As the crowds streamed into the wonderfully intimate Fletcher Opera Theatre, the seats quickly began to fill up and many were left standing. The wonder of Hopscotch was welcomed early, as Blacksburg, VA’s Nathan Bowles took the theatre and turned it into his living room, keeping us on our toes during his beautiful set, showcasing his absolute prowess of the banjo. He told jokes, commented on his prominent spot kicking off the festival, and in all, just made all of us feel welcome in town, Raleigh locals or those who came from afar. –Ryan Nichols
The Kingsbury Manx
We briefly broke in for Kingsbury Manx’s set in Hopscotch’s biggest room, the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, just to poke around and feel out the band’s sound on the big stage. They took full advantage, bringing their elegant songs to the heights of the chandeliers in the room. When people ask me what “North Carolina music” sounds like, I’ll typically point them in the direction of the Manx or the Rosebuds (who played the same stage later that evening, but we unfortunately missed). The group’s sounds fit the rolling hills of the Piedmont more than they do the coast or the mountains, but were a wonderful fit right in between the mountains (Nathan Bowles) and the (admittedly dark) coast of Grouper. –Nichols
We returned back to the more relaxed atmosphere of the Fletcher Opera Theatre for the elegant folk styling of singer-songwriter Angel Olsen. The St. Louis raised, Chicago-based guitarist has quite a unique voice that can be quite ghostly at times but is simultaneously warm and inviting — resonating from her throat and accentuating the emotional content of her songs. Despite the deep content of her songs she broke the tension with the audience to ask where she should eat while she was in the south and eventually had us laughing at the notion of finding a good burrito. Later in the set after a song about a failed relationship Olsen stopped to try and reassure us of her emotion state stating that the last tune was “just a song” but after a little hesitation she diffidently stated, “It didn’t use to be just a song.” For Olsen, the knife may be out of her back but the scars remain. –Evan Kaloudis
Plugging away since 1999, The National finally hit mainstream success with the release of their 2010 album High Violet. Of course, this entailed their first world tour, but in the new documentary Mistaken For Strangers, it’s only the backdrop for the relationship between lead singer Matt Berninger and his younger brother Tom, who had no idea that these short videos he was shooting would turn into a public document of their troubled, if still loving brotherhood.
We talk with Israeli rockers Vaadat Charigim about some of their favorite records.
We talk with Yvonne Ambree and Jesse Barnes of Take Berlin about some of the records which influenced the recording of their debut EP, Lionize.
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