By Grant Golden
August 25, 2023
For the first time in four years, Raleigh’s Hopscotch Music Festival has returned to its robust roots. After battling a few years of covid restrictions, the eclectic festival will host over 100 bands on ten stages throughout downtown Raleigh September 7-9. With acts like Pavement, Denzel Curry, Japanese Breakfast, and many more, this year’s Hopscotch lineup will fill the streets of Raleigh with sounds that vary from indie rock, hip-hop, pop, country, metal, afro-beat, folk, and beyond. With cleverly curated bills at each venue throughout the weekend (alongside a slew of free day parties), festival-goers can build their own unique experience as they bolt from stage to stage in efforts to catch longtime favorites, rare collaborations, or perhaps the next big band they’ve never heard before.
But with so many acts and so little time, you’re destined to miss something incredible. That’s why we’ve pulled together a selection of some of our most anticipated sets of the weekend, ranging from fresh-faced locals to underground icons, there’s a bit of something for everyone.
Saturday 9:30 p.m. at City Plaza
With the release of their 2021 record Jubilee, Japanese Breakfast was propelled to newfound stardom, earning Grammy nominations for both Best Alternative Music Album and Best New Artist. Frontwoman Michelle Zauner’s cathartic pop tunes come to life on stage, with powerful horn arrangements and captivating vocal performances. Japanese Breakfast will be a fitting closer for Hopscotch’s main stage on Saturday night, and a guaranteed sing-a-long for a sea of adoring fans.
Thursday 8:30 p.m. at Moore Square
It’s a rare stop in North Carolina for this English indie-rock songwriter, and fans of Krule’s downtempo crooning are in for a treat on Thursday evening. Archy Marshall (King Krule) is known for his dire subject matter, baritone vocals, and reverb-washed soundscapes, making for a dreamy aural experience. While the show may suffer a bit from an outdoor setting, fans of striking, affectionate indie rock should jump at a rare opportunity to catch King Krule in Raleigh.
Friday 9:15 p.m. at City Plaza
Denzel Curry closes out a stacked lineup of hip-hop artists at City Plaza on Friday evening, and his high energy brand of experimental Southern hip-hop will be an excellent transition into the evening’s club shows. Curry’s recent sets have blended his introspective, slow-brooding stylings from his 2022 record Melt My Eyez See Your Future with his straight-forward, chest-rattling powerhouse performances from his early work. Whether you’re a rap purist or prefer forays into psychedelia, Curry’s set will be one of the standouts for rap fans Hopscotch weekend.
Kaleta & Super Yamba Band
Thursday 12:30 a.m. at Pour House
This opening night Pour House set has the potential to be one of the danciest outings of the festival, as this Afro-funk crew leads fans with vivacious rhythms and infectious melodies. Led by esteemed Afrobeat veteran Leon Ligan-Majek a.k.a. Kaleta (Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade), Super Yamba is driven by call and response vocals and polyrhythmic grooves. Whether you’re a longtime fan or you’re just looking for a dance party, you can’t go wrong with Super Yamba.
Friday 5:45 p.m. at City Plaza
Winston Salem’s Tia Corine is North Carolina’s most acclaimed hip-hop export in recent years, so her early Friday evening set before Digable Planets and Denzel Curry will be a must. Corine’s charismatic flows are bouncy and fetching, and her colorful “anime-trap” aura is capable of capturing any listeners’ attention with her spirited stage presence. It should be a monumental Hopscotch debut for one of North Carolina’s fastest-rising stars.
Friday 8:30 p.m. at Moore Square
Margo Price is one of country music’s most striking contemporary stars. With the grit of Janis Joplin and the flair of Dolly Parton, Price is an amalgamation of some of the genre’s finest songwriters, but blends them together for a style all her own. Price’s songs of empowerment and rebellion will ring out at Moore Square on Friday night, and there’s no better place for a country fan to be on Hopscotch weekend.
Thursday 1:00 a.m. at Kings
This Charlotte-based rapper has steadily become one of the industry’s most promising young stars. Mavi’s contemplative 2022 release Laughing So Hard, It Hurts boasts collaborations with esteemed producers like Monte Booker, so his set should be one for the books. If Mavi continues the trajectory he’s on, with ever-growing national acclaim, folks won’t get many chances to see him in venues the size of Kings.
