What’s Up Interview: Dan Hassett, founder of Levitate Music and Arts Festival

One of the region’s most popular music festivals returns to Marshfield over the weekend of July 5-7 with an exciting line-up. The Levitate Music and Arts Festival celebrates its 11th year at the Marshfield Fairgrounds, featuring bands including Subline, Lake Street Dive and Mt. Joy.

The story is of course about a great weekend of music, but it’s also the story of how a local surf shop built a music festival from the ground up. We spoke with festival co-founder Dan Hassett to learn more about the annual event, which draws thousands of fans to Boston’s South Shore every day.

“This will be our eleventh year; in a way, the planning gets easier, we’ve got a team together and know how to put this thing together, but we keep things changing every year. needs to be complex because we want to engage and do new things.

(Photo courtesy of Levitate)

Hassett’s focus on the fan experience is one of the reasons music fans return year after year. Hassett said this year’s festival features a new layout “to make the experience more comfortable” and includes more shade and water stations. “Our goal was to make the entire venue feel like a comfortable VIP area, with seating areas, shaded areas and art in a way that creates a different experience.”

He’s especially excited about this year’s lineup. “The way we curated the event was to try to blend local and emerging artists with national touring artists,” he explains. I’m a Mt. Joy fan, so I’m really excited for Friday night, and Cory Wong, I’m a huge fan. I’m also really excited about Sublime, they just did Coachella and it’s going really well. This was the first ever Subline show in New England.

Founded in 2001 as a surf shop, Levitate has grown into a major lifestyle brand and entertainment provider. “Levitate’s philosophy is to be a community-driven brand, and we’ve always represented and grown the community through creative channels, starting with surfing and skateboarding and then music and art,” Hassett said. “The festival comes naturally to us. We just try to make it a fun community event. That’s the feeling you get when you’re there.

The festival has really grown over the years. “We had 1,500 employees that first year, and it was our 10th anniversary as a surf shop,” Hassett said. “We rented a local arcade and booked some bands. At the time, it wasn’t intended to become an annual event, but it went really well and we’ve done it every year since.

This family-friendly festival seats about 15,000 people and attracts fans of all ages.

“I’ve never seen anything like it; it’s pretty much all ages, from toddlers to grandparents, all the college kids,” Hassett said. “This is a daytime event; you can park nearby or catch a shuttle. People can come and go as they please, which makes it more convenient for families. It’s an easy event to attend.

Lucius at the 2023 Levitate Music and Arts Festival (Image courtesy of Levitate) Credit: Brian Lima

Hassett also produces the summer-long Levitate Backyard concert series at the Surf Shop, many of which are available free of charge. “This summer we have Langhorn Slim, The Original Wailers and Deer Tick from Rhode Island. These artists don’t normally play such small venues, they are popular and usually sell out quickly.

For tickets and more information about Levitate, click here.

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