New Venue Sparks Excitement For Northeast’s Foremost Music Festival

By Noah Goldfarb

Courtesy of Jackie Orellana

Three days. 500 staff. 45 performances.

In accordance with a move to the Harvard Athletic Complex in Allston, MA, this year’s Boston Calling is expected to be the largest yet.

From May 26-28, Boston Calling, one of the foremost music festivals in the Northeast, will host artists from a slew of genres. The festival was founded in 2013, and has featured artists ranging from Vampire Weekend to Kendrick Lamar to Jack Johnson.

This year’s headliners for the three-day event include Chance the Rapper, Tool, and Mumford & Sons. Also featured will be local acts such as Cousin Stizz, Vundabar, and Worcester’s own The Hotelier.

About twice as many attendees are expected to attend the event at the Harvard Athletic Complex than in previous years.

According to festival co-founder Mike Snow, the change of location from City Hall Plaza was in response to increasing attendance.

According to Snow, organizing such a large event (he described it as building a “working city” in a week) requires a lot of manpower. While only 10 to12 people work on organizing the event in the months prior, around 500 people will be working on the festival come May 26.

“The payoff for me is all about the way music affects people,” said Snow. “I have always loved live music and have had some amazing show experiences over the years. Seeing hundreds of people have that ‘moment’ each day around the wide swath of artists is just awesome.”

In addition to the new venue, which will feature a third stage in addition to the two which were used in the past, this year’s festival will also feature a “comedy experience” hosted by Hanibal Burress. The “comedy experience” will replace a previously-planned film presentation curated by actress Natalie Portman.

With regards to the festival’s evolution over its eight editions, Snow said that it “has certainly grown, but we have honed the craft of running a good brand. People trust us to put on a great fest, and we are now growing into our new space with lots of surprises in store.”

Junior nursing major Jackie Orellana, of Springfield, MA, attended the festival in spring 2015 and fall 2015. She said that she heard about the festival from friends, and decided that she wanted to attend after seeing the lineups.

“Halsey was brand new. I really liked her, and I knew she was having an album come out in August, and was like, ‘Oh, I want to see her before she blows up.’ And now look at her; she’s huge,” Orellana said.

To get the most out of the experience, Orellana recommended trying to stay close to the action.

“For me, if I’m at a concert, I like to be in the mesh of the people, in the crowd,” she said.

Citing the various local food and refreshment vendors at the event in past years, Orellana described it as a “Boston experience.”

According to Snow, this sense of community is very much intentional.

“I think we (Massachusetts) has always had a great music scene and history so I hope Boston Calling has a positive impact on these aspiring musicians to keep going and to move to Massachusetts to make music,” said Snow. “I think this festival puts Massachusetts on the festival map and landscape.”

General admission tickets for all three days are on sale for $269 plus fees, while single-day tickets will run you $99 plus fees.

Snow said that “arts and food experiences” are among the new attractions that attendees can expect in the years to come.

“Relating to more people, making friends and building our festival community all happen when you least expect it, during these many different experiences.”

For now, however, Snow is focused on May 26, 2017.

“We hope that people get to have a carefree day in the city with a community of festival goers that is welcoming and there to celebrate this event,” said Snow.

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