You guys!! (& gals, & gender noncoforming)! This year marks our 5th anniversary of Hopscotch Music Festival in Raleigh, NC! Coming with, or perhaps still on the fence? Check out our exclusive guide for the 2018 lineup below🏃🏽♀️
Miguel, the legendary Nile Rodgers & Chic, The Revolution, The Flaming Lips, & Grizzly Bear – we’re obviously going to make time for these heavy hitting headliners. Miguel packs so much charisma (& heat) in his foine little 5’6″ body, Nile Rodgers & Chic live is complete sensory overload aka not to be missed (if you’re unfamiliar, Rodgers is responsible for producing hits for Bowie, Blondie, Grace Jones, Diana Ross, Queen, Daft Punk, etc.), long live Prince through his incredible band The Revolution, we’re long overdue for another simulated acid-trip equipped with furries in giant bubbles from The Flaming Lips, & Grizzly Bear always feels like home.
Now let’s dig a little deeper…
A timeless & true indie rock band that will always give us the warm & fuzzies, Real Estate just feels like the sun or a warm bath. Their bright sound is consistently familiar, with clean melodic guitar lines & wistful, vocal harmonies that are just, well, so pleasing.
U.S. Girls is hands down one of the performances we’re most looking forward to. Having worn out her 2018 release, In A Poem Unlimited – a timely “political pop” album that serves as the most accessible & sharply violent U.S. Girls album to date. Though it is unmistakably a charged record about womyn’s anger in its various shades & forms, the unification of glam/surf rock/jazz/disco/pop on this album just makes you wanna dance (while likely crying). We wanna follow suit & move to Toronto, too.
With 17 releases in the span of only one year, Greensboro house-music howler Black Box Theory has expanded his sound spasms from ungreased basement beats to deep-house wonders, all of which resonate with dance music’s call to euphoria. His outlook may be best explained by a sample during “lets dance together” from last October’s hold on to this: “Rhythmatic movements in unison with others … with no limits or boundaries.” Live, that philosophy should get you to the hot spot of some fun grooves, even as you untangle Black Box Theory’s intelligent beat toggling in real time. via Hopscotch
Kaanchee, aka Gudiya, is an experimental artist based in the Triangle that we met at Carolina Youth Action Project‘s Rock Camp earlier this year. She describes her music as “bhajans, babies, & bloodbaths” made by “a quiet but angry brown girl living in the South.” Her pummeling electronic music playfully melds samples of Indian pop from her youth with uncompromising industrial beats & layers of ambient static. via Hopscotch Also let it be known that we are here for Mya samples at any given time☝🏽
Stephen, Bruner, aka Thundercat plays a massive six-string electric bass like a lead guitar. His surreal, smooth delivery of jazz, funk, soul, yacht-rock, hip-hop, & punk fusion will leave your head spinning yet oddly hypnotized at the same damn time. A little background – he’s the son of Motown session drummer Ronald Bruner Sr., & the brother of Ronald Bruner Jr., who has played drums for Prince & Stevie Wonder. He joined the veteran thrash metal band Suicidal Tendencies as a teenager, moving on to session work for the likes of Erykah Badu, Flying Lotus, Kendrick Lamar, & Wiz Khalifa, as well as Michael McDonald & Kenny Loggins: an index of both his breadth & his clout.
Shopping!!! This bouncy post-punk “disco-not-disco” London-based trio is smart, catchy, direct, & extremely punk. Shopping is a band for our confusing times. It’s for dancing first & foremost, with any political undertones there for the taking after you’re done shaking your ass. They’re not reinventing the wheel & they do not need to—the halls of post-punk are already too full of guitars that are angular. The trio is so refreshing & exhilarating because of the space they elbow-out for themselves & the vibrant spirit they pump into the exhausted genre, proving that simply adding some cavernous echo to a track isn’t enough. There’s no proper formula of funky riffs + danceability + fearless ethos that makes a hit. Shopping know that to invert tradition, you’ve gotta have some fun too. via Pitchfork
Sometimes it’s good to just let the guitars take over. For Atlanta trio Omni, the power of six strings stems not from their ability to shred, but in their chances to shine. There’s a simple shimmer to the clean riffs of their second album, Multi-task, which was recorded in the woods but sounds like it was made in Devo’s basement. Singer & bassist Philip Frobos adds a wry delivery over the dry funk of Frankie Boyles’ guitar work (who also plays the tight drum patterns), which passes through winding lines & knotty clusters. With only one song crossing the 3-minute mark, Multi-task is a burst of head-snapping glee. But it’s the subtle touches—ambient noise, layers of piano, the informality of Frobos’ vocals—that give the album an extra dimension. “You don’t think about the rules/You forgot them,” he sings on “Supermoon.” Omni certainly did. via Hopscotch
“Ian Svenonius’ stage presence is the stuff of legend.” Post-punk King aka “Sassiest Boy in America’s™” latest solo project, Escape-ism, consists of a guitar shaping catchy riffs, a tape player playing backing tracks, & a drum machine locked to its most primitive setting. Enough said.
