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Bigger and better: West Philly Porchfest has quickly become a thing (updated)

Posted on 06 June 2017

 

                      Photos by Rana Fayez

It’s Saturday morning and the weather’s beautiful so you have your windows open. You’re rolling out of bed and you hear music coming in from the streets. It’s a lazy morning but you walk outside anyway because the weather’s perfect. You notice scattered clusters of crowds listening to music around a porch here and a porch there. A man comes out of his house with a pastry and a coffee, he’s sitting on his porch while enjoying a live band playing on his neighbor’s porch. It’s that time of year again, it’s West Philly Porchfest. Even though the official start time was at noon, some started warming up before. 

Last year, we told you what to expect from the event. This year ushered in a few more different styles and the more performers decide to collaborate, the more genres will be added.

While a little over 50 porches were officially registered, many porches had unofficial performances. This year, 69 porches participated in the event, according to the organizers. There were at least five different musical genres, a change from last year’s mostly acoustic performances. There seemed to be more amplification this year, and costumes too. West Philly streets were filled with music and foot traffic. Fu-Wah sold out of bread after selling over 300 hoagies in one day.

While music fans adored the event, some West Philadelphians were unimpressed. Some criticisms included the lack of diversity and an upset over the volume of music.

Christy Morin, a current West Philly resident, who also performed this year said, “I used to live in Somerville, Mass and they also do a porchfest. This was first year we participated and it was a great time. My only regret is that I did not get to see many of the other performances. Also we contacted all of our neighbors ahead of time to let them know and had no complaints.”

But resident Ryan Bile sensed that not everyone near the participating porches were as welcoming.

“I’m not entirely into the idea because I’m not sure if the organizers have considered promoting the idea of talking to your neighbors before deciding to host,” he said. “If not, I can see how it would be intrusive to some folks’ comfort. That being said, I participated for a short time. I played later at a private event that I felt was less intrusive to the functioning of the neighborhood.”

I was able to catch performances by yacht rock band Taupe and the modular synth performance at the University City Arts League and of course, Joe Jack Talcum’s (front-man of the Dead Milkmen) surprise solo performance at the Sound Hole.

By 6 p.m. the streets had quieted down and the music moved indoors. Until next year.

Rana Fayez

17 Comments For This Post

  1. Rich Wexler Says:

    I appreciate the article. Porchfest is like everything else.
    If you seek out acts that include a mix of different kinds of people
    you will find them. Here are the photos I took on my
    travels for Porchfest. https://www.facebook.com/pg/newcastrocameraphotography/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1719435978356226

    So the question I ask to those
    who had issues with diversity is did you take the time to
    look for the diversity you say was lacking? My experience
    of the day included acts of all ages, races, and gender identities and
    cultures.

    If community members want to see different kinds of acts then it helps to
    support already existing diverse neighborhood in west Philly.
    That is how I spent my day.

  2. Seebo Says:

    Wouldn’t be West Philly if folks didn’t complain.

  3. Naomi Says:

    I’d love to find a way to stager amplified performances that are near other performances. There was a great acoustic performance 4 doors down from a mediocre but VERY loud amplified rock cover band – both scheduled in the same time slot. It was a shame because, if they had a way to coordinate, the folks who wanted to hear the covers could have come at one time then, when everyone’s ears recovered, the awesome acoustic performance would have had sound space to perform, too. Just sayin. Otherwise, Porchfest was outstanding!

  4. Kate W-G Says:

    Enjoyed this for the 2nd year and was impressed by the increase in diversity. Organizers might need to address how to handle non-registered folks jumping on. A DJ set up on a porch on the 4800 Block of Cedar and spent 3 hours playing LOUD club music beginning at 6 just as the official Porchfest ended. First hour was fine because it kinda extended the goodwill but after that it was intrusive. Felt especially bad for our two neighbors with newborns.

