If you are wondering why your co-worker called out of work on Monday, I imagine they were among the many recovering from another satisfying year at Hopscotch Music Festival. Hopscotchers gathered throughout the streets of downtown Raleigh this past weekend to share in their love of music. With over 125 performers, there were many tough schedule decisions to be made but no matter where I found myself during the festival, it felt like everyone was where they were meant to be. It’s been a decade since Hopscotch was born and throughout that time, the festival has retained its allure by continuously delivering a strong bill comprised of some of the best musical acts in the indie, experimental, rap, rock realm and beyond. This year was no exception. With such a stellar lineup, I wish I could give each artist a personal shout out (honestly, every show I saw was phenomenal), but to spare you from a novel read, I’m sharing the Top Five Highlights I saw this year.



There was much discussion in the room prior to Sleater-Kinney taking the stage for the headlining performance on night one of the festival. The show was their first since the sudden departure of drummer Janet Weiss and also marked their return to the stage, having played their last show almost two years ago. As if things weren’t interesting enough, Hurricane Dorian reared its ugly head and brought heavy rains and wind into the area, which led to the show being moved to an indoor venue. Attendees were eager to see how Sleater-Kinney would do against all the elements, and to put it simply, they crushed it. Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker quickly found their groove and played a hard-hitting set filled with largely new songs. Carrie busted out the rocker moves, kicking and jumping all over the stage and their energy was simply contagious. Angie Boylan debuted as the group’s new drummer and was an absolute force on drums. The Sleater-Kinney comeback was a top Hopscotch highlight and one of the best shows I’ve seen this year.


Jenny Lewis

Jenny Lewis had a powerful performance on Friday night at the City Plaza stage. It was clear fans had been camped out for a while eagerly awaiting her set and her sheer presence sent the crowd roaring. Jenny looked like a movie star, donning a sparking gown that when the light hit it right, lit up in shimmering star-bursts. Her voice as powerful as ever, she sang songs from her entire catalog, including ones from her new album On The Line and even a few gems from her Rilo Kiley days. She even played a reggae-remixed version of her 2014 hit “The Voyager” titled “The Voyajah” which I had a little laugh over, but turns out it was a pleasantly nice rework. During the end of her set she brought out The Watson Twins for a few encore songs which really put the cherry on top of her epic set.


!!! (chk chk chk)

Having just release their newest album Wallop, !!! Brought the heat to their main stage performance and led a full on dance party for the entirety of their set. It’s nearly impossible to refrain from dancing when you watch lead singer Nic Offer’s contagious energy onstage. This set was hands down the Hopscotch show I didn’t know I needed and could not be dragged away from. Do yourself a favor and go see this group as soon as possible.



Deerhunter dropped a new album first thing this year, Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?, and I’ve since been anxiously awaiting the chance to see them perform these new songs. As expected, I wasn’t the only one who felt this way as the venue they were playing hit capacity well before their set started. The set list featured a handful of songs off their recent album, including “No One’s Sleeping,” “Futurism,” “What Happens to People?,” and “Plains.” Also played were Halcyon Digest favorites “Helicopter,” “Desire Lines,” and “Revival.” Bradford Cox mentioned he was currently fighting a bad case of walking pneumonia, but I doubt anyone would have noticed otherwise because he sounded incredible and played an impressive late night set stretching past 2:00 AM.



CHVRCHES are absolute festival veterans at this point and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of seeing them live, especially when they just seem to keep unraveling exciting new layers as a group. Their show was the perfect festival-closing set and drew one of the largest crowds of the weekend. Lauren Mayberry’s prowess onstage is inspiring, she floats and thrives onstage, connecting to the crowd in a magical way. If she ever left the music business, she could easily enter the comedy realm as she knows how to make a crowd laugh with her humorous commentary in-between songs.

Maddie Matthews

Maddie Matthews

Madelyn is a Live Music Photographer based in Raleigh, North Carolina.