Hundreds flocked to 267 Western Ave. in Allston last night to check out the first in Aeronaut Allston’s new Wednesday night live music series.
The event, the proceeds from which will go to benefit The Center in Orlando, kicked off a 12-week pop-up residency that takes the brewery from 02143 to 02134. And already, the program looks to be a huge success.
“We were high-fiving,” laughs Aeronaut arts manager Jason McCool. “It—I think I said this on my Twitter feed—obliterated our expectations.”
McCool has been developing the Aeronaut Allston concept, a series of community-oriented, family-friendly evenings meant to highlight local musicians and artists. Boston still has a reputation as an old-school, provincial city, but McCool notes that some of the best art in the area doesn’t exist in the city’s venerated halls but in unexpected spaces like Aeronaut, which has found a way to pack out the brewery with visitors just about every night of the week.
“People come because it’s a community space,” McCool says. “People come in, and even if they don’t particularly have exciting plans for that night, it’s like, ‘Oh, let’s go to Aeronaut. We’re gonna see something wild, and there’s gonna be tons of people and good conversation and good beer.'”
Their success caught the eye of Harvard University, which has been inviting creative concepts to Western Avenue as part of its Zone 3 Initiative. The initiative brings experimental programming to a former dry cleaning facility and auto body garage and the parking lot between them in an effort to “activate an open community space,” according to the Zone 3 website.
The pop-ups in Allston are meant to connect with “the local ecology” of art making throughout the area and to highlight the great work of the people who call the city home. Nothing against other cities, but, “I’m all about, what can we make here?” McCool explains.
That means coming together with different arts groups, pooling resources and smashing the silos that can keep different organizations apart. Aeronaut wants to welcome in a diverse group of music fans, foodies, cyclists, families—and beer lovers, natch—and connect those factions. They’re working with other local art and music outlets, including the music blog Allston Pudding, with whom they’re collaborating to present local bands Maka and Shytalk on July 13 and Lilith and Leaner on August 10. McCool has put a call out to the theater community to see who might be willing to do pop-up performances or monologues on upcoming Wednesday nights.
The hope is that the Aeronaut Neighborhood Nights will help bridge the gaps between different arts institutions, geographical regions and generations of music and art fans.
If you’re not feeling up to crossing the river? Never fear, Aeronaut is also building up its live music and arts offerings right here in Somerville.
There’s the Duck Village Stage series, a collaboration with SCATV where new, live music from area artists is recorded in the brewery. And McCool has an idea for a future program called The Pindrop Sessions—evenings where the focus is explicitly on the music, not chatter, and when listeners could come in for a performance and hear a pin drop. He’d like to bring in classical musicians, and he’s confident that this, too, could bridge generational gaps. “What the kids want, is they want to be respected … the content itself is beautiful in and of itself,” McCool says simply. “Hearing Bach played at a brewery, it’s amazing.”
For McCool and the rest of the Aeronaut team, expanding people’s horizons and their own reach throughout Greater Boston is as easy as opening up your building—or a parking lot—to the neighborhood. He says his phone’s been ringing off the hook since he joined the brewery’s staff just over a month ago with calls from artists and musicians who need a place to perform, and he’s happy to provide a platform where people can explore, experiment and create.
“That’s even cooler to watch, when it’s like, we didn’t even plan that, but we made a space for that to happen,” McCool explains. “That’s one of the best services you can have: providing a space for people to do their own thing.”
The full Aeronaut Allston summer lineup isn’t finalized yet, but you can find more information and sign up for email updates at aeronautbrewing.com/allston.