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H Street NE Festival 2011

Where to start? The H St NE Festival, held each September in the revitalized (and re-branded) Atlas District north of Capitol Hill is overwhelming in every sense of the world. The seven blocks of the formally downcast boulevard are peppered with so much culture, commerce, and character that its inevitable that you’ll miss something you probably didn’t even know about until after the fact. Or you’ll simply not be able to see everything you want to. And that’s exactly what happened.

Armed with our first ever press pass, we set out to shoot footage of all the unique events and subjects during the festival’s 7-hour run, but by that criteria, we failed miserably. For every moment or contest or band we caught, we missed something else we were hoping to capture on film. And therein lies one of the biggest charms of the festival. In a city with small neighborhoods and too many under-developed or conservatively-designed events, the H Street Festival is a tour de force in every sense of the word. And as the neighborhood has matured, the experience has been slightly different every year.

New this year, besides a few extra businesses having opened, was a human-powered trolley that was apparently developed on a lark a few months ago. The talk surrounding the Atlas Armada was their aim to hold a competition next year for likewise-minded folks wanting to develop homemade transportation. Also, it was great to see the DC Brau guys enjoying themselves at Little Miss Whiskey’s as the proprietors of the Mustache and Facial Hair Contest. And the Baltimore Rock Opera Society pretty much speaks for itself. We relied a bit more on those interviews than we planned to, mostly because of our camera problems, which brings me to our next issue. But, Tommy Wells was a nice surprise (my friend pointed out his booth to me, I completely missed it), providing the context for the event.

The Canon Vixia HFR20 is a nice, modestly-priced HD camcorder with an absolute piece of garbage battery. With any event of this length, the battery runs out quickly, meaning it needs to be charged in the middle of the event, instead of shooting the actual event. The amount of things I missed because of this shite battery is enraging and inexcusable, really. Not only does the battery drain quicker than it should, it doesn’t charge with any speed either. I plugged it in a half-dozen times over the course of the afternoon, getting it up to 8-10 minutes so I could grab a couple segments as they happened. This makes the camera virtually useless at a daylong event. It also means I didn’t get to interview any general attendees, which I would have preferred to do.

Regardless, we think we got enough to provide a mildly entertaining shapshot of what Wells called “a signature event for the city.”


About manonthestreetdc

Reporting on events in the nation's capital


One thought on “H Street NE Festival 2011

  1. oh yea, good times. much bigger than last year’s.

    Posted by Brian | September 19, 2011, 5:40 pm

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