Complaints About PorchFest Put Somerville Music Festival in Jeopardy
Some residents complained about long afternoons of amplified music and crowds. An event organizer said, "It's sad some people took advantage of the situation."
Somerville's PorchFest featured over 100 musical acts who performed outdoors throughout the city Saturday, but some reports of excessively loud music, performances that lasted hours past their scheduled end time, crowds drinking and blocking roads, and other disturbances put a damper on the event for some residents.
Gregory Jenkins, executive director of the Somerville Arts Council, which organized PorchFest, expressed disappointment over the way a handful of musical acts behaved, and he said, "If it becomes a problem, we just won't hold the event [again]."
The second annual PorchFest, a free citywide music festival in which a variety of musicians performed on porches, took place May 19, and "overall it was a very successful event," Jenkins said. However, he noted, "All it takes is four or five people to mess it up for the whole city."
Jenkins said he received complaints about loud music on Berkeley Street, Morrison Avenue, Winter Street and some other places.
"I think it can jeopardize it," he said of what the complaints might mean for future PorchFests. "Sure it can."
On Somerville Patch, some residents described loud music and inconsiderate crowds as part of the PorchFest experience.
Tom O'Brien wrote, "My neighborhood was subjected to live, amplified music played from mid-afternoon until 6:45 p.m. We were also subjected to crowds who blocked the street (people had even set up chairs in the street), the sidewalks, and neighbors' driveways, and stood in the street and on neighbors' properties drinking all afternoon."
Pat Lynch wrote, "My neighborhood also had streets blocked, and if you attempted to drive down your own street people stood there and looked at you like you were doing something wrong."
Jenkins said event organizers were explicit with performers that they were supposed to communicate with and be respectful of neighbors, and he was disappointed that "some people don't have common courtesy or common sense."
"There's no right for people to play music that loud," he said, and "it's not a block party"
"It's sad some people took advantage of the situation," he said.
Support for PorchFest
Despite these complaints, many people enjoyed the music festival.
On Somerville Patch, Mary Ellen Powers wrote, "This was a wonderful event that brought neighbors together."
Seth H commented that PorchFest was "[a]nother example of how Somerville is one of the most vibrant creative communities anywhere. I hope this tradition continues for years."
It was a sentiment shared by Ron Newman, who called it "a wonderful and beautiful event."
It also earned some positive press for Somerville, including a WBUR radio segment and story titled, "With Checkered Past, Somerville Celebrates Its New Identity."
"Ninety-five percent of the people who participated enjoyed it and had a good time," Jenkins said, pointing out that PorchFest is meant to be a good time and showcase Somerville talent.
"We're just trying to create something that's fun" he said.