Memorial Day Weekend in Boston has become synonymous with Boston Calling and the strong lineup of musical artists. This year’s lineup will take place for the second consecutive year at the Harvard Athletic Complex in Allston May 25th-27th and is headlined by Eminem, The Killers, and Jack White along with Queens of the Stone Age, The National, Paramore, Tyler, The Creator, Khalid, Mike D of Beastie Boys, Portugal. The Man, Fleet Foxes, St. Vincent, The Decemberists, Brockhampton, Maggie Rogers, Royal Blood, Manchester Orchestra, Daniel Caesar, Thundercat, Stormzy, Pussy Riot, Julien Baker, and many more. The lineup also features local and regional acts- 90s alt-rock favorites Belly, indie rock trio Weakened Friends from Portland, Maine, and hip-hop up-and-comer STL GLD.
Highlights outside the headliners for this year’s event include the following artists:
(Sandy) Alex G
(Sandy) Alex G just released his eighth full-length album Rocket and is hailed by many as his most accomplished work to date, featuring singles “Bobby,” “Proud,” and “Sportstar”. The DIY artist is critically acclaimed and has a loyal growing fanbase, having started out recording, producing and release his music on his own, prior to joining Domino Records. He continues to track and works on his music on his own, having tracked the songs on Rocket at home with friends.
Experiencing a higher profile after a video of Pharrell was visibly moved by her performance of “Alaska”, Maggie Rogers has played numerous sold out shows and festivals. Her voice is just as strong as the accompanying synths-folk music showcased in her music, notably on her EP, Now That the Light Is Fading.
The hip-hop collective released the crucially acclaimed album, Saturation III this past December, and has since gone on to play sold out shows across North America and have been invited to play numerous festivals. Their shows have been described as interactive, energetic and showcases the talents of many members of the group. Definitely an act to check out.
The punk rock band from Pennsylvania continue to truck along, having released their fifth full-length After the Party last year. The band’s shows are incredibly energetic as expected, with plenty of moshing, sing-a-longs, screaming and everything in between.
The two-piece from Brighton, England quickly became a staple of many as their brand of rock music has impressed music vets including Lars Ulrich of Metallica. The iconic drummer has attended many of their sets, including one of their early shows where he even joined them on-stage to play drums.
Five albums in and St. Vincent just keeps getting better, as her latest album, Masseduction showcases. The Grammy-award winner has put together a live show packed with captivating visuals to accompany St. Vincent and her band.
Brooklyn’s Big Thief captures a snapshot of varying autobiographical experiences and observations from the band’s songwriter Adrianne Lenker admidst the raw sound of the band.
Emerging from the Boston music scene in the 90s, Belly fit right in with the post-grunge scene as their debut album Star showcased lead singer Tanya Donnelly’s strong vocals and musicianship. Their signature song, “Feed The Tree” doesn’t sound dated whatsoever, fitting in with the alternative music churned out in the 2010s. The band is back with a new album(after 23 years), titled Dove and shows they still have it.
With the release of her new album, Turn Out The Lights, last fall, Julien Baker continues to show audiences and critics alike what makes her music special. The follow-up to Sprained Ankle (2015) demonstrates Baker’s maturation as a song-writer and musician, where her voice is front and center, while the arrangements of strings, guitar and piano are intertwined perfectly.
There are many connections between Pond and Tame Impala, as Pond frontman, Nick Allbrook was a part of the band until leaving in 2013 and Jay Watson, who still plays with them from time to time. Their sound, however, has become more polished psychedelic rock, having released their seventh studio album, The Weather that features the addictive, “Fire In The Water”.
This year will be the inaugural year for the Boston Calling Film Festival, curated by Academy award-winning actress, producer and director Natalie Portman. The film festival will take place Tuesday, May 22nd – Thursday, May 24th prior to the music festival and showcase a series of films that explore similar themes told from the perspective of either male or female directors. The organizers also announced that Natalie will be curating and hosting a series of special programming, held indoors at the music festival’s arena throughout the weekend. “I’m so excited to show films that I love that explore the female gaze,” says Portman. “I don’t think there is anything inherently different between male and female artists, but these are examples of great works of art in which similar storylines have female tropes that play out quite differently depending on who is telling the story. I’m looking forward to sharing these with an audience and hearing their reactions. It makes it an even more special opportunity to watch these incredible films on the big screen at one of my favorite movie theaters.”
The other unique aspect of Boston Calling will be the food & drink offerings in General Admission and VIP from over 35 local restaurants and vendors, 11 of which are new. Boston’s wood-fired Area Four joins the food & drink lineup this year, along with Cambridge’s Commonwealth and its array of chef driven sandwiches, local cult favorite Union Square Donuts, the mobile Middle Eastern standout, The Chubby Chickpea, and Jaju Pierogi along with numerous returning popular local eateries.