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Music Festival Recap: Hopscotch Fest 2016

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hopscotch-music-festival-2016-recap-wardrobe-oxygenI haven’t been to a proper music festival in some years. Neither has my friend Nicole and she was itching to go to one. She did some research and the Hopscotch Music Festival in Raleigh, North Carolina seemed like a perfect choice. We’re not spring chickens any more, and have no desire to camp in the blazing heat and go without electricity and running water (hello Bonnaroo) and would like somewhere reasonably close so we don’t have to fly or take off more days of work. Enter Hopscotch.

In its seventh year, the Hopscotch Music Festival takes place in Downtown Raleigh in a variety of venues as well as a stage built right on Fayetteville for the three-day event. A true mix of music, one can experience jazz, country, hip-hop, dance, funk, metal, and rock all in a single day. While there’s day parties with DJs and various artists, most artists don’t perform until the sun is beginning to set. Also, most shows take place indoors so no need for sunscreen, hydration packs, or porta-potties. All the planning, prepping and equipment of other festivals I have attended weren’t necessary – this was going to be an easy peasy and comfortable music fest experience!

Day 1

Sticking with the easy peasy and comfortable theme, Nicole and I took Amtrak to North Carolina. Karl dropped us off at Union Station after dropping Em off at school and we had plenty of time to get to our gate and me grab some caffeine. The train ride was six hours; we were able to get seats together, had outlets to charge our devices, and brought snacks so we didn’t even have to visit the café car. We arrived in Raleigh just before 5pm. I wore my DUO “Bern” boots (seen here) with my Gap Softspun tee dress (seen here) and my Maxwell Scott bag (seen here). My luggage was a rolling suitcase (this is the newer version of the same one) and a small backpack (this one).

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The train station is only 0.4 miles from the Raleigh convention center, so we decided to hoof it to pick up our wristbands for the festival. Yes, less than a half mile, but most of it was uphill and we were pulling suitcases and I was wearing a backpack. And these boots… they have been through a lot with me. I have worn them to every single music festival and consider them my lucky boots. Halfway there, I could tell something was up in my boots – it felt like my socks had fallen down. Nope, my insoles had separated and the top layer was shifting around. I couldn’t remove it because it was sticky gel underneath so I smoothed it best I could and hiked myself and my suitcase up the hill to the convention center.

raleigh-convention-center-wardrobe-oxygenWe got up the hill, went up the stairs of the convention center and were greeted by a large statue of Sir Walter Raleigh. Photo op! I dropped my backpack in a chair at a metal table, parked my suitcase, and said cheese. Then I took Nicole’s photo. We grabbed our suitcases and went to get our wristbands.

Note I said suitcase, not suitcase and backpack. Once I noticed I was without the backpack I dashed back to the chair but it was already gone. Well at least it wasn’t my purse, I didn’t lose my cell phone or wallet. However, I lost what was considered my carry-on for my trip: all my entertainment, sustenance, and comfort items. That includes but isn’t limited to my journal, my Kindle Paperwhite, my cell phone battery and my iPhone charger cord, my gold Ray-Bans, my Quay sunglasses, my Sonicare toothbrush and toothpaste, my face moisturizer and Vitamin E face mist, and my favorite makeup bag with my absolute favorite makeup and brushes (some brushes over a decade old). Oh, and my NTI (custom-fitted mouthguard to stop teeth grinding). And the backpack? Brand new, first time used. So yes, I saved my phone and ID and credit cards but I ended up losing over $1,500.00 worth of beloved favorites. I checked lost and found and searched around but come on, it’s a bustling city with festival goers, residents of all income levels, and plenty of visitors and essentially a jackpot of goodies, I didn’t expect to find it turned in. I wanted to throw up, I wanted to cry, but neither would bring back my backpack and neither would improve the situation. I want to vomit and sob just writing about it days later, but it’s not going to fix anything. I forced myself to let it go for the time being, move on, and focus on at having an enjoyable rest of the weekend.

So back to writing about the festival… We read up on the festival and heard if you can afford VIP (just a hair over $200) it’s worth it to get into all the shows so we splurged. Getting our wristbands was so easy, insanely easy compared to any other festival I have ever attended. We walked into the air-conditioned convention center, walked into a room, up to a table. There was one person ahead of us, but other staff not occupied so they came over, took the printout of our e-ticket, handed us our wristband and goodie bag and wished us a fun event. Outside the wristband room were a few tables selling things and encouraging activism, and there was also Flatstock, which booths selling the most gorgeous and unique band posters. A band was playing, the environment was festive yet chill, if I didn’t lose my backpack I’d likely stay and peruse and maybe buy a poster (and likely taken some photos).

