Boston’s favorite DIY music festival is back with a vengeance for its seventh year.
Artists weird, noisy, independent and mostly local descended on Somerville Thursday night to kick off the three-day Boston Hassle Fest, the latest and biggest from the all-volunteer indie arts group.
As the DIY arts scene, at least the one in the Hassle’s orbit, has been slowly moving from the apartments and houses of 20-somethings and into Boston area venues, the festival scored a prime location for the bulk of its festivities: for the first time this year, Hassle Fest is taking over the Brighton Music Hall.
“It’s kind of a natural progression,” said Sam Potrykus, the 27-year-old co-founder of BRAIN Arts, Boston Hassle’s nonprofit parent organization, which also publishes the monthly Boston Compass. “Seeking above-board and legal spaces in which to do our shows has become increasingly more important.”
The festival’s highlights this year, according to Potrykus, are San Francisco punk band Flipper and experimental solo act Olivia Neutron-John of Washington, D.C. Otherwise acts are a mix of local and touring acts, college garage bands and vintage indie stars, playing to a crowd of the loyal, tight-knit bunch that makes up the Boston Hassle inner circle, plus many other curious music fans. At least 1,000 said on Facebook they were going. A crowdfunding campaign for the fest on Indiegogo this year raised more than $11,000.
Expect to see an interactive art installation from artists Jesse Kaminsky and Isabella Koen of Illuminus, the group showcased this year at HUBweek.
The annual fest is a big showpiece for the organization, which for seven years now has tried to match up niche fans with niche bands, while putting on cheap, all-ages shows Potrykus said most venues in Boston would never host.
“The venues are the hardest thing to find – an all-ages venue where you can have loud and weird and unheard-of music,” he said. “The bars and clubs don’t want to book bands that no one has heard of. They want to make money.”
Potrykus, who also owns a small moving company, said he puts in 50 hours a week volunteering his time to book and run shows. For years, most concerts involved setting up equipment in spacious living rooms. More and more, Potrykus said, the Hassle is looking to go legit.
Regular Hassle gigs at Out of the Blue Too Art Gallery & More have been a big boost for the space in Cambridge, its manager TJ Edson told Metro. About half of the group’s shows – four or five a month – are held there.
All the attention in the niche music scene has helped put the gallery on the map over the past seven or eight months, he said. It now hosts shows run by a number of booking agencies almost every night. By Thursday there were just two slots open on the gallery’s concert calendar for November.
“Once we kind of opened the gates to them hosting shows at the gallery, it kind of took off for us,” Edson said. “People see Out of the Blue gallery as like a legitimate, mainstream, on a main street, house-show-venue-style DIY thing.”
The festival kicked off Thursday night with bands playing at the Cambridge Elks Lodge and Out of the Blue Too gallery. It starts up again at the Brighton Music Hall at 6 p.m. on Friday and 3 p.m. on Saturday. The Brighton shows are 18-plus after 11:30.
This isn’t the last major event on Boston Hassle’s radar this year. The nonprofit is planning to hold its first-annual 24-hour telethon fundraiser for the cause on SCATV, the Somerville public access station, in December. Their latest idea? To buy a venue of their own.