Downtown: Rock On powers on this weekend in Concord

  • Nashua Sports Academy C4 team member Trevor Labrecque (right), 12, shoots a layup during a 3-on-3 boys’ basketball tournament game against the Cap City Basketball Spurs team during Rock On Fest in downtown Concord on Friday, Aug. 11, 2017. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor file

  • Chief volunteer officer Alex Stoyle puts together one of the hoops of the portable, professional basketball court in preparation for Rock On Fest on Main Street in downtown Concord, Friday morning, Aug. 11, 2017. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor file

  • The Jordan Tirrell-Wysocki Trio performs on the main stage at Rock on Fest at White Park in Concord during Concord City Celebration Week on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor file

Monitor staff
Sunday, August 05, 2018

August has rolled in, and downtown visitors know what that means: Basketballs slamming while music is jamming.

The Rock On Fest will kick off Friday at the same place it was last year, smack-dab in the middle of North Main Street in front of the State House. But this time, the action is more concentrated on Main Street, and there will be more tunes than ever, said Rock On Foundation co-founder and Concord native Luke Bonner.

Not only will the full-sized NBA court return to the street in front of the State House, but the main stage – where bands from across the Northeast like Badfellows and Damn Tall Buildings will be serenading passers-by – will move out from the shadow of the dome into Main Street proper, between School Street and Capitol Street.

And in case you don’t want to stop jamming, not even for a second, there will be a second stage set up in Eagle Square, where other bands will be playing in the downtime between main stage acts.

Bonner said it’s all in an effort to widen Rock On Fest’s footprint while improving the flow of events.

“We felt like, although it was cool that the main stage was set up on the State House lawn, it kind of hid it a little bit,” he said. “People were less likely to walk up to it.”

Music has always been the festival’s focus, but there’s no denying that last year’s introduction of a 3-on-3 basketball tournament was a smash hit. Bonner said teams are showing up from as far away as Iowa or Toronto.

“I thought they must be Matt Bonner fans,” he said, referring to his brother, whose career in professional basketball included time with the San Antonio Spurs and the Toronto Raptors. “They were like, ‘Matt Bonner’s here?’ ”

No surprise there – the first 3-on-3 Olympic hoops game will be taking place in 2020, and in the meantime, tournaments from FIBA, the governing body of international basketball, are popping up all over the country. Bonner said Rock On is waiting to hear whether the event will be FIBA-endorsed; if it does get the rubber stamp, then players at this week’s games can win points toward bigger tourneys.

It’s not all glitz and glamour. Bonner said crowd favorites – like the unified game between Concord High and Merrimack Valley and the Concord fire-versus-police rematch – will be back, and youth matches will take place as well.

But perhaps the biggest update is one you might not even notice at first: Rock On Fest is sponsored by Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the first time the event has had a title sponsor since it first came about several years ago, Bonner said.

“It’s a good sign,” he said, “in terms of creating something that’s sustainable.”

If music and b-ball aren’t quite your jam, there are plenty of other Rock On-related festivities this week.

Revival Kitchen & Bar will be hosting a beer dinner Tuesday night at 6 p.m. For $125 a ticket, patrons will be treated to an exclusive menu created by Revival and Concord Craft Brewing along with beer pairings.

Red River Theatres will be hosting a showing of Coco at Eagle Square at 8:30 p.m. Friday. Yoga accompanied by tunes from DJ Sunshine will take place at 9 a.m. Saturday on the State House lawn. And while those tunes are playing Saturday morning, Intown Concord will host a pancake breakfast on the State House lawn from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Admission $8 for adults and $5 for children under 12.

Rock On schedule

Friday, Aug. 10

Noon - Youth 3-on-3 hoops

6:15 p.m. - Concord police vs. Concord fire hoops

7 p.m. - MVHS vs. CHS Unified Hoops

8 p.m. - Outdoor Movie: Coco

Saturday, Aug. 11

8 a.m. – Pancake Breakfast

9 a.m. – Adult 3-on-3 hoops

Noon – Youth recital

1 p.m. – Midsummer Classic // Family Fun

2 p.m. – Mr. Aaron // Yoga Jam

3 p.m. – Badfellows (N.H.)

3:30 p.m. – Hoonah (Western Mass.)

4 p.m. – Babylawns (N.H.)

4:30 p.m. – Steven Chagnon (N.H.)

5 p.m. – Honeysuckle (Boston)

5:45 p.m. – Alan Getto (Pennsylvania)

6:15 p.m. – Damn Tall Buildings (New York City)

7:15 p.m. – Ethyric (N.H.)

7:45 p.m. – Overcoats (New York City)

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, candrews@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)