As Boston’s Together Festival enters its fifth year, the traditionally electronic music forum will now incorporate a live psychedelic music contingent largely underexposed until this year.
Lily Pad booker Jesse Gallagher (Apollo Sunshine/Nightime Gallagher), has amassed a week of super-stacked sets featuring local and semi-local luminaries like Sunburned Hand of the Man, Major Stars, Keith Fullerton Whitman, Neptune and a special revival set from the Lilys.
“Jesse’s always been huge fan and supporter of the festival,” says David Day, who is the main organizer of Together. “His creative IQ is way up there and he’s easily able to see a kind of future music where both live and DJing are treated as an artform. I just kicked him the idea of the Sessions. I wanted less of a song-song-song type concert and more of a one-night-only experience. I certainly trust Jesse’s curation 100 percent. He’s sort of an idol of mine.”
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Tonight, Carlisle Sound will perform for the first time since 2009, followed by a rare performance from Kurt Heasley, who recently moved to Inman Square from Philly. His influential and underrated pop syndicate, the Lilys will make a welcomed returned as a duo with Gallagher backing him up.
“Kurt has a bunch of great new songs and this show should provide the motivation for him to make a new record,” says Gallagher.
Thursday night will end with an assuredly strange set by the hometown psych heroes, Major Stars. Somewhat sponsored by Google Glass, the band members will wear the newest and hippest headgear and provide the audience with a unique experience yet to be determined.
“Google glass was not part of the initial proposal,” says Wayne Rogers, a founder of Major Stars. “I didn’t really know what it was. I Googled it to find out. [I have] slight trepidation and mild annoyance. Maybe they’ll just fall off.”
Later in the week, on Sunday, Keith Fullerton Whitman will open another all-star bill with Neptune and Sunburned Hand of the Man.
“ I’ll be playing a set on a small digital-analogue hybrid modular synthesizer," says Whitman. "That’s what I’ve been doing the most over the past few years,” says Whitman.
He does live electronic music using just the basic building blocks — oscillators, filters, etc. The results are somewhere between the ’60s and ’70s traditions — like David Tudor and Michel Waisvisz — and contemporary electro-acoustic improvisation.
"It’s fairly ‘free’ in rhythmic and tonal senses, but occasionally coalesces into something sub-dividable and/or melodic. It all depends on how I patch that day.”
Sunday will also feature a rare performance by Neptune, appearing as a duo. The local band known for constructing their instruments from scrap metal will be approaching their set from a totally different mindset this time around.
“We are calling it ‘Neptune presents The Drip,’” notes Jason Standford. “We have a pail with a water spigot at the top of a ladder. The spigot is open just enough for a slow drip into a washtub beneath. The washtub is microphoned, and Mark and I use two amplifiers and an arsenal of effects to process the dripping sound. So the show starts sounding like just a drip, but ends sounding like an alien electronic soundscape, with the drip holding a rhythm throughout.
Day says though Together is known primarily for being about electronic music, it's really about pushing musical boundaries.
"It seems culture at large is moving past this idea that electronic music is not real music. It's 2014 and we're living in the future," he says. "The music of the future is not going to resemble the music of the past and nor should it and nor did it ever. It is always changing and looking towards the future. It's part of the reason I love music so much."
For a comprehensive schedule of Together, visit www.togetherboston.com.