Monday, September 14, 2015

{RECAP} hopscotch festival 2015

I’m so excited to share our recap of our first ever trip to Hopscotch Music Festival in Raleigh, NC! All in all, Caleb and I were super impressed with Hopscotch – from the stellar range of venues to the eclectic selection of performances to the general organization of the festival, Hopscotch was easy to navigate and enjoy. The bands we saw were slightly out of our typical TIOJ “comfort zone” of indie pop, leading us to discover some beautiful instrumental bands, rising hip hop stars, and punk stars from our own hometown of DC.

Read ahead as we dole out superlatives for some of the stand out performances of the festival.

Best Dance Party/One To Watch: GoldLink
Our last show of the festival was arguably the most fun. Hosted in the Contemporary Art Museum, DC’s own GoldLink put on an energetic performance that was half hip-hop concert and half DJ set (including an “I love white people” head banging dance break to “Smells Like Teen Spirit”) and the crowd LOVED IT. He commanded the crowd’s attention with his rap mastery (that dude can rhyme) and the perfect hint of pop and inclusion that will guarantee him success in the future. You better believe that we will be at every upcoming GoldLink show in the DMV.

Best Discovery: Tycho
I’m slightly upset that we hadn’t heard of Tycho before this festival because they’re SO.GOOD. This ambient music producer based out of San Francisco put on a performance that was half concert, half art piece and it was fucking awesome. Tycho’s music, while lyric-less, never leaves you want for lyrics. It is epic, building, and beautiful – so much so that the band lost power twice throughout their set because they were rocking so hard. Coupled with gorgeous visuals behind the performers, Tycho’s set was truly a highlight of this festival and felt especially profound as the sun set on Friday night.

Click ahead for the rest of the list!

Best Bucket List: Pusha T
This Virigina rapper was pretty much the only name that we instantly recognized on the original Hopscotch lineup and obviously the one that we HAD to see live. While I expected a good showing from Pusha T, I was seriously blown away by how polished his performance was. With solid dance moves (yes, gangster rappers can still have BA dance moves) and unstoppable flow, Pusha T definitely lived up to his hype. Following in the footsteps of his GOOD Music label founder, Pusha gave a five-minute speech talking about how dope his upcoming album King Push is going to be – despite the bravado, we won’t be surprised in the least when it is.

Best Surprise: Waxahatchee
A last minute addition to the lineup, we fortuitously stumbled upon Waxahatchee’s surprise set only by showing up to the wrong venue earlier in the evening. Our mistake turned out to be such a treat as we got to sit front row for an intimate, stripped down performance from Katie Crutchfield. Her performance (the first one she’s ever done on a stool, I might add), with her earnest lyrics and easy aura was a lovely expression of her impressive storytelling abilities. I felt like the Grinch having to pull Caleb away from the second half of her set so that we could get to our next show on time.

Coolest: Yandrew
The beauty of a music festival with so many options is that, much like picking a horse for the Kentucky Derby, you can sometimes pick a band to see just because you like their name. Such was the case with NC band Yandrew – a duo of a cellist and a drummer who made the most captivating instrumental music we have heard in some time. Their music was deliberate with a story to tell and a careful attention to detail and I was so impressed with the seemingly endless range of sounds they could produce from only two instruments. If you’re in need of some pensive instrumental music, I highly recommend checking these guys out.

Never Change: TV on the Radio
I’ve seen TV on the Radio at a number of festivals now and they’re never not a goddamn delight. From the gyrations of lead singer Tunde Adebimpe to the creative masterpiece of a guitar with a windchime attached to it, TV on the Radio knows how to put on a good show. Bonus points to the group for commending the NC crowd for voting for Deez Nuts in the Republican Primary polls. Solid stage banter right there, two thumbs up.

Sparkliest: Dwight Yoakam
After hearing lots of hype from Hopscotch-goers all day Saturday, I was intrigued for Dwight Yoakam’s country performance that evening. Whatever hesitation I had about Dwight, however, instantly vanished when he and his band appeared on stage wearing so many sequins that I didn't know what to do with myself. I was delighted, obviously. Dwight and his band proceeded to play impossible-not-to-like classic country music that had everyone dancing along. I especially enjoyed his unique take of Johnny Cash’s classic “Ring of Fire.” (p.s. Did you guys know that Dwight is also an actor?? He’s been in Wedding Crashers and Wilfred!)

Honorable Mention: Pie Pushers
We went to this pizza food truck so many times during our 48 hours at Hopscotch that the guys knew our names… I’ll call that a successful weekend.

Other bands we saw: Octopus Jones, Skyblew, Chaz French, Father, Loud Boyz (DC!), Carlitta Durand, Black Market, Black Clouds (DC!), Elisa Ambrogio

Stay tuned for our full video recap of the festival!!

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