The Hopscotch Fest recommends the Sheraton which is across the street from the convention center and in the center of all the venues, but it was completely booked by time we scheduled the trip. The Marriott was out of our price range so we got a room at the Holiday Inn Raleigh Downtown.

Holiday Inn Raleigh DowntownThe Holiday Inn is a bit over a half-mile from the center of Hopscotch, and on tree-lined streets full of churches and parks. It was a beacon of green light at the end of a day, easy to find even for those guests who had a bit too much to drink at the shows. We stayed in a double queen which was spacious, clean, modern, and had a gorgeous view of the city. The hotel as a whole was stylish, airy, clean, and comfortable. On the top floor is a restaurant and bar, there’s covered parking, a gym, and friendly staff. Each room has a Keurig machine and there’s a Starbucks machine in the lobby as well as fruit-infused water which we enjoyed quite regularly.

wardrobe-oxygen-day-1-hopscotch-music-festival-2016We showered before heading out for Night 1 of Hopscotch Festival. I took off my boots and saw the insoles were toast. The boots without the insoles are like walking on wood, so I knew I couldn’t wear the boots that night (my plan). Instead I wore my ASOS white off the shoulder top (seen in this post) with my old beloved denim short from Target (seen in this post) and my black engineer boots from L.L. Bean (seen in this post). I took this belt bag which clips on to belt loops and is my concert go-to bag and in it had my skull scarf (seen in this post), my phone, the lipgloss that wasn’t in my lost backpack (sob), ID, check card, insurance card, hotel key card, and a bit of cash. We strapped on our wristbands and headed out to dinner.

Nicole’s a bit of a foodie and researched restaurants ahead of time. By this time it’s dark out and all we consumed since breakfast were a couple snacks on the train and I had an energy drink that came in my Hopscotch goody bag. Tummies rumbling, we headed to The Remedy Diner which online looked great. We got there and from the other side of the street it didn’t look appealing. We were walking around but on a Thursday a lot of places were closed and many seemed to be just bars. We finally settled on eating at Capital Club 16 which had people not just drinking and had a pescatarian-friendly menu for Nicole. It was…fine.  Not really worth a detailed review, I can't even remember what I ate it was that meh. On the way there, I saw a CVS and figured after dinner I’d go and see if they had an iPhone cord. I checked online and saw it was already closed. Damn. Oh well I guess I’ll head over in the morning.

It was 9pm so we headed to The Pour House to see band Wing Dam. Didn’t know much about them but based off their YouTube videos I bet they’d be fun live. Their set already started and there was a line of about 30 people to get in, but because we were VIP, we stood in a separate line that they pulled from first. They were at capacity but as people left they let others in. We stood in line maybe two minutes and got into the venue. Pour House looked to be a bit of a dive bar, a bit like the original 9:30 Club, with a long brick and concrete hallway  into the venue and a balcony upstairs, and very basic bare bones. We headed into the main part and while we were in back near the bar the place was not uncomfortably crowded. There were wood benches along one wall and we were able to easily move up in the crowd, see the band, and after a bit score spots on the wooden bench where we could stand and see the stage better as well as sit on the top part to rest our feet. This was awesome for me because even with the change of shoes, my feet were starting to hurt.

Wing Dam was just as entertaining as I hoped. Entertaining is the wrong word – they are wild and ridiculous and utterly cray. They’re the kind of band you want to see in a dive bar where you get beer sloshed on your boots and you sweat off your makeup and you don’t care because everyone else is a mess and you’re all having a blast together. I wish I got there earlier and wish I had more than a glass of wine in my system. Sara Autrey is who my 19-year old self wished she brave enough to be, if I saw this show 20 years ago I may have become a different adult.  This isn't a video from their set, but one I found online that best showed their energy at the show I saw.

