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Day 1 @ Hopscotch Music Festival – September 8th 2016

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The Hopscotch Music Festival, now in its seventh year, returned to downtown Raleigh on September 8th. Hopscotch has continued to grow and evolve over the years, and the 2016 edition was bigger than ever with over 120 bands, spanning a diverse range of genres, playing at venues large and small across the city center over a 3-day period. This year promised to be the biggest production to date, with the largest overall budget; projected record sales of wristbands and single-tickets; and for the first time the addition of a large new venue, Red Hat Amphitheater with its spacious capacity of nearly 6,000. The continued growth and expansion of Hopscotch, evident this year, was even more impressive in light of the current political climate in North Carolina. With the passing of House Bill 2 (HB2), the North Carolina Legislature enacted a law that prevents transgender people from using bathrooms corresponding to the gender with which they identify. Seen as an overt act of discrimination, many businesses, organizations and entertainers have boycotted the State making the task of booking over 120 artists an even more impressive feat. Rather than ignore the elephant in the room, festival goers were exposed to a bit of cheeky local protest as a large banner with the word “SHAME” hanging over the face of Governor Pat McCrory popped up at various locations.

While music can reflect and incite protest, this weekend was more about celebration. With sunny skies and warm temperatures, Thursday was the perfect day to skip out of work and start the festival by hitting one, or several, of the many Hopscotch Day Parties. Like the main festival, Day Parties offer a variety of acts ranging from indie, punk, rock, metal, hip-hop, experimental, and more, all playing at free shows around town leading into the evening festival proper. Notable performances included See Gulls playing the Potluck Pizza Party at Slims, as well as Jack the Radio and the Connells (celebrating their newly released greatest hits album) playing School Kids records. The main festival kicked off on the main stage in City Plaza with Wye Oak followed by Wolf Parade. From there the floodgates opened and bands played at multiple venues, allowing festival-goers to pick and choose the performances they wanted to catch, with many choosing to “hop” from venue to venue catching as many artists as possible. With so many artists playing simultaneously, conflicts are inevitable and sometimes tough choices have to be made. The opening night standouts that we caught were: Sneakers, the late 70’s pre-punk band featuring Chris Stamey and Mitch Easter which led into Television, the Tom Verlaine band that rose to prominence with CBGB’s and the NYC punk scene of the 70’s. We closed out the evening with a scorching performance from A Giant Dog. By the end of their set of garage rock and punk, A Giant Dog left the capacity crowd at Slims drenched in sweat and covered with smiles.

Check out the photo highlights from Day 1 below…

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