At Yes Fest, A Youth-Powered Music Pageant, Teens Run The Show – WBUR

It’s a Saturday afternoon on the Brookline Teen Middle, a glossy fashionable constructing full of couches and pool tables and partitions painted in major colours. Inside, hip-hop performs over the PA and a handful of youngsters are bent diligently over their work, designing logos which they’ll print onto T-shirts.

Gabi Barroso darkens the strains on a portrait of a woman with large glasses and a fierce expression. “Simply, like, a snarky look,” the 15-going-on-16-year-outdated says. “With just a little button nostril, hole enamel and a bizarre hairline.”

The sketch relies on the quilt artwork from Barroso’s EP, “Pharmacy Drive-Thru” — three wry, catchy indie rock numbers recorded below the moniker Questionable Canine.

“We based mostly quite a lot of the EP round Waxahatchee,” Barroso says, referring to the unruly-but-wistful solo mission from the Philadelphia musician Katie Crutchfield. Waxahatchee is considered one of Barroso’s favourite bands, however when the group carried out in Boston this summer time, wasn’t capable of go.

“A lot of the actually nice artists, particularly smaller artists, can solely play 18-plus venues as a result of the venues are like, ‘You need to pay further to have youngsters in,’ ” Barroso explains. “So all these issues make it exhausting for me to see these nice folks.”

In case you’re a teenage music fan in Boston, that is all too widespread. In reality, the vast majority of exhibits round listed below are 21-plus. Underage crowds don’t spend cash on drinks, and lots of golf equipment view them as a authorized legal responsibility. (Therefore the additional charges for all-ages exhibits.) For many years, younger folks have discovered methods to get pleasure from reside music anyway, by throwing exhibits in basements and teenage facilities and YMCAs. However it’s all the time been powerful for underage musicians and followers to search out locations to assemble. It could even be getting more durable.

Enter Yes Fest, a brand new music and humanities competition for teenagers by teenagers, which debuts Saturday, Oct. 21, on the Brookline Teen Middle. The concept originated with Wes Kaplan, a employees member who works within the middle’s music program. Kaplan, 29, received his begin enjoying in bands as a excessive schooler in Newton.

“Once I was a teen, you could possibly simply begin a band and get a present,” Kaplan says. “It was actually like, you'll get an e mail out of your good friend about enjoying a present, and it will occur. There have been bands that have been [high school] seniors that all of us actually regarded as much as as freshman and that basically impressed us to play. There was this complete lineage — it felt prefer it had been occurring perpetually and would proceed perpetually.”

Wes Kaplan works on guitar pedals at the Brookline Teen Center so the band Detour can rehearse ahead of Yes Fest. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Wes Kaplan works on guitar pedals on the Brookline Teen Middle so the band Detour can rehearse forward of Yes Fest. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Kaplan isn’t certain what modified, however one way or the other the torch didn’t get handed to the children he works with in Brookline. So he got here up with an concept: a youth-centric music competition the place teenagers might carry out, absorb new music and make connections.

“The greatest music comes from a tradition,” Kaplan says. “Which implies simply a number of folks doing a number of stuff. And plenty of possibilities for issues to occur spontaneously.” That’s the aim with Yes Fest: to foster group amongst teenagers. You by no means know which scrappy storage band would possibly grow to be the subsequent Aerosmith or Dresden Dolls.

Drawing on the networks of a number of different nonprofits — Zumix, Women Rock Marketing campaign Boston, BRAIN Arts and the Brookline YCCA — Kaplan was capable of appeal to dozens of younger volunteers to the trigger. The group agreed on some issues instantly. They wished the competition to be inclusive, they usually wished it to be free for teenagers. (It’s 10 bucks for everybody else.) After a lot dialogue, they lastly landed on a reputation.

“We have been attempting to give you a reputation that basically brings out the essence of the occasion,” says 17-year-outdated Mario Jarjour, who drums within the band Wild Portray. Yes Fest’s younger organizers are used to being advised “no,” he explains. “However if you wish to go to Yes Fest, you’re greater than welcome.”

Wild Portray might be considered one of 17 musical artists — from punk bands to rappers to singer-songwriters — all youth from throughout higher Boston. (There’s additionally a visible artwork showcase.) For Yes Fest’s performers, the occasion is an opportunity to achieve a wider viewers.

“We shouldn’t simply be [performing] in basements, regardless that that’s rad,” says Wild Portray singer and synth participant Angelina Botticelli. “It ought to nonetheless be sort of open to the general public, like mainstream-esque. As a result of we nonetheless need folks to listen to us.”

Yes Fest’s organizers dream of creating it an annual occasion. “It will be cool if Yes Fest become one thing like Boston Calling, however for teenagers,” Jarjour says.

However for now, it’s time to savor the second. “The first Yes Fest goes to be so monumental,” Botticelli says. “It’s like, wow, we’re all making this what it’s going to be.”

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At Yes Fest, A Youth-Powered Music Pageant, Teens Run The Show - WBUR