The Shills rock out at last year's Starlab Festival. Credit: Chris Anderson
When Matt Price and his band, Movers & Shakers, needed to raise $1,000 to rehabilitate their ramshackle studio five years ago, the Boston-based musicians staged a downhome neighborhood gathering — a couple local music acts, a few barbeques, and some coolers stocked with cans of Narragansett — in the studio’s parking lot.
“At first we didn’t know if we were going to get away with having an event in the parking lot, but when everything worked out, and the place was packed to the sidewalk’s edge, we knew this was something we had to continue doing,” says Price.
That they did.
Now in its fifth year, Starlab Fest, named after the studio itself, has become an annual delight for Somerville’s hotbed of artistic souls. The all-day event boasts 12 homegrown bands ranging from surf-rock (Beware The Dangers of a Ghost Scorpion) to punk (Animal Mother, Nice Guys) to hardcore (Lunglust) to hip-hop (Boogie Boy Metal Mouth), as well as a flea market curated by Somerville’s High Energy Vintage, and a cookout.
“We always joke about how hyperlocal Starlab Fest is, but we really try and make a point of curating and planning the event around the artists, musicians and people that not only inhabit Somerville, but Boston in general,” says Price.
This Saturday, Union Square will be abuzz with the happy glow of Starlab Fest 2014, now spanning two locations to accommodate the festival’s growing interests, which include short-film screenings from local directors, live painting form local artists and a comedy show. As Starlab Studios turns the ordinary parking lot of their rather low-key recording studio and occasional DIY venue into a battle royale of musical and art goodness, revelers can dance, mingle and celebrate the vibrant art and music community alive in Somerville.
“There’s a great collaborative spirit here in Somerville that makes putting together events like this exciting and fun,” says Price. “The receptiveness of local vendors and artists to get involved and be a part of Starlab Fest seriously encourages a strong neighborly vibe that becomes obvious when you’re here.”
As visitors traipse from one location to the other, Starlab Fest will feel much less like a music festival and more a little artistic pop-up city all its own, where bands play live outdoors, and people can eat, drink and shop without ever suffering a poorly chosen note.
“Starlab’s platform was born out of a very simple goal,” says Price. “Organize an event that casually brings the community together through the celebration of creative curiosity and collaboration.”
If you go Starlab Fest Saturday, 10 a.m. Starlab Recordings 453 Somerville Ave. and 32 Prospect St. $10, http://starlabstudios.com