Diary from a Typical Hopscotch

As part of our celebration of Hopscotch’s 10th anniversary, two superfans share the joy, pain and logistics of a typical weekend at Raleigh’s independent music festival.
by Josh Klahre and Robb Leandro

MAY: Receive the lineup

They release the lineup. We don’t recognize half of the bands on the bill, but we trust, we know: they are great, we just haven’t heard them yet. Thus begins the process of exploration and preparation (thank the Lord for Spotify!) that goes on for months leading up to the big weekend. Who are these bands? What do they sound like? Will it translate to a live setting? We start our list: who do we absolutely HAVE to see, who would be nice to see and who would we be okay missing? 

JUNE: Shop for the look

Search for ironic t-shirts to not look too out of place as a couple of dads decades older than the rest of the crowd (inside tip: WalMart has a pretty spectacular selection of tank tops with pictures of meme-worthy cats).

THURSDAY: First-night logistics

Pick up friends from the airport, grab a burger at Char-Grill, rush to pick up our wristbands from the Convention Center. The first day of the weekend, that crafty list of bands we ranked in descending order from Must-to-Meh goes right out the window. NOOOOO… King Gizzard conflicts with New Madrid—both MUSTS—who do we want to see more?! A whole new round of strategy begins: what if we see the first part of King Gizzard set at Kings, then run over to catch the end of the New Madrid set at Deep South, then skip over to Jamie XX at CAM to close out the night… is it doable? 

What a joyful conundrum, and, at its core, the essence of the Hopscotch experience.  

FRIDAY: Second-day energy

We made it through the first night of the festival, invigorated, if a bit fatigued, from too many Jack-and-Cokes and the seven miles our iPhones say we walked the night prior. Woo! Over chicken biscuits at Bojangles, we deliberate which day parties to check out. Being outside at the height of the heat could be problematic… maybe head over to Pour House and bask in some AC? We act on that plan. Before we know it, it’s 5 p.m., we’ve seen three bands perform short sets and we need to think about banging out a nap if we’re going to log another seven miles tonight. Quick snooze, then roll out of the house at 7 p.m. to catch the end of the first band on the Main Stage. The sun is starting to dip behind the skyline and the temperature is coming down… ahhhh… 

Between headliners, we discuss the plan for the remainder of the night over beers. We lock into a logical path through the schedule without too many brutal sacrifices (there will always be a few; there will always be “epic” sets that we missed). We see live sets at the biggest live venues in downtown, the smaller dive bars and everywhere in between. And suddenly it’s 2 a.m. and we’re walking home, shouting highlights of the night over the buzzing in our ears…

SATURDAY: Third-day euphoria

This morning starts with a little motivational talk in the bathroom mirror after downing three Advil … after five hours of sleep, the day parties seem improbable—it’s hot again and our feet hurt. This calls for major reinforcements: a trip to Beasley’s Chicken + Honey [or: The Pharmacy Café]. It helps. We catch two afternoon shows with the kids (we promised—and maybe they’ll think their dads are cool for a minute), then a quick nap and a good dinner; time to chart the course. 

We miss the first act on the Main Stage; we planned to see 15 day parties over the course of the festival and only got to three… but it’s okay. Saturday of Hopscotch is an interesting thing, something like a runner’s high: you’ve pushed yourself past the point of exhaustion into a realm of joyous insanity.  

The evening is a whirlwind tour of downtown Raleigh, catching bands from places like London, Wilmington, Brooklyn and Baltimore. As is tradition, we end the weekend at CAM with a DJ set, something upbeat and dance-y—it always delivers! One thing is for sure, as we get older, the people at the DJ sets get younger, but we care less and less how foolish we look shaking our hips well beyond our bedtimes. At 3 a.m., dead tired, we grab Combos and Gatorade at an oddly crowded Taz’s and head for home.