Mission and Noe homes scattered within a few blocks of each other across the Mission District and Noe Valley opened up front porches and a few backyards on Saturday to host local bands in the city’s first-ever Porchfest.
A parklet a parking lot were also repurposed for the afternoon. In addition, supporters of the event like The Vestry, Revolution Café, Pig & Pie, and the Red Poppy Art House also hosted bands. Each venue had between 20 and 40 people with one particular backyard on Dolores hosting at least 70 people at one point! Each location hosted three or four bands over the course of the afternoon, some hosting more.
The spirit of Porchfest was born in Ithaca, NY to bring together musicians, porches and communities. Since its inception in 2007 the event has spread to a few dozen cities across North America with San Francisco playing host to the second Porchfest of 2015, after Montreal.
The idea reached SF when organizer Liz Pittinos and her burner friend Beth Gould heard of the event through Beth’s college roommate who hosted the 2014 Porchfest in Boston. The first ever SF chapter brought the local community together with 17 hosts opening up their spaces to 52 bands who entertained crowds over an afternoon of music.
The variety of music and talent were all over the scale – Folk, Country, Bluegrass, Americana, Jazz, Indie Rock, Soul/Funk, Soulgrass and several other genres. There were bands with teenagers rocking out, amateurs, professional troops, vocalists, classical musicians and a DJ too. Most venues offered a very intimate setting, which made the affair charming.
Bands helped each other out sharing equipment, helping one another setup, people made friends on porches and moved from one venue to another, volunteers helped out guests providing them information on nearby venues, their schedules and handed out stickers to mark people for their support. It was an afternoon filled with new sights and sounds.
The event was completely free for everyone, organized with the help of volunteers staffing each venue. Liz and Beth started planning the event in October 2014 with connections to a few local bands and residents willing to offer up their talent and space for the cause. They spent months dropping off flyers at houses to recruit hosts, and spreading the word to gather bands for what turned out to be a successful event.
A common motive among the organizers, volunteers and hosts was their interest in building community. Both Liz and Beth were inspired to take on the event as a means to bring together a polarized community, facilitate an afternoon of local, intimate musical experiences and interaction between people. The event concluded with an after party at the Vestry. The crew hope to repeat the success in 2016.