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The Walking Guys, as their name suggests, walk more than the average musician. The quartet of singer-songwriters have in fact walked their east coast tour all the way from Maine to North Carolina- in their infamous “dad shoes”- and will keep going until they reach Florida. Their tour is predicted to last four months and cover 1600 miles.

Three fourths of the Walking Guys stopped by The Annex in Raleigh on September 26th to play some tunes, and here is the photographic evidence to prove it.

 

 

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Hopscotch season has come back around to Raleigh, and I couldn’t be more excited. When you live around here (or go to school here, in my case), it’s pretty much like Christmas finding out who’s gonna play the festival. And after the seemingly endless anticipation, it’s always even better than you expected it to be.

I was lucky enough to be able to cover Hopscotch for the second year in a row, and it was somehow even better than in 2014. Though I was pretty disappointed that Deerhunter dropped the fest, I had a truly enjoyable experience getting to see some old favorites and discovering new talent.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 10

The first act I saw this year was Canadian band Ought. They had a tough slot to fill replacing Deerhunter- one of my favorite bands of all time- but I actually loved their performance. Frontman Tim Beeler Darcy was charismatic and the group was obviously happy to be at Hopscotch, which made the whole of it more enjoyable. I hadn’t been familiar with Ought previous to their show, and I went out and bought their album the next day, if that says anything.

Since Godspeed You! Black Emperor didn’t allow photography during their set and I never went through that much of a post-rock phase anyways, I skipped them and went to see local act Grandma Sparrow at Kennedy Theatre. This is one decision I did not regret. Grandma Sparrow puts on a show that I hope everyone gets to see at some point. His narrative-style music and assumption of many characters- from grandma to clown to Ozzy Osbourne-esque rocker- provided a captivating experience. And gimmicks aside, he and his Piddletractor Orchestra have a great deal of musical talent to back themselves up. Anyone who can get adults to spontaneously sit criss-cross-apple-sauce on the floor has my respect.

Next I caught the majority of Lilac Shadows at King’s Barcade. Lilac Shadows is a Durham band which was a popular choice among my friends who also attended Hopscotch. They gave a high-energy performance and I stood between an old man in a cowboy hat and a college kid, which was cool.

Following Lilac Shadows came Baltimore band Wildhoney. They’re another of my favorite Hopscotch discoveries, playing music that was both high-intensity and dreamy.

Next came Jenny Hval and the Apocalypse Girls, which was probably the most memorable set of the night. Hval entered the stage wearing a curly red wig and a hospital gown, followed by two women decked in plastic dresses and matching platinum wigs, who struck up an interpretative dance as Hval sang and Kyrre Laastad, a longtime contributor of hers, played synths while wearing a Hazmat suit. Her set included fake blood, screaming, and a very avant-garde cover of Summertime Sadness, which Hval recorded on her phone.

I concluded my night with Battles at Lincoln Theatre, which was way more intense than I expected. I don’t think I have ever seen people go so crazy for an instrumental band. I was told by people who were on the floor (I was precariously perched on a stool on the balcony) that the ground literally shook. Judging from the amount of sweat soaking through John Stanier’s shirt in that fifth picture, I’m not surprised.

 

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 11TH

Friday opened up with a performance from Tycho and his live band. They got off to a bit of a rough start- the band had too many things plugged in at once and blew a fuse- but once they got their electricity back, it was a captivating show. The sun set as the band played, leaving them illuminated by projections on the screen behind them.

TV On The Radio was one act I was extremely pumped to see. I’ve been a fan of TVOTR for quite some time, and they did not disappoint. I may or may not have lost my cool when they played “Wolf Like Me.” The energy was fantastic even if I did have to literally fight my way into the photo pit.

My absolute #1 favorite Hopscotch discovery was Memphis band Nots. They were recommended to me by my friend Madeline, and I’m so happy I followed her advice and went to see them at CAM. Frontwoman Natalie Hoffman’s searing vocals possess enough raw power to melt the faces off unsuspecting bypassers and Charlotte Watson’s energy and hair were both inspiring.

