Stop waiting for the bass to drop. At Together Boston, electronic songs go beyond what’s expected. Instead, they innovate. Things happen when you least expect them to, especially when the beat breaks.
At first glance, Together Boston may sound like a hippy ordeal because of its moniker, but peek a little closer. The local electronic music festival fuses underground dance with international acclaim, getting local acts to share the stage with major artists. Now, after eight successful years, Together launches into its newest edition on May 14. For eight nights, the festival will host over 35 DJs and producers, 19 different shows, and nonstop dancing to a wide array of electronic music.
It all begins this Sunday night, May 14, when Detroit’s Magda and San Francisco’s Solar twist the traditional sounds of their hometowns. The opening night party takes place at Middlesex Lounge in Cambridge. Over the course of the week, however, the festival shifts locations, letting attendees pick between shows and getting a better taste of the venues our city has to offer. Tech genius Alessandro Cortini performs at Middlesex Lounge on May 15. House music legend Kerri Chandler holes up at Middle East Downstairs on May 19 while Pantha Du Prince turns Brighton Music Hall into a downtempo dance club that same night. Octo Octa brings her unique sounds to Phoenix Landing on May 17. Soul Clap returns to the Sinclair with a handful of rubbery funk and disco-tinged tunes. Then it all comes to a close the following Sunday when Leon Vynehall spins trippy house at Middlesex Lounge.
Together Boston emphasizes the latter half of its moniker by partnering with Boston-area event nights. That means anyone who’s ever gone to Soulelujah to boogie or a KNTRL night to lose their mind to live music will feel right at home at the festival. The organizers want to make sure Together Boston is as much of an international experience as it is a representation of Boston’s underground electronic scene. How else would we all come together?
Perhaps the best show exemplifying that fusing of talent is the tour de force of Discwoman at Middlesex Lounge. On Tuesday, May 16, rising star Avalon Emerson, Bronx techno warper Umfang, and local DJ Dee Diggs will fill the room with a smooth yet dizzying mix of music. It’s a bridge between genres as well as representing the underrepresented, all while letting Boston musicians mingle with like-minded acts from the other side of the states. At just 22 years old, Diggs already has an original ear for DJing and nabbed a very much deserved spot kicking off that evening.
“I’m very excited to play on this all-women line presented by Discwoman,” she says. “They are so inspiring as a collective of femme identified go-getters in the music industry. There is still so much rampant sexism and power imbalances on all levels of the music industry. That is twofold when you are also a woman or femme of color trying to navigate a scene. In order to survive and thrive, you need to band together with a group of like-minded people and stand up for yourself and each other.”
Beyond that, especially for several local acts, Together hits home in more ways than one. The festival allows locals to try their hand volunteering, mixing sound, or bumping shoulders with some of their idols. Last year, Diggs served as a production volunteer, which allowed her to have a hands-on look at how the festival operates so smoothly. “I helped build and break down sets after a few of the shows. It was my first Together festival ever, and I learned so much,” she says. “It was one of the most tiring weeks of my life, but I gained some amazing friendships and connections with people who love electronic music in Boston.”
So don’t let the name throw you off. Together isn’t about bringing like-minded people into one room and shutting out the rest of the music world. It’s about letting the know-it-alls share the joy of music with the looking-to-learners. If the entirety of electronic music is one big bloop mess to your ears, consider coming out. If you’re a die-hard electronica fan, then definitely come out. Together Boston pulls from enough side genres—be it techno, funk, experimental, or anything in between—to create a night that will impact you forever. Above all else, Together Boston is a chance to let loose, have fun, and dance until your feet feel like they’re floating.
“You should expect to be surprised and you should expect to be delighted,” says Diggs. “You should keep your phone close by to Shazam some musical gems, and then put it away and dance! You should stretch before you come because I am all about rhythm. I want you to move your hips and loosen your body and sweat out your worries.”
Truth be told, it’s impossible not to, especially when we’re all in it together.
TOGETHER BOSTON. 5.14–5.21. TOGETHERBOSTON.COM