Last month Cory Rayborn received an unusual e-mail. Three Lobed Records—the boutique imprint Rayborn has operated since 2000—is co-hosting a day party at this weekend's Hopscotch Music Festival with Duke University radio station WXDU. The email, a request for details about the day party as well as one hosted by record label Paradise of Bachelors and UNC's WXYC radio station, came from a Kansas resident who is coming to Raleigh with no plans to attend the actual festival. He's coming just for the day parties.
"That's kind of crazy," Rayborn chuckles, "that a couple of free events have been enough to drag some dude halfway across the country on 10 days notice."
Day parties are an integral part of the Hopscotch experience. Since its 2010 debut, the event has included a host of free shows sponsored by local and national benefactors that fill up the space between the festival's evening sessions. Hopscotch participates by offering its own free parties, this year rallying five shows at CAM Raleigh, Lincoln Theatre, The Raleigh Times and Rebus Works, as well as a series of panel discussions at the City of Raleigh Museum. It also supports other parties with an official list released a few weeks before the festival.
This year, that list includes 42 events happening between Wednesday and Sunday. These opportunities make Hopscotch's annual Raleigh takeover incredibly inclusive. Local labels, radio stations and other music festivals promote their brands, allowing area acts—many of whom aren't in the festival's formal lineup—a chance to get in on the action.
A few highlights:
Saturday @ Kings, Chapel Hill's Odessa Records presents the rabble-rousing garage trio Spider Bags along with the similarly raucous Flesh Wounds, who will re-create Nirvana's underappreciated Insecticide in its entirety, and the delicate pop of The Kingsbury Manx.
Thursday @ The Pour House, The Art of Cool Project, a Durham organization promoting live jazz, offers the sleek fusion of The Hot at Nights and the boisterous afro-jazz of Greensboro's Brand New Life.
Thursday @ Slim's, Boone's profoundly energetic Naked Gods have put together a Rock 'n' Roll Pizza Party with the '60s-leaning light psych of Asheville band the Critters, among others.
Saturday @ Busy Bee, Phuzz Phest, an independent music festival in Winston-Salem each spring, presents its "Shredstorm" with excellent Triad selections including the kinetic slacker rock of Drag Sounds and the affecting ambience of Dark Prophet Tongueless Monk.
Friday @ Cirque de Vol Studios, the "Bitchfork" party brings together a contingent of empowered female artists, including defiantly queer MCs Shirlette Ammons and Sookee.
Friday @ Kings is the aforementioned Three Lobed/WXDU party, which stresses experimental connections including a duo set from indie rock royals Thurston Moore and John Moloney as well as a performance by accomplished picker Glenn Jones.
Saturday outside Raleigh's Little Theatre is the Paradise of Bachelors/WXYC event, which includes left-field Southern sounds such as Steve Gunn and his trance-inducing trio plus Chris Forsyth with his smoldering and expansive Solar Motel Band.
Admission to all day parties is free. Performers listed in last-to-first order of appearance.
City of Raleigh Museum: Hopscotch Cultural Series Panel: "The boon or burden of giving away music on the Internet" with Marnie Stern, Brian Howe and Andrew Martin, plus members of The Rosebuds, Sylvan Esso, Oxbow, Sal Mineo, Mountain Man, Megafaun and Eros & the Eschaton; 3-5 p.m.
Kings/Neptune's: Moss of Aura, Zack Mexico, Oulipo, Casual Curious, Bronzed Chorus, Savage Knights, Alligator Indian; noon-5 p.m.
London Bridge: Dousro, DJ Ahma (courtyard stage); 6-9 p.m.; Windsor Oaks Band (indoor stage), 10 p.m.
Pour House: George Tisdale Band, The Hot at Nights, Brand New Life; noon-5 p.m.
Sadlack's: Horsehead, June Star, Clear Spots, Leadville Social Club, Loudermilks, Hank Sinatra, Brian Malow (patio stage), 5-10 p.m.; Roger Gupton, Lynn Blakey & Ecki Heins, The Equivocators, Jimmy Lovelace (indoor stage), 1:30-5 p.m.
Schoolkids Records: Magnolia Collective, Old Quarter, Caleb Caudle, Roseland, 1-4:30 p.m.
Slim's: Naked Gods, Lonnie Walker, Invisible Hand, The Critters, Gray Young; noon-5 p,m.
Tir na nOg: Solar Halos, Once & Future Kings, The Human Eyes, Ameriglow; noon-5:30 p.m.
Busy Bee Cafe: Jack the Radio, Debonzo Brothers, Roseland, Caleb Caudle; noon-5:30 p.m.
