FESTIVAL REVIEW: Together 2016

Photo by Ben Stas

Last week, Together returned for its seventh year, taking over Central Square in Cambridge and other venues throughout Boston for a celebration of all things dance music. Boasting arguably their best lineup yet along with a bevy of excellent daytime events, the organizers absolutely made good on its mission of showcasing the vibrancy of Boston’s electronic scene and abroad.

As mentioned in our preview post and chat with Together founder David Day, this year’s programming leant heavily on live performers, a welcome change from the last year’s more techno-centric booking. From the Dekmantel showcase’s smorgasbord of analog gear to Floating Points’ stunning live jazz band to Jon Hopkins’ typically stunning journey set, the dynamic nature of the performances elevated the majority of the lineup to something truly memorable. Plenty of talented locals, including Strange Mangers, St. Nothing, and Lychee, also made appearances at other showcases (particularly local blog Clicky Clicky’s impressive two night stand at Lilypad), providing experimental and exciting takes on electronic.

Photo by Nick Minieri

Of course, that isn’t to say the DJs were slouches. With genre-bending weirdness from Scottish dance institution Optimo, pummeling tech-house from Dirtybird spinner J.Phlip and consistently solid opening sets from residents like Mike Swells and John Barrera, there were a host of great selectors to fill out the lineup.

Up the road from the venues, electronic school MMMMaven (who are heavily involved in running the festival) hosted production and sound design tutorials in one of Together’s many efforts to expand the electronic scene. Between VJ competitions, a record fair attended by Brainfeeder producer Martyn, and one of the most fun (and only) history lessons on Dutch dance music you’ve probably ever had, the educational portion of the festival was far from a tacked-on component.

The chief praise has to go to something less easily defined though: the strong feeling of positivity and exploration ringing through the experience. Among festival-goers, there was very little of the drunken aggressiveness incorrectly associated with all dance events and far more passionate talk about all things electronic with the seemingly ever-present founder David Day encapsulating that giddy nature. Where many of it’s fellow festivals can feel like a cash grab, the Together fans and crew’s enthusiasm were the cherry on top of a killer festival. With seven great years under it’s belt, it’s hard to consider Together anything but a Boston institution at this point.

– George Greenstreet

For our extended coverage on this year’s festival, including local favorites and our eight favorite sets of the week, click through below.