Pavement. Photo by Moses Berkson.

While 2022 saw a modest lineup of around 30 bands, this year's festival has tripled in size, with nearly 90 bands rounding out the bill.

“Sorry, I have a lot of tabs open,” Nathan Price apologizes. It’s two days before Hopscotch Music Festival’s 2023 lineup goes live and, over the phone, the festival director is describing the tenor of the event, as he clicks through spreadsheets of the eighty-something bands finalized—some who have signed on just this week.

Hopscotch runs September 7-9 this year. The ambitious lineup, which went live Friday at noon, includes Japanese Breakfast, American Football, Kool Keith, King Krule, TiaCorine, Dinosuar Jr, Denzel Curry, Margo Price, Cut Worms, Alvvays, Lola Kirke, and Soccer Mommy. Price says that he expects to have more than 100 bands confirmed by September.

Also confirmed: Pavement, which Price describes as the festival’s “biggest get ever.”

Since 2010, Hopscotch has drawn crowds from across the Southeast with its dynamic blend of burgeoning indie-rock acts and homegrown hip-hop talent, hosting the likes of Solange, Run the Jewels, Erykah Badu, Beach House, James Blake, Vince Staples, The Flaming Lips, and St. Vincent.

Resisting the siren call of influencer step-and-repeats and maze of sponsored tents that often signify contemporary festivals, Hopscotch has maintained the identity of an event firmly rooted in its home city and created for people who love live music.

The inaugural year boasted 130 acts spread across ten Raleigh venues; last year, tempered by the pandemic and recovering music industry, the festival hosted just over 30 bands and drew a much smaller crowd.

“This year will be the first one that’s back to normal with a pre-pandemic level of bands, and we’re doing indoor clubs,” Price says. “[COVID] hit us bad the last two years, obviously, for different reasons.”

During the years that Hopscotch has worked to regain its footing, the city of Raleigh has found another event to anchor its musical reputation: J. Cole’s Dreamville Festival, which held its first festival in 2019 at Dorothea Dix Park, paused in 2020 and 2021 during the pandemic, and returned with aplomb in 2022 and 2023, drawing stars like Usher, Summer Walker, and Drake to the stage, this past spring, and reportedly selling 100,000 tickets. In 2022, it created a $6.7 million impact in Wake County, according to the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Hopscotch’s economic footprint may not be as big but it, too, has consistently bolstered business and downtown life, every September, and secured Raleigh’s reputation as a music destination. It also has burnished a reputation for elevating local acts, and this year is no different, with performances from Anjimile, Rosali, Chessa Rich, Truth Club, Larry & Joe, Pat Junior, Skylar Gudasz, and many more.

Comedy is also being added to the bill for the first time ever, with a set by SNL frequenter Sarah Sherman (known professionally as Sarah Squirm) and Whitmer Thomas, who will also perform music with his band.

The event is also the first time that Pavement has played in North Carolina since 1999 and marks the first time that American Football has ever played in the state.

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