280+ musicians, 1 Fresno neighborhood. How to enjoy Porchfest and not get overwhelmed

More than 280 bands, musicians, DJs and comedians will swarm the Tower District on Saturday for Fresno’s Porchfest, branching off of Olive Avenue in all directions to set up makeshift stages outside of dozens of houses and businesses throughout the neighborhood.

The festivities start early, at 10 a.m., and continue non-stop all day, with several after parties to follow (see: Strummer’s, Goldstein’s, Howling Wolf).

This is a rare kind of performance festival that is both massive and specific in equal measure. And while it might seem overwhelming to track all the performances and decide who to see along with where and when, there are some easy ways to plan out the day.

Visit towerporchfest.org

While it is branded as a singular event, Tower Porchfest is actually dozens of events happening simultaneously.

The event’s organizers offer some cohesion, logistics and support though its website and Facebook group. This year, they organized free parking and city transit and set up portable toilets throughout the neighborhood.

But mostly, they stay out of the way.

Which means each porch is individually curated, produced and promoted by its host.

Some hosts bring in help. Local promoters Love the Captive, Great Room Presents, Zodiac Shows and the Artourage all put together lineups this year, as did former Club Fred owner Fred Martinez. So, the porches tend to have running themes, which is good for attendees looking for something specific: indie rock, folk music or comedians, let’s say.

And because the porches are mapped out on the event’s website, attendees can easily find a spot they like in advance and just post up for the day. Lawn chairs are encouraged (as is good hydration and sun protection).

It’s also possible for attendees to do a bit of porch-hopping, by creating their own itinerary for the day. Individual performers are all slotted on the event’s website with start times listed hour by hour.

This is for people who know exactly what they want to see and/or are OK with making the hard decision when two groups are performing at the same time. Several performers are booked at different locations throughout the day, which could make things somewhat easier.

Of note: The indie rock band Rademacher is making a rare Fresno showing. The band was a fixture of the local scene in the mid- to late-2000s, but hasn’t performed in town in a decade or more.

They perform at noon at the Love the Captive Shindig (1345 Van Ness Ave).

Of course, one could approach Tower Porchfest casually. Just show up and starting wandering around, then stop when you hear something they like.

This could be an attractive option for those who live in the neighborhood.

Most of the porches are situated within walking distance of the Tower Theatre at Olive and Wishon. There are a half dozen porches grouped together in the area just north of Olive from Poplar to Glenn avenues and almost a full dozen in the blocks between Wishon and Roosevelt avenues south of McKinley.

Make it a car-free event

Fundamentally, Tower Porchfest is a neighborhood event. As such, walking (or bicycling or skateboarding or one-wheeling) is the encouraged mode or transportation between porches.

Those coming from outside the neighborhood can park, for free, at Fresno City College where parking will be relaxed for the day.

The city is also adjusting its FresnoHop Trolley Service route to help people navigate between porches. There will be eight pick-up and drop-off locations along Olive and McKinley avenues (from Palm Avenue to Wishon) running every 10 minutes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.