About This Festival
Across the street from Harvard Business School, a renowned music festival shakes up the scholarly vibes of nearby Cambridge, Massachusetts, once a year. While most music festivals tend to focus on a few genres, Boston Calling doesn’t discriminate between all the sounds you love; this is the kind of festival you attend when you’re a fan of music, through and through. If you’re the type of person who can go from dancing to lively electronic beats to headbanging to gnarly guitar riffs without delay, consider Boston Calling your music mecca.
Boston Calling started rocking and rolling back in 2013, but has already seen a lot of changes to accommodate its rapid growth. The festival was initially situated in downtown Boston at City Hall Plaza. It was also a biannual event that took place in May and September of each year. In 2016, the organizers ran into a problem that’s good to have in the festival industry: Boston Calling became too big for City Hall Plaza. The organizers decided to set up shop at Harvard Athletic Complex in the Allston neighborhood, which, according to the festival’s music curator, Aaron Dessner, “Will allow us to expand the capacity, range, and diversity of the festival’s programming.” After the move, the 2017 edition saw more stages with an even larger lineup than previous years. Since the first Boston Calling, the lineup has tripled in size to nearly 50 artists playing over the course of three days, which is good news for any fan who can’t go five minutes without listening to music.
Music’s Many Faces
Good music is the heart and soul of Boston Calling, and good music knows no boundaries these days. Since its roaring debut, the festival has drawn top-notch talent across the board including progressive metal veterans Tool, rap superstar Kendrick Lamar, and electronic duo Odesza. The sheer variety suits the most indecisive fan who loves music no matter its classification. Aaron Dessner, multi-instrumentalist of acclaimed indie rock band The National, is responsible for co-curating the lineup every year, which has grown increasingly diverse over time. The festival’s inaugural year heavily emphasized indie rock and pop music, but future editions expanded into punk rock, Americana, metalcore and hip-hop territory, just to name a few. Think of any genre you listen to and it will likely have a spot somewhere on one of the festival’s many stages.
Even though music is the main focus of the festival, Boston Calling has upped the ante to include other forms of entertainment since changing venues. Harvard Athletic Complex devotes a fourth stage to a lineup of gut-busting comedians curated by local comic Lamont Price. Hannibal Buress, from Comedy Central’s The Awkward Comedy Show, headlined the festival’s first comedy show in 2017 with a team of thirteen funny men and women. This replaced what was planned to be the first year of a film festival curated by Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman, which has been postponed for a future edition.