Summertime brings warmer weather, sunnier smiles and the season of music festivals. There’s something liberating, refreshing, uplifting about being in sunny haze among a crowd of strangers bonded by the love of certain bands and musical culture. Coachella and Bonnaroo are renowned for bringing concert-goers into wide desert and farm fields, but a newer trend has brought these festivals to cities for a change of pace and environment.
Boston Calling Music Festival
Boston City Hall Plaza
$50 – $350
Over Memorial Day weekend, Boston Calling Music Festival will hold its fifth event since its inception two years ago. What began as a simple idea to bring the festival culture to an urban atmosphere was soon picked up by the Bowery to sponsor the event to reality — first headlined by The National in May of 2013. This year, Grammy award-winner Beck, My Morning Jacket and The Pixies will headline on May 22, 23 and 24, respectively. Other favorites such as Marina and the Diamonds and St. Vincent will be returning, while bands such as Tame Impala, Tenacious D and Ben Harper will make their Boston Calling debut.
To hype up both ticket holders and the city for the musical start to the summer, Boston Calling has been holding a block party concert every Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. Last week, Tigerman Woah headed the first of the series in Downtown Crossing, where most attendees were regulars socializing after work or local passersby drawn to the springtime pulsation of sound. It was a small but hearty crowd enjoying a more private concert — the band a grungier, edgier sound with a twang of blues. The party brought an eclectic audience from yuppies to older professions, just like the diverse audience Boston Calling usually draws — a crowd of 20,000, from college students to families to independent fans of the music. Some come to enjoy specific artists, while others come just for the air of festivity.
Bernard, a 25-year-old finance worker from Lebanon, rocked out to the music up front even though he had never heard of Tigerman Woah before. He was spontaneously attracted to the event after stepping off the train led by his wish to “taste the local culture … know more about the local scene.”
What sets Boston Calling apart from other music festivals is not only the urban setting off of which the music resonates; the event, much like the block party series, has a lower key nature and also an open door reentry policy that allows goers to both explore the city and stay on the grounds for the concert. The schedule is structured around two stages so that no performances overlap, and attendees may see all 10 acts without sacrificing others.
Boston Calling intertwines both local bands and up-and-coming artists amalgamated with big-name headliners — a way to expose the community to diverse musical culture. Instead of subscribing to one genre with a homogenous lineup of bands, Boston Calling caters to an audience of wide demographics with different musical tastes and, hopefully, an open mind to new sound.