Bouncing back from COVID-19 is hard—particularly if you’re a music festival with a reputation that rests on presenting a vast array of acts representing myriad styles at 10 or more mostly indoor venues across downtown Raleigh.

So it should come as no surprise, or knock on the event, that the Hopscotch Music Festival unveiled its initial lineup today, just 48 days before its three days are set to kick off, on September 9. Given that it is reconstituting as an outdoor-only festival this year to safeguard public health, and the uncertainty around the live music industry that has only recently started to kinda clear, Hopscotch managing to happen at all, let alone on its traditional weekend after Labor Day, is already impressive.

Luckily, the acts Hopscotch has planned for stages in Moore Square and the Red Hat Amphitheater shouldn’t require much adjustment of expectation to appreciate.

The two already announced headliners—the electro-colorful Animal Collective and the loose and lively Dr. Dog (on a farewell tour)—bring two of the most festival-ready sounds in indie rock. They’re joined by mercurial but constantly invigorating producer, DJ and rapper Flying Lotus and slicked-down punk band Parquet Courts on the top line.

The names are a mild step back for a festival that grabbed acts like CHVRCHES, James Blake, Nile Rodgers, and Solange in recent years—but again, keeping in mind COVID-era challenges, it’s hard to complain. The rest of the announced lineup packs a decent approximation of Hopscotch’s typical variety into its reduced numbers.

There are recently returned hometown heroes (Archers of Loaf, Bowerbirds) and restless experimentalists (Helado Negro, Makaya McCraven, Colin Stetson), catchy rock bands (Shannon & the Clams) and adventurous pop artists (Caroline Polachek, Body Meat), sleek indie outfits (Hippo Campus, Hannah Jagadu) and Americana enliveners (Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, Dougie Poole).

Hip-Hop is scarce outside of Flying Lotus—locals Lesthegenius and Sonny Miles are there, far down the poster—and metal, a hallmark through the years at Hopscotch, is nonexistent. But this lineup still provides variety and some intriguing through lines for audiences to consider as they watch. The poster also promises “90+ Local Vendors & More to Be Announced!” So it’s possible the amount of acts and sounds on offer could still grow. Keep your eyes peeled, and grab your tickets, now on sale online.

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