I caught the tailend of local band SMLH just as Sam Higgins broke his guitar. RIP

Next was Mitski at Tir Na Nog. This was another set that I had been awaiting eagerly, and it was just as perfect as I expected it to be. Mitski- “spelled like the MIT ski team, which has caused some problems for me”- gave an intimate performance that brought several audience members to actual tears. (In the light of full disclosure, I definitely welled up during “First Love/ Last Spring.”)

And then finally, the moment everyone had been waiting for: KING PUSH!! I don’t know how I made it onto the floor for Pusha T’s set at Lincoln Theatre, but I did, and it was absolutely wild. The rapper brought an inhuman amount of energy accompanied by thunderclap sound effects and a short rant about how his new album was AOTY. Everyone I saw seemed to be enjoying themselves (some maybe a little too much.. yeah, I’m talking to you, couple next to me who were so busy grinding that you almost trampled me.) All in all, a great show that people kept talking about for days afterwards.

 

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12TH

I was a little bit late to City Plaza and missed The Vibekillers and American Aquarium, but I got there in time to see the area filled with fans decked out in cowboy hats and boots getting down to X. Someone offhandedly made a remark to me about how everyone in the band was super old, but I gotta say, they were going hard.

Dwight Yoakam followed in the footsteps of Godspeed and didn’t allow photography, so I jumped over to Deep South to catch local favorites Less Western, who I had actually never seen before. They put on a great show and had A+ lighting, and overall I was impressed.

I caught maybe 4 minutes of Prurient at Fletcher Opera Theatre. Basically 4 minutes of drone. He made a really dramatic exit from the stage.

Following Prurient was Ian William Craig. It was his first ever show in the US, and he pretty much sounded like an angel backed up by static.

Chelsea Wolfe came next, which I was incredibly excited for. Her performance was magnetic, with lots of smoke and cool lighting to enhance her raw and electric vocals and growling guitar. She played Lincoln Theatre, which was pretty weird considering Pusha T was playing the last time I was there, but it was a perfect venue for her. Wolfe and her band filled the venue with their haunting music, including several songs off her excellent recent album, ‘Abyss.’

The last artist I saw at Hopscotch 2015 was rapper Goldlink at CAM. The set was basically a huge dance party, which was a fun way to end things. Goldlink was a highly charismatic performer who was clearly a favorite with the crowd, who were jumping and dancing as the rapper and DJ Kidd Marvel performed. At one point, Goldlink invited guests on stage, and eventually random members of the audience jumped up on there too. Then he played “Ignition Remix” and it just got way too hype.

All in all, a successful year. Shouts out to Ian for the sick shots. See you next year, Hopscotch!

x

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by Julia Conlon and Ryan Nichols

Hopscotch is not like other music festivals.

Not only is there more variety than pretty much anywhere else, but not many festivals can claim they have venues in a church, an art gallery, and a pub. And none others can claim that they have Thurston Moore casually strolling around for two thirds of the weekend.

On September 4-6th, Raleigh, North Carolina hosted its fifth Hopscotch Music Festival. Here’s what happened.

Thursday, September 4th

Toon & the Real Laww

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by Julia Conlon

Opening the proceedings were local favorite Toon & the Real Laww, who hail from Durham, something they take strong pride in. The nickname “DURM” has even become a bit of a brand lately, as both Professor Toon and the Real Laww were representing the phrase on their shirts in front of what was likely their largest crowd yet. The group have become somewhat of a Hopscotch favorite, being a huge favorite of the local hip hop showcase at the Pour House during the 2012 festival, being chosen to open for the phenomenal Run the Jewels on New Year’s Eve this past year (complete with full band, which was missed on this Thursday night), and now being given the prime slot before legends De La Soul. Toon and the Real Laww took real care of their slowly growing crowd, leading them through their best songs (“I Got It” thankfully received the same reception that it has all other times I’ve seen this duo: a very strong one) and even new ones that sounded extremely promising, and will hopefully get to the audience they deserve. In a time where local hip hop is scraping the bottom of the barrel (look out for Charlotte’s Well$, who I didn’t get to see due to age restriction, but by all accounts is a fantastic talent), Toon and the Real Laww still showed that North Carolina can cook up some greats.

