A Vibrant Celebration of Music and Community

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Photo by Garrett Poulos

Hopscotch Music Festival 2023



The vibrant streets of downtown Raleigh will come alive once again as music enthusiasts from far and wide descend upon the city for the annual Hopscotch Music Festival September 7–9

The city’s diverse venues will be transformed into sonic playgrounds, hosting a whirlwind of performances that span both genres and generations. The festival’s 2023 edition will feature an extraordinary adventure of sound bombardment as more than 100-plus artists strum their guitars and polish up their vocals.

A Multifaceted Musical Journey

The Hopscotch Music Festival has always been synonymous with musical diversity, and this year will be no exception. Bands such as Pavement from California to Dinosaur Jr. from Massachusetts will find their way into crowded venues up and down Raleigh’s streets. Vocal legends in the likes of Bronx-born Kool Keith will draw in underground music lovers to hear his surreal, abstract and sometimes profane style of lyrics set to deafening hip-hop beats.

 The Hopscotch festival carefully curates its lineup to cater to a broad spectrum of tastes. Attendees will be treated to an eclectic mix of indie rock, hip-hop, electronic, folk, and experimental music, ensuring something for everyone. Where else can you buy a ticket for the weekend, wander into your favorite venue, and see Sunny Day Real Estate performing one of its greats, such as its 2000 hit “Rain Song”?

 Big-name headliners like Denzel Curry and Digable Planets will draw massive crowds along City Plaza as the gates slowly allow concertgoers onto Fayetteville Street. When the bassline opens the classic track “Rebirth of Slick,” you better be prepared to bounce to the beat in the sea of fans, who are all “cool like that.”

 However, lesser-known acts and emerging artists usually steal the show during the annual festival. Step into smaller venues such as The Pour House, Neptunes or Wicked Witch, where you might find some local musicians such as Rosali, Pierce Freelon, Suzi Analogue, Jooselord, Reece McHenry or Khx05. These intimate performances at smaller venues will allow festival-goers to discover those hidden gems and revel in the raw energy of up-and-coming talents.

Zack Mexico, a ferocious Psychedelic/Indie Rock band has performed at Hopscotch. Photo by Garrett Poulos.

Venues: The Heartbeat of Hopscotch

What sets the Hopscotch festival apart is its unique use of venues scattered across Raleigh’s downtown core. Each location provides a distinct atmosphere, from historic theaters to trendy clubs, contributing to the festival’s vibrant tapestry. One epic performance occurred at the infamous Lincoln Theater years ago when Bubba Sparxxx had to cancel his performance, and ticketholders throughout the night caught wind up and down the various venues that local performer Big Daddy Kane was to fill his time slot. It was a packed house.

But you also have Slims, Nash Hall, Transfer Co. and even shows happening in the confines of Moore Square. All these venues combined create an unparalleled closeness between artists and their audience, fostering an intimate connection that is often lost in more prominent music festivals—and what makes this event one of my personal favorites when it comes to downtown live music occurrences. 

Philadelphia based rock band, Dr. Dog, has performed in Raleigh's City Center during the Hopscotch Music Festival. Photo by Garrett Poulos.

Community and Culture

Beyond the music, the Hopscotch Music Festival thrives on its sense of community. The streets of Raleigh will be abuzz with excitement as ticketholders wander from one venue to another, checking out their schedules on the phone to see how soon they have to get across several city blocks while maybe trying to take in a bite to eat or grab a beer at a local watering hole.

And then you have the bustling day parties. Don’t even get me started with that because there is so much going on before 5 o’clock rolls upon the city. Some of the day parties begin as early as noon, making for an entire day of music bliss. Hit up local establishments such as Crank Arm Brewery, Ruby Deluxe, Schoolkids Records and Boxcar Bar + Arcade to enjoy the fun while the sun is still in the sky. 

The bustling day parties, workshops and talks add an educational dimension, enriching the festival experience and fostering a sense of camaraderie among attendees.

Organizational Excellence

One must recognize the meticulous planning and execution that goes into making the Hopscotch Music Festival a resounding success year after year. The festival organizers deserve acclaim for their dedication to showcasing an array of artists, fostering an inclusive atmosphere, and ensuring a smooth experience for attendees.

From the streamlined entry procedures to ample facilities—although I usually have something negative to say about trying to find a good place to park in downtown Raleigh—this event allows attendees to focus on what truly matters: the music and the memories that will live with these music devotees for years.

There are still some passes available for the three-day general admission for $199 that can be found at hopscotchmusicfest.com, as well as the three-day VIP complete with club fast pass for $375.

Visit midtownmag.com for more stories from around the Triangle.

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