Hopscotch Music Festival
Downtown Raleigh
Thursday, September 8, 2016

Biking back and forth from one venue to another may be convenient, but it’s completely overrated in all of its zippy and unsociable bee lines, as I learned on night one of my seventh year attending Hopscotch Music Festival. For one, you miss the opportunity to bump into complete strangers who may mistake you (in this case, an African-American male) for a rapper. Not any specific rapper on the festival lineup, but just any rapper with a set of teeth.

Secondly, while it’s great that downtown Raleigh’s streets are demarcated to be bike-friendly, there aren’t as many bike racks to accommodate riders. Because something about chaining your bike up to a parking sign seems illegal, and chaining it to a tree seems cruel. Oh well.

But here I am again, the signifying black Hopscotch hipster from Durham whose newest charm is the bike rack on his vehicle. More than catching any of night one’s performances, I was mostly looking forward to copping a few prints at the Flatstock poster show. It had already shut down by the time I made it to the Convention Center, but over at Slim’s, Grayson and Tina Haver Currin put on an even better poster show, draping a huge banner of god-awful Gov. Pat McCrory, identical to this INDY Week cover designed by Skillet Gilmore, over a yellow brick wall.

Would McCrory be into a female rapper named Junglepussy who, from the CAM stage Thursday night, spat lyrics such as “If your dick is long, I got to frisk it?” Maybe. Or does a line like that fall into the internet’s corruption of “sexual norms,” as McCrory recently said in an interview?

He might have ruined the state, but he can’t ruin Hopscotch.

But Washington D.C.’s Eva Moolchan, or Sneaks, as she goes by when she morphs into her drone rap-rock persona, has a more utopian view of the city. “Is it always like this in Raleigh?” she asked me following her performance at Pour House as we sat in front of CAM awaiting Kelela’s set. I explain to her that, yes, the festival is always this cozy, but that she’d probably enjoy the weirder vibes of Durham’s Moogfest more. Then she asks me what my zodiac sign is. She says that I’m giving her Leo vibes, whatever that means. Still, I want to do nothing more than talk to her all night about astrology and skip the rest of the shows. She’s the psychedelic version of Malia Obama. She walks the Hopscotch streets alone, processing auras and turning them into songs. But, I digress.

I have my other mysteries to unravel, like why Vincas lead singer, Scott Kviklys, howls—not like a possessed garage rocker, but like a jaded ex-frat boy who just had his Tesla repossessed. Or, how Treee City of the Durham beat collective Raund Haus, managed to have one of the most explosive DJ sets of the night, despite being followed up by Swizzymack’s virtuosity in crank beatitude. Lastly, was Kelela’s experimental archangel R&B exhibition last night a tipping point for Hopscotch’s future under new management? And if Hopscotch decides to take deeper steps into the soul and R&B arenas, will it have to compete with whatever festival J. Cole has planned for Raleigh?