De La Soul

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The legends themselves took the City Plaza stage to by my count (and I’ve attended the festival all five years), the largest and most enthusiastic crowd the main stage has ever seen, and at the least since the Flaming Lips performed in 2011. I was worried that due to it being a Thursday, attendance and energy would both be down, but this was disproved- the second Maceo stepped onstage to set up his equipment, he was welcomed by a large, welcoming cheer from the audience. By the time Dave and Pos hit the stage for “Plug Tunin'” they had the whole audience in their control, really kicking into things with recent hit “The Grind Date”, which went over far better than any recent song from any of the other Hopscotch hip-hop headliners (Public Enemy’s newer material went over like interludes in 2010, and the Roots’ “Get Busy”, while strong, went over better upon segueing into a cover of “Jungle Boogie”). De La brought the hits with “Oooh”, “Stakes is High”, and “Ego Trippin'”, constantly asking the crowd where the party was at and being given an enthusiastic answer each time (it always felt genuine and never tired, which newer rappers should take notice to). The only let down of De La’s fantastic performance was being told they were celebrating the 25th anniversary of landmark album 3 Feet High and Rising, of which we only saw “Potholes in My Lawn”, “Me, Myself and I” (which segued beautifully out of “Saturdays”), and “Buddy”, complete with an appearance from Mike Gee of the Jungle Brothers. That’s a decent amount of songs, but “Eye Know” and “The Magic Number” were definitely missed on this night. But what said it all was at  the end of the trio’s performance, as a torrential downpour opened up from the sky and ended the set a bit early, the crowd stayed and demanded one more song. After much questioning, they delivered us “Ring Ring Ring” and despite the rain, the party continued. “Feel Good Inc” may have been cut off, but nevertheless, a fantastic start to the festival.

Ed Schrader’s Music Beat

image3After running through the rain for ten blocks, we finally made it to CAM Raleigh. Ed Schrader’s Music Beat was the second act at the venue and drew a decent-sized, if a bit soggy and unenergetic, crowd. They certainly kept everyone entertained- Schrader and Devlin Rice, who make up the band, have enough personality for an act three times their size. “My wife thinks this is water,” Schrader said jokingly, picking up a bottle of clear liquid. “She doesn’t like it when I drink soda, so don’t tell her.”

Besides playing songs from their fantastic new record, Schrader also broke into a few intimate a Capella covers, including some Elton John. While the duo had great stage banter going, they were obviously very focused on their music; they pounded out their noisier songs with tremendous energy and played the more laid-back ones, such as “Pink Moons” and “Weekend Train,” with finesse.

 Yvette

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by Julia Conlon

Another two-piece band, Yvette continued the night with a high-energy performance of noise rock. The room was filled with pounding drums and harsh guitar as duo Dale Eisinger and Noah Kardos-Fein launched themselves into their set. They played several songs from their excellent debut album, ‘Process.’ The crowd was unfortunately terrible and stood around motionlessly even as Kardos-Fein broke into howling guitar solos. I don’t know if the rain was bringing everyone down or what, but Yvette deserved much more than what they were given by the audience.

Thurston Moore & Steve Shelley

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by Julia Conlon

The Thurston Moore Band was unfortunately cut down to two when bassist Debbie Googe was forced to remain in England due to visa problems. Moore almost didn’t make the show himself- “I was asleep and woke up to the phone ringing- it was Steve saying he’d come to pick me up and that our show was in ten minutes,” he explained to the crowd before beginning his set. “Can I get something to drink? Does anyone have a pitcher of margaritas?” (He settled on water.)

Moore opened with a slow, clean song before tapping into his signature noise. I remember Ryan saying he was surprised at how much the rest of the set sounded like full-out Sonic Youth, and it definitely did. It was noisy but structured, drawing comparisons to the band circa ‘Murray Street.’ Moore and Shelley seemed really happy to be playing together, and it was a great experience just seeing them doing their thing, even if Moore did spend a little too much time at the end producing gratuitous feedback. (At one point, it got so high-pitched that a large portion of the audience members comedically covered their ears simultaneously. I’d thought to bring earplugs, fortunately.)

