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Whether you’re simply looking at the lineup, counting the number of venues in use, wandering through the day parties or flocking to a show alongside more wristband holders than ever before, you’ll notice a fundamental lesson this year: Hopscotch is bigger.

We’ve expanded to roughly 175 bands and 15 venues, up from around 130 acts in 10 rooms just two years ago. Those spaces include some of the grandest in town, such as the historic and historically significant Memorial Auditorium and the wondrously modern CAM Raleigh. That expansion allowed us to not just add more bands but to add bands that, in years past, would have been both too popular and too production-heavy to put anywhere but Raleigh City Plaza, if anywhere at all. Indeed, it’s hard to conceive of a previous Hopscotch with Yo La Tengo playing anything but the headlining stage, or with CAM’s Saturday dance party of Danny Brown and Flosstradamus landing anywhere but the Lincoln Theatre. And after two years of presenting only one official day party, we’re presenting four official day parties this year, including our first-ever venture on Glenwood Avenue. We’ve coordinated two art shows for Hopscotch 2012 (both open this week, in Rebus Works and The Morning Times) and added a barbecue cook-off. That’s to make no mention of the dozens of other free gigs thrown by friends of the festival throughout town and throughout the weekend.

But we’re proud to say that Hopscotch still functions with much the same mission it represented in 2010 and 2011: We truly feel that no American festival works so hard to combine the ultra-experimental with the readily accessible, to pair national and international talent with the regional best, and to combine bands with well-established fan bases and legacies with acts who’ve yet to release their first record.

To wit, consider a sample of Saturday night’s lineup: Sunn O))), who headline Memorial Auditorium, are a band we’ve been working to book in earnest since the first festival. As far as experimental metal goes, they are the titans. But that night in Berkeley Cafe, the upstart act Sutekh Hexen represents the bleeding edge of that same realm. And to put a blunt point on it, that’s weird music; in the Lincoln Theatre, however, Wye Oak and Versus, both bands on Durham’s Merge Records, make pristine pop, while over at The Hive at Busy Bee, New York’s Class Actress melts worn copies of Depeche Mode and Madonna records into one glittery whole. And as locals go, overlooked Carrboro treasures Work Clothes play their first show in years, Megafaun collaborates in a 19th-century church with Berlin composer Arnold Dreyblatt, and Durham emcee Shirlette Ammons opens for The Roots in City Plaza. Hopscotch certainly seems bigger in execution, but in considering the talent on tap for Raleigh’s annual music party, the ideals and ideas behind it feel as firm as ever.

Thanks for coming to Hopscotch 2012. We’re confident this is our best lineup yet, and we hope your experience this weekend reflects that belief. Grayson Currin, Independent Weekly Music Editor & Hopscotch Music Festival Co-Director

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This article appeared in print with the headline “Hello again.”