As if Hopscotch itself wasn't enough, the days and nights before, during and after the festival offer plenty of justification for playing hooky. From daytime parties with free beer to enlightening discussions and charity athletic events, Hopscotch delivers much more than its official gigs. Keep in mind that, these parties are subject to change; please check www.hopscotchmusicfest.com/day-parties.
Hopscotch's first official poster show, which included an open call for entries and contest earlier this year, opens at the city's music and art gallery off of Moore Square. Nine artists, including official Hopscotch graphics wizard Skillet Gilmore, offer their wares. The show runs through Saturday.
One of Durham's most active house-party venues kicks off Hopscotch early. Red-haired Chicago duo White Mystery delivers raw, bluesy garage with singer Alex White's brash howl at the front. They'll pair nicely with Durham's Reese McHenry. "It's not a free show," organizer Craig Powell warns, "but the cover will be cheap."
It's a bit of a hike from Hopscotch's epicenter, but with 18 acts on the bill, there'll be plenty to stick around for. If you make the trek, don't miss John Howie Jr. & the Rosewood Bluff, who play at 3:25 p.m. Their new disc Leavin' Yesterday is a highlight among highlights for the former Two Dollar Pistols frontman.
Durham label 307 Knox has always had an inclusive ear, counting electro-rockers Future Islands and folk crooners Birds & Arrows in its catalog. This bill reflects that, bringing together dreamy pop (Eternal Summers), prickly post-punk (Pink Flag), snappy hip-hop (Toon) and old-time folk (Slim Pickins).
The first in the three-part Artist & Author series gathers noted musical innovators, including composer Rhys Chatham, sound artist David Daniell and warped-pop songwriter Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu to discuss their artistic influences as well as how they moved beyond them. Hopscotch curator and Indy music editor Grayson Currin moderates the panel. Maine folk duo Arborea add some music to the mix.
Frank Fairfield is a compelling reanimator of old-time Americana, while The Hot At Nights stir up jazz and indie rock. Gray Young play U2-style arena-rock with a shoegazer's impulse. Drinks by Fullsteam Brewery and food by Posh Nosh also make a good argument for attendance.
A one-stop shop for Hopscotch merch, records, shirts and other special edition keepsakes, SHOPscotch opens Thursday afternoon, then stays open through Sunday to help you accumulate tokens to remember the weekend.
The first collaboration between Hopscotch and SPARKcon presents three dozen photos by several local photographers of North Carolina musicians both obscure and very famous. The show runs throughout Hopscotch and SPARKcon, scheduled for next week. Today's Hopscotch opening includes free beer from Big Boss and free munchies from Whole Foods.
Jeff Crawford's Chapel Hill recording studio has offered a steady supply of warm and vintage sounds with a focus on craftsman-like songwriting. That's the common thread for acts from porch-folk duo Mandolin Orange to pop classicist Brett Harris. And today, as bands with links to Arbor Ridge combine for special one-off pairings, the consistent vision of Crawford and his cohorts will be on full display.
The first of two parties thrown by the ascendant Raleigh label DiggUp Tapes covers its local bases with Chapel Hill indie-pop upstart T0W3RS and the reverberating twang of Raleigh's Nests. But they've also gathered out-of-towners Woodsman, a smoldering psychedelic outfit from Denver, and SoftSpot, a Brooklyn act whose melodic murk evokes trip-hop and goth rock. Plus, if you're among the first 30 in the door, party sponsor Freaker has a gift for you.
The new and upscale drinking spot Fox Liquor Bar is the latest in restaurateur Ashley Christensen's booming downtown dynasty (which also includes Poole's Diner, Beasley's Chicken + Honey and Chuck's). Expect a relaxed vibe well suited to the elegant Americana of Small Ponds and the rootsy pan-rock sounds of Roman Candle.