Ryan, who’d seen Moore perform before, wasn’t all that impressed with the set, but I enjoyed it a lot. I’d also like to give Moore a shoutout for his guitar strap, which said “THURSTON” on it in huge letters.

Lunice

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by Ryan Nichols

After blazing sets from locals Body Games, Marley Carroll, and Charlotte’s Deniro Farrar (who led the crowd in the first schmoney dance of the weekend), Montreal’s Lunice took the stage at the incredibly intimate Kennedy Theatre, which gave Raleigh its own Boiler Room feeling for probably the first time ever. Coming off the support of a widely acclaimed Boiler Room performance in Los Angeles (outshowing newcomer Sophie and TNGHT partner Hudson Mohawke), Lunice treated those who didn’t believe in “saving the energy” the first night, and those who made the rain soaked hike to Kennedy Theatre to watch him put on a masterclass in hip-hop DJing. Throwing in his own productions, TNGHT tracks both released and unreleased, and other fun stuff (Soulja Boy and Drake’s “We Made It” being a clear highlight), Lunice had the late night crowd going nuts. Letting the feel of his LA Boiler Room set breathe across a strong 90 minutes, he was able to take the set in some housier directions in between mixes of “Gooo” and Hudson Mohawke’s “Furnace Loop” (which he spun the acapella of G.O.O.D. Music’s “Mercy” over top of, which was of course brilliant) which was hopefully indicative of the directions he’ll be taking his first album on LuckyMe, which will hopefully come out sooner rather than later. After tearing through a charged remix of “Move That Dope”, the night ended with a remix of Disclosure’s “Tenderly”, as Lunice was having so much fun jumping down from the podium and getting in the crowd’s face to rap along with his songs that he didn’t even notice he ran out of time and even went over by ten minutes. Who could blame him, as I’d be willing to bet everyone there could’ve gone for another hour. Not only should DJs take lessons from this dude, but rappers as well, as Lunice has more stage presence and energy than the vast majority of them.

Friday, September 5th

St. Vincent

I’ll begin with this: very few people have the stage presence of Annie Clark.

I was lucky enough to have a spot in the photo pit for her set. She was even more radiant up close and her enthusiasm completely contagious. The audience was clearly enthralled, singing along enthusiastically, and I even saw a woman sketching Clark in real time.

Clark drew a vast City Plaza crowd, and for good reason. Her live show is explosive. The set was heavy on songs from this year’s self-titled release, but she threw in some older tracks too, such as wonderfully disjointed “Marrow” and fan favorite “Cheerleader.” The highlight of her performance, however, was “Your Lips Are Red.” Clark threw herself into it, at one point being carried on the shoulders of an employee in the photo pit and then laying down on the stage and shredding. The rest of her live band was fantastic, too.  If you ever get a chance to see St. Vincent, take it.

Spoon

I’ll admit it, I definitely questioned seeing Spoon’s name billed above St. Vincent when I saw the initial City Plaza billings back in April. I knew the band was coming back in 2014 after a slight hiatus, but I didn’t expect too much of it. Before, their live show would range from pretty good to just okay, no matter what part of their back catalog they dug through. I wasn’t even sure if leader Britt Daniel was interested in taking Spoon in different directions anymore (very successful sideproject Divine Fits already did this). But once they put out an impressively good new record, ‘They Want My Soul, my suspicions were definitely toned down, and their triumphant set in downtown Raleigh on this Friday night confirmed that Spoon are back and better than they ever have been. Opening with highlights from their new record, “Knock Knock Knock” and “Rent I Pay”, they followed the duo with classics “Don’t You Evah” and “Small Stakes”, proving the new songs’ place in Spoon’s live set. The band mixed highlights newer (“Rainy Taxi”, “Who Makes Your Money”) and older (“The Beast and Dragon, Adored”, “I Turn My Camera On”) before reaching the set’s true upward climb. ‘Gimme Fiction”s emotional centerpiece “I Summon You”, still as powerful as it first was nearly ten years ago, met atmospheric ‘Soul’ highlight “Outlier” before taking a huge leap with “The Underdog” and “Got Nuffin”, showing off the band firing on high gear. The perfect comedown was “Black Like Me”, another song that hasn’t dared lose any of its power since we first heard it, and provided a beautiful conclusion to a fantastic set. As with De La Soul, the audience wasn’t going to let Spoon off without an encore, and thankfully the graceful “Inside Out” (not only the best song on ‘Soul’, but one of the best of the year) was chosen for this spot, which the band followed up with “The Way We Get By” and “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb”, a well deserved victory lap to a fantastic headlining performance.