Self-described “Queer Black Diva & underground popstar for the cyber resistance,” Mhysa—a versatile solo artist who’s also part of SCRAAATCH, a Philly-based duo that’s made its name through cross-discipline performance art—relishes the radical possibilities of musical deconstruction. On their Bandcamp page, they compare their album to “an epic poem, like a reverse Dante’s Inferno, where I take the listener higher, upward through my hopes, dreams, inspirations, and desires.” Accordingly, fantasii is raw & vulnerable, with stream-of-conscious thoughts layered over sonic cloudbursts, like watercolor sketches of hazy R&B + minimalist electronic songs. via Hopscotch We know this performance is gonna cater to our needs like no other artists at Hopscotch this year.
Canadian experimental music & performance art “Noh-Wave” collective, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan is a theatrical band that can only be described through the most outlandish & improbable matching of sounds, genres & concepts you can think of. Name drop just about every music genre from Prog Rock to J-Pop, throw in some influences from Japanese Theatre, anime culture, tie everything up with an overarching narrative & you’ll end up with a rough blueprint of what you can expect from the Toronto-based group- one hell of a sound to wrap your head around. via Echoes & Dust
We have a soft spot for local celeb & incredibly talented artist & producer, Contour. Over the years, we’ve witnessed his blends of electronic + experimental hip-hop form into very much his own, signature sound – easy listening rich with the stylings of jazz, house, soul, hip-hop, garage, & beyond – layers of ambient textures with silky smooth vocals. He also co-directed a beautiful short film he released alongside his digital album, Softer, that shows a side of Charleston rarely seen. Back in 2014 he even made gemsounds an exclusive mix which we’d still bump today (if the link wasn’t broken #rip) 💗
Patois Counselors is the hyperactive brainchild of Bo White (Charlotte’s music scene vet), whose haunting stage presence alone is worth witnessing. Dwelling at the art-punk end of the post-punk spectrum, these songs lurch & rumble as White declaims in a dark Sprechgesang. Keyboards summon the industrial edges of vintage Pere Ubu, adding jolts of texture & odd hooks. via Hopscotch
Pronounced m-BALLA, M8alla is a singer who considers herself a citizen of the world. Born to Cameroonian parents in Paris, she and her family relocated to the United States when she was a toddler. She uses her experiences of colliding cultures to shape a genre she calls “Tribal Trap.” Think SZA meets M.I.A. M8alla sings for “immigrant women with American degrees & bottom grillz”; her latest single—“Illegal,” a bold reference to her immigration status—makes that quite clear. Her first LP, Never Leave Quietly, pairs the melodies of Afro-Caribbean music with the hard-hitting beats of trap music & the fluid lyricism of hip-hop. Now at home in Durham, M8alla is ready to set roots. via Hopscotch
photo via LNWY
We’re bringing tissues & are ready to be all the way up in our feelings with heaven-sent Moses Sumney. Not sure how to top when we saw him on that perfect day in a batting cage with a storm brewing in the background at Moogfest earlier this year, but we do know that once is not enough. Nor twice. Nor thrice… Sumney is a fluid vocalist, poet, philosopher, advocate for black compositional creativity, whose vocals haunt & soar. His gauzy falsetto floats above guitar & string arrangements so spare as to suggest celestial bodies in an otherwise open space. Working with elements of jazz, ambient, soul, & folk, Aromanticism pushes familiar genres in intoxicating new directions. Sumney’s ambition & invention, colored by a decidedly dark-blue emotional center, makes him one of today’s most captivating singers & songwriters. via Hopscotch
7 years we’ve patiently awaited the return of Gang Gang Dance, & if we left Hopscotch having only seen them, we’d be satisfied – swear it. Think other-wordly, think Mortal Kombat & Rita Repulsa from Power Rangers vocals, think Grimes before Grimes. GGD effortlessly fuses together different styles from techno to prog to dub to soul to post punk to psychedelia to shoe gaze to pop (frequently within the same two-minute stretch) – & the result is soft-edged & idyllic, yet hides a subtle political undercurrent (see J-TREE which samples a very emotional, tear-jerking recording from Standing Rock about state brutality – followed by a very redemptive description of buffaloes running by that conjures up the Ancestors smiling down 🙏🏽). Their latest release, Kazuashita, is their most ethereal & transcendental to date – where huge, ambient soundscapes & the electronic foundations take over, but still staying true to their worldbeat qualities. GGD changed how we listened to music in the early 2000s & we’re just as excited to ride their mystical, hazy synth wave now as we were then ✨🌊
WHOM scheduled Thoom at the same time as Gang Gang Dance?! Originally from Beirut but now based in Chicago, Thoom is an unconventional DJ & producer who builds songs from chaotic structural & sonic ideas, blurring the lines between tune & tumult. Thoom twists traditional Arabic composition & rhythm around industrial, electronic, & cinematic sound design to build a landscape that suggests the boom & bluster of construction sites. Last year’s excellent Blood and Sand draws inspiration from Beirut’s evolving, abrasive, & gritty post-war landscape. Combining spoken word with clattering drums, droning rhythms with jarring noise, Thoom creates waves of sound that hang in suspense before breaking into welcome release. via Hopscotch We’re sad to miss this noteworthy performance, but are grateful to have Thoom on our radar.
