Want To Play D.C.’s Newest DIY Festival? Take A Number

By Ron Knox

Bands are lining up to play houses and other spaces participating in the sweeping In It Together Fest.
Bands are lining up to play houses and other spaces participating in the sweeping In It Together Fest.

Late Tuesday night, organizers of this summer’s ambitious In It Together Fest huddled at DIY space Hole In The Sky to try to work through one of the festival’s more auspicious logistical hurdles: Too many bands want to play.

“We have a surplus of bands and we’re running out of space,” says Mike O’Brien, an In It Together Fest co-planner who operates his printing business out of Hole In The Sky. Bands’ overwhelming interest in the event—which runs July 31 to Aug. 3 at numerous local venues—stands as a testament to the months of work O’Brien and his fellow organizers have put into what may be D.C.’s first sweeping, multivenue DIY festival.

But while the folks from Hole In The Sky and fellow DIY space The Dougout have handled many of the event’s logistics, much of the heavy lifting—like booking the shows—has been the work of the larger community. O’Brien says the idea was to bring together the city’s diverse and sometimes disparate arts spaces under the banner of a major DIY festival—so participating venues were given dates to work with and told to book the shows they wanted to see.

The result is an eclectic mix: a mishmash of straight-ahead punk rock, spacey fuzz pop, singer-songwriter crooning and various styles in between.

“That is a product of the structure of the fest that we set out from the start to make sure happened,” O’Brien says. He told the venues, “Do whatever you want. We’ll support you in promotion and make sure people know about [the shows].”

Getting the word out clearly has not been a problem. At the moment, roughly 10 bands are waiting to see if they can land a spot in the fest. O’Brien says he and the other organizers are kicking around ideas to fit them all in, including adding new venues—like record stores—and shoehorning them into the already beefy lineup.

Organizers have posted the festival’s most up-to-date schedule on the In It Together Fest website (see the flyer below). So far it includes 17 events at 16 venues—and it’s not all music: There’s an Alley Cat bike race, a drone brunch, a skate showcase, and a centerpiece event Aug. 2 at St. Stephen’s Church. But as O’Brien says, more happenings could be tacked on in the coming days. The heavy lifting might not be finished yet.

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