This is the third year in a row that I’ve photographed Raleigh’s weird, charming, brilliant Hopscotch Music Festival, and while it might have been the year I saw the fewest number of bands (… 30 or so over the weekend), it might be the year I had the most fun. Hopscotch is, always, a festival that feels as much like a family reunion as it does a music festival; Hopscotch is the time of year I see / meet / catch up with people who I follow on Twitter, went to college with, live less than a mile from but just don’t see enough. Sometimes the summer gets away from me, I don’t see enough people, and Hopscotch happens in September and I see everyone and get juiced up again for taking photos of musicians and live music and living in North Carolina and, you know.
Hopscotch is a big fat music festival family reunion that makes me happy about existence.
One of the things that Grayson and Greg have always done best with Hopscotch is landing things that are unique; or if not entirely unique, unique enough that they only happen three or four times. This year it was, for me, the Breeders playing the middle set of Saturday’s City Plaza set, doing Last Splash in its entirity. It didn’t disappoint me; that record still resonates with me, and is still something I listen to on the regular, and hearing it live, in that booming open space, just made my heart soar. “Cannonball”, of course, that bass line shuddering out while I was standing in the photo pit and it gave me goosebumps, but also the plaint of “Do You Love Me Now” and, god, the metaphorical thunder of “Divine Thunder”. It was fucking awesome.
The day parties are, of course, one of the things that makes Hopscotch unique, and as usual, they were impeccable — Churchkey’s Friday Slim’s party, Trekky’s Saturday Pour House party, the Odessa / OCSC party at Kings on Saturday. I didn’t make it to as many as I have in the past, but the sets I saw were all fantastic, both old favorite bands (Spider Bags, Gross Ghost in a packed encore to their Friday City Plaza show) and some new to me folks.
My favorite non-local sets were San Fermin — the Triangle Speakers In Code contingent gives that record FOUR THUMBS UP — and Marnie Stern. I ate a million delicious things, mostly Beasley’s and the Times and about six pounds of carbs at the VIP party on Thursday night. I took pictures of people’s shoes, and several creepster photos of Grant in the photo pit just because I can.