After Wing Dam was DC-based Sneaks. This was another group I think I would have loved loved loved if I were 19. Sneaks is the name Eva Moolchan uses for her latest project, which is short pieces with a lot of repetition, pounding bass, and plenty of energy. Again, something I would have absolutely obsessed over at 19, but at 41 I was left desiring more. I’d like to see where Moolchan is in a few years as, sounding like a 41 year old, I think she has a lot of promise and could become something pretty awesome. Maybe my daughter will find me to be the utter coolest because I saw Moolchan back when before she was big time.  I didn't take this video but found it on YouTube.

memorial-auditorium-raleigh-north-carolinaAfter Sneaks we walked the five blocks to Memorial Auditorium to see Television. Memorial is a larger venue with seats, balconies, and a large stage. I know some of you will rake me over the coals for this… but I had never heard of Television. I only knew they had recently played at 9:30 Club here in DC and when I mentioned to certain friends I may see them at the festival they totally wigged out and said I was so lucky. Nicole also felt she had to see them so we headed in. This show really showed for the first time the variety of people who attended Hopscotch Festival. So far, we saw folks in their 20’s on the street and at the venues. At Hopscotch we saw an older crowd, and an excited crowd. There was a handful of people standing right at the stage and the seats were about 75% full but we still snagged two just two rows from the front. I’m sorry Television fans but we stayed three songs and got out of there. Maybe they were amazing in their heyday but they aren't now.

We walked four blocks to CAM, another venue where Junglepussy and Kelela were playing. I wanted to see both artists, but at the same time was The Coathangers, a band I have loved for a while. I hung with Nicole for a bit at CAM and had myself a cocktail which helped with the foot situation. CAM is a super cool place for a show – it’s very spacious, white, modern, clean. They had charging stations at the door so I dropped off my phone for a bit since it’s was near dying by this point. We got a Hopscotch bandana in our VIP goody bag but they had more knotted into a chain-link wall in the venue so we each grabbed a second one in a different color. After about 30 minutes I said goodbye to Nicole, grabbed my phone and headed to Kings, three blocks away and down the block from where we had dinner.

I showed my VIP wristband and went right in. There were stairs leading down right in front of me and I took them and was in this small dark place where a DJ was on stage. I was early, so I grabbed a vodka and soda and listened to the DJ. He was terrible. He wasn’t acknowledging the audience and every time we got into a groove he played some super-loud distortion and changed the music so drastically we all would pause and have to take a moment to get back into a groove. I looked down at my phone and it was 12:02 and The Coathangers went on a midnight. What was going on? I finished my drink, went up the stairs… and saw there was an upstairs. This was a bigger room with a proper stage and The Coathangers were rocking out to only about 50 people.

THIS is why I go to music festivals like this. If The Coathangers came to DC, they’d play at The Black Cat and it would be packed and I’d either be stuck right in front of a speaker or way in the back. The crowd would be super young, super agro and I’d feel the need to drink to have liquid courage or I’d be miserable with feet moshed on. Here I was able to comfortably get into the crowd and see everything. After one song I cheered and the man in front of me turned around, smiled and said, “You’re shorter than I and clearly a bigger fan, go ahead and get in front of me.” That would NEVER happen in DC! I thanked him, and was now just one person from the stage. The band rocked out and I rocked out with them. I was so into the music I wasn’t thinking about my feet and jumped and even moshed a bit. It was AWESOME. And The Coathangers were as amazing live as I thought they would be. I’d be willing to brave a pretentious college wannabe punk audience in DC to see them again!  I couldn't find any videos of them live that lived up to my experience and my phone was near dead so here's one of their music videos.

After the show, I walked back to CAM to meet up with Nicole. Kelelea was finishing up her set, and what I heard was good but I was so glad to have had the experience at The Coathangers. It was amazing the difference between the crowd at Kings and the crowd at CAM. At Kings it was lots of tattoos, messy hair, and torn band tees. At CAM it was way more artsy and clubby. Lots of fabulous hair, creative makeup, handmade yet so chic fashion, and some looks that verged on costumes. At both venues we felt completely comfortable; such different music and different audiences but everyone was friendly.

After that show, we walked the three blocks back to our hotel. I don’t drink liquor often any more, and two vodka drinks and my glass of wine at dinner had me slightly buzzed. I think I was also still on a high from moshing at The Coathangers. We got in the room, I was laughing and talking as I pulled off my boots… and OH. MY. GOD. I had a huge blister on my left heel that had popped at some point and had my sock fused to my skin. Once I peeled off the socks I saw two big fat blood blisters on each foot. They started between my big and second toes and spread onto the ball of my foot. The one on my right foot was so fat my toes were spread apart strangely and I couldn’t take standing on it. The left foot was also disgusting, but most of the blood blister was under my toes so it was a bit protected while standing. Raleigh was all closed down for the night, not much I could do except bathe, carefully dry my feet, prop them up on a pillow and go to bed.

