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Somerville Porchfest had special guests - and an ambulance

Guster on stage as crowd parts for ambulance

Guster on the porch as crowd slowly parts for ambulance.

Yes, Guster played on somebody's porch on Aberdeen Road in Somerville and a ton of people showed up and one guy maybe downed too many High Noons, and as roving UHub Guster fan Dapeaz shows us, just five songs in, the crowd had to part like some human Red Sea to let the ambulance in. He adds:

It was an excellent set. Started with 2 originals, a Fleetwood Mac "Dream" cover, followed by Amsterdam, and the fourth song was interrupted. Jokes about how their rent was $1600 for a 4-bedroom when they lived there.

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Comments

More likely a bad batch of homemade kombucha.

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Voting closed 28

"Who is Guster"

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Voting closed 22

Proud alumnus of Guster College here!

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Voting closed 16

IYKYK

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Voting closed 22

and it's the highest rank in the military.

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Voting closed 10

I had to look them up myself. I liked their earlier songs better!

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Voting closed 11

Enter the medicine handed down.

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Voting closed 11

The ambulance was used for crowd control. As far as I can tell, no one was ever loaded into it.

I went with my sister ("I've been to an embarrassing number of Guster shows") and 4 yo nephew (who has been told about said shows). All of Aberdeen Street was jammed with people, as was Cedar, which the cops had blocked off. We were standing at Cedar and Aberdeen on the far side when they started playing and couldn't hear anything. They had two little stand speakers which did basically nothing. My nephew decided he wanted to get closer and started worming his way through the crowd and parted the seas ("oh look, cute kid, sure you can get through") so we wound up much closer and could sort of kind of hear.

Then we heard sirens and two SPD cops on motorcycles came through splitting the crowd. Dangerous? Oh definitely. Necessary? Almost definitely not. (And yeah once they'd parted the seas people rushed in behind them.)

So they left and Guster played another song. More sirens. This time it's the two cops again trailed by an ambulance. They cleared everyone back—which could have been very dangerous since it crushed an already dense crowd—and then stopped in front of the porch. No one was loaded in or out, although maybe they were attending to someone there. But I think it was more of "we need to disperse this crowd and instead of letting the band play a couple more songs we're going to stick our noses into it." There were some private security guys there too who were keen on clearing people out; I saw them walking elsewhere later and should have asked what the deal was.

Kind of poor execution all around. The porch they played on was not particularly well-situated for a large crowd (there are probably better ones). Their sound system sucked, it would have been useless for 500 people let alone 5000 (there were probably at least that many people looking at the size of the street+sidewalks and density of people). SPD could have probably done crowd control much better by letting them finish their set and then letting people disperse (I'm assuming there wasn't actually need for the ambulance, but who knows). Within like five minutes they were letting cars down Cedar despite the crowds, which also seemed dumb.

I'm of a few minds about whether there should be a "headliner" type act for Porchfest. On the one hand, Porchfest is fun because it's all sorts of eclectic local bands and musicians playing for small-to-medium audiences. On another, a headliner brings more people in who get to see a lot of other bands. If this happened again the same location, wiring in speakers in a couple more locations would allow everyone to hear the music, even if the sound quality wasn't great. Although really, having this sort of act on a tiny street like this can only accommodate a few thousand people, so it will get overwhelmed.

One possible idea: have two "headliners" bookend the rest of Porchfest, each playing a short set to get people to the event. 11:15-11:45 in Davis (close down Davis to cars for that time) would accommodate 5x as many people as a small street. Then everyone disperses to the nearby porches for the 12-2 shows. Then at the end of the day, a similar set from 6:15 to 6:45 in Union to close out the day. That one might be sloppier, it's sort of a free-for-all for outdoor drinking.

All that said, I probably come down on the "keep it to local bands" as Guster was more of a distraction than anything (have them play a Dispatch-style Hatch Shell show if they want to do a free concert).

One other note: the fact that traffic isn't curtailed through the city for Porchfest is kind of insane. It seemed like half the cars on the road were Uber/Lyfts, which meant that people were ordering a ride hail car from the crowd (if they could get signal) and then waiting for it as it sat in traffic. Somerville should be a no-ridehail zone in each of the sections for a couple of hours, and come up with a road closure plan to highly discourage anything but essential traffic from the streets there. So maybe not a complete shutdown, but making it so that you can go in or out but not through. The saving grace is that everything move so slowly there's only so much damage that can be done.

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Voting closed 38

Letting drivers and attendees standing in the street "just work it out" is becoming more and more of a problem. I don't think this is sustainable as Porchfest gets more popular every year. There is going to be a tragic crash if the city doesn't do some better planning for closing streets and managing the locations of the performances.

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Voting closed 29

I found out that Guster is a local band. Just because they went mainstream doesn't mean they're not from Somerville.

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Voting closed 17

Porchfest isn't intended for nationally-known bands with Top 40 hits, and I don't think we should have another such band in the future. That said, this still would have been a pleasant surprise for a few lucky people to find, if it hadn't been publicized in advance by the Globe, WBUR, and other mass media.

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Voting closed 47

So fun only for Camberville?

Go away.

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So fun only for Camberville?

Do you know what two cities' names are used to create the portmanteau "Camberville"?

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I think his point was if it hadn't been "advertised" in the papers, only Somerville or Cambridge folks may have been there. Thus no 'fun' for Guster fans from other locales.

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Voting closed 17