Open Mike Eagle

Michael Eagle has silently been climbing up the ranks of alternative hip-hop (or art rap, which I agree with him about…sounds much cooler and more accurate) over the last few years , punctuating his ascent with this year’s fantastic ‘Dark Comedy’ (which any fan of hip-hop should seek out immediately). I was glad to spot Mike’s name on the lineup back in April, and seeing him bring his one man show to the Pour House on Friday was nothing short of a treat. He guided us through favorites old and new, both singing and rapping, all while handling complete control of his audience, never once needing his own hype man or own DJ. Like Lunice the night previous, it would be nice to see more performers take a lesson from Mike’s book.

Tony Conrad & Thurston Moore

I never thought I would need earplugs for a solo violin set. Tony Conrad proved me wrong.

Harsh violin noise wasn’t something I’d experienced before, and I’m not sure I would want to experience it again, but seeing one person making the sheer amount of sound Conrad did was kind of amazing.

When Moore joined him on stage, Conrad was all smiles. “Thurston and I have known each other since 1981 and we’ve never played together!” Moore was complimentary of Conrad as well; “I almost didn’t want to go onstage- he was so good,” he told us later.

Moore coaxed all sorts of noise out of his guitar while Conrad droned on with his violin. It was intense to say the least, but captivating. It was amazing to witness their first-ever set together.

Clipping

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by Ryan Nichols

Needing absolutely no lessons on performing, Los Angeles trio brought the noise to the Pour House stage in the most serious way. MC Daveed Diggs got in everyone’s face, spit faster than on the albums even, and really confirmed his on record energy is very, very much a real and commanding thing. William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes created the perfect backdrop, bringing the subtly noisy soundscape to a tense balance between “about to explode” and just calm enough to let Diggs control the show, despite a few strange interludes where the duo just let loose with the noise while Diggs caught himself. The crowd jumped around, moshed (even when there wasn’t music playing, a testament to the hype level at this show), and even got in on some crowdsurfing (okay, I did) action during high octane finale “Face”, proving Clipping’s place in the world of live hip-hop. They’re a rare breed, and lets celebrate them now before the imitators come.

NGUZUNGUZU

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by Ryan Nichols

Sprinting across town after Clipping’s fairly short set, I figured another one of Los Angeles’ current best talents would be taking their set all the way to the very end of the night. Thankfully, beatmakers NGUZUNGUZU were still leading the audience through their strong grooves and top 40 (Usher ft. Rick Ross’ “Let Me See” definitely appeared) remixes in full force as I arrived, and I still caught the large majority of their set. Taking us on a nice journey through their own slick grooves, other Night Slugs productions, and the aforementioned remixes, Asthma Maroof and Daniel Pineda had the audience bouncing off the walls of the Contemporary Art Museum, in one of the most electric shows ever played at the venue (memories of Thee Oh Sees in 2012 and Matmos in 2013 came to mind). The duo were totally primed to take their set all the way until the 2am curfew, but after mixing in a remix of Future’s “Honest” that had the crowd going totally nuts, they knew they had done their job, perfectly ending yet another fantastic Friday night at Hopscotch.

Saturday, September 6th

Valient Thorr

I’m not particularly a metal person, but there’s something about local favorites Valient Thorr that’s just a lot of fun. They’ve played nearly every single year of Hopscotch, and it took until the fifth edition for them to play on the largest stage of them all. In the five years of Hopscotch, I’ve always maintained that none of the City Plaza crowds ever got too involved with the show (besides holding up Wayne Coyne’s bubble in 2011) and that everyone kind of just saved the energy for the night shows. Thankfully, Valient Thorr changed this and had everyone rocking out, throwing devil horns, and at the show’s climactic moment, getting on their knees and rowing the “valient orr”. It was a perfect setup for the insanity to come just a mere two sets later.

