Photo by Jeremy M. Lange
Stand the rain
I shouldn’t have expected the story of Hopscotch 2014 night one to have gone any differently. But when the skies opened up shortly before 10 p.m.—and the steady rain that started during De La Soul’s headlining set in City Plaza turned into a downright deluge—it seemed like the talk of the night would be as much about what was going on outside the venues as what was happening inside.
“It’s not worth it!” I heard one person shout, his voice echoing off the imposing front of the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts as he half-sprinted, half-splashed through ankle-deep puddles on the way to Fletcher Opera Theater, where New Music Raleigh’s classical-meets-electronics set was preceded by a busy bathroom of folks trying in vain to dry off. As the downpour continued off-and-on throughout the night, it seemed as if it might threaten the ability or willingness of many to venue hop, perhaps the greatest advantage of Hopscotch’s format.
Although some didn’t embrace the weather as fully as the guy who passed me while excitedly yelling “Woo! Biking in the rain!” it didn’t seem to discourage the steady stream of drenched ponchos and wet hair that flowed into The Pour House for The Jacuzzi Boys
. The Miami trio’s high-energy garage-rock amped up the crowd enough to get a bit of a pit going.
Indeed, it seemed like those who fought through the rain to get to their venue of choice wanted to ensure they made the experience worth it; I haven’t seen a Hopscotch set that rivaled the chaos of Diarrhea Planet
’s hour-long set at Slim’s since Jeff The Brotherhood’s Thursday night performance there in 2011. The dude-filled dive was so anxious to get going that when the Nashville-based sextet’s quick soundcheck teased the first verse and chorus of “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” by The Darkness
— after dicking around on country covers by the likes of David Ball and Dwight Yoakam, of course—the rowdy ebb and flow of bodies around the stage had already started.
It was the kind of amicable disorder that saw one generous fan buying several rounds of PBR for strangers that shared the staircase’s birds-eye view on the sweat-swapping madness just a few feet away. That melee included crowd surfers that often went up two at a time—even when one alone was breaking the weight limit—and held on to the ceiling conduit for dear life. The guitarmy’s shredding included a solo from atop the bar, while its fist-pumping anthems reminded the majority of us why earplugs are such a necessity.
But hey, it’s night one, and we’re only getting warmed up, right?