The houses and intimate spaces that host DC’s best underground music and art shows don’t do much marketing. In fact, most don’t even have websites. The best way to catch wind of these basement concerts and art openings is through word of mouth, Facebook, or spotting the occasional flyer on the street. These DIY spaces give an outlet and an audience to artists that wouldn’t—or don’t want to—fill DC’s larger venues and galleries. This weekend, the scene is opening up a bit with In This Together Fest, a four-day festival across DC’s many indie venues. It’s not just music and art, either. There are comedy shows, film screenings, a skateboard showcase, an alley cat bike race, and more.
The goal of InFest is to bring together the city’s sometimes disparate and disconnected scene, introduce new folks to smaller, less-well known venues, and raise money for good causes. Proceeds go to We Are Family, which brings services and advocacy to seniors in northwest DC, and Positive Force, which works with at-risks communities throughout the city.
We asked festival organizer Geoff Shobert, who books basement shows at a Northeast house called the Dougout, what draws him to DIY shows. It’s all about intimacy. “You’re not going to get the same level of intimacy at a big venue.”
Intrigued? It’s $10 to attend Saturday’s day-long showcase at St. Stephens. Meanwhile, a $5 badge gets you into shows at bars like the Pinch and Bardo Brewpub, as well as the festival’s DIY venues—small studios and rowhouses with offbeat names like Ft. Loko, Jam Jar,and Bathtub Republic. There’s something for everyone, says Shobert. “No matter where you go, there’s something worth seeing.”
So how do you find out where to go? Part of the charm of the indie scene is its off-the-beaten-path nature. Addresses for the big events are listed online, but finding the smaller spaces takes a little sleuthing. After all, many of these events are in people’s living rooms or basements. “Many of these locations are no great secret (but most are very small) and a simple google search should suffice,” says Shobert. You can also talk to organizers at St. Stephens or other events. Shobert has one other suggestion, he told us, “If none of that works there's always this tried and true method: go near where we've marked on the map and ask a punk!”