Day 2

The next morning, even though I went to bed around 1:30, my body still woke at 6. I was able to get back and nap a bit until 8:30. At that point, I knew I couldn’t sleep any more so I put on my sneakers (so glad I packed them) and my cushiest socks and walked four blocks to CVS, the only drugstore in Downtown Raleigh. There I bought blister Band Aids, moleskin, and a bit of makeup to tide me over (see what I got in this Instagram shot). I also was able to get an iPhone charging cord, though they didn’t have any batteries. Headed back, cleaned up my feet, and Nicole and I got dressed for brunch. I wore my black Madewell swing tank, a pair of old J. Crew denim shorts, and my sneakers.

We decided to check out The Remedy Diner for brunch. We got there around 11, and they only have brunch on weekends but were open for lunch. We totally were wrong about this place the night before – it’s so cute! I do think it’s a place that looks better by daylight. We decided to sit at the counter in the window so we could People/City watch while dining. Remedy Diner is a great place for vegans and vegetarians; while the whole menu isn’t animal-free, they have a good portion of it vegan and it’s super tasty vegan. We shared an order of their Buffalo “wings” which were rated highly by PETA and they were phenomenal. We each got a sandwich and they were big, creative, and delicious.

img_9487While People Watching, I see a guy cross the street and think to myself, “He reminds me of the guy from Future Islands.” He stops just at the edge of the window and from my angle I can still see him as he lifts his phone and takes a selfie of himself. Just as I mention to Nicole that he looks familiar he meets another guy and now I KNOW these are two guys from Future Islands and they walk into the restaurant. I get all creeper stalker and take a “selfie” to capture them chomping on sandwiches at a table behind us (and if you follow me on Snapchat you know I videoed my creeperness) but didn’t go talk to them because they were deep in conversation and sandwiches. They left before we did, a girl on the street recognized them and got a selfie, and they were on their way. So yeah, Nicole and I liked Remedy Diner and so did Gerrit Welmers and Samuel Herring!

deco-raleigh-north-carolinaAfter brunch, we stopped by Deco, an adorable shop a block or so away. This is one of those stores that can take your entire paycheck without buying a single useful thing. Greeting cards, witty dish towels, quirky gifts, locally-made jewelry and more. I bought a little something for Karl and Emerson, and for me I bought a print I plan to frame and hang in my office (stay tuned, a friend inspired me to finally decorate my work office and I plan to share it on the blog once it’s finished!).

img_9493We headed back to the hotel and took a nap to survive another night of shows. With the blister Band Aids and my cushy sneakers I was feeling worlds better, but any time I could have my legs elevated was a plus. After a disco nap, we dressed for dinner and the shows. I wore this top from Etsy with the same denim shorts from the night before, a leather string as a choker, my belt bag, and though they totally didn’t go, my sneakers. As you can see from the photo I tried to do my boots but I walked out of the hotel and had to return to change to sneakers. Applied a bit of the random makeup I could scrounge up at that rough little CVS and we headed to Poole’s Downtown Diner.

pooles-raleighPoole’s is one of James Beard-award winning Check Ashley Christensen’s restaurants and gets rave reviews. It doesn’t take reservations so we made sure to get there as close to opening as possible. We arrived 10 minutes after it opened and there was still a crowd both inside and out waiting for a seat. It would have been over an hour for a table, but after about 15 minutes we were able to score two stools at one of their two curved counters.

pooles-raleigh-shrimp-gritsThe food for the day is written on chalkboards and each of the counters has its own server who will suggest beverages to complement your meal. Nicole and I each started with a cocktail; I had a type of sangria which was… fine. Nothing extraordinary. For dinner I had their shrimp and grits; Nicole had corn soup and macaroni and cheese. The shrimp and grits were… fine. I know I ordered something boring but I purposely do that at fancy restaurants to see if their talent shines through. It didn’t. Nicole let me try the corn soup which was actually a foam and looked like a bowl of whipped cream. That was cool and it tasted cool, but I can’t imagine consuming that big of a bowl of it (Nicole didn’t finish it). The mac and cheese seemed to be the most popular dish at Poole’s; we saw a good dozen of them delivered to the counter and tables. It was… good. Better than fine but not in the top 5 of mac and cheeses in my life. Again the portion size was insane – I ate a bunch of it, Nicole had it as her entrée, yet we still left a good quarter of it in the bowl.