Now in his early seventies, Hailu Mergia remains a vivacious musical force & an international treasure. His triumphant tale involves years spent driving a taxi. What none of his Washington, D.C., passengers might have known was that their driver was one of the great keyboardists to emerge from Ethiopia’s musical golden age. His Walias Band was a dominant force in Addis Ababa’s vibrant dance scene in the ’70s, anchored by Mergia’s looping melodies & funky grooves. Lala Belu is his first full-length album in 20 years, & we feel blessed to able to dance to these futuristic Ethiopian club tunes.
via Paste Magazine
We’ve seen Montreal’s refined post-punk band Ought a handful of times & always leave happy. Frontman Tim Darcy has a histrionic vocal style that immediately brings to mind some familiar touchstones: late-’70s punk (Voidods), mid-’80s pop (Echo & the Bunnymen), & early-’00s New York (French Kicks). In a review of their third album, Room Inside the World, Pitchfork described the band as “a young Scott Walker fronting the Gang of Four.” But this Montreal quartet is carrying more than a jumble of influences. Sure, there’s the jangle & strut of those aforementioned bands, but moments like the rhythmic breakdown in “Disaffectation” show a group exploring the very limits of a post-punk song. “Desire” comes on like a progressive house track before Darcy accompanies a choir’s transcendent presence. During closer “Alice” (named for Alice Coltrane), a woozy drone overtakes a moody bass pulse; by the album’s end, though, a resolution is nowhere to be found. They’ve pulled a sonic hat trick. via Hopscotch
Both harpist Mary Lattimore & singer-songwriter Meg Baird first rose to prominence in Philadelphia during the last decade. Baird was the astral spirit and voice at the center of free-folk group Espers; Lattimore was a young instrumentalist whose supporting work alongside the likes of Thurston Moore was steadily leading to wonderful solo compositions. But they only became a duo after separately moving to California—Baird to San Francisco, where she launched the great rock band Heron Oblivion, & Lattimore to Los Angeles, where her solo exploration yielded one of this year’s best surprises, Hundreds of Days. Released by North Carolina’s sterling Three Lobed, their six-song debut as a pair, Ghost Forests, is a mesmerizing union. via Hopscotch
London duo Still Corners make gentle electronic pop-rock fit for alternating moods. Across four full-lengths & a smattering of singles, the pair has dabbled in Cocteau Twins’ filigreed dream-pop, star-kissed disco, black-lipsticked synth-pop, & Broadcast-like cinematic soundscapes. We saw them once in a basement bar in New York & felt totally hypnotized by vocalist Tessa Murray’s siren-like voice. Le sigh.
