By Spencer Shannon
It’s been a long, hard winter, and for music fans, the arrival of summer signals more than balmy temperatures— it’s festival season. For kandi kids moored on the East Coast with no access to globally-attended events like the Electric Daisy Carnival and Tomorrowland, Together Boston throws a formidable party in our own backyard.
The weeklong celebration and exploration of the integration of music, art and tech, now in its fifth year, takes over Cambridge and parts of greater Boston on May 11. This year’s lineup is is stacked with more than 70 artists culled from around the globe and right here in Boston. We’ve rounded up just a few of the local and international acts that stood out from the huge list of DJs and producers – focus those good vibes and get ready to rave.
Casey Desmond (BOS)
Desmond is a true product of the DIY generation – she writes, sings and has a hand in producing all of her own music, which always begins in her built-from-scratch home studio. Her prolific creativity isn’t relegated to music alone – she also puts out original artwork, photography and clothing designs. Desmond initially put a pause on the release of her first EP for a short stint on NBC TV’s The Voice. Since her return, she’s brought her focus back to meticulously building upon her performances, where she says her heart really lies, with electric wardrobes, stunning visuals, and tripped out stage effects.
CASEY DESMOND / MAY 18 / TT THE BEAR’S PLACE, 10 BROOKLINE ST., CAMBRIDGE
Glowkids and FUSE (BOS)
Touching down from some far-off star system, interstellar DJ duo Glowkids and FUSE take spinning to the next level with multilayered performances that combine throbbing, glittery beats with psychedelic light shows and otherworldly imagery for an immersive audience experience. The duo boast that their unique aesthetics allow them to move audiences like no one else, creating something that can only be described as “full bodied” and totally out of this world.
GLOWKIDS AND FUSE / MAY 16/ RISE AFTERHOURS, 306 STUART ST., BOSTON
Major Stars (BOS)
The six-part Major Stars is a local behemoth in psych-rock, having steadily building a following since 1997 with international tours and appearances at South by Southwest in Austin and All Tomorrow’s Parties in the UK. The band’s sound is defined by murky, acid-rock sound: an assault of noise and heavy, lurching guitar that threatens to melt faces with its overwhelming presence.
MAJOR STARS/ MAY 15 / LILY PAD, 1353 CAMBRIDGE ST., CAMBRIDGE
Their Facebook page offers up the following explanation, and no more: “Scrap steel guitars, hobo electronics, found objects.” Neptune challenges and blurs the line marking the separation between what constitutes music and what constitutes just plain noise – most notably by building all of their instruments themselves from scavenged materials and found objects. As well as guitars built from scrap metal, the inventors-cum-musicians also employ the use of custom-built drums and electric lamellophones. The result is a sound that is at once perplexing and fascinating.
NEPTUNE / MAY 18 / LILY PAD,1353 CAMBRIDGE ST., CAMBRIDGE
Sleep Crimes + Thrust Club (BOS)
Sleep Crimes is a female-fronted riot doom project, their room-shaking, fuzzed-out sound influenced by the likes of Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden. They’ll be joined onstage by Thrust Club, an unlikely all-female dance rock quartet who met at Ladies Rock Camp in 2012 and decided to keep the party going after their weekend at camp was up. The two bands will join forces as a supergroup they’ve playfully dubbed Thrust Crimes for a performance with double the drums, double the axes and double the badass girl power.
THRUST CRIMES / MAY 13 / LILY PAD, 1353 CAMBRIDGE ST., CAMBRIDGE
Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) (NYC)
Dante Terrell Smith aka Mos Def aka Yasiin Bey has long been in the game for longer than a lot of Together-goers have been alive. An actor and hip hop artist hailing from Brooklyn, his long, illustrious career has defined him as a leading force in the underground hip hop movement of the ’90s, and he still finds success today as a solo artist, designer and actor in film and TV. Smith embodies the tenants of Together’s mission – promoting innovation in music, art, and technology – constantly challenging himself and evolving, recently evident with the reveal of his current manifestation as Yasiin in 2012.
YASIIN BEY/ MAY 15 / WILBUR THEATRE, 246 TREMONT ST., BOSTON
German DJ Marco Niemerski, known professionally as Tensnake, rocketed to fame in 2010 with his track “Coma Cat,” which reached number 85 on the UK charts that year. Since then, Tensnake has captured, and held, the attention of clubbers and music aficionados alike withhis highly accessible style – a seamless coalescence of retro disco and house sound with contagious, contemporary beats. His glittery, funkadelic sound is impossible to resist, and his ability to draw thousands out to the dance floor make him a must-see at this year’s festival.
TENSNAKE / MAY 16 / BIJOU, 51 STUART ST., BOSTON
Chet Faker (AUS)
Nicholas Murphy aka Chet Faker enjoys a rare duality as a musician at the crossroads of two very different genres. Murphy is a unique artist who revels in creating acoustic tracks that are alternately organic and soulful and marked by sexy electro-dance cuts. Faker employs raw, silky vocals with flowing, mechanical beats to produce a sound that is at once both infectiously catchy and irresistibly sensual.
CHET FAKER / MAY 14 / PARADISE ROCK CLUB, 967 COMM. AVE., BOSTON
For tickets and the full lineup visit togetherboston.com