The thing that was the most… fine about this visit to Poole’s was the service. I don’t know if it’s because we had on wristbands (it wasn’t our attire, I may have been casually dressed but most of the guests were) but our server was curt with us, our cocktails were slid to us, and I noticed that when an older woman and three men (possibly her sons?) sat next to us and greeted the server with Carolina accents, they were told about the day’s specials and were treated with more respect. As the meal continued, the service improved but I would think with a highly-rated restaurant service would be more consistent. Maybe I’m spoiled with DC, where I am treated with respect at restaurants whether or not I am a tourist and when I attend a James Beard-winning chef’s restaurant I can guarantee it’s going to be a great experience. And while this wasn’t bad, it wasn’t great. In fact I think Remedy Diner was better than Poole’s.

wardrobe-oxygen-and-this-is-our-jamAfter dinner, we walked to City Plaza where Hopscotch had built a stage and closed down Fayetteville to have a bunch of vendors. On our way we walked past the Red Hat Ampitheater where Gary Clark Jr. was playing. He’s great and sounded great, but we’ve both seen him before so we passed on going there for our disco nap and dinner experience. Even if we didn’t have VIP wristbands it would have been quick and easy to get in to City Plaza, with a simple bag check. We walked right up to the stage and while there was a crowd, the “rail” separating the crowd from the photo pit wasn’t full and we got a spot on the right with a great view of the stage.  I bumped into Krista from DC music blog This Is Our Jam, which was so awesome!  Check out their blog for their recaps, which provide far better videos as Krista's boyfriend Caleb is a talented videographer!

And at that stage we saw Anderson .Paak. Anderson .Paak was a huge reason why Nicole wanted to come to Hopscotch, she finds him really special and talented and has seen him live. I hadn’t heard of him and a quick listen on Spotify didn’t really make him stand out to me. However, after seeing him live I am a huge fan. He. Was. Amazing. So connected to the audience, so talented, as a friend said when she saw my Instagram video on Facebook, a performer who actually performs. He was having a blast with his band, and I was thrilled to be a part of the whole experience.  I didn't take this video, found it on YouTube but it's not terribly far from where we were standing just on the other side.

After Anderson .Paak we walked across the street to the Red Hat Ampitheater where Erykah Badu was set to play. She was supposed to perform at 8pm but Hopscotch had shared on social media that she was running an hour late. The amphitheater had seats, a standing area, and a grassy hill in back and all provided a great view of the stage. We walked in and there was already a lot of attendees but yet again we were able to get a spot on the rail, though it was far to the left and the view may have been partially obstructed at times. We each got a tiny plastic bottle of warm Chardonnay because we’re classy ladies, sat down on the concrete and waited it out.

The People Watching and fashion was phenomenal. Folks could buy tickets just to this show, so there was a mix of festival attendees and straight-up Badu fans that were dressed to the nines. I had brought my sequin kimono on this trip and realized THIS was the night to wear it. However, there were plenty of people in shorts, tee shirts, and sneakers. This really is an anything goes sort of festival. Thanks to a phenomenal DJ who really got the crowd and played the best music, the crowd was dancing and happy and the vibe was awesome.

8pm came and went. 9pm came and went. It was 9:45, she was almost two hours late and we gave up. For a festival, it’s just plain disrespectful to be late. When you’re a headliner like Erykah Badu, by being late she was taking away audiences from smaller acts at different locations. And one of those smaller acts both Nicole and I wanted to see was Boulevards so we walked the couple of blocks back to Memorial Auditorium where we saw Television the night prior. As expected thanks to Erykah Badu being late, the theater was near empty. That benefitted us, as we walked right in and again got a spot on the rail center left of the stage. As we waited, more people trickled in. Those people were smart to be there.

Oh. Em. Gee. I thought I was wowed by Anderson Paak? I continued to be wowed by Boulevards who didn’t care that they had a relatively empty theater and put on the performance of a lifetime. Boulevards is a drummer, a producer, and Jamil Rashad, a badass singer, dancer, and all around performer. He started the set saying he was from Raleigh and grew up seeing Jazz performances on the very state where he was standing. He then proceeded to blow our minds with his funk. He jumped up on speakers, he got into the audience, he grabbed my friend Nicole’s hand, he worked up a sweat and he worked the audience up into a frenzy. I was so glad to see people pouring into the theater as the set continued, I saw folks dancing in the aisles up in the cheap seats and the pit area got pretty full (I heard Badu didn’t go on until 10:30). This was such an amazing show, I recommend if Boulevards comes to a venue near you to check them out live!

