Festival season is already underway, and with it means painful choices. Those choices aren’t limited to which artists to see, however. They also include how much money to spend, and unfortunately, that can end up being a fair amount. Between unforgiving schedules and high price points, attendees who simply want to see some good music and get in and out are often left out in the cold.
The Thing in the Spring festival, taking place in the music venues of Peterborough, New Hampshire, is now in its seventh year of challenging those widely perceived festival norms. For example, instead of paying over $300 to get dropped in the middle of the desert and fend for themselves, prospective attendees can opt for a $50 all access pass or simply pay per show (which range in price from free to $20). That means you can either spend a few days in scenic New Hampshire or just come up for one show and be on your way and still have enough money to buy a sandwich or something.
Or you could buy some art. Along with live music, The Thing in the Spring once again hosts Broke: The Affordable Arts Fair, which consists of local artists selling their work for no more than $50, making art available to anyone with just a little cash to spare. This year’s edition of the festival also marks the beginning of a new tradition: free showings of films from the Criterion Collection. Screenings of classics “The Seventh Seal” and “Seven Samurai” also cleverly mark The Thing in the Spring’s seventh year. Festival creator Eric Gagne jokes, “Maybe we’ll show 8 1/2 next year.”
But as usual, the primary draw of the festival is its well-curated lineup. Like previous years, the lineup chiefly comprises New England musicians. The artists range from more well-known talent like Simone Felice and Lady Lamb the Beekeeper to local Boston house show favorites like Pile and Bad History Month. The impressive array of different musical styles on show at the festival is even more impressive considering most of the artists have roots in New England, and that along with its setting gives the festival a distinctly regional flavor.
Right in time for summer, the May issue of Boston show listings bible Boston Compass includes an editorial urging New England residents to “plan a trip to a neighboring New England hive and take in its splendor.” Why? Because “New England is special, particularly when it comes to our vast music and art communities. It is the artists in this region who, in pushing the boundaries of their craft, keep us on par with the rest of the world. Not only is the art good and varied here, it is plentiful.” The Thing in the Spring marks a rare opportunity to see much of the art New England has to offer in one small New Hampshire town. See for yourself this June.
Here’s a short mix featuring some of the artists playing this year’s Thing in the Spring: