Boston —Boston’s City Hall Plaza has hosted almost every kind of event, from circuses to concerts, from protests to parades. But Boston Calling, being held on Saturday and Sunday, May 25 & 26, is shaping up to be the biggest ticketed concert downtown’s ever seen.
According to Boston Calling co-founder Brian Appel, the 18-act, two-day festival should bring approximately 20,000 people into downtown Boston. In terms of the lineup, the cast Appel and co-producer Mike Snow have assembled spans the vast offerings of the current indie music scene.
Headliners and popular favorites like fun., The National, and The Shins will be joined by up- and-coming acts like MS MR, St. Lucia, Of Monsters and Men, Youth Lagoon, Bad Rabbits and Young the Giant. Flushing the festival out are indie acts who have already made a name for themselves, through relentless touring and/ or album releases: The Walkmen, Ra Ra Riot, Caspian, Dirty Projectors, Matt and Kim and Andrew Bird.
You can check out a custom made Spotify playlist highlighting a few of our favorite songs from each of the featured Boston Calling bands right here.
Boston Calling has been an 18-month project, started by Appel and Snow after they left their previous jobs at WFNX and the Boston Phoenix. The festival sold out of general admission tickets two weeks ago, a huge relief for organizers and a good sign, according to Appel.
“We forecasted that we’d probably sell out but when it happened it was reassuring, that we’d been correct and our idea had worked. I’m thrilled and it’s a relief as well,” he said. “We’ve got a few VIP packages left through the website and the box office.”
Construction started early this week, as crews are currently swarming City Hall Plaza, setting up the two main stages, a spacious beer garden, and a food pavilion with room for food trucks.
“At our former jobs, for the Phoenix and WFNX, we’ve actually helped put on free shows at City Hall before,” Appel said. “But we saw an opportunity here to do a ticket event. The big hurdle was just working through logistics. When we left we thought we’d try it.”
Properly planning the festival took months of working with the city, sorting through the lease, and securing funding, said Appel. He said the bands were booked in two phases. First, he said, organizers reached out to the National’s Aaron Dessner, who wanted to help curate the festival.
In October of last year, Appel met with Dessner in New York.
“We talked about our plans and he wanted to be involved,” Appel said. “He said he was a big fan of Boston and was just amazed with the fan base here and how many tickets they sell each time they visit. Boston has a vibrant music scene and we were happy to have him on board curating.”
But Appel said many bands were reluctant to sign on to a first-time festival.
“We heard ‘let’s wait and see’ because they’re waiting to see what you can do your first year before getting invested,” he said. “Having The National as the first band, willing to come on board at the start, helped with our credibility and our reach as far as bands.”
A second partnership with Bowery Presents helped solidify the lineup. Bowery Presents books lineups for Sinclair, Great Scott and Royale.
“The people from the Bowery came through and helped finalize everything, getting the contracts in place as well,” he said.
Appel said he’s proud to have put together such a diverse and popular lineup.
“I’m a huge fan of Portugal. The Man and I’m thrilled that the Shins jumped on,” he said. “We’ve seen a surprisingly huge social media reaction with fans of Marina and the Diamonds too. If you look down the lineup, it’s an eclectic group. Young the Giant haven’t been in Boston in over a year and it’s just a great collection of bands.”
Appel said he has a simple message for attendees over Memorial Day weekend, be patient.
“This is our first time doing this and we’re trying to make it as fan-centric as possible,” he said. “You’ll be able to leave the festival to explore the city, go to bars and restaurants but there will be appropriate security so there may be lines to get in.”
“Just be patient please. All of the bands are coming and it’s looking like the weather will be nice. It’s shaping up to be a great weekend in Boston,” he added. “Also, kids under 10 are free so please bring them.”
By Dana Forsyth- Re-posted from WickedLocal.com