The Boston Calling Music Festival will return to City Hall Plaza this weekend for the fourth time since its inception in May 2013—a rate that has been integral to the festival’s development, Boston Calling co-founder Brian Appel said in an interview.
“The fact that we’ve gotten four cracks at this in two years means that we were able to make improvements quicker,” he said of the festival. “We were able to bring more artists through Boston at a faster rate than if we were just once a year.”
For this installment alone, 23 musicians and bands—led by headliners The National, Lorde, and Nas x the Roots—will entertain the city Friday through Sunday.
“We’re really excited for the lineups for all three days this time,” Appel said, citing the representation of diverse music genres at the festival, including Spoon’s indie rock, Girl Talk’s EDM, and music by local bands such as Gentlemen Hall.
Aaron Dessner, songwriter and guitarist for the National, has co-curated all four installments of the festival thus far, and his own band is nearing the conclusion of a tour that started around the first Boston Calling installment, which it also headlined.
“We’re thrilled to have them at the front and the back of this whirlwind that they’ve been on,” Appel said of the band.
While the May installment of the festival is usually too late for most of Boston’s college students to attend, Appel expects students to turn out in droves this weekend, as a result of marketing initiatives designed specifically to attract college-age students.
In general, Boston’s younger population—at least those above 21—will have substantial reason to enjoy the festival this year, thanks to a change that was implemented at the last installment of the festival: the removal of restrictive beer gardens, which created a designated space in which people could consume alcohol and became a part of the festival at the request of former Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s administration.
According to Appel, however, Mayor Martin J. Walsh, WCAS ’09, agreed to the removal of the beer gardens provided security and ID policies were up to code. The move is consistent with many initiatives that Walsh has supported to convert Boston into a city more likely to attract and maintain a population of people in their 20s and 30s, including later weekend hours for the T, which began in March, and later closing hours for Boston bars, which were rejected by city lawmakers in June.
Appel said that the removal of the beer gardens had a positive impact on the festival in May, as attendees could bring a drink with them up to the stage to watch the performances.
If music and beer are not sufficient entertainment, Appel said that there are plenty of other ways to have fun during the three-day event. Canvases by featured artists will be displayed around City Hall Plaza, and the festival has joined forces with the annual Samuel Adams Octoberfest, which will include stein-hoisting contests and lawn games.
Additionally, the festival has a readmission policy, which Appel says encourages attendees to enjoy downtown Boston throughout the day if a certain musical act does not serve as an attraction. Appel is confident, however, that ticket-holders should be able to find even those acts scheduled to perform earlier in the day enjoyable.
“I’m particularly excited to see the War on Drugs,” he said of the ascending indie-rock band. “I can’t wait to see them midafternoon out on the plaza.”
Even as organizers prepare for Boston Calling’s fourth outing, Appel said that the festival will not suddenly become the event they envision it to be, but should continue to develop over time.
“You’ve got to always keep improving and working to keep it better,” he said.
Featured Image courtesy of Mike Diskin