An opportunity for Chapel Hill's Odessa Records to brandish its wares is an opportunity to marvel at the impressive roster the label has been able to maintain from the start. Transportation marries Cheap Trick-like arena pop to college rock jangle. Wild Wild Geese follow the skewed angles of indie guitar gods Malkmus and Mascis. Americans In France play post-punk like a paranoid garage-band. Shit Horse squeezes out garage-psych gems with alarming consistency. And The Kingsbury Manx are masters of elegant, effortless pop.
If North Carolina ought to be known for two things, it's music and basketball. As the Duke-UNC rivalry revs up a few miles away, Hopscotch crowds can enjoy a friendlier competition when musicians take to the court to benefit Raleigh's Helping Hand Mission. That, plus music, food, drinks and "special surprises." It's BYOB, so drink cheaply and donate richly.
Mount Eerie, a treasure of the Pacific Northwest, is a coup for any bill (like Friday night's at Five Star). With the range in Mount Eerie mastermind Phil Elverum's catalog—from whispering folk to screeching black metal—there's little telling what to expect, except that it'll be great. Here, Elverum is joined inside Slim's by Durham post-punk trio Brainbows and Last Year's Men, a Chapel Hill foursome who won't fit in a space this small for much longer. On the patio, Durham stalwarts The Wigg Report and Beloved Binge volley sets all afternoon.
Three Lobed Recordings contributes rare solo and duo sets from its roster. Guitar wunderkind William Tyler and James "Wooden Wand" Toth team up for a duo set, as do guitarist Steve Gunn and drummer John Truscinski (reliving their excellent Sand City, one might hope); Barn Owl's Evan Caminiti and Espers' Meg Baird offer solo sets. Holidays For Quince bring the heft with blues-rock duo The Moaners, scuzz post-punk band Monsonia and the titanic kraut-metal of In The Year Of The Pig.
Drive-By Truckers' Patterson Hood, John Vanderslice, Mount Moriah's Heather McEntire, local rock critic David Menconi, James Jackson Toth of Wooden Wand, The Love Language's Stuart McLamb and Avett Brothers manager Dolphus Ramseur assemble to talk about the power of words in songs. David Klein of the Indy moderates.
The Hopscotch Hepcat Race offers enthusiasts of cycling and kittens a unique opportunity. Racing through Raleigh, competitors will pedal on behalf of SAFE Haven for Cats, a Raleigh-based no-kill shelter and spay/neuter clinic. Racers could win prizes like a new bike and a massive load of records; spectators can enter a raffle to win their own prizes.
Hopscotch's official day party features a slate of local highlights, including The Rosebud (fresh off the release of the career highlight Loud Planes Fly Low), alt-rock favorites Hammer No More the Fingers, and Shirlette & the Dynamite Brothers' fusion of funk, rock and hip-hop. Idaho buzz-band Youth Lagoon brings aqueous dream-pop days before Fat Possum releases the band's debut album. Kentucky cellist Ben Sollee plays his classical instrument like a jazz bassist behind pop-rock songs. Ashley Christensen and AC Restaurants will be selling food, with proceeds benefitting The Frankie Lemmon Foundation. Also, free movies (including the new Drive-By Truckers documentary) inside, with free haircuts outside by Bottega.
For once, it's unfortunate that the wall between Tir na nOg and The Pour House is sufficiently insulated. A neighborly team-up brings Portland's Hometapes and Chapel Hill's Trekky Records together, volleying sets between the chiming, intricately arranged art-rock of Hometapes acts like All Tiny Creatures and Sunless, and the twangier folk and rock of Trekky acts like Midtown Dickens and Brice Randall Bickford. If nothing else, come for the free breakfast, featuring baked goods from Crumb and coffee from Joe Van Gogh.
American Aquarium is the heir apparent to Raleigh's alt-country legacy, and here they've gathered a gang to complement their heartland twang. West Virginia's Prison Book Club suggest Lucero by way of the Meat Puppets; Jack The Radio injects a Carolina drawl into modern rock; Annuals craft lush, layered pop; and Jason Kutchma is a roots-punk troubadour with a preacher's conviction.
Lake Isle and Gray Young revel in the mirage-like haze of dream-pop, but they refuse to sacrifice momentum or hooks to obscurity. Bright Young Things take it a step further, dipping no deeper into the fuzz than slight analog warmth.
Oulipo, SoftSpot and Annuals all favor full arrangements, layering acoustic and electronic timbers atop casually melodic pop songs. That'll make former Titus Andronicus guitarist Andrew Cedermark stand out, if only slightly, for his comparatively sparse arrangements. Cedermark's unhurried and fluid way with melody is an easy complement for his bill-mates.
Calling this a College Radio Showcase indicates more than its sponsors—which include stations at NCSU, Duke and the UNCs of Chapel Hill and Greensboro. The gig's practically a primer in indie rock: Bronzed Chorus' instrumental post-rock meets Nests' bedroom folk-rock near where Free Electric State's kraut-and-shoegaze-inspired anthems slam into Whatever Brains' gleefully snide post-punk.
Lonnie Walker has been called one of the state's best bands for their amphetamine folk, but Birds of Avalon share that distinction for their inviting blend of space-bound psychedelia and arena rock hooks. With Chicago's Netherfriends offering their ebullient anthems and Georgia's Quiet Hooves serving up whimsical pop that falls halfway between Holy Fuck and Brian Wilson, there won't be time to debate who's best; it's all good.
Longtime publicity firm Team Clermont and Portland label Greyday Records have assembled a bill designed with fans of carefully constructed pop in mind. John Vanderslice's elegant pop meets Fan Modine's effervescent pocket-symphonies; I Was Totally Destroying It's Muse-meets-Metric radio-rock collides with Filthybird's psych-tinged country and Schooner's bleary and soulful indie rock.
From the ambitious folk-pop of Birds & Arrows to the spacey doom of Bitter Resolve, this showcase curated by Indy contributor Corbie Hill is geographically apart from Hopscotch's main happenings, but not far removed from the festival's inclusive spirit.
If these four bands have anything in common, it's loud guitars. Greensboro's Mutant League suggests a Motorik Dinosaur Jr., while Durham's Maple Stave blends Shellac-style scuzz with Don Cab's precision. Raleigh's White Cascade unravels sheets of gauzy shoegaze and searing drone, while A Rooster for the Masses use their guitars to cut thin, sharp lines.
Carrboro's boutique vinyl shop All Day Records offers a party in two parts. After a day full of folk revisionists highlighted by Des Ark's frank and heart-wrenching story-songs, Steve Gunn's husky acoustic psych-blues and Hiss Golden Messenger's criminally overlooked polyglot folk-rock, wristband-lacking revelers can enjoy Secret Boyfriend's noise-sprees and Brain F≠'s garage-punk thunder. True to its name, the party does go all night, with an after-hours dance party after the bands.
Mann's World brings some heavy rock to the afternoon. Corrosion of Conformity spinoff Righteous Fool jams its heels into riffs worthy of Danzig or Clutch. Boston's Black Thai mines trad-metal territory, lunging for hard-rock hooks like Valient Thorr's. Lurch's sludge-burdened thrash riffs are this bill's most brutal.
Pop music is a malleable form, and artists have continually found ways to stretch its definition. The third and final Artist & Author panel seeks to explore the boundaries of the form, with the insight of experts including Flaming Lips head Wayne Coyne, college-rock icon Chris Stamey (of the dB's) and Pitchfork editor-in-chief Mark Richardson. Critic Brian Howe moderates.
When it comes to beating hangovers, it's hard to beat a hearty breakfast, lots of water and some Tylenol. But if the throbbing subsides and you find yourself in need of one last hurrah, look no further than this bill. T0W3RS' inviting and eager indie pop is the blog-learned counterpoint to Backsliders frontman Chip Robinson and his Social D-meets-Tom Petty rock 'n' roll.