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By : Gannopy Urena

10 Min read

The 4th Wall is a DIY venue in a movie theater. Located in the Capitol Theatre in Arlington, this venue has been hosting shows almost every Saturday since November 11th, each one with live visuals projected behind the performers done by the group Digital Awareness. They have also hosted a couple of night markets along with the shows. Over the last few months, they’ve already hosted a couple of heavy hitters in the local scene, including JVK, Paper Lady (both in this year’s Boston Calling lineup), Tiberius, Christian Pace, and Bare Cove. 

I’ve been to four 4th Wall shows over the last few months. Rock and Indie music is the main genre of the venue so far, which fits well into the Boston scene. Seeing live music and live projected visuals together is an incredible experience, especially in a movie theater that comes with all the perks—seats, a big screen, popcorn, and concessions including ice cream! 

The people behind the 4th Wall are co-founders David Jubinksy (who goes by Dave), the several members of Digital Awareness, and Ethan Gerber, who hopped on shortly after its founding. At the show on January 13th hosted by Dud’s Dungeon, I interviewed Dave, Ethan, Josh Artman, and Nate Scaringi (two of several members of Digital Awareness) about 4th’s Wall’s origins, its operations, and their visions about the venue’s future. 

Dave manages the Capitol Theatre and represents the 4th Wall. He makes sure the shows don't interfere with the Capitol Theatre schedule, and ensures the venue has everything it needs, from equipment to staffing. While we were talking, he told me that the idea for the 4th Wall started developing in the summer of ’23, when Josh asked to test his new projector in the Capitol Theatre. Later that summer they went on tour with Dave’s band Battlemode and the Digital Awareness crew. They played in a lot of DIY venues, like a rock climbing gym and a factory. Dave told me it was at that point when he realized, “if I can play at these places, why not at the theater?”

Ethan told me he has always wanted to do booking for a DIY venue, and started working at the Crystal Ballroom, (owned by the same company as the theater) in order to break into booking. When he heard that Dave needed help running the 4th Wall, he jumped at the chance. Ethan is now the Events Manager for the venue. He books shows, contacts the bands, runs the Instagram page, stage manages, troubleshoots, takes photos, and also sells concessions. When I asked what the biggest obstacles running the 4th Wall were, he mentioned the location and promotion. Yet he’s incredibly passionate and has a lot of ideas for the space. 

“I love it because it’s whatever we want it to be,” he said. Ethan listed off dozens of ideas for 4th Wall in the space of five minutes, including a music and film festival, residencies for larger bands, battle of bands, drag shows, and many others. 

When interviewing Josh and Nate, the members of Digital awareness who were operating the visuals that night, they told me that the 4th Wall came into existence at exactly the right time. All the house venues have been shutting down because of increased attention from the infamous Boston Globe article about underground venues. 

The frequency of the shows allows the duo to try out new techniques on the big screen, especially as they have the freedom to experiment at the venue.

“Boston hates musicians because we don’t generate money,” said Josh, “[opening the 4th Wall] allowed us to cut our teeth a lot.”

In the past few years, venues have been popping up outside of the city, like the Crystal Ballroom, Faces, and Deep Cuts, likely due to the cheaper rent and fewer required permits. Nate, who has been in the scene for about eight years, called the scene “as dire as ever.” Josh, who has been in the scene half that time affirms he has seen a lot of venues shut down in Boston. 

Places like the 4th Wall are more important than ever in the face of economic anxiety and the disappearance of third spaces. You get to see cool local artists, hang out with your friends, and grab a beer for the low price of ten dollars. I’m excited for the future of the 4th Wall as a potential pillar of the Boston music scene.

—Gannopy Urena

Originally published in-print in Boston Compass Newspaper #166 February 2024



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