Death

“It’s been a good year for Death!” frontman Bobby Hackney shouted to the lively crowd that had gathered to see the trio play City Plaza.

The band was introduced by Mark Christopher Covino and Jeff Howlett, directors of “A Band Called Death,” a 2012 documentary about the Detroit protopunk group.

The energy was fantastic as Death ripped through their set. They were all smiles as they played classics from their 70s albums as well as new material from an upcoming release. The audience was great and their set was an overall good time. Bobby Hackney’s charisma and enthusiasm made the great performance even better; Death are a band who really, really love what they’re doing. Bassist Bobbie Duncan wore some awesome leopard-print pants, too.

Mastodon

For many, Mastodon’s 2009 magnum opus ‘Crack the Skye’ was a sort of bridge album for those who weren’t really into metal, but had prog leanings. It was a very concise and focused 50 minutes, one that I admit was just so well crafted it made me wish I loved the band’s other records just as much (‘Blood Mountain’ has grown on me, though). I hadn’t cared too much about them since then, and was extremely skeptic when I saw their name topping the Hopscotch bill. Hip-hop is one thing, but a metal headliner is about as bold as it can get. Suspicions were destroyed the moment Mastodon took the stage in front of thousands of their devoted fans, who promptly broke out the first City Plaza moshpit in a matter of about 45 seconds into their set. Opening with a pair from their new record (“Tread Lightly” and “Once More ‘Round the Sun”, both live debuts), the band showed that even their very newest material has already had a lasting impact, and live, the songs sounded much more monolithic than they did on record. Only a few songs in, fans were treated to ‘Crack the Skye’ opener “Oblivion”, the only song from that record that really made sense in this parade through the band’s catalog. They got the newer material from ‘Once More ‘Round the Sun’ and ‘The Hunter’ out of the way early, which lead through a triumphant tear through their back catalog. Once they played cuts from ‘Blood Mountain’ (“Bladecatcher” and “Crystal Skull”), they began to tear through a lovely suite of songs from ‘Leviathan’, starting with “Blood and Thunder” and “Chimes at Midnight”, before brilliantly inserting recent single “High Road” right before closing pairing “Aqua Dementia” and “Hearts Alive”. It reminded me that there’s a reason Mastodon is still one of the most popular and best in their league; no matter what they do, they find a way to bring it all together.

Ava Luna

Ava Luna was the only band I saw play at Tir Na Nog, and they just about filled the venue. The group kept the energy up even in the sports-bar atmosphere, which is not an easy feat. Their funky, danceable music was a hit with the crowd, who seemed to be having a great time (which may have had something to do with the very busy bar, but I’ll credit Ava Luna for providing a great show.)

I unfortunately wasn’t able to catch all of the set, but heard nothing but praise from others.

Jamie xx

The last act we saw at Hopscotch, Jamie xx absolutely did not disappoint. I had high expectations after hearing the excellent singles he released over the course of the year, and he exceeded even these.

He didn’t say a single word during his set but still created a fantastic dynamic.  I don’t think there was a single person in the audience not dancing. He played singles “Sleep Sound”, “All Under One Roof Raving”, and “Girl” to the increasingly enthusiastic crowd, as well as Caribou’s “Can’t Do Without You.”

One of the best moments of the set was seeing Tom Krell (a.k.a. How To Dress Well, who had played before Jamie) going crazy on the side of the stage. He also later showed us footage of himself doing the schmoney dance, which we very unfortunately missed seeing in real-time. We did, however, see him and fellow Hopscotch performer Well$ crowdsurfing by jumping off the side of the stage.

x

Despite some initial concerns, the fifth year of Hopscotch was likely the most successful yet. The instatement of the Thursday City Plaza show bringing everyone together communally to open the proceedings was brilliant, and despite the rain, provided a highlight that was still talked about throughout the weekend.

A great time seemed to be had by all (except maybe Mark Kozelek, but I won’t beat that horse.) It was my (Julia’s) first time attending Hopscotch and it surpassed everything I could have hoped for. I can’t wait for next year!

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