Now in its fourth year, the Together Festival, a weeklong event primarily known for its lineup of electronic music showcases, is set to launch this Sunday. While electronic music fans will recognize many of the big crossover names and underground favorites — including Crystal Castles, Four Tet, Gold Panda, Duke Dumont, !!!, Juicy J, Tiga, Le1f, and Zomby, as well as regional upstarts like Doctor Jeep, André Obin, Moldy, and M|O|D — this year's programming further emphasizes the art and technology aspects of Together's larger mission.
With so many shows and daytime panels, it can be hard to figure out which ones are must-see, so we spoke with creative director David Day, and daytime event coordinator Sara Skolnick to narrow down your best options depending on your interests.
For specific details on each event and the full schedule check www.togetherboston.com/schedule.
For the person who wants to be at the center of the action
Many of the week's performances will take place at the Middle East Downstairs, which has been rebranded as the Together Central Stage for the week. It won't be the same rock club you're familiar with, however; the Boston design firm Skeptic is making over the space. "They're putting in this fantastic light installation that's going to be sound reactive," Day explains. "It's going to look a lot different down there."
For the visually minded
Together is the "culmination of music, art, and technology, which is what we've been pushing this year," Day says. "Every event needs to have some level of those three things." Perhaps the best example of that comes on Thursday at the Museum of Fine Arts, where multimedia artist and VJ Brian Kane's "HDADD+" presents a set of live visual and audio mixing and projection that explores the way we interact with technology — on our phones, for example — and turns it into a collage of sight and sound.
For the globally minded local artist
Like most of the daytime panels and discussions, which are free and open to the public, "Grassroots Digital" on Thursday will be held at Together headquarters at 330 Mass. Ave., Cambridge — in the former Salvation Army space. This panel looks into the newly developing avenues for artists on the grass-roots level around the world to interject their creative perspective into the international cultural conversation. Led by Wayne Marshall (a renowned music writer, DJ, and teacher at Harvard) along with Toy Selectah (a pioneering hip-hop en Español DJ), Skolnick says this discussion will use examples of artists who have eschewed the traditional record label structure, and highlight some of the means of "bringing new light to these people that are producing and normally wouldn't have any outlets for recognition."
For the fan who wants to have been there when . . .
The Turbo Recordings showcase could very well be the week's must-see show. On May 17 at the Middle East Downstairs, the taste-making label hosts Duke Dumont, Nautiluss, Bordello, and Doctor Jeep. Dumont is the producer behind the irresistible British No. 1 single "Need U (100%)." "Five years from now when he's playing the Bank of America Pavilion, people will be like, 'I saw him at the Middle East Downstairs,' " Day says.
For the tech-head musician
Ableton, the music production software widely used by many of the artists in the genre to produce electronic music, will hold a demonstration of its new Push controller on May 17 at the Mmmmaven Project space in Central Square along with Berklee associate professor Loudon Stearns. "It's in such high demand people just want to come and gawk at it," Day explains. "It's almost frightening how this machine can manipulate music."
For the less traditional musician on their grind
"Can't Knock the Hustle — Econ 101 for the Independent Musician" on May 17, moderated by Max Pearl of Cluster magazine, "is meant to discuss the realities of being an independent musician," Skolnick explains. "What to do if you don't have the privilege to tour, take time off from work while you're trying to support family," and other hurdles to making a splash in the business. It will also explore how race, class, and gender affect the way music is produced and shared now throughout the world. Panelists include a broad spectrum of promoters, artists, and thinkers from across the music industry such as Natalia Linares, Dan Hirsch, George Machado, and Matt Shadetek.
For the community-minded
On May 18, the Central Square Business Association is throwing another World's Fair at University Park on Sidney Street. A celebration of music, food, and art, and of Central Square's recent designation as an official Cultural District of Massachusetts, it's a coming together of the entire community that also coincides with Central Square Open Studios. Together is providing the day's soundtrack, with multiple stages of DJs and performers, including a Soul Train runway for area dance groups.
For the exhausted show-goer
When all the dust has settled by next Sunday, music fans will want to relax in a dark room for some relative quiet. The screening of Romi Agel and Holger Wick's "We Are Modeselektor" at the MFA proves a respite. The documentary follows the fascinating career of the veteran German techno duo from the early days of rave on up through the present.