

Dawn Richard in neon yellow clutching the mic stand and singing.
Dawn Richard with backup dancer in the background giving an earth shaking performance. Photo by Doris Enochs.

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: 

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. 

Last Ticket:

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.

Festival Coverage

Hopscotch Day Parties 2022

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).

We hope to see you there.

Festival Coverage

So You Want To Park for Dreamville?

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. 

NC State 2021-2022 parking map showing all parking lots on main and centennial campus

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.


  1. 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 
Dreamville Fest PAID parking map showing paid parking lots
  1. Ride the downtown shuttle 
  • Costs $20 total for a two-day pass 
  • Picks up from MOORE SQUARE in the heart of Downtown and drops off right next to the West Entrance into Dreamville Fest 
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  1. Take public transit 
  1. Travel by train 
  • Those traveling to and from the Dreamville Festival on April 2-3 can save 25% via NC By Train tickets 
  • Stops include New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C and across North Carolina 
  • Arrive at Raleigh Union Station, which is only two miles from Dorothea Dix Park 
  • Book tickets and save 25% (code: V681)

– Written by Elle Bonet, WKNC video content creator

Festival Coverage Music Education

Bull City Summit, the next SXSW?

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

Concert Review Festival Coverage Local Music

Manifest Review: A Loud Festival That Shines in the Quiet Moments

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.

Festival Coverage

How Hopscotch Created a Sense of Community for Artists

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.