Raleigh, N.C. — The bands have packed up their gear, and many out-of-town attendees are already back home after yet another successful Hopscotch Music Festival. After several days of dodging rain clouds, bouncing between day parties, and discovering new music, Hopscotch has reconfirmed its standing as one of the biggest and best music festivals around.
Country music legend Dwight Yoakam closed out the main stage Saturday with a packed City Plaza, before the crowds filtered out to the 11 other venues that hosted dozens of other acts deep into Sunday morning.
What has made Hopscotch a can't-miss event for a lot of bands since its debut in 2010 is the relationship between musicians and an incredibly open minded audience.
"The crowds are always really hungry for music, and not very constricted in their taste," said Shannon Fields of Leverage Models, who played at Neptune's on Saturday. "I've seen some crowds get really excited about some pretty out there music, and that's exciting. It kind of reaffirms your faith in music."
Raleigh resident and second-year Hopscotch attendee Ryan Kettler agreed, saying the musical diversity is part of the big draw for a lot of fans.
"I'm a fan of electronic, I like rock, I like metal, I like rap," Kettler said. "You name it, I'm pretty much on board with it."
Hopscotch has spent years building a reputation for bringing together bands from across the entire spectrum, and the musicians say they enjoy discovering the lineup as much as their fans -- because you never know what to expect from this festival.
"It's good to be pigeonholed into being not pigeonholed," said Jake Xerxes Fussell, who played at the Fletcher Opera Theatre on Thursday night. "It seems like these guys make an effort to reach across all kinds of boundaries and bring together different types of artists, which essentially brings together different types of crowds."
Aside from the incredible mix of music, the festival is also known for pushing local acts to the forefront. Hopscotch organizers are deliberate about making sure that North Carolina acts are highlighted alongside the big name bands.
"Hopscotch has always sort of been a very tangible festival for local North Carolina bands to be a part of," said Lee Gunselman of Breathers, who played at Neptune's on Saturday.
That intention could easily backfire if the music simply isn't good enough to compete, but the high quality of the home grown talent makes this recipe a success year in and year out. Take one look at Kettler's highlights, for example: he said his two favorite sets of the week were TV on the Radio (a nationally-known headliner he's been listening to for years) and Boulevards (a new Raleigh act who he'd never even heard of until last week).
"It's just one big commingling of music fans in Raleigh, and everybody respects each other, everybody is engaging with each other," Kettler said.
For many of the musicians, it all boiled down to atmosphere. More than anything else, they say Hopscotch fostered a relaxed vibe that encouraged cross-pollination and helped everyone settle down and enjoy the moment.