The lineup for Hopscotch 2013 was announced last week, and I’ve spent some time getting familiar with a few of the bigger-profile artists that I didn’t know. My initial reactions to the lineup were: 1) there aren’t as many big names this year,  2) few of the small names ring a bell, and 3) the collection of middle-sized names is STRONG. In the next four months, I’ll investigate the majority of the 175 bands who will play Hopscotch.

Hopscotch isn’t about who’s playing. It’s about who’s playing what, where, and why, in relation to other acts who are playing at the same time.

For example, Raleigh’s own The Rosebuds are covering Sade’s classic album, Love Deluxe live, in its entirety.

Q. Would I buy tickets to see The Rosebuds play live again?
A. Probably not.

Q. Would I download a free recording of The Rosebuds playing Love Deluxe?
A. Thanks, but no.

Q. Will I go to see The Rosebuds play Love Deluxe live?
A. Absolutely I will. I don’t know exactly why, but I feel like my attendance is mandatory.

Speaking of mandatory attendance, these are my can’t-miss acts (without knowing the when and where of the full schedule — like life, trade-offs are inherent to the format):

  • Kurt Vile and the Violators
    Ideally, they would set up in the middle of the Fallon Park field and play Walkin’ on a Pretty Daze at dusk…my wife and I would sit in camping chairs while my kids and dogs splashed around in Crabtree Creek.
  • Ryan Hemsworth
    In two short years, he’s become my favorite producer in the modern era. When someone tells me that you can’t make real music with samples and a computer, I dismiss him or her and bob my head to whichever Hemsworth mix is currently haunting me.
  • Earl Sweatshirt
    I don’t expect Doris to be better than the handful of excellent hip-hop albums released in the last year, but based on his wordplay and flow, he’s the most talented rapper alive.
  • Oblivians
  • Future Islands
    Truth be told, I kinda wish they weren’t playing outdoors in City Plaza.
  • Waxahatchee
    Cerulean Salt is one of my favorite albums so far this year.
  • Mikal Cronin
  • Angel Olsen
  • Adult.
    Not necessarily a fan yet, but you can’t deny their originality. I’m curious.
  • Local Natives
    Good album earlier this year, great band.
  • Big Black Delta
  • Lapalux 
    I like his album, and he’s on Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder label.
  • Alpoko Don
    Like a poor man’s Cee Lo, maybe.
  • Pissed Jeans
    Sonic aggression mixed with insecurity.
  • Ex Cops
  • Last Year’s Men
  • Shannon Whitworth
    I’ll check her out only if my old friend Barret Smith is playing with her.
  • xxyyxx
  • The Toddlers
    Local and noisy. I liked their set last year, but my festival companions wanted to keep moving.

I don’t yet know if I’ll do a spreadsheet like I did last year, but I do know I’ll need some kind of outlet for my excitement between now and September.

All this happens about two miles from my house. I bought my wristband the second they first went on sale, back in February. In September, 175+ diverse musical acts will play the friendly confines of downtown Raleigh. There’s no better bang for your musical buck, and as far as I’m concerned, the festival is one of the biggest feathers in Raleigh’s cap.

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