Princeton Township’s second annual Porchfest was held this past weekend on April 28. The event, run by the Arts Council of Princeton, was founded to promote local artists by creating mini pop-up concerts across the town. Local houses and University buildings offered their porches to a slate of performers for the afternoon, while nearby businesses like Small World, Maman, and Jammin’ Crepes sponsored the event. The entire day was free to all visitors. The acts for this year’s Porchfest featured various genres, such as a cappella, jazz, and rock, and even included several on-campus music groups.
The Princeton Porchfest promised to run rain or shine, and the day, unfortunately, occurred in unfavorable weather this year. The day was cold and blustery as consistent rain fell throughout most of the afternoon. Spectators gathered around in ponchos, attempting to clutch both umbrellas and steaming cups of coffee as they listened to the performances. I soon understood that the event is more difficult for spectators to attend in dreary weather.
When I first heard about Porchfest, I assumed that the performers would be in close proximity to each other, and thus easily accessible for the students. However, as I scouted the online map of performances, I quickly realized that the performances were spread out across the town. Princeton Porchfest claims to be easily walkable or bikeable, but some of the performances are a considerable walk from each other. While a stroll across Princeton might be nice on a warm, sunny day, the distance on such a wet, drab day discouraged me from attending the performances farther away from campus.
Instead, I visited Maclean House, the closest location to campus. Maclean House hosted many of the university groups, such as the Princeton University Band, Strawberry Milk, Katzenjammers & Wildcats, Plum, and Two Shot West. When I arrived in the early afternoon, I had the chance to see Plum in action. As the band warmed up, a group of colorful umbrellas — mostly belonging to locals — began to assemble before the pastel yellow house.
Plum is a relatively small Princeton student band that performs mostly rock hits. Their performance at Maclean included covers of classics, like “Dani California” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Day Tripper” by The Beatles, and “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette. Even though the band was performing on a small porch in unwelcoming weather, the drums and electric guitars, which were connected to booming speakers, created a concert-like atmosphere, drawing people off the street. The band also implemented more unconventional instruments, such as shakers, which added nuance to the performance. The lead singer Samara Samad ’25 was dynamic, and her powerful voice transformed the porch of Maclean into a rock venue. Between songs, Samad engaged the crowd with small anecdotes and informal comments about the musical set. Her lively personality warmed up the audience — one couple ditched their umbrellas and danced together in the rain, while a group of children jammed out to the rock hits. The performance brought the community together on the front lawn of Maclean for a lighthearted afternoon.
The Princeton Porchfest is a great way to explore both the local music scene and the town of Princeton. However, I would recommend planning in advance for the best experience, especially in the case of a bad weather forecast. Despite advertising that the performances are an easy walk, some of them are rather far from each other. Additionally, there is more downtime between performances than I originally expected. For example, I had the time to pop across the street for a coffee while waiting for Plum to begin their set.
Despite the few logistical hiccups, I would recommend the Princeton Porchfest for a relaxing afternoon of engaging with local artists. Let’s just hope the weather shines as brightly as the performers next year!
Isabella Dail is a first-year and an associate editor for The Prospect at the ‘Prince.’ She can be reached at email@example.com.