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15 must-see bands playing Hopscotch day parties

By James Willamor 

Hopscotch Music Fest returns to downtown Raleigh for the sixth time from September 10 through the 12. In addition to the official festival lineups each evening, numerous free day parties are hosted each afternoon.

“Hopscotch day parties are a part of the weekend. We encouraged labels, friends and venues to start back in 2010 as a way for more bands, fans, venues, etc. to get in on the fun of the festival,” says Hopscotch Festival founder and director Greg Lowenhagen.

The day parties tend to feature local and regional acts, primarily focused on indie rock, punk, metal, electronic and folk. Many of the day parties are hosted by local record labels, college radio stations, record stores and independent promoters. Most of the venues will have local craft beer available, and many of the venues that don’t serve food will have some brought in or have food trucks on site.

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Open Mike Eagle 2014 photo by Carter Short

The festival also hosts a couple of stages downtown on Saturday, and this year Hopscotch Design Fest is going to have a free block party Wednesday night at CAM featuring Bully. While the day parties are free to attend, they can only happen thanks to all the festival attendees who purchase tickets.

In addition to the 140 or so sets that make up the official Hopscotch lineup, the day parties add an additional 220 or so sets at 18 different venues. To help you wade through the lists here are my five picks for each day:

Thursday Day Party Picks

The Color Exchange

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Photo by Kasey Poly Photography

(1:00 at Tir Na Nog)

Formerly known as Clockwork Kids, Chapel Hill’s The Color Exchange opted for a new name to go along with their new, more mature indie pop sound on their latest album, Cubed, released earlier this year.

The Wyrms

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(2:30 at Slim’s Downtown)

New Chapel Hill group The Wyrms sing about wizards and Dungeons & Dragons over fuzzy garage rock. Their debut album, At Wizard Island, comes out on Negative Fun Records late September. They also play at 2:55 at Legends Nightclub on Saturday.

Doc Aquatic

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(3:00 at Tir Na Nog)

Asheville-based trio Doc Aquatic have been keeping busy lately working on new singles and a 7” vinyl record as a follow up to their debut full length album. The band has built a strong following based on their energetic live shows and layered, often psychedelic take on indie pop. They also play at 1:25 at Slim’s Downtown on Saturday.

Sinners & Saints

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Hopscotch 2014 photo by Carter Short

(4:30 at Deep South the Bar)

Sinners & Saints produce the largest sound you’ve ever heard from a duo, simultaneously playing instruments and foot-operated percussion. Their rootsy songs and harmonies have solidified their place as one of Charlotte’s most beloved Americana bands since The Avett Brothers. They also play at 12:30 on Friday at Legends Nightclub.

See Gulls

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Photo by Alex Boerne

(4:30 at Slim’s Downtown)

Self-described “surfwitch” outfit See Gulls have created a buzz with their assertive lyrics and catchy hooks. The release of their debut EP You Can’t See Me this past July lead to them being called one of the “Triangle’s best new bands” by Indy Week. Caw. The also play at 3:00 at Person Street Bar on Saturday.

Friday Day Party Picks

Museum Mouth

Museum Mouth

(1:00 at King’s Barcade)

The release of Museum Mouth’s 2014 album Alex I Am Nothing on Self Aware Records served to immediately raise the profile of this Southport trio. Their high energy, fuzzy punk has impressed critics and labels alike, leading to their recent signing with Rory/Equal Vision Records.

Adult Science

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(2:00 at Tir Na Nog)

Experimenting with electronic groove pop that combines synth, guitar and drum machine, Adult Science released their album Causations this past July. However, the group recently announced this set will be their final show ever.

Susto

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CLTure Music Fest photo by Liza Cox

(3:00 at Legends Nightclub)

Described as alternative folk infused with counter country, Susto’s self-titled debut 2014 release on Peninsula Records has garnered them an international following. They also play at 1:00 on Saturday at the Raleigh Little Theatre amphitheater.

Ghostt Bllonde

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(3:00 at Pour House Music Hall)

Raleigh’s own Ghostt Bllonde have delivered a trash-can-pop take on indie rock for several years, releasing a number of singles and albums on Negative Fun records and putting on high energy live shows. They also play at 2:00 on Saturday at Person Street Bar.

Octopus Jones

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(4:00 at Pour House Music hall)

Having moved to Raleigh from South Carolina three years ago, Octopus Jones continues to put out lush, psychedelic indie rock. Their latest effort, El Guapo Sessions, was released earlier this month.

Saturday Day Party Picks

Phil Cook

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stereogum.com

(1:25 at Pour House Music Hall)

After playing in a band with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, Cook formed the beloved Durham psychedelic folk group Megafaun with brother Brad Cook. Since their hiatus in 2012, Cook has been working on his solo debut album, Southland Mission, which comes out September 11.

Hectorina

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Graham Morrison Photography

(3:00 at Raleigh Little Theatre’s amphitheater)

Experimental, theatrical rock with punk and soul influences, Charlotte’s Hectorina are praised for their ingenuity as well as their musicianship. They have written and performed a full cast rock opera, and their 2014 album, A Thousand Jackals, was a Creative Loafing readers’ choice winner for best Charlotte album of the year. They follow that up with their self-titled third album which comes out the Tuesday before Hopscotch.

Naked Gods

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(3:30 at The Hive)

Following up their 2011 release, Boone’s Naked Gods put out a monumental self-titled album in July that combines pop sensibilities with mellow, flowing indie rock soundscapes. They also play at 3:30 on Sunday at Slim’s Downtown.

River Whyless

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Photo by Brock Scott

(1:00 at Ruby Deluxe)

Asheville is known for producing great folk and Americana acts, and River Whyless might be one of the best to emerge from the scene in recent years. They followed up their debut full-length 2012 album with an impressive new self-titled EP earlier this year.

Pink Flag

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(11:30 at Legends Nightclub)

What better way to enjoy your Saturday brunch than to spend it with feminist punk rockers Pink Flag. The long awaited full length from this Durham band comes out September 18 on Negative Fun Records.

Five more sets to check out:

The Kneads – 2:00 Thursday at Slim’s Downtown. Greensboro fuzz/punk with a new album,Letting You Let Me Down, out earlier this year through Potluck.

Elisa Ambrogio + Tashi Dorji – 2:00 Friday at King’s Barcade. Instrumental guitarist combined with an experimental songwriter guarantees to make this an interesting set.

Look Homeward – Noon Saturday at Raleigh Little Theatre amphitheater. North Carolina folk band released an impressive full-length debut album earlier this year featuring a rootsy, bayou sound.

Patios Counselors – 12:25 Saturday at Legends Nightclub and 3:10 at Slim’s Downtown. Experimental rock from a real band that started out as a fake band by legendary Charlotte songwriter Bo White.

MELT – 2:00 Saturday at Raleigh Little Theatre amphitheater. Charlotte dream pop trio set to release their debut full-length record, Repossession Blues, later this year on Croquet Records.

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