Hopscotch I was our party. Hopscotch II was your party.
It is true that the Indy “owns” Hopscotch, but what began two years ago as a fantasy in the minds of Indy staffers Greg Lowenhagen and Grayson Currin has now become an annual collective fantasy. You embraced the festival, and then everybody started inventing things: the Hoopscotch basketball game, the Hopscotch Hepcat bike race, Posterscotch and Shopscotch, Hopscotch jeans patches and T-shirts, day parties and after-parties, all-night jams, all-day blog posts.
You have made Hopscotch your own. Hallelujah.
But there was nothing inevitable about this weekend of dreams fulfilled all across downtown Raleigh. All I could think about the week before the festival was the weather. Remember the Tuesday night before Hopscotch? Rain and wind and lightning like something out of King Lear. Weather to blow down the stage and chase away the fans, to bring down our fledgling music festival and maybe the Independent along with it. It cost a half-million dollars to throw Hopscotch this year. That’s a huge risk for a little alt-weekly like the Indy. But by the grace of the Music Gods we dodged earthquake and hurricane, and the moon rose fat and full over City Plaza. And we’ll even make a small profit this year.
Hopscotch has its bleary-eyed heroes. By day they are freelance writers and kitchen managers and legal assistants. By night they are the small cadre of fanatics who produce Hopscotch for everybody else. Gretchen Gaskill is already a Hopscotch legend as the coordinator of 200 volunteers. Ashley Melzer worked to smooth the way for 600 musicians in 150 bands. Megan Cain led the recycling effort. Taylor McAdams coordinated the City Plaza stage crew. Will Goodyear managed our work in the clubs. Candice Jones publicized the festival. Jonathan Graban coordinated hospitality, and Miranda Volborth and Courtney White did the same for the headliners in City Plaza. Mouse Mock and William Dodge served as our beer gurus.
Every member of the Independent staff pitched in mightily. Skillet Gilmore, Sioux Watson, Gloria Mock and Susan Harper filled in every gap, made sure every tedious, thankless job got done.
The resident geniuses of Hopscotch are director Greg Lowenhagen and curator Grayson Currin. Together they created and embodied this extravagant music bash, worked and thought and cared about every detail, and gave it to you and to fans everywhere.
Because next year, these fans are coming to Raleigh from everywhere. When I read the raves about the first Hopscotch in the national press, I wasn’t quite convinced. “But dudes,” I wanted to say, “we’ve only done this thing once.” Now we’ve done it a second time, much better, and I’m starting to believe the hype.
Greg told me his favorite moment of the weekend, and if you were there, you remember it. Right in the middle of the Flaming Lips’ show came the huge multicolored balloons bouncing from the stage across the cheering crowd. Arms reached high to punch the colored globes up toward the skyscraper walls and then down Fayetteville Street toward the State Capitol. “I’m so thankful,” said Greg, “that the community has come together around Hopscotch.”
Schewel is president of the Independent Weekly.