With grey skies, and my fingers crossed for no rain, I headed to Somerville’s PorchFest last Saturday May 16th. Started in 2011 PorchFest has grown exponentially over the years and has become a decentralized music show/crawl that spans Somerville. Its the kind of event that you expect in an area known for its high density of artists and students, where on any given summer night you would probably hear music wafting out of back yard barbecues and off roof decks. So, it was probably not a big leap for the Somerville Arts Council to decide to “organize” it, and lucky for us they did!
Broken up into three approximately two hour time blocks (12-2, 2-4, 4-6) PorchFest generously featured about 200 bands scattered across Somerville. You could start at the Union Square end of Somerville around noon and wind your way up and down sidestreets slowly making your way past Davis Square around 6. It was a very long walk, but with music in the background and spring in the air, people were out to have a good time and it was super chill afternoon.
With a few minor frustrations in the early part of the day, including the fact that the Porchfest website seemed to crash early Saturday morning, it didn’t hinder my experience any. While, I will probably forever wish that they had Somerville Porchfest app, or downloadable map (maybe there was one and I just didn’t realize it) and that there was a little more signage with band names and twitter handles etc… to connect with bands. I ended up just following the sounds and it was easy enough to figure out my next stop. It all felt very bohemian, freeflowing and very “Somerville” in the most progressive sense of the world, and it has recently spawned an offshoot in Jamaica Plain that is set to happen in early July.
The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library was, as always, excellent
On the streets, in the backyards of houses, there were a lot of people everywhere.
The Baker Thomas Band had the crowd dancing to a Tears for Fears cover when I arrived.
The Baker Thomas Band are currently in residence at Toad and peform regularly.
Walking down the side streets in Somerville, it was easy to find places to stop. Some of the acts attracted smaller crowds and played on stoops, or in this case on a balcony.
Even if you’re car wasn’t parked across the street, with this many people standing at an intersection and music coming out of the front of a house, you know you’re going to stop and see what’s going on. The Condescendants played an excellent set that included covers of Stevie Wonder and Janis Joplin.
For me, they totally nailed it. The Condescendants and some clips of their performance can be found on Instagram @thecondescendants
I loved this. Summed up the DIY nature of Porchfest for me.
Even when performances weren’t underway, music had a presence on the street.
There was a lot of acapella. Its not really my thing, but it was nice to see such musical diversity and the large crowd seemed to really dig it.
Even if people it was just kind of a walk by, pedestrians often paused to listen for a few minutes before they moved on.
This many people is always a good sign. I am definitely going to have to start going to see more live music.
These guys were fantastic. Rocked my world, if only I knew who they are!? When I figure it out I will pass it along. I imagine they would be great fun to see in a club. They had kind of a sexy groove thing going on and played a great very blues infused selection. Maybe it was the sunglasses, and maybe the crowd was just really into it!? IDK, but they rocked.
What was amazing, and I only realized this after most of the day was over, was that the streets weren’t closed. People were just driving very carefully (gasp!) and spectators were being very attentive of oncoming vehicles and moving out of the way of the way.
As I left for the day, the last song I heard was a Beatles cover. While Porchfest, on the whole was a lot of fun it totally made my day.
Version of the map I printed out and forgot at home. 😦 Would not have helped me anyways.