To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
RALEIGH -- Once the rain cleared out Saturday night, The Roots took the stage and the magic returned to Hopscotch.
It was hairy there for a while, as a squall line brought cold rain and wind through downtown Raleigh. Hopscotch co-founder Greg Lowenhagen was hunched over a laptop in the downtown Sheraton lobby, nervously watching the radar, willing the rain to blow through.
Once it did, the stage crew, including Hopscotch curator Grayson Currin, hit the stage in City Plaza, drying it off as quickly as possible to get the Roots on stage.
They had a deadline to meet — Raleigh's noise ordinance cuts off live music outside at 11 p.m.
By 9:30 p.m. though, the Roots took the stage and the soggy crowd roared to life. They paid tribute to MCA, the late Adam Yauch and played all their hits seamlessly, like they put the iPod on shuffle.
Come 11 p.m., the rain started again, but the crowd left more than satisfied, floating on air, ears ringing, headed back toward the other venues to finish out the festival.
In Hopscotch Music Festival's third year, Lowenhagen and Currin took a big, and risky, chance on the line-up, leaning toward playing the role of taste-makers by bringing bands to Raleigh not really heard around these parts, but easily could fit into the tapestry of the Triangle music scene.
Through day parties, local bands got exposure and fans got to see their favorites, while feasting new treats.
As fun and impressive an endeavor Hopscotch is, it is still a young festival, and that means it is financially precarious. If you don't get enough bands that people know and enjoy, they aren't going to buy day passes or the coveted all-show passes.
It takes at least five years for a big cultural event to become established in everyone's minds, that when the first weekend in September comes around every year, they will automatically think, "Oh yeah, it's time for Hopscotch."
There's also some uncertainty in Hopscotch's future, as the publisher of the Independent Weekly, Steve Schewel, sold the venerable alt.weekly to the Williamette Weekly in Oregon, but is holding onto Hopscotch.
What that means for the future of Hopscotch, what direction it will go, remains to be seen.
"I love Hopscotch," said Schewel, in a statement , announcing the sale. "It is a huge success and has already become a signature event in Raleigh, and it has given the Independent itself an enormous boost. We will continue the close, symbiotic partnership between Hopscotch and the Independent going forward, even though we will now be under different ownerships."
Lowenhagen and Currin have a vested interest in the festival and will fight to keep it a wonderful playlist of the music scene in the country in downtown Raleigh.
I hope, for their sake, for the fan's sake, for Raleigh's sake, Hopscotch will get better with each year.
Ashley Christensen , the chef behind Poole's Diner, Beasley's Chicken+Honey, Chuck's and Fox Liquor Bar, took the stage in front of Mecca Restaurant.
She sponsored a day party Saturday with Hopscotch, starring Megafaun and Friends, and shut down the stretch of Martin Street on Saturday. As Megafaun set up, she talked about the virtues of the musical festival in downtown Raleigh.
"I heard something earlier today, that real attracts real," Christensen said.
Such a perfect way to describe what Hopscotch has been for Raleigh and what it means to keep it around.
The renaissance of downtown Raleigh has been so wonderful to watch in the past few years. People come downtown and eat in the restaurants, drink in the bars, spend money, support their places and bands.
It's more than just a place to hang out, it's collectively taking ownership, saying "We're gonna make this place special."
Hopscotch just adds to that feeling of being a part of something larger than ourselves, something of which we can take ownership.
If you live from Raleigh, you can go anywhere and when someone asks why you live in Raleigh, you can say, "Well for one thing, we have Hopscotch," and continue the conversation from there.
Not every city has its own music festival on such a level as Hopscotch, with a breadth and depth of music you can discover all in one place. The exclusivity of it — three days, 170 bands — also makes it fun as hell.
Venue hopping to catch a couple of songs, from the Mountain Goats to Sunn O))) to Secret Cities to Lambchop, until you can't walk anymore is the joy of Hopscotch. It's hard not to discover great new music that changes your life, or at least your perspective on life.
If you just stood at the intersections of Fayetteville and Martin or Blount streets, and listen to what's was wafting on the wind for a couple of minutes, coming from outside Raleigh Times , or Slim's or King's Barcade or out in front of the Contemporary Art Museum , you'd be more enriched, soaking up all that aural goodness, than you were a couple of hours before.
Even if Hopscotch didn't make money this year, it certainly racked up cultural credit, and that's just as important as money.
There's a phrase that city planners and real estate agents use — "quality-of-life." It's a cold term to describe the indescribable, the intangible feeling the emanates from where you live. Physical place, like schools, churches, stores, parks, libraries and the like, jobs and the local economy play into the whole "quality-of-life" question, but so do experiences.
Raleigh and the Triangle consistently gets high marks in lists ranking best places to live. Yeah, we have good jobs here, great schools and universities, parks and all that. But so does Charlotte, so does Atlanta, so does Richmond.
It's experiences like Hopscotch that sets Raleigh apart from all those venerable Southern cities. It's the feeling you get when you're dancing with a pretty lady to The Roots on a rainy night, or stumbling from bar to bar catching your favorite bands, and discovering new ones.
It's about being a part of something larger than yourself, even if it's just for a fleeting weekend, and carrying that spirit with you as you carry on in this Big Iron World.
That's why Hopscotch is important, because real does, indeed, attract real.