Young Thug was to perform next on the same stage. We had such a primo location we couldn’t imagine leaving. And come on, when else could I, a 41-year old chubby white mom from the suburbs be rail for a Young Thug concert? This is what music festivals are all about! Nicole had to use the bathroom so I stood with my legs and arms wide, holding onto the rail and saving space for two bodies. The crowd started coming, and coming strong. Soon the place was packed and it was primarily white college-aged kids. The couple behind me kept pressing into me trying to shove me against the rail and take up less space and I pushed back. The boyfriend said I was being rude, I stood my ground. Nicole returned and they didn’t want to let her back in but she walked behind them and got in to my right. Don’t mess with a 41-year old chubby white mom from the suburbs on the rail for Young Thug!


That's my arm in this crazy audience for Young Thug! Image via TheNews&Observer

Young Thug was also running late and like Badu, kept the crowd hyped with a DJ. This crowd didn’t need hyping, they were PSYCHED to be there and were going utterly bonkers for the DJ playing Kanye. They were jumping so much the floor was bouncing up and down. The DJ was also loud, and my primo location had me directly in front of a speaker. This a 41-year old chubby white mom from the suburbs didn’t have ear plugs (forgot them on my dressing table at home) and had her fingers in her ears. Yeah, I was a super cool person that night, but I just didn’t care.

Unlike Badu, Young Thug was less than an hour late and when he came on stage, he came on strong. He had his DJ, a hype guy, and a whole mess of friends standing around in the back and near the DJ table. I don’t know Young Thug, this isn’t the music I usually listen to but I was LOVING it. He’s so graceful on stage (and looks awesome in a dress too), his hype guy was hopping on the speaker in front of me and making faces at me, I was so close I could practically touch them. The crowd was going insane, the floor was moving like we were on a boat at sea, and the crowd shoved most of the rail to the stage. There wasn’t enough security, but no one was getting violent, just a bit of pot smoke and a bunch of college kids losing their shit and knowing every single word.

Young Thug started late and didn’t have any plans to end on time. He was the last performer at that venue so he could go longer. We were loving it but we both wanted to see the next performer on our list – Big Freedia. We made the couple behind us terribly happy by leaving before the set was over and walking a couple blocks over to the Lincoln Theater.

big-freedia-hopscotch-festival-2016-wardrobe-oxygenWhen we got there, we found a line wrapping around the building and the show had already started. However, there was no one in the VIP line and after just a couple minutes we got into the venue. We walked in and easily found a spot on a balcony of sorts a few feet above the main floor in front of the stage. The crowd below us was packed and excited, bouncing with Big Freedia and her entourage. We were able to have a great view without being smashed in, which was a nice break from our experience at Young Thug.

You may know Big Freedia from her reality TV show, or maybe from her part in Beyonce’s “Formation.” I remember reading about Big Freedia and Louisiana Sissy Bounce music back in 2010 in Bust Magazine and have wanted to see her perform live ever since. Oh gosh Big Freedia did NOT disappoint. She was on stage with a DJ, two female, and two male dancers who were phenomenal and made me exhausted just watching (see a crappy yet longer video showing their dancing here). The crowd was so into it, which made the experience all the more amazing. At the end Big Freedia invited the audience up on stage and dozens of what seemed to be primarily drunk girls under 25 got up there, all sizes, all shapes, and shook their asses and the audience cheered. I was tired and I could hardly hear from having my ears near the speaker at Young Thug but dang I was so glad to be there to see this show! When it ended we walked dazed from the theater back to the room where we both quickly passed out.

Day 3

The next morning I woke and checked on my feet. They were feeling better after spending the day in sneakers and not moshing, but they were still pretty rough. I was out of blister Band Aids and lacked scissors to cut the moleskin I bought, so I called an Uber and headed to the closest Walmart for supplies. I got spongey medical tape, blister Band Aids, medical scissors, and some really cushy socks made to prevent blisters. Totally worth the $9 Uber round-tip fare! For this I wore my sneakers with this Lands’ End dress and my Maxwell Scott bag. When we went to brunch, I added a red bandana tied at my neck.

plates-neighborhood-kitchen-raleighNicole had researched restaurants prior to us coming to Raleigh and was interested in checking out Plates Neighborhood Kitchen. While this restaurant may have been too far to walk if we had stayed at the Sheraton in the middle of downtown, it was only a few blocks from the Holiday Inn in the opposite direction from the festival. And the opposite direction is a completely different and utterly adorable Raleigh. We walked past really cute homes with big front porches, warehouses renovated into restaurants, and little shops selling clothing, cupcakes, and more. There were a ton of utterly adorable and intriguing restaurants and Plates was one of them.

