Somerville Porchfest Thoughts

May 13th, 2024
contra, music
This Saturday was Porchfest in Somerville, an annual festival where musicians around the city play on their porches and people wander around listening. As in the past few years Cecilia and I (Kingfisher) played for contra dancing:

Harris Lapiroff called:

If anyone has pictures of videos from the set, I'd love to see them as well.

Overall, we had a great time! It was fun seeing so many friends, and the kids did some very good business with their bake sale.

This was the second year we'd gotten permission to close the street to traffic, which we really needed. I applied on Monday 2024-03-18 and it was approved on Wednesday 2024-05-08 for an event on Saturday 2024-05-11. This was cutting it a bit close; among other things the permit says you need to give all abutters at least one week written notice, which wasn't possible. My guess is the city wanted to decide all together which streets would be closed, and wanted to do that close to the time so they'd have as much information as possible?

There were several times that cars came through the closed street, mostly in groups. They moved appropriately slowly, but they're just very bulky which was tricky with the dancing. There were barriers up, but maybe with how many streets were closed the drivers felt like they had no other possible routes?

Even though Morrison tends to have a lot of bands and people, this year it was far from the most crowded place. That would have been Aberdeen, where Guster played. Over on Reddit /u/mais318 took a drone up (possibly unsafely/illegally?):

I did hear a lot of mixed things afterwards about crowd and traffic management. Some ideas for future iterations:

  • Close more streets. If bands that tend to draw a large crowd on a street, put in a block party request.

  • Pick some main streets to keep open [1] and ask people not to perform on those streets. Strongly discourage driving on non-main streets, even the ones that aren't closed.

  • Decide farther in advance which streets will be closed, and make a map available.

  • Encourage people with houses backing up onto the bike path to play/host bands on the path.

  • Bands likley to draw very large crowds (ex: with >20k monthly Spotify streamers) should only play as a surprise.

Other ideas?

[1] Spitballing: Broadway, Holland, Elm, Powder House, Boston Ave, Highland Ave, Summer, Broadway, Medford St, Pearl, Somerville Ave, Washington, Mystic, Rt 16, Rt 28, College, Cedar, Central, School, Prospect

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