The Together 7 Short List: FRB’s Guide to the Festival

This week, Front Row Boston’s Dillon Riley — visiting us from his normal location at Clicky Clicky Music — gives you his Short List for Together 7: the shows he thinks you should hear and see this week during the festival.

Together Boston, now in its seventh year, boasts as strong a program as any North American dance festival and I’m honored to have played a role in its development. Next week you’ll catch me happily running around Cambridge, hitting every show I can and dancing hard as soon as I get inside. Here are a handful of parties I’m especially excited to see at Together 7!

5/17 Together X The Black Madonna and DJ Minx w/ Byoosik @ Middlesex Lounge

Sets from Chicago’s The Black Madonna are in and of themselves a treat given her impeccable taste and talent. However, Marea Stampner’s contributions to house music heroically extend far outside such gifts. Now the Creative Director at Chicago’s long-standing Smart Bar, Stamper uses her platform as an artist and promoter to shine a light on the ugly, discriminatory aspects of dance music culture that often go unchecked. Hers is a much needed and much appreciated voice, both as a DJ and as an agent for social change. Joined by DJ Minx and Vault founder Byoosik, Tuesday night will be among the most buzzed about parties at Middlesex this year, guaranteed.

5/21 Together X Matthew Dear, Axel Boman, J.Phlip @ Middle East Downstairs

While my favorite venue in the Together stable is the beloved Middlesex Lounge, for the sake of argument I will concede that the Middle East Downstairs is the true mainstage. While playing host to three absolutely ridiculous showcases this year, including a bonkers Resident Advisor show with Jon Hopkins and KiNK, my “can’t miss” party has to be the triple bill of Matthew Dear, Axel Boman, and J.Phlip. As a headliner, Matthew Dear brings an effortless style to his notoriously genre-hopping sets. Plus, he’s a known fan of Boston, having leveled Middlesex a few times now at Make It New. Joining him are Axel Boman, the Hypercolour standout, and J.Phlip, Dirtybird’s not-so-secret weapon, poised to blow minds with her funky, forward-thinking house takes.

5/22 Together Closing Party with Bicep and Ben UFO @ Middlesex Lounge

Some of the best modern selectors in techno playing an early-evening set at the best sounding club in the Boston area? What else really needs to be said? In short, Bicep comes back to Middlesex relatively fresh off a scorching set at Make It New’s eleventh birthday party celebration in October, while Ben UFO returns to Boston special for Together while in the middle of a run of dates with dance music royalty Four Tet.

5/18 Together X Clicky Clicky Night 1 feat. St. Nothing (solo), All Talk, Aüva and
5/19 Together X Clicky Clicky Night 2 feat. Strange Mangers, Lychee (DJ), CYBERBULLY @ Lilypad

It goes without saying that I recommend going to the two Together x Clicky Clicky Music Blog shows at Lilypad this year as well. While both shows are a means of showcasing what’s going in Boston’s music scene beyond the DIY house show scene, each night plays by a loose theme. The first is an experimental pop night with St. Nothing and Aüva messing around with pop textures in their own artful ways, while All Talk musses up their tuneful power-pop leanings with distortion and minor tape hiss. On night number two, CYBERBULLY’s left field electronic workouts and Strange Mangers’ special MIDI-leaning set serve as a great precursor for a special DJ set from on-the-rise Boston producer Lychee. While the ultimate goal with these shows is to begin building a sort of bridge between Boston’s rock and dance scenes, I hope they will at the very least show folks something different and worthwhile when it comes to local live music.