  5. Ashley Says:

    This was my family’s first year attending Porchfest and we LOVED it. We must have walked all around to find a host of diverse performances, with our favorite being Wookiedelphia. I agree with Rich: we were actively seeking diversity and found it. I’d advise others to do the same. My only complaint is that we missed some acts because of the time it took to walk from one show to another (of course with a little one in tow, walking takes double the time). It was a great experience for our family and made us feel more welcome in our adopted hometown.

  6. Jim Hardwicke Says:

    Yes the organizers did tell the acts to contact the neighbors. You’d
    know that if you checked the website. Also this article is really flawed and seems to have been written just to complain about the event. Your article suggests lack of diversity as
    your own coverage shows no attempt of showing any. The lack here is of any actual journalism. WPL should not act like TMZ. This is schlock. Spend some time actually researching the event and fact checking verses just pointing out what’s wrong and crapping on
    something you know nothing about. What’s wrong is why and how the article was written and why this site would post such trash. Maybe hire some actual reporters instead of young clueless hobbyist
    interns.

  7. Dan Says:

    Ugh.

    Porchfest was a disaster.

    I didn’t see a single blind native america female vietnam veteran in a wheelchair who had a juggling and whistle tones singing act.

    Terrible.

    JK.

    Hooray for Porchfest. It was awesome! Perfect is the enemy of the good, diversity warriors. Hooray for the neighborhood.

  8. Nb Says:

    Porchfest was a brilliant addition to the neighborhood and the city’s music scene. Bravo!

  9. Whatever Says:

    I walked around for a while, and didnt see much in the way of diversity. This was a white as white gets kind of event. Pretending otherwise is sort of silly.

    I’m divided on my opinion. I like music and the idea behind this. There is no shred of doubt it was a big event this year. I also am bothered by how gentrified this whole area is getting. I almost could not believe how many white people with babies were out in the streets I felt like I was in a suburb for a while. I was definitely looking for diversity in the crowds and didnt see it. Porchfest is not a diverse event no matter what we pretend to ourselves.

  10. made me uncomfortable Says:

    I live next door from one of the porch things. No one informed me about it. Hopefully other neighbors were informed.

    My issue wasn’t the unexpected music. There were people standing around in the street drinking. We all know that loud music and public drinking wouldn’t fly if this were any other neighborhood. Really disgusting.

  11. Corey Says:

    Beautiful event. So happy and proud of my neighborhood. Love to see it next year.

  12. Rich Wexler Says:

    For Whatever’s behalf I’ll once again post my photos
    https://www.facebook.com/pg/newcastrocameraphotography/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1719435978356226

    I take photographs so when people say things like
    everyone was white and to pretend otherwise is silly
    I can actually prove otherwise.

  13. North West Says:

    “Made me Uncomfortable” please just move. Somewhere far far away. A day of fun in a neighborhood that is collectively having a good time. You’re what’s “really disgusting”

  14. North West Says:

    “Whatever” you’re just as bad…. just move… and take your sack of negativity with you… gentrification was a topic so 5 years ago In this neighborhood. You must be tired of saying it by now.

  15. James Says:

    That Star Wars band was right across the street from my apartment so I could hear them from my living room. They were pretty good!

    https://livefromphilly.tumblr.com/image/161434626978

  16. Larry Stevens Says:

    @ Thanks for some levity. Yes, those hosting porches should speak with neighbors. Yes, more diversity (please let the “other” diverse). Yes especially to no need of drinking in the streets. Most of the bands I heard were mediocre. Some were good. Much is a matter of taste. It’s one day a year. It’s over until next year. The whiners will have to wait until then. Maybe take the day and go to the beach and find diversity at least in body shapes. And please, the complaining about gentrification. It’s old. It’s uninformed. Too many white peoples with babies. Oh the horror of it. Vive la gentrification! It’s the salvation of the city. Now if we could just get the Democrats out of incestuous power and drain the swamp.

  17. Larry Stevens Says:

    @ Dan – Thanks for the levity, etc.



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