Every year about this time (for the past decade or so) the Somerville district of Boston plays host to the Honk! Festival. Billed as an extravaganza of “activist” street bands, it’s an excuse to get out and shake your booty to the high energy music. Yeah, some of the bands feature folks waving signs and no, I didn’t agree with all of them. It didn’t matter, I was there for the music! My brother-in-law lives very close to Davis Square, so my wife and I journeyed to Somerville to enjoy his hospitality—and the festival—for the long weekend.
The schedule for this fest is fairly simple: on Friday night the bands trickle in and you can catch impromptu performances around Davis Square. On Saturday the festival kicks off in full gear, and the bands take turns strutting their stuff at various venues around the Davis Square area. There’s a sort of schedule so you can plan to catch your favorites, or you can just wander the Square and take it all in. Brass and drums tend to predominate, as befitting the “street band” format where you’re mainly unplugged. Some of the bands feature dancers, including some on stilts who were just amazing to see.
We had a particular band we wanted to see, called The Party Band. They’re bright, high energy, and they’re pretty tight for a street band. Here’s a short video I shot of one of their songs in the Saturday set.
As you can see, they really get the crowd worked up and involved!
On Sunday the day kicks off with a parade. The bands form up at Davis Square and then march down Massachusetts Avenue to Harvard Square, where they then spend the rest of the day performing in static venues pretty much as they did on Saturday. Harvard Square is packed with booths and spectators, as well as the musical acts, and the festival atmosphere is strong. We scored a viewing spot just in front of Diesel Cafe in Davis Square, just meters from where the parade began. Here are some shots I took of various participants.
Once the last group set off on the parade route we caught the subway to Harvard Square where we met the arrivals, mingled with the crowds, did some shopping and, of course, caught another The Party Band set before we called it a day.
We had a great time, and definitely plan to return next year!