From the start, day parties were vital to Hopscotch's model.
For three nights, the festival itself would build out a big to-do, packing bands into clubs and on stages set in the middle of city streets. But for the long weekend to be a real party, Hopscotch needed action during the days, too. So they turned many of the same spaces over to local organizers and let them program their own miniature festivals. The region responded in kind, building events that have become traditions as nearly as strong as Hopscotch.
These events have mostly gotten bigger and better in their scope. To wit, day parties were once easy ways to solve nocturnal scheduling conflicts. But this year's diurnal lineups feature a lot of acts that aren't playing the actual festival, making for many more tough decisions. Since these day parties have never required actual festival passes (meaning some folks sensibly skip the pricy night-time affair), it's a good problem to have.
If you're one of the lucky ones who can skip out of work Thursday (or just take a very long lunch), consider starting with the POTLUCK FOUNDATION'S PIZZA PARTY. Schooner, Jphono1, See Gulls and The Wyrms will trade off on the Slim's stage, and the Potluck crew will offer a limited supply of Lilly's pizza as a further lure.
Thursday also offers the opportunity to hit one of Hopscotch's two purely metal day parties. Raleigh's PRIMITIVE WAYS, an incredibly active promotions agency and record label, hosts a riotous slate that features Faith in Ashes, Noctomb, Pathogenesis and several others at The Pour House. Saturday at Neptunes, the METAL LUNCHBOX pairs touring acts Locrian and Vattnet Viskar with locals MAKE and sprawling drone collective The Hem of His Garment in the cramped, subterranean confines of Neptunes. (Disclosure: Metal Lunchbox is co-sponsored by the INDY and co-produced by managing and music editor Grayson Haver Currin.)
If loud and weird is your bag, you'll likely lament the fact that North Carolina labels Paradise of Bachelors and Three Lobed aren't hosting parties this year. Luckily, three area college radio stations—the triumvirate of WKNC, WXYC AND WXDU—have stopped trying to one-up one another long enough to team up for a double-decker party Friday at Neptunes and Kings. This makes for a fitting Three Lobed replacement, thanks to one-off experimental collaborations like the ad hoc guitar duo of Tashi Dorji and Elisa Ambrogio or the potentially mind-melting trio of harpist Mary Lattimore, guitarist Steve Gunn and multi-instrumental eclectic Eugene Chadbourne.
Another dynamic institutional pairing arrives Saturday at The Pour House. Trekky Records and Hometapes team up for FRIEND ISLAND. It's mostly Trekky-adjacent acts, from Loamlands (featuring Trekky co-founder Will Hackney) to Made of Oak (the solo project of Sylvan Esso's Nick Sanborn). Tuskha, the new project of Bowerbirds' Phil Moore, makes its public debut here, as does the new band from Butterflies' Josh Kimbrough, Teardrop Canyon. Though Trekky seems responsible for the bulk of the booking, the folks behind Hometapes have a knack for cultivating cheerful vibes, making "Friend Island" an apt name for its traditional soiree.
For a more rowdy daytime experience, consider Friday's Churchkey Records and Layabout presentation, ¡QUE VIVA!, or Saturday's ORANGE COUNTY SOCIAL CLUB takeover of Kings. The gritty and great Natural Causes, Gross Ghost and Las Rosas highlight Friday's collaborative shindig. This year, though, they'll go without Spider Bags, whose song "Que Viva El Rocanroll" gave the party its name and mantra. Spider Bags are on the road with Titus Andronicus (see page 31), but rapper Shirlette Ammons steps in to add variety. Natural Causes also play OCSC's party, where they'll open for simpatico Carrboro outfits Flesh Wounds, Pipe and Midnight Plus One.
Of all the standing gigs, LET FEEDBACK RING—hosted by Negative Fun, Self Aware, Egghunt and Cherub Records—might be best run. The Saturday show will pack 14 sets into six hours, and they typically do it on time. Legends' indoor-outdoor stage format makes for an easy way to break up your day between warm outdoor settings and cooler clubs without walking so much. (Keep your sunglasses handy—that afternoon sun is mighty when you emerge from Legends' darkness.) Let Feedback Ring leans mostly toward good ol' rock 'n' roll, with the likes of Wailin' Storms, Family Bike and Pink Flag. It appears that others have (thankfully) caught on to Legends as a viable venue, as the STEREOFLY COLLECTIVE presents Some Army, Columbia's Susto and more there Friday.
You would do well to shuffle between two stages on opposing blocks of West Davie Street for the HOPSCOTCH MAKERS MARKET on Saturday, featuring 40 vendors. Canine Heart Sounds start it at noon where Davies and Salisbury intersect, followed by Astro Cowboy on the South Wilmington Street end at 12:30 p.m.. The stages will alternate throughout the afternoon, culminating in sets by the stellar Dead Tongues and the kinetic T0W3RS.
If this seems like a lot to consider, remember it's only a sample. There are more than 30 day parties this year, not to mention several pre- and post-Hopscotch shows (like the traditional Hopscotch hangover at Slim's and Thee Oh Sees at Kings). Whether you're an out-of-towner trying to make the most of your vacation time or a bored local trying to make the most of a budget, remember, the variety is a good problem to have.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Daydream decisions"