Weather-wise, this year's Hopscotch Saturday was the best and worst of times. The afternoon could not have been more perfect for drifting from one day party to another, catching snatches of bands playing outdoors on the streets of downtown Raleigh -- Mount Moriah, Double Negative and Megafaun among them. It was a thrill to hear the iconic dB's do "Love Is For Lovers" and "Ask for Jill" back to back (which might rank one-two on my personal dB's top-10 list); and I got lucky with Megafaun, too, when they did my favorite song of theirs, "The Fade." Lovely as always, if you go in for heart-stoppingly lovely.
Alas, Saturday evening was when the bottom dropped out of the sky for the second time in three days, a downpour that threw the City Plaza main-stage schedule into chaos. For a while, it seemed in doubt as to whether or not headliners the Roots would be able to play. But they finally got started about 9:45.
It was worth the wait, too, because the Roots were capital-A Awesome. If you missed them Saturday night, well, it sucks to be you. It felt like watching George Clinton's P-Funk All-Stars in their prime, or the Meters. The lineup included a sousaphone, which made for all sorts of cool second-line rhythms. Black Thought was a wonder on the mike, and ?uestlove his usual amazing self on the drums.
But I thought the real star of the show was guitarist Captain Kirk Douglas, who flat stole the show with an incredible version of "Sweet Child o' Mine." It rocked as hard as the Guns N' Roses original, but with The Funk and even a sense of humor. The whole set was like that, as the Roots bounced back and forth between hot funk, birth-of-the-cool bop and crushing blues-rock. And not only were they tight as can be, they pulled off stage moves the '60s-vintage Temptations would have envied.
I think my favorite part was watching the Roots pogo up and down during a second-line funk workout, and remembering Chapel Hill's Superchunk doing the same thing during a revved-up punk song on the very same stage at last year's Hopscotch. Getting you in touch with the random interconnectedness of all things is what a festival is supposed to do.