Ever since the festival debuted in May of 2013, it’s been busting its ass to improve not only itself, but the festival game at large. That means upping its gender, genre, and race representation, inviting local musicians to perform on the big stage, sharpening its food curation, bringing comedians onboard, scouting a new location, and pushing things to the next level.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Advanced prep for a carefree weekend sounds ludicrous, but your sanity and phone battery will thank you. Head over to Boston Calling’s website to study the festival grounds map. Take note of where your favorite food stalls are, bathrooms hidden off to the side, and the fastest route from one stage to the next so you don’t miss a single second of the bands you want to see. It’s a lot easier to do these in advance and take notes on a piece of paper (or in your phone and screenshot it!) than trying to coordinate on-site with friends when cell phone service gets spotty. Oh, and follow the festival’s socials so you’re up to date on any last-minute schedule changes.
VIP ENTRANCE FOR ALL
If you can’t drop the extra dough for VIP, that’s okay. There are still ways to shorten your festival entrance time. Figure out which artist you want to see first and then show up an hour before their scheduled set time. Better yet, show up when gates open at 2:30 pm on Friday and noon on Saturday and Sunday. Walk to the far left side of the entrance lines, as most people flood the lines closest to the street, to guarantee you don’t get stuck in the longest line. Want to speed up the process even more? Avoid the wait for will call by picking up your wristband early. Just head downstairs at Tasty Burger in Harvard Square 3-8 pm this Thursday.
EARLY BIRD GETS THE COMEDY WORM
Remember when the comedy arena filled up last year, and you couldn’t see your favorite comedian do a set? Boston Calling just created the best solution. Each day, the festival will hand out 1,000 complimentary first-come, first-serve wristbands that guarantee admission to the arena—taking up about a third of the arena’s capacity. With those, you can enter the arena through a special line instead of waiting in the massive general admission line. That means you can see a live recording of Pod Save America, Cameron Esposito, David Cross, and more with ease. Best of all, you can waltz right in to see Natalie Portman and Friends, which sees the award-winning actress bring artists like St. Vincent, Zola Jesus, Leikeli47, and more onstage.
ARTS(Y) AND CRAFT(Y) AND BEER(Y)
Normally we wouldn’t advise you to order alcohol at a festival because the cost is ridiculous. But if there’s one thing Boston Calling succeeds at in the BAC department, it’s the Mikkeller booth. Tucked away on one side of the festival, the Denmark microbrewery gets its own stall to pour you experimental brews straight from the tap. Take it from a fan (me): Mikkeller makes some truly phenomenal sours. The fact that you can not only find a passion fruit gose or Berliner-style weisse beer at a festival but that it’s straight from the tap is next-level shit. Why the hell would you get a Sam Adams when you have this glorious option available, and for the same price?
NO MORE FOOD FIGHTS
Boston Calling allows re-entry, but don’t do it to save a few bucks on dinner off the festival grounds. You will wish you stayed inside the festival and didn’t have to wait in the re-entry lines… especially when you accidentally miss the artist you wanted to see. This year’s food roster is tastier and more accommodating than ever before. Keep your eyes peeled for mega-popular ramen spot Yume Wo Katare, the vegan-adored Whole Heart Provisions, rice ball wizards Arancini Bros, and the best food truck around, Bon Me. Then snag dessert from Zinneken’s Belgian Waffles, Union Square Donuts, FoMu Ice Cream, and… Sorry, I had to stop rattling places off to wipe away drool.
BEAT THE RAIN
If we’ve learned anything from eight different versions of Boston Calling over the years, it’s that when forecasters say it’s gonna rain, they mean it. Do the smart thing and pack a poncho (or XL trash bag!) this year. Your local bodega, CVS, or Target sells them for under $5. They aren’t fashionable, but when you’re surrounded by thousands of people trying to watch a musician perform, the last thing you want is a sore arm from holding an umbrella up or a soaked outfit after your jacket waves its white flag. This weekend, embrace your no-fucks-given alter ego as an amorphous plastic blob.
SECRET ACOUSTIC SETS (SHHHH)
Paramore, St. Vincent, Tyler, the Creator: Obviously this year’s lineup will knock some stellar performances out of the park. But there’s a special type of set that’s going to go down, and word is only a few hundred people will know about it. Over the course of the weekend, there will be special acoustic performances by Boston Calling artists at an undisclosed location on festival grounds. Unfortunately, Boston Calling already sent RSVP links for the performances to people who purchased festival tickets before April 19. Fortunately, those people were given a plus-one. That means if you keep your ears open, you may hear someone who’s headed to the secret show with no friend to be their plus-one. Make a friend and see an exclusive, secret, acoustic performance by an undisclosed artist? Folks, I believe that’s called a win-win.
BOSTON CALLING. FRI 5.25–SUN 5.27. HARVARD ATHLETIC COMPLEX, 65 N. HARVARD ST., ALLSTON. 12PM/ALL AGES/$289. BOSTONCALLING.COM