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A city of music: celebrating local music and community with Princeton’s third-annual Porchfest

A group of musicians during a performance.
Band playing in front of the Paul Robeson Center
Sedise Tiruneh / The Daily Princetonian

As the temperatures rise and classes come to a close, Princeton becomes a town with a hunger for music. Just a day before Princeton University’s Spring Lawnparties, the Princeton Arts Council held its third annual Porchfest celebration. on Saturday, April 27. Compared to last year, the weather conditions were marginally better — rainy weather was traded out for mild, humid, and overcast conditions. Nevertheless, a smiling crowd of all ages made it out for the music and good times.

With the sound of live music and melodic voices echoing through the Princeton streets, Porchfest gives local musicians and groups the chance to welcome a diverse audience composed of students, local residents, and commuters. Here, a wide range of musical appetites are appeased with styles of folk, rock, indie, and more. In lieu of a single central location, the town itself serves as the stage for the festival, with several smaller venues scattered throughout.


True to its name, many of the performances grace the porches of houses all across the town, serving as a fun way to explore the town in a new way. With people spread out on picnic blankets and portable lawn chairs, the smaller venues create an intimate atmosphere and unique charm that is distinct to Princeton.

At one of the venues, McLean House, located just outside the FitzRandolph Gate and home to Princeton’s Office of Alumni Affairs, student performers had an opportunity to participate in the festivities. 

With a schedule of vibrant sets from 11:45 a.m. to 5 p.m., audiences were treated to some of the University’s finest musical acts. Just after noon was Bletchley Park, a student indie rock band composed of students Ian Liu ’27, Nicholas Manetas ’27, Leah Shefferman ’27, Rohan Sykora ’27, and Sydney Tyler ’27, putting on a performance that had audiences on their feet and swaying to the rhythm. Their set list featured songs tried-and-true such as “Remember When” by the Wallows, “Brazil” by Declan McKenna, and “Cough Syrup” by Young the Giant. The band also used this as an opportunity to play original songs like “Montreal” written by lead vocalist Sykora. The energy of the music and the crowds were a great way to start off the day, offering a taste of what the festival had to offer.

“Playing at Porchfest was such a great time. It really is a privilege to have such a nice sound staff, it felt like such a professional gig with lots of really amazing equipment,” said guitarist Manetas. “It was also great to look out and see a lot of really close friends out to support, but also families and kids enjoying the music too.”

With performances from the Wildcats, Roaring 20, and Bovine Mystique, the student performers put on a brilliant show. To close out the student performances was Plum, a rock band with fresh vocals and unique sound. At 4:30 pm, they graced McLean’s porch with electric energy as they performed Blondie, The Beatles, Alanis Morissette, and Tame Impala. Rock fans, both old and new, were singing and smiling as they nodded along to the beat. 

“Even though a lot more of my performances before had been more rehearsed than this one, Porchfest was an amazing experience,” said drummer Jayden Easy ’27. “I was worried at first about sounding unpolished, but the performance excitement hit and I think we sounded really good. We had a lot of cool improvisations that added a nice creative touch.”


Among many others in the audience at the Plum show, Dana Ayebare ’27 was a huge fan of the set list and the energy of the show. 

“Even though I had to come a little bit later and it was a bit overcast, it was so great to see Plum perform their set,” said Ayebare. “It had such a great energy, especially when they opened with one of my favorite songs “Black Sheep” by Metric. It was so fun to just sit out on my friends picnic blanket and enjoy the music together.”

Many other locations benefited from the lively foot traffic and acoustics of the more central parts of the town. Just down Witherspoon St. lies the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts, home to the festival's organizer, the Princeton Arts Council. Welcoming in the afternoon was Instant Bingo, a folk band with a genuine and rustic feel. With the bluesy vocals and unique flair of string instruments, the band had music lovers and passersby on their feet and dancing.

In the heart of Palmer Square, home to many small boutiques and beloved restaurants, is a stage fashioned out of the quaint U.S. Postal Office location. One of the many performances of the afternoon was Get Nice, an alternative folk band. The green was full of families, with children running around and dancing to the music as a robust cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Coyote.” Despite the then-drizzling weather, the robust instrumentals and warm vocals made it feel like the sun was shining.

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For yet another year, Porchfest has established itself as a springtime staple for the town. As festival goers stroll with cold drinks and picnic blankets in tow, it serves as a musical way to welcome the warm weather and embrace in the community after a long winter. 

Sedise Tiruneh is a member of the Class of 2027 and a contributing writer for The Prospect at the ‘Prince.’ She can be reached at