plates-neighborhood-kitchen-raleigh-north-carolinaWhile in a strip mall, Plates keeps their restaurant and outdoor patio looking charming with an interesting mix of vintage pieces, reclaimed objects, and yes, a lot of decorative plates. It was a hot and humid day so we chose to sit inside at a high-top table between the window and the bar. We were there in time for brunch and each started with a $2 mimosa. We shared a plate of crab beignets which were tasty and both chose The Basics which was two eggs served to your liking and I got it with grits and a field green salad. I know that’s not a terribly exciting meal but gosh it was delicious. The atmosphere was adorable, the waitress was charming, and the bathroom was the absolute coolest. They had postcards tacked all over the walls, and this was in both bathrooms! Loved this place.

hopscotch-2016-1 Photo by Hillery Terenzi

Photo by by Hillery Terenzi

Speaking of bathrooms, this is a hot topic right now in North Carolina and I was thrilled to see Poole’s had theirs called a “People Room” and many other establishments like Plates refused to put gender on the rooms so they were accessible to all.  Multiple artists took time during their sets to say how much they despise the governor of North Carolina and encouraged people to vote him out at the next election.  Shops and restaurants also had signs in their windows saying they welcome refugees, all are welcome, and there were plenty of rainbow flags and stickers on display.  This banner of the governor was hanging in multiple places around downtown Raleigh.

taylor-art-supplies-raleigh stags-head-raleigh

Who doesn't love painted pigs or witty chalkboard messages?

We wished we found this side of Raleigh sooner. We walked a different route back to the hotel, grabbed two cupcakes at The Cupcake Shoppe and would have loved to go in more stores but we didn’t really have the time. We headed back to the hotel for our afternoon nap.

wardrobe-oxygen-hopscotch-music-festival-day-3-2016For the third and final night of shows, I wore my Ramones tee, my Gap Girlfriend denim shorts, my sneakers, belt bag, and I tied this plaid flannel gifted from JAG Jeans around my waist. My L'Oreal La Lacque Lip Pen in Lacquerized was in my purse instead of my backpack so I had that to apply to finish the look. Bandages refreshed, we walked back to Downtown.

We got there around 6:15 and again were able to get a spot right on the rail, this time the opposite side of the stage to see Vince Staples. I was thirsty so Nicole held my spot and I stepped out of City Plaza to Starbucks and got a Venti unsweetened iced green tea. Starbucks was closing up so they gave me the drink for free. Drink in hand I walked back into City Plaza without an issue. How cool is that? At other festivals they would make you leave your drink or only bring sealed containers.  I didn't take this video, found it on YouTube.


Me and Vince Staples

Vince Staples was another artist Nicole was excited to see but I didn’t know much about. I had read a lot and knew a lot of artists really loved and respected him, and hoped seeing him live would make me understand the appeal. Vince Staples started off slow, not making eye contact with the audience, just standing still with a microphone. However he warmed up, though it's not his style to go crazy on stage. His music is more introspective, the kind I would have loved in college. The crowd adored him and I now get his popularity though he's still not really my thing.


Selfie on the rail

We stayed in place for the next artist on that stage. All weekend long we'd been hearing about Sylvan Esso. Folks came to the festival just for Sylvan Esso, waitresses and shop owners telling me their favorite band was Sylvan Esso and they were jealous we would be seeing them. I listened a bit to their music before the festival and it seemed very sleepy and ordinary to me but the crowd was HYPED for them so we stuck to our spot on the rail to see what the hype was about.

Sylvan Esso is COMPLETELY WORTH THE HYPE. This show was AMAZING! I think it may be my favorite show of the entire festival. From Durham, they have the local fanbase. Also as they stated during their set, their first show together was at Hopscotch four years prior at The Pour House. To grow so much to go from that little dive bar to headliner is awesome, and their set show they deserved the recognition. The band consists of producer Nick Sanborn and singer Amelia Meath. The two have great chemistry and clearly enjoy performing together; Meath is a joy to watch and her voice is amazing. As a curvy girl it was refreshing to see a woman on stage with a curvy figure; Meath isn't overweight in any way but she has a gorgeous and relatable figure that I loved seeing move with such freedom and abandon, all eyes on her without a need for crazy hair, makeup, or any costume. She filled the stage with her simple black bodysuit, jeans, moon boots and a ponytail. She really connected with the crowd too. Behind us was a mom and her daughter, around four years of age. The little girl had a Sylvan Esso pin and was holding a poster saying she was the biggest little Sylvan Esso fan. Nicole invited the mom and her daughter to get in front of us for a better view. The band's photographer got a picture of them and Meath pointed and waved to the little girl mid-performance.

