It hasn’t even been seven years since Levitate Music & Arts Festival began as a one-day celebration of Marshfield, MA surf and skate shop Levitate‘s 10th anniversary in 2012. In the years since, Levitate organizers have somehow found a way to carve out their own corner of success in a grossly overcrowded American festival market by curating an ideal mix of quality performers while continuing to keep their brand’s focus local and community-oriented.
As Levitate Music & Arts Festival heads into its seventh year—set to take place on July 12th, 13th, and 14th—one has to sit back and admire what organizers have been able to accomplish with their homegrown recipe for success, which enabled the event to expand from two to three days for the first time in 2019. This year’s lineup features an expertly-curated slate of artists including Tedeschi Trucks Band, Damien “Jr. Gong” Marley, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Stick Figure, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Sublime with Rome, Michael Franti and Spearhead, and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, as well as a “Community Jam” lead by Twiddle‘s Mihali Savoulidis, just to name a few.
Surprisingly, while the event regularly hosts some of the biggest acts in the jam scene (Trey Anastasio Band headlined the 2018 edition of the event), it has managed to remain untethered by the “jam festival” designation, unlike similar annual Northeast events like The Peach Music Festival and Mountain Jam. Instead, it has steadily grown while maintaining an ethos all its own.
So what exactly should be the festival’s label or brand? Maybe none. Why limit the potential reach of a festival which has grown at such an unusually consistent pace to become the largest community-oriented music and arts festival along the eastern United States? From an outsider’s perspective, fans can have fun debating what kind of festival Levitate is or should be. Internally, however, Levitate’s founders have continued to have fun in keeping their mission on a relaxed, loose, label-defiant course since day one—after all, this is the event that launched out of a surf and skate brand.
“The concept behind the store was that it’s on the corner of this sleepy town, and we kind of wanted it to be a gathering spot for surfers, skateboarders, musicians, and artists–kind of a little community hub for people who shared our vision for how our town should be,” Levitate co-founder Daniel Hassett says of the original mission statement behind the Levitate brand. “Not everybody has the opportunity to be a surfer or a skater, but I do think almost everybody to a certain degree appreciates the surfer mentality and ethos and lifestyle, and would like to be a part of that … People want to be a part of that lifestyle and participate in it. They may not get the chance to surf all the time, but they can still get their flip-flops or sunglasses, and enjoy coming to a neighborhood shop in their town. The music festival is an extension of that thought process and ethos.” Hear more about the story of Levitate in the video below:
The Levitate Story
That ease and looseness of a small town’s surf and skate community have found a way to trickle out into the regional culture at large, leading more than just the neighborhood skateboarders to take interest in the annual festival. There’s little doubt, however, that music fans from all backgrounds have been able to embrace that very ethos set forth by Hassett and his team years ago. It’s that sense of openness and adventure that calls those same fans back to Levitate each year, where they’re welcomed by the community to celebrate music in real life—an experience of which Hassett has a firm understanding in terms of what people really want out of their time at Levitate.
“The music is the common denominator for all of these people,” he continued. “As things become more digital in the world, and people are starting to work more remotely where they’re less connected to people and more into their computers, I think they’re more appreciative of real face-to-face interaction with their friends and family on the weekend at Levitate than ever before.”
Tickets to the 2019 edition of Levitate Music and Arts Festival are available now via the event website.
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