By Grant Golden
September 6, 2021
With a year full of uncertainties, it’s nice to have some level of familiarity. While this weekend’s Hopscotch Music Festival may not look exactly like ones in the past– with official ticketed shows limited to two outdoor stages rather than 10+ venues throughout downtown Raleigh– the festival’s artistic integrity remains. Utilizing stages at City Plaza and Moore Square, Hopscotch brings together an eclectic collection of artists ranging from international icons to local favorites. Whether you’re into blissed-out indie rock, heady experimental jaunts or some slow-rolling folk tunes, Hopscotch has enough variety to ensure that even the pickiest of listeners is satiated.
Although the festival’s official lineup packs some musical heavyweights like Dr. Dog, Animal Collective and Flying Lotus, the backbone of Hopscotch has always been the community built around this hyper-regional festival. A slew of local outfits have pulled together fantastic bills for the free day parties that help make Hopscotch such a jam-packed weekend. Below are some of our most anticipated acts performing at Hopscotch Music Festival this year.
Visionary producer Flying Lotus is known for his unique amalgamation of jazz, electronic and hip-hop, but anyone who’s caught a live set from the Grammy-nominated artist can attest to the immersive nature of his performances. With a host of long-running collaborations with Kendrick Lamar, Anderson .Paak, Thundercat and more, there’s no telling what sort of remixes and mind-bending original compositions FlyLo will drop into his set. It’s hard to think of a better way to cap a Friday night at Hopscotch.
One of Western Carolina’s most promising indie outfits, Wednesday is an act you won’t want to miss at this year’s Hopscotch. Led by Karly Hartzman’s affectionate vocals, Wednesday’s tunes are full of biting guitar tones, snappy percussion and a hazy sense of shoe-gaze expansiveness. The band’s most recent album, Twin Plagues, has garnered attention from national outlets like Pitchfork and Stereogum, and it doesn’t take long to understand why. Wednesday’s songs are pronounced and vibrant, yet retain a sense of precociousness leaving listeners wondering what direction they’re headed.
One of North Carolina’s fastest rising stars, it should come as no surprise that Sonny Miles makes his Hopscotch debut on the City Plaza stage. While the young artist’s smooth blend of hip-hop, pop and R&B are sonically silky, Miles’ infectious live energy is liable to turn the Plaza into a dance floor. Miles’ invigorating tracks shine in a live environment, with full band arrangements giving these songs a fresh and soulful take.
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
If authenticity is what you’re after, look no further than the outlaw honky-tonk tunes of Sarah Shook. Emerging as one of the state’s premier country artists in recent years, Sarah Shook’s music is full of both hard-hitting swagger and unabashed vulnerability. Shook’s songs command attention with poignant lyrics, ragged rhythms and a warble that feels straight out of an old-time saloon. Her Thursday evening set, sure to be packed with sing-a-longs from adoring locals, should be a brilliant burst of classic country vibes to kick off the festival weekend.
New Jersey’s Garcia Peoples combines improvisational aspects of early West Coast psych-rock with contemporary indie-rock structures to make for a jam-friendly musical excursion. Garcia Peoples’ songs stick to a strong melodic foundation but, much like their predecessors, are liable to trail off into kaleidoscopic noodling frenzies. Landing somewhere between King Gizzard and The Grateful Dead, Garcia Peoples beckons listeners to dip their toes into the world of weird– a welcome way to preface Saturday’s closing act, Animal Collective.
One of the finest Philly exports since the cheesesteak, Dr. Dog will be wrapping up their near two-decade career with this last run of shows. From careening psych-soul to murky blues territory, there’s not many places Dr. Dog hasn’t explored. Festival goers should expect raucous and emotional sing-a-longs to the band’s already vibrant harmonies and heartbreaking melodies. This set will be one for the books for Hopscotch.
The Dead Tongues
The misty country songs of The Dead Tongue’s Ryan Gustafon capture an ineffable quality of the beauty of music. This Asheville-based songwriter crafts timeless tunes that sway between cosmic soundscapes and pastoral roots. With swooning melodies and emotional lyricism, The Dead Tongues can captivate even the most passive of listeners. With a near-sunset Friday night set, Gustafson’s rich folk tunes will serve as a perfect soundtrack for folks looking to kick back and unwind after a long day.
Not many local acts can say they’ve got a co-sign from Barak Obama, but Lesthegenius sure can. His placement on Obama’s favorite songs of 2019 playlist propelled him toward national limelight, but his consistently dazzling output has ensured he keeps the momentum going. His 2021 debut album, All In Due Time, showcases his agile flow, one capable of bobbing and weaving through ornate beats. His set will surely get the Hopscotch Saturday crowd hyped for a day full of excellent tunes.
Locals know that you always want to catch a Kate Rhudy show. This Raleigh-based songwriter has an unparalleled ability to silence a room, with an unwavering passion behind each word and note. She captured national attention with her debut record, Rock N’ Roll Ain’t For Me, and further expanded her plaintive folk range with her 2020 singles “Dance It Away” and “Snake.” Expect a set full of powerful folk tunes with unexpected twists of dry humor. It’ll be an experience that leaves listeners washed in the full spectrum of emotion.
Charlotte’s own experimental punk rockers will be kicking off the festival’s official performances and, frankly, theirs will be a hard act to follow. The frenetic energy of Patois Counselors hits with the ethos of a punk band, but melds guitars, synths, drums and bass in a manner that expands your standard punk-rock palette. Led by revered Charlotte musician, Bo White, the band’s music is at once smoldering and emblazoned, a pot of water perpetually on the brink of boiling over. With a mastery of tension and release, Patois Counselors opening set will ensure that festival goers kick off their weekend on the right foot.
Full COVID-19 vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results will be required to attend Hopscotch Music Festival. Read more about the festival’s health and safety policy.