Calgary’s Chad VanGaalen & his odd, quivering vocals have been on our radar since Sub Pop picked up his bedroom-recording collection Infiniheart a dozen years ago. The warbling-voiced singer & impressively wide-ranging songwriter has kept tinkering with his warped noise-pop sensibility; as much mad scientist as one-man band. His studio (his garage) is cluttered with vintage gear (including his beloved Korg 770 monosynth) as well as homemade instruments, like a self-styled double-kalimba & an analog drum machine partly constructed from Legos. Consequently, he’s very good at making eccentric, homespun indie-rock records that he records & produces largely by himself, often with morbid subject matter that’s endearingly human all at once. VanGaalen is also an accomplished visual artist, animator, director, & producer – having worked with Dan Deacon, The Head and the Heart, Women, & Alvvays, among others. We can’t wait to see him live 💙
For years, the quickest way to understand why avant-garde post-punk duo Ed Schrader’s Music Beat is a Baltimore institution was watching them perform live. It began as a solo act in which Schrader lugged a floor tom into the room, removed his shirt, & began thwacking the drum while screaming lyrics with an underlit, sinister grin. Come 2010, bassist Devlin Rice joined Schrader & the Music Beat took shape, but their reckless noise still couldn’t be accurately captured on record. Over the past two years, they’ve been working to change that. Schrader & Rice approached electro-pop visionary Dan Deacon to co-write & produce their third album, Riddles, where they enter a world of racing synths, ’80s pop melodies, & sporadic violins. It’s the most unpredictable sound to come from Ed Schrader’s Music Beat so far, & yet somehow, the most unexpected part of it all is how well it suits them. via Pitchfork
Think Girlpool & the Slits, & you might get Palberta. This female-vocaled band harmonizes in interesting & soulful ways, while packing some serious DIY heat. This is a tough call for us, as they’re playing at the same time as Ed Shrader’s Music Beat^, which we have described in years past as the evocateurs of lady boners. 🤷🏻♀️
“That’s who I am, a queer boy from Baltimore City, from the hood. From the projects, yet sophisticated, wise, & has a lot of common sense,” the rapper Abdu Ali told Noisey in a 2014 interview. While disclaimers like those may seem outdated to some, many of us are still ages behind Ali, whose music emits signs of punk, Baltimore club, future jazz, noise rap, & Ol’ Dirty Bastard all at once. So, will you remain stunted under the DJ Haram-produced spell of chants like “I got rage of a black muva,” from Ali’s genre-perverting Mongo, or are you ready to get post-apocalyptic and put both “the lord and the devil” inside you for a crazy Hopscotch-sponsored trip to the world of Ali’s great track, “DaWon”? via Hopscotch
If you ever saw the mighty Monotonix, you certainly remember Yonatan Gat, the electrifying guitarist who would hold court onstage as singer & seeming circus performer Ami Shalev danced on the ceiling & glided over the crowd. Since that mighty Israeli institution ended, Gat earned a degree in ethnomusicology & applied it to Universalists, one of the year’s most shocking & spirited albums. Gat bounds between intoxicating collaborations with a Native American drum-and-voice band & West African invocations, between shimmering post-rock epics & quick hits that combine electronic cuts with swerving Carnatic melodies. Using the field recordings of Alan Lomax as his starting point, Gat delivers Universalists as an unapologetic answer to an era of pervasive nationalism, a send-up of jingoism that celebrates what we can become from what we have already been. via Hopscotch Spin dubs Universalists a spiritual journey without borders, which rings true to our almost religious experience when we saw him at our neighborhood venue a few years back.
If you know us, you know how we feel about Diaspoura. Hopscotch describes them as “The woozy, shape-shifting electro-pop favored by Diaspoura, or Charleston’s Anjali Naik, is deceptively amorphous. The Massive Attack-like “GTF” is a forceful anti-Trump single, while “Migrations”—the R&B-inflected closing track of their 2016 debut, Demonstrations—addresses how being a first-generation American informs their identity & others’ views of them.” As you may have already gathered, beyond their densely layered ambient soundscapes + shimmering vocals lie politically charged & intimate lyrics, challenging the listener while simultaneously lulling them into a trance. Every nuance in their music is crystalline & finding some form of catharsis as each song unfurls is to be expected. Anjali describes their work as representing complex emotions stemming from occurrences that may have happened yesterday or before their lifetime. It is a manifestation to describe situations they experience unapologetically & uninterrupted. They’ve since relocated to the Triangle area, & we can’t wait to be reunited💫
Charleston trio aka our boys aka Vanity Plates began with a simple, ingenious idea: Spot a clever or comedic personalized license plate & write a song based around what it had to say. On their debut EP, Cerebral Winter Comedies, Vanity Plates capitalize on the promise of a split single last year & a winning contribution to a South Carolina compilation with four cuts of absolutely incisive, angled garage-rock, hooks delivered with a wonderful new-wave nonchalance. via Hopscotch
Jamil Rashad, aka Boulevards, is the embodiment of funk. Taking queues from pioneers such as Prince, Rick James, & Earth Wind & Fire, Boulevards seamlessly delivers cheeky, party-themed jams that range from raw & risqué to soulful. We saw him & his fancy footwork at Phuzz Phest as well as Hopscotch back in 2015, & know not to miss out this 10/10 performance if we can help it!🕺🏾
& while in Raleigh, here are a few noteworthy spots around town!:
Quercus Raleigh – An amazing jeweler at 201 S Salisbury St. This spot is right next door to our favorite bakery (see below). Vintage kimonos, handmade fine jewelry & gorgeous gifts abound. Do not miss!
Lucette Grace – Last year, we managed to eat breakfast/lunch here every day. The Churro Bun literally saves lives (at home, Charleston was being ravaged by Hurricane Irma)..
Hope you can join us!! x