Boston Calling 2018
Boston Calling has outgrown its humble home of Boston’s cement carpeted City Hall Plaza. Just last year the festival moved to its new venue of the Harvard Athletic Complex. This was exciting because traversing the turf of this Ivy League institution was likely as close as I would get to becoming either a Harvard student or an athlete. The location also meant space for a Coachella-rivaling Ferris wheel, additional stages, and more people.
This Memorial Day weekend (May 25 - 27) the festival will be returning for its second year in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood of Boston. This means another year of music, fewer kinks, and hopefully less mud. But in case of rain here’s a tip I’ve learned from festivals’ past: we can’t control the weather, so it’s best to embrace it.
If you’re attending the festival this year, or are considering it, I present to you a guide of what you can expect…
Before you enjoy the festival you have to actually get there. By far the simplest way of doing so is taking the Red Line to Harvard Square; from there it’s just a short and scenic walk over the Charles River. Added bonus: you don’t have to worry about your car getting towed. There is also a surplus of bus lines that stop at Harvard Square and, more conveniently, Harvard Stadium. Be sure to consult the MBTA website for commuting information.
Food is one of the most exciting and inevitably costly aspects of any festival. Is it just me or does an overpriced veggie burger taste significantly better after you’ve been burning calories by dancing in the hot sun all day? Luckily, the festival’s food lineup this year features plenty of Boston delicacies including Roxy’s Grilled Cheese (avocado is everything, so I highly recommend the Green Muenster), Tasty Burger, Zinneken’s Belgian Waffles, FoMu Ice Cream, and much more!
This year’s Boston Calling lineup offers a rich selection of music. It is simple enough to think: I want to see it ALL. However, overlapping sets make this difficult and if you’re like me there is only so much energy in a given day. The following is a selection of the lineup’s highlights to hopefully make everything a little easier.
The Killers // Friday
Friday’s list of performers overflows with rock heavyweights, aimed to appease all generations of music aficionados. Topping off the night of tunes along the Charles River will be The Killers, a name that oozes the nostalgia of middle school dances and represented the scope of ‘good’ music played by pop radio stations in the 2000s. I am unashamed to say that when I spotted their name on the lineup, I instinctively began singing the words to ‘Mr. Brightside’.
The National // Friday
If we’re talking about the incredible musical offerings of the 2000s, it would be a mistake not to mention The National. After the release of their album Sleep Well My Beast last year, I feel equipped to confirm that the band ages like a fine wine. In fact, their own Aaron Dessner acts as curator extraordinaire since the festival’s kick-off in 2013.
Charly Bliss // Friday
Further down the lineup is where one will normally discover hidden gems - bands that you may not have known about prior but will fall deeply in love with. On Friday, May 25th, Charly Bliss is this band. With music that sounds fresh yet like it could simultaneously soundtrack a ‘90s film, they are not to be ignored.
St. Vincent // Saturday
Annie Clark, also known as St. Vincent, is one of a handful of musicians who will be returning to Boston Calling this year. The multi-instrumentalist crafts sonically rich and experimental songs that prove a tune doesn’t need to be cookie-cutter to be considered pop. Her innovative live performance is sure to invigorate your Saturday.
Mount Kimbie // Saturday
Mount Kimbie are the Disclosure for people of the ambient persuasion. By that I mean they are an English duo specializing in detailed and atmospheric beats. You may know them from their collaborations with King Krule and James Blake, or even as the sample behind Chance the Rapper & Justin Bieber’s tune “Juke Jam”. Even if you are unfamiliar with this duo, their set is a must see if you want to experience the cutting edge of music.
Khalid // Sunday
If you don’t know who Khalid is by know, you must certainly have been living under a rock. It seems that for the past year or so the “location’” singer has been in every location; from collaborating with Forever 21 to touring with Lorde, to selling out his own headline shows. Although no longer an “American Teen”, the 20-year-old musician continues to break boundaries with his fresh and lively music.
Julien Baker // Sunday
I cannot imagine a better way to spend my Sunday afternoon than by swaying along to Julien Baker’s sonic storytelling. The Memphis-based musician expertly crafts delicate soundscapes and weaves vulnerable lyrics to produce tunes all her own.
Weakened Friends // Sunday
Weakened Friends have ventured out on the road for an East coast tour, landing them at Boston Calling and what could be considered a homecoming show of sorts. Self-described as ‘alternative rock wise-asses’ and ‘snack food connoisseurs’, the Maine-based rockers will be representing New England to far traveling festival attendees. If their triumphant, guitar-driven rock is any indication, they are just the ones for the job.