Hopscotch Music Festival
Downtown Raleigh
Saturday, September 9, 2017

I didn’t make it out to any Saturday day parties, but the evening was more than enough entertainment. The Saturday of Hopscotch is always the most crowded day, as single-day passes for those who couldn’t or didn’t want to get off work Thursday and Friday are out in full force.

My evening started with Big Boi, who managed to keep the crowded entertained with every other song, but only those from the Outkast oevure got the biggest reaction. “So Fresh, So Clean” and “Ms. Jackson” had the crowd going moderately wild, but in general, people just weren’t dancing. Bummer.

I quickly headed over to Solange, whose performance might have been the highlight of the entire festival so far. She, her dancers, and her band were dressed in vibrant all-red outfits, standing in front of a giant circle that was reminiscent of the eclipse. And it was fitting, because her performance eclipsed anything I’d seen so far.

The horn section, backup singers, and guitarists moved in coordinated choreography, adding a level of sophistication to the show—it was like watching a ballet. Solange got down in the audience for “F.U.B.U.” and even sang a couple of older songs, including Destiny’s Child’s theme song to the Disney cartoon The Proud Family (on which Solange also sang), and “T.O.N.Y.”, from her 2008 record Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams. It was an incredible set, and she even threw in some Beyoncé “Single Ladies” dance moves while breaking from the choreographed group.

The highest point of the night was quickly followed by the lowest. I caught the end of Corey Hanson’s set, which was wonderful. He’s a talented songwriter and, with just an acoustic guitar and accompanied by a talented violinist, his songs shined. After that, however, was thirty minutes of soundcheck for Charleston, South Carolina’s SUSTO. The band’s setup took so long that it bumped Kevin Morby from his scheduled midnight slot into a 12:30 a.m. start, disrupting the schedule of anyone who hoped to catch a bit of Morby and, say, some of Hurray for the Riff Raff at the Lincoln Theatre.

SUSTO’s lead singer, Justin Osborne, claimed he was made fun of as a child before launching into “Cosmic Cowboy,” a lament about being misunderstood for being a Southern atheist. The song sounded akin to drunken frat boy screams before a drunk-and-disorderly arrest. At one point, Osborne tried to spit on stage and it didn’t quite fall out of his mouth—it just hung there, prompting Osborne to wipe it all down the back of his hand and into his mustache. SUSTO just didn’t have the “cool” factor it seemed to be trying so hard to project. It started another track at midnight, singing about wasting time, which couldn’t have been more true—the band wasted the time of everyone who wanted to make the most of their Saturday night.

Thankfully, one person did Kevin Morby and company’s soundcheck in a trim eight minutes. Morby walked out on stage in a close approximation of a Nudie suit: black and well-tailored, with embroidered music notes and a big shiny satin clock on the back and featuring a rhinestone K on one lapel and an M on the other. It was unlike anything I’d seen in a long time. He got a dig in that it was past the band’s bedtime and he was sorry it was so late, but quickly captivated the audience with some new tracks. The crowd favorite, and mine, was “Destroyer” from 2016’s Singing Saw, where he played keys on the more subdued track. There, he played keys, but he took to the guitar for every other song. Supported by the incredible Meg Duffy, whose own band Hand Habits also played the festival, Morby closed out another great night of Hopscotch.