After Sylvan Esso we were starving.  Thing is, Raleigh is not DC and at 10:00 a lot of places were already closed for the evening.  However we found Rye Bar and Southern Kitchen, which is attached to the Marriott.  While it was a bit too fancy for my torn Ramones tee and denim shorts, we found space in the bar area where there was an empty counter with a view of the acoustic singer performing, a friendly waitress and an outlet so I could plug in and charge my phone.  I got a cucumber cooler which was just the ticket and a small pulled pork biscuit sandwich since I had yet to have any barbecue while in Raleigh.  The bar opened to the Marriott lobby and there seemed to be some sort of event taking place… maybe a fraternity or sorority event?  The place was packed with well-dressed college kids; guys in navy blazers, girls in candy-colored cocktail dresses and way too high of heels.


This selfie I took in the bathroom before Andrew Bird I think shows how utterly done I was by this point.

Bellies full, phones charged, we headed back to Memorial Auditorium to see Andrew Bird.  Again I may get some boos from readers, but I just don't like Andrew Bird.  I respect his talent, I'm impressed that he can play 50,000 instruments, but his music and his voice are not my jam.  But I felt like a bad festie to not see him and Nicole was interested in his show so we headed in.  Yet again, we were able to get right up front.  There was no photo pit, no rail so Nicole and I were literally leaning our elbows on the stage.  And Andrew Bird and his band sounded great, better than any recording, but it was still not my jam.  And my feet felt as though they were on fire.  I sat in a seat for a while but I was done done done and feared if I kept going any longer on my feet I may seriously regret it the next day and possibly longer.  So I hugged Nicole goodbye and headed back to the hotel.  I was back a little after midnight.  Took a shower, propped up my feet, ate my cupcake from earlier in the day, went through Snapchat and Instagram stories, and relaxed.  I had an alarm set that if I woke and Nicole wasn't back by that time I'd text her and if she didn't reply, call the police, but she got home and I woke up before it went off.

Heading Home

The next day I had to be a Tetris master to fit everything back in my suitcase since I was wearing my sneakers, not my tall boots.  We didn't have a lot of time before our train so we headed to the top floor of the hotel and had their breakfast buffet.  Since my snacks were in my backpack, I snagged a bagel and apple from the buffet and stuffed them in my bag to have for lunch later.  We got an Uber to the train station, and were home in time to have dinner with our families.

Would I Go to Hopscotch Festival Again?

Yes.  This was a great festival with a crazy variety of artists.  I think I'd either come the day prior or earlier to take advantage of the Thursday afternoon VIP party and other day events.  I'd stay at the Sheraton so there would be less walking and it would be easy to say buy a poster at Flatstock and drop it off before heading to a show.  I'd ask more locals what they suggest I see as there were a lot of lesser-known NC bands there that, like Sylvan Esso, may be on the cusp of becoming huge and may be my next favorite artist.

How Would I Pack Differently?

This IS a fashion blog after all!  I'd pack cute trendy sneakers; I wish I brought my shelltops or Superga slip-ons even if I didn't destroy my feet.  I'd have packed fewer casual pieces – especially if my hotel was in the center I could have gotten away with cuter dresses, boyfriend jeans, more elaborate accessories.  I wish the night of Erykah Badu I was wearing a more fun outfit; The Red Hat Ampitheater has a completely different vibe and it would have been a fun night to dress up.  I would have remembered that you get super sweaty at a fest, especially when in a hot humid city like Raleigh and you really can't re-wear anything, even a pair of denim shorts.  Thicker, padded socks for boots and better walking shoes if hiking from the train station.  If I had worn different shoes and didn't lose my backpack, it would have been a pretty perfect weekend in Raleigh!

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. Allie,

    I am so sorry about your backpack. It makes me so angry that some folks think it’s perfectly OK to take something that does not belong to them. Even worse is the fact that some jerk hurt someone I care about.

    I am happy that you were able to enjoy yourself anyway. I’m not so sure I could have done that. You’re such a strong and lovely person, Allie.


  2. Great read! And love the sidewalk chalkboard- may I tweet it? Tagging you for credit of course 🙂 Have stalked your blog for years (pre-Emerson) but this is my first comment 🙂

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