Saturday 1:00 a.m. at Transfer Co. Ballroom
North Carolina surf/psych rockers, Zack Mexico, have become anchors of Hopscotch, bringing outlandish visuals and antics to the stage to accompany their blistering rock tunes. Closing out the festival with a 1:00 a.m. set at one of Hopscotch’s newest venues, Transfer Co. Ballroom, the performance might feel like the last leg of a marathon. Blast off into the ether with the manic music of one of North Carolina’s finest psychedelic acts.
Saturday 7:30 p.m. at City Plaza
The music of Soccer Mommy’s Sophie Allison keeps a pop-driven core but oscillates in nature as her influences bubble up in new, inventive ways. Propelled to fame with a grungy debut, but slowly evolving into shoegaze-y territory, Soccer Mommy fans should be in for a wide-ranging musical treat. Despite her growing popularity, her performances maintain an intimate feel thanks to Allison’s tender storytelling and entrancing stage presence.
Saturday 11:30 p.m. at Lincoln Theatre
Booking artists like Kool Keith is what makes Hopscotch such a special festival. The eccentric and prolific emcee has a deep catalog of wonderfully weird records with a variety of alter egos like Dr. Octagon, Black Elvis and dozens more. But Keith isn’t all bells and whistles, his raps are full of deeply complex rhyme schemes and rhythms, giving his music an adventurous feel.
Thursday 9:30 p.m. at Transfer Co. Ballroom
This fresh Raleigh-based outfit may be one of the newest acts on the bill, but it’s also one full of longtime contributors to the Triangle music scene, consisting of members of Black Surfer, ChocolateRice, and sl0wgl0w. Not Flailing’s lone single, “Running From Melancholy,” blends melodic vocals with jaunty rhythms and skittering percussion, but their live shows are brimming with an electric energy. Hopscotch excels at giving a platform for new or little known acts to shine in rooms full of adoring new fans, and you can anticipate Not Flailing’s Transfer Co. set to be just that.
Thursday 12:00 a.m. at Kings
Raleigh native Maasho mixes pop sentiments with trap beats and experimental hip-hop foundations, pulling just enough from each realm to create a fresh and engaging sound. This hometown show will have a vibe full of anthemic choruses and high-energy beats as this rising star gets the chance to shine.
Thursday 6:00 p.m. at Moore Square
Sam Evian’s tunes are a melting pot of country, psychedelia, and indie pop, so his Thursday night Moore Square set will be a fitting introduction to this year’s festival. Evian’s songs are full of vulnerable songwriting and built on rich, warm instrumentation. It’ll be an ideal kick-back set that’s both low-key in nature but highly impressive in musical showmanship.
Friday 10:30 p.m. at Wicked Witch
This Venezuelan post-rock group will fit right in with the dark, moody vibes of Wicked Witch on Friday night. Zeta’s sounds range from frenetic, punk-inspired takes to ethereal soundscapes driven by Afro-Caribbean grooves. The band lives at an intersection between an eclectic blend of genres, which should make for an invigorating festival debut.
One of the new additions to Hopscotch this year will be comedy. Saturday Night Live cast member Sarah Sherman, multi-faceted comedian and actor Whitmer Thomas, and up-and-coming stand-up comic Maddie Wiener will all perform sets at Lincoln Theater Thursday night. For the first time ever, Hopscotch will partner with Skate Raleigh (a non-profit that seeks to advance action sports in Raleigh and surrounding areas) to host extreme sports competitions with food trucks and DJs in front of Kings and Neptunes. The Marbles Kids Museum will also host a free family-friendly “Totscotch” event Saturday with bubble play, a playground, and a sidewalk mural with performances by Grammy-nominated family music artist Pierce Freelon, children’s librarian/rapper Mr. Scooter, and Girls Rock NC.
Check out the full lineup and schedule for Hopscotch Music Festival September 7-9 in downtown Raleigh along with the full list of free day parties around the city. Three-day passes for Hopscotch Music Festival are currently $199.
In this article
- Archy Marshall
- City Plaza
- denzel curry
- Digable Planets
- Girls Rock NC
- hip hop
- hopscotch music festival
- Japanese Breakfast
- Kaleta & Super Yamba Band
- king krule
- Kool Keith
- lincoln theatre
- Margo Price
- Michelle Zauner
- Mild High Club
- moore square
- Mr. Scooter
- Not Flailing
- Pierce Freelon
- Pour House
- Sam Evian
- Soccer Mommy
- Sophie Allison
- Transfer Co. Ballroom
- Wicked Witch