CAM Raleigh: Valient Thorr, Colossus, Pontiak, Toon & The Real Laww, DJ Nixxed; noon-5 p.m.
City of Raleigh Museum: Hopscotch Cultural Series Panel: "On the road—again: The realities of touring for a living" with David Menconi, Marc Masters, Grayson Currin and members of Future Islands, Pig Destroyer, Mount Moriah and Nightlands; 3-5 p.m.
Cirque De Vol Studios: Shirlette Ammons, Pink Flag, Sookee, Creedence Queerwater; 11 a.m.
Deep South: River City Ransom, Hank Sinatra, Kenny Roby, Brett Harris, Onward Soldiers; noon-5 p.m.
Foundation: Merge Records listening party; 4-6 p.m.
Kings: Thurston Moore/John Moloney Caught On Tape Duo, Desert Heat, Glenn Jones, Magik Markers, Tom Carter, Jenks Miller Band, Mike Gangloff, Nathaniel Bowles; noon-5:15 p.m.
London Bridge: Proto J, DJ Animal (courtyard stage), 6-9 p.m.; Funk Junkie (indoor stage), 10 p.m.
Pour House: Bitter Resolve, New Town Drunks, The Malamondos, The Low Counts, Michael Rank, Wood Ear; noon-5 p.m.
Rebus Works: I Was Totally Destroying It, The Invisible Hand, Wesley Wolfe, Legs McNeil; noon-5 p.m.
Slim's: Spider Bags, The Beets, Swearin', The Everymen; noon-5:30 p.m.
Tir na nOg: Drag Sounds, Echo Courts, Naked Naps, First Person Plural; noon-5 p.m.
Busy Bee: Spider Bags, Torres, Drag Sounds, Other Colors, Dark Prophet Tongueless Monk; 12:30-5:30 pm.
City of Raleigh Museum: Hopscotch Cultural Series Panel: "The hits and the misses: The current and future importance of the full-length album" with David Klein, Mark Kemp, Cesar Comanche and members of Spiritualized, Oneida, Low, Akron/Family, Cy Dune, Speedy Ortiz, Matmos, Torres and Califone; 3-5 p.m.
Deep South: Oulipo, Schooner, Some Army, Eros & the Eschaton, Wool; noon-5 p.m.
Kings: Flesh Wounds, Gross Ghost, Spider Bags, The Kingsbury Manx; noon-5 p.m.
Legends: Architeuthis, Black Market, Alpha Cop, Drug Yacht, Irata, Midnight Plus One, Phantom Glue (theater stage); Hoax Hunters, Snowy Owls, DiNola, Dripping Slits, Hog, The Bronzed Chorus (patio stage); noon-5 p.m.
Lincoln Theatre: Chris Stamey & the Fellow Travellers Orchestra, Lonnie Walker, Debonzo Brothers, Organos (inside stage), 12:30-5 p.m.; DJ Chico Scott, DJ Craig Powell, DJ Ricky Bacchus, DJ Brian Cruse (outside stage), noon-4 p.m.
London Bridge: DJ Scott Carneval, DJ Rye, DJ Yona, The Morning After, Seven Elephants, Kindler, Absent Lovers, McCauliffe Brothers; noon-11 p.m.
Neptune's: Chris Eubank, Dan Ruccia, David Menestres, Jason Bivins; 3-5 p.m.
Pour House: Loamlands, Bambara Butterflies, Yandrew, Leverage Models, Hi Ho Silver Oh, Estrangers; noon-5 p.m.
Raleigh Little Theatre: Steve Gunn, Spacin', Chris Forsyth & the Solar Motel Band, Pelt & Daniel Bachman, The Black Twig Pickers, Birds of Maya, Lonnie Holley, Promised Land Sound; noon-5:30 p.m.
Raleigh Times Bar: Mandolin Orange, Doug Paisley, Lowland Hum, Cousins; noon-5 p.m.
Rebus Works: The Countdown Quartet, Goner, The Bleeding Hearts, The Tender Fruit; noon-5 p.m.
Slim's: Jamaican Queens, Hemlock Ernst, Ghostt Bllonde, Softspot, Deleted Scenes, Rapdragons, Wing Dam, Norwegian Arms; noon-5 p.m.
Tir na nOg: Toon & The Real Laww, Lonely Island In The Middle East, Wool, Sookie, Gray Young; noon-5 p.m.
Jordan Lawrence lives in Carrboro, where he pens and edits stories about music. He has written about music for INDY Week since 2010.