“Downtown revitalization” means different things to different people. For some, it’s condo lofts in old tobacco factories, locally sourced pizza, and densely luscious croissants; for others, it’s performing-arts megaplexes, mixed-use structures, and scenic riverwalks. But one thing it always means is inducing drunk-ass young fools to part with their disposable income by stumbling from restaurant to pub to club, staying up all night to get lucky (while possibly listening to music). Which is why the Hopscotch Music Festival has been such a welcome presence for downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, since its 2010 inception.
But surprisingly, due to its impressive artistic ambitions, the three-day sprawl has also become one of the country’s most enjoyable musical geek-outs. There have been bumps — last year’s festival, headlined by the Roots, was plagued by patchy weather, and this year, headliner Big Boi cancelled (as did Action Bronson, another key hip-hop booking). As a result, the lineup of almost 200 acts scattered over 18 venues ended up being more of a testament to the Triangle area’s booming music scene and co-director [and occasional SPIN contributor] Grayson Currin’s inventive booking than a compelling argument for Hopscotch as one of the nation’s destination music events.
Still, if you were on the ground, theater-hopping and club-crawling — say, from Speedy Ortiz to Big Daddy Kane to John Cale on Saturday — you weren’t exactly moaning and moping. There was no shortage of revelations. So, here are our 10 most revitalizing Hopscotch moments, which show the fest’s eclectic, no-half-steppin’ approach.