Memorial Day weekend is here and that means one thing in Boston: our biggest music festival of the year.
Boston Calling returns with its most impressive lineup to date, boasting names like Chance the Rapper, Solange, Tool, Sigur Rós, Weezer, Mumford and Sons, and more. With a big up in billing comes a big up in location; this year’s festival will take over the Harvard Athletic Complex in lower Allston. School’s out. That means nobody’s got time to study up about festival do’s and don’ts. To save you the time, we made the ultimate cheat sheet to this year’s Boston Calling, breaking down everything you need to know from the best beers to setlist clashes to upping your chances of running into Natalie Portman or Hannibal Buress—really really.
SHOW SOME STYLE
Festivals are about showing off your style, but remember that this is the East Coast. Ditch those flower crowns. Forget about crop tops. This summer, take care of yourself like a New Englander. Sport a baseball cap for something other than baseball, don oddball sunglasses, loop an empty-but-soon-to-be-filled Nalgene through your carabiner, and wear comfortable shoes for sprinting. You do you, Boston style.
BATTLE OF THE BANDS
Boston Calling packed some serious lineup clashes this year. Our suggestions? Skip Whitney to see Deerhoof. Forget about Mac DeMarco to be stunned by Solange (EDIT: Solange had to back out and Migos will be in her place, so instead of supporting someone who violated consent laws or three homophobes, head over to the comedy tent). Enjoy old-school Weezer instead of Major Lazer. And please, catch Wolf Parade instead of seeing Run the Jewels for the 100th time. Oh, and don’t forget about official afterparty shows around the city later each night, too.
Get your money’s worth by showing up on time. Boston Calling packed an impressive bill from top to bottom. Watch local surf poppers Vundabar and punchy pop musician Lucy Dacus kick off Friday. Let the easy-going folk of Kevin Morby and the endearing indie rock soul of Moses Sumney stun you silent on Saturday. And of course, Worcester emo staple The Hotelier, southern jam band Hiss Golden Messenger, and pop punk good boys Pup make the start of Sunday sheer perfection.
THROW IT IN THE BAG
Save room in your tote. Boston Calling upped its merch game this year. Snag one of the cozy hoodies and sport it this fall when October weather has you wearing your favorite sweater to pieces, or pick up tour-only merch from bands playing the festival each day.
— Boston Calling (@Boston_Calling) May 25, 2017
FUNNY HA HA
Boston Calling’s film festival curated by Natalie Portman fell through, but in its place comes a 13-act comedy festival hosted by Hannibal Buress. He will perform alongside Pete Holmes, Tig Notaro, Eugene Mirman, Lamont Price, Phoebe Robinson, Kate Berlant and John Early, Kelly MacFarland, Jordan Rock, Bethany Van Delft, Josh Johnson, and Nick Chambers. Talk about a phenomenal replacement. If you aren’t familiar with them, now’s your chance. You’ll be in stitches all day.
CASE OF THE MUNCHIES
No matter what you’re craving, Boston Calling has your back. The festival upgraded its food menu this year to represent the city’s boisterous foodie culture. Bon Me brings its signature Vietnamese sandwiches and soba noodles, El Pelon Taqueria has tacos galore, Roxy’s Grilled Cheese brings the savory goodness, Tasty Burger keeps things classic, and you can top it off with FoMu’s impeccable vegan ice cream. Just think: That’s the tip of the iceberg (salad).
Okay, no, we aren’t suggesting you cut the line. What you can do to get into the festival faster is prioritize travel time. Parking and carpooling will add time for traffic and locating a parking spot. Bike racks will be set up for you to zip on over and lock them up. Perhaps your best bet, though, is walking. Take a bus to Harvard Square and then jog across the bridge. Get your fitness on.
Want to enjoy the music but the volume’s hurting your ears? Scope out the festival’s outdoor games. Past years saw classics like Giant Jenga and Ping Pong set up for people to play, beverage in hand, while the music goes on behind them. We can’t spoil it, but this year will have even better games hidden around.
— Boston Calling (@Boston_Calling) May 23, 2017
Stop holding up the beer line while you dig through your wallet. Say hello to cashless wristband payments. If you choose to use them, you can link your credit or debit card from your Eventbrite wallet—the same credit card you used to buy your ticket and set a PIN number to use at money transactions. No registration fee + faster payments = more time enjoying the festival.
It wouldn’t be a Boston music festival without Sam Adams or Angry Orchard. However, Boston Calling is reaching beyond those (though they’re there) to grab an impressive array of Mikkeller beers. The Danish microbrewery garnered a cult following for its so-called “cuckoo” ethos and one-off brews. Those familiar with it know how mind-blowing its sours are. You’re in luck; the festival has eight flavors in stock, including its Raspberry Blush.
CLICK IT FOR A TICKET
Don’t be an idiot and sneak into the festival (and, if you really mess up, jail). Three-day and single-day tickets are still on sale. For just $126, you can see Chance the Rapper, Bon Iver, Solange, Mac DeMarco, Deerhoof, and more. That cost alone covers a Chance and Bon Iver ticket. It’s simple math. All you need to do is click on the festival’s website to get to the other side of the equal sign.
CINEMA CLUB CHANGES
Natalie Portman’s planned film festival is being rescheduled “for a future edition of the festival.” As previously mentioned, that’s replaced by Hannibal Buress’ comedy experience. This means you should already be looking forward to next year’s Boston Calling and the star-studded film experience it’ll be rolling out. Mark your calendars for 2018, kids.
BOSTON CALLING. FRI 5.26–SUN 5.28. HARVARD ATHLETIC COMPLEX, ALLSTON. 12:30PM/ALL AGES/$126-306. BOSTONCALLING.COM