On May 27 of last year, Boston Calling announced that it would be moving from its usual location of Boston’s City Hall Plaza to Harvard University’s Athletics Complex in Allston and that it would be held only once a year over Memorial Day weekend from this year forward. Since 2013, Boston Calling has remained the city’s premier music festival with headliners such as Vampire Weekend, The National, Lorde, Sia and others. This year, despite the numerous and continual changes, the festival remains dedicated to bringing the best in entertainment to the city.
The change in venue has allowed festival organizers to book bigger bands. This year’s headliners are Grammy’s Best New Artist winner Chance the Rapper, along with Mumford & Sons and Tool. Trevor Solomon, talent buyer for Boston Calling, is most excited to see Chance the Rapper, Solange, Bon Iver, Whitney and Car Seat Headrest on Friday; Mumford & Sons, Moses Sumney, The xx, Cousin Stizz and Tkay Maidza on Saturday; and Tool, Converge, Run the Jewels, Mitski and Pup on Sunday. Within even this small taste of the full lineup, which can be found on the Boston Calling website, festival organizers have demonstrated their dedication to bringing a variety of musical guests spanning numerous genres. Chance will bring rap, Solange will bring funk and R&B and Xylouris White will bring avant-garde Greek folk—and that’s just on Friday. The full list of 45 musical artists, as well as three-day and single-day tickets, can also be found on the Boston Calling website.
The festival was also originally supposed to introduce Harvard alumna and Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman’s film experience, but the Boston Calling Comedy Experience will replace it. Hannibal Buress will host the Comedy Experience, and the programming features 13 comics including Buress, Tig Notaro, Pete Holmes and Eugene Mirman. The film experience will be rescheduled for a later festival, citing scheduling conflicts for the sudden cancellation in this edition.
“My expectations are for there to be massive shows, a great fan experience and a good experience for the bands as well,” says Solomon.
Despite the growth and success in the festival’s four year history, festival organizers strive to remain grounded and bring an eclectic mix of mainstream and underground hits. This year’s edition was organized by the same group that did 2016’s festival, including curator Aaron Dessner, multi-instrumentalist for rock band and previous festival headliner The National. With eyes on lineups of large festivals like Coachella, Governor’s Ball and Lollapalooza, Boston Calling has, as the website Consequence of Sound so aptly headlines, “just made music festival lineups great again.”
“We were conscious to book bands that we wanted to book, no matter the size of the festival or the recent growth,” Solomon said.
“We’re really excited about the festival,” Solomon said. “I honestly believe that every band has a great quality to them. People should experience the lineup, enjoy the lineup and really have some ownership over their personal lineup and what bands they see.”