Prepare for Hopscotching by resting a day or two beforehand; you might not sleep all weekend. Perhaps load up on protein, break in some good running shoes, memorize your maps and schedules, and research some artists. But the truth is, you don't need to know every band playing Hopscotch; rove the streets, let your ears direct you, and find your new favorite band. Together, at the end of this, we can say, "Yeah, I know that band, and they're awesome."
Start with Carrboro-based bands AIRSTRIP and GROSS GHOST at the Berkeley Cafe. Get lost in Airstrip's low-end indie rock, thanks to Matt Park's brooding songwriting. Soon, you'll be hand clapping it out with Gross Ghost's scuzzy low-fi. These local favorites will have the out-of-towners wanting more, but turn away to ensure a spot at Fletcher Opera Theater for MATThEW E. WHITE: ONE INCANTATION UNDER GOD. If you run to Fletcher, you'll catch the end of CHARLIE PARR's set. Parr learned to play guitar as a child in Minnesota by listening to the likes of Mance Lipscomb. If his old-time blend of gospel and blues doesn't get you ready for the Lord, then Richmond's Matthew E. White's should. For the only time, White's playing his debut release, Big Inner, in its entirety with the help of about 40 musicians. Fletcher will be brimming with brass, sweeping strings and holy chants. If you can pull yourself away from all the magic, hail a rickshaw to the Long View Center for JULIA HOLTER, whose classically inspired arrangements will leave you enchanted.
In preparation for all the shenanigans bound to ensue later, start your second night off with a breather at White Collar Crime, courtesy of NESTS. Jeremy Walton's rusty songs of love and loss will have you hushed until it's time to scuffle up the street for beachcombers ZACK MEXICO at CAM Raleigh or skip over a couple blocks for mountain brawlers NAKED GODS at Tir na nOg. Save your legs and settle in with Zack Mexico; it's not often that bands like this come out of the Outer Banks. Atlanta's enthusiastic synthers WOWSER BOWSER follow. Stop your lively dance early, though, if you want to metal thrash with CORROSION OF CONFORMITY at The Pour House. It'll be packed for the hometown lords, now with their original lineup. After you've moshed, hold tight for DAN DEACON. His avant-garde electronics should inspire some of the strangest dance moves you'll see all weekend.
Mosey over to the MEGAFAUN day party on East Martin Street. There's no telling who'll show up to play with the romping folk trio; they've got lots of memorable friends. Once you find yourself in Raleigh City Plaza, make your way out of the throng at THE ROOTS gig early enough to catch LITTLE HOLLOW at White Collar Crime. It's nothing less than lovely. Hop a street up to CAM to see T0W3RS playfully plow through the end of their experimental rock set. Then hop back down a street to Five Star for more tinkering with BAOBAB. This Durham duo layers acoustic instruments in with synthetic sounds for uniquely bright pop. When you exit Five Star, poke your head in on LAUREL HALO at Kings. The Brooklyn artist is helping redefine pop with ambient synth swirls that create a chilling effect. Finally, steal away to The Hive for the glittering boogey gems of CLASS ACTRESS. In the midst of the dance floor, while Elizabeth Harper sings the chorus of "Weekend," you'll know that this one went by way too fast.