Hopscotch music festival

Hopscotch music festival

This weekend, Wake Radio had the opportunity to visit Raleigh for the Hopscotch music festival.The festival showcases many different bands from a wide array of genres.

Sylvan Esso

On Sept. 10, Sylvan Esso took to the stage at City Plaza, a large outdoor area at the very end of Fayetteville Street, Raleigh’s main downtown attraction.

Sylvan Esso, an electronic group composed of singer Amelia Meath and producer Nick Sanborn, hails from Durham, North Carolina.

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Though some of their music is slightly more laid-back and calming in its production, the concert was anything but. The first song began slow, but before long, Sanborn was twisting and turning at his mixer while Amelia danced all across the stage. The juxtaposition of hard-hitting production with Amelia’s smooth vocals lead to a thoroughly enjoyable performance.

Instead of constant excitement and dancing, songs often felt much more like a roller coaster ride where you’re filled with anticipation during each verse until the chorus hit and sent everyone, including Amelia, into a frenzy of dancing and waving.

So far, Sylvan Esso has only released a single studio album from 2014, but their latest single, “Radio,” just came out on Sept. 2 and carries with it the promise of more new music soon.

Beach Slang

Beach Slang, a rock band from Philadelphia, brought punk to the Contemporary Art Museum.

The show was high energy from start to finish with James Alex, Beach Slang’s frontman, thrashing about the stage and windmill strumming his guitar the whole show.

The crowd followed in similar fashion with some headbanging and dancing.

Alex’s lyrics are honest, and when he sings, you know he means it. The music was loud and aggressive like punk should be.

Beach Slang also played two songs from their new album, “A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings” (being released Sept. 23) closing out with their brand new song “Atom Bomb.”

Wake Radio had the opportunity to sit down with James Alex to talk about their new video for “Atom Bomb,” and his experience as a touring musician. His sweet demeanor contrasts with the aggressive music he plays.

Beach Slang recently released a music video on Sept. 8. Can you tell me a little about that? What was the thinking behind the visual components?

We worked with this filmmaker from Los Angeles named Jason Lester who’s just brilliant. And he came and sort of pitched this idea about romance and turmoil. In interviews, I often talk about how Beach Slang celebrates human flaws. And then we thought of two films that we drew inspiration from, which are  “The Warriors” and “Mean Streets.” So we tried to go in that world.

The vintage film gives both music videos a nostalgic feel, and your album is called “A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings.” Are the videos in any way based on your experiences when you were younger? 

You know, I suppose I’m just drawn to that because that’s the stuff I sort of came up with. And I just like things that are tactile, and feel as though they were touched by human hands. To me when things get a little too digitized and auto-tuned, it just sort of massages the soul out of things.

Do you have any advice for young musicians?    

I would say this because this is something I’ve learned chasing this crazy thing: romanticize the struggle part of it. Of the songs out in the world, I have maybe have 50, 30? But I’ve written thousands, that were terrible. But there was something in that process. It lets you know you want it.

And it feels deserved when you put the work in. So I would say that. Romanticize the struggle. It’s a necessary and healthy thing to go through.


On Friday night, Boulevards, a band from Raleigh, took to the stage at Memorial Auditorium for an incredible performance. Though Boulevards was certainly the lesser-known artist, it impressed with the performance and earned some new fans that night.

Channeling the 80s at their finest, Boulevards’ act is filled with funky rhythms, plenty of dancing and other disco motifs. It didn’t matter that many in the crowd didn’t know enough of the lyrics to sing along to the music, because Boulevards’ energy carried his performance and got much of the crowd dancing alongside him.

At several points they were alongside him as he jumped into the crowd and danced along with the audience. At one point he even created a lane through the crowd where he invited crowd members to

“Soul Train It” and dance down the aisle with him.

Boulevards has revived the 80s disco aesthetic to perfection while adding his own new elements to it. His incredible energy and love for the crowd only serves to make his live performances even more exciting.

Anderson .Paak

Anderson Paak (often stylized as .Paak to make sure that people are “paying attention to detail”) and his band, The Free Nationals, performed their trademark smooth mix of hip hop, funk and soul for a decidedly energetic crowd at Hopscotch Music festival in Raleigh this weekend.

The songs that the band played came mostly from Paak’s two most recent records: Malibu and Venice. Songs that stood out included “The Season,” a song that features Paak flowing over a melancholy guitar melody and echoing drum beat and the KAYTRANADA track “Glowed Up,” which Paak performed on the producer’s new album, “99.9%.”

The track was a little more electronic than the live feel of the other songs performed during the show, providing a refreshing change of tone and pace.

One interesting moment of the hour-long set came when Paak addressed the lack of diversity in the audience, stating that he had “hoped there would be more black people in the audience.” This does raise some interesting questions about the racial and socioeconomic issues that festivals like Hopscotch still have yet to address.

The majority of the headlining artists at Hopscotch were geared towards a primarily black audience, so why was the crowd filled with mostly white college kids? The affordability and accessibility of music festivals is a dialogue that is often unseen, but Anderson Paak’s performance, through both dynamite music and pointed criticism, brought that to the forefront.

Rainbow Kitten Surprise

Their name says it all. Rainbow Kitten Surprise is a surprise on its own as most listeners are unable to correctly guess what genre they are because of their bizarre name. Rainbow Kitten Surprise is a band from Boone, North Carolina that is composed of Sam Melo, Darrick “Bozzy” Keller, Ethan Goodpaster, Jess Haney and Charlie Holt.

In the past year, they have been gaining momentum, especially after their song “Devil Like Me” placed them on two separate Top Hits lists on Spotify. Their set list adequately represented their different styles of interpreting alternative rock and demonstrated the incredible dynamics that leave listeners craving more of their music.

Melo’s husky voice filled the venue as the band’s powerful melody smoothly weaved together so intricately and organically.

The band’s voice created a balance between husky and overtly excited, an incomparable work of music that almost creates a genre on its own.

Melo hugged individuals and even pulled them in close to sing into their ears. It was as if he was performing for each individual, giving them a personal concert which left most people in awe of the artist and his performance.

Rainbow Kitten Surprise is a fitting name as it captures the essence of the band: the energy they exude, the intimacy of their songs and the surprise that each song holds.

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