All photos by Rita Plante
Boston Calling excelled at creating a welcoming, relaxing, and safe environment for all attendees. Unlike most city festivals, once you were inside the gates, you felt completely separated from the hustle and bustle of the city, fully immersed in the festival environment. Spread across four stages, some of the biggest names in rock music and local up and comers played dynamic sets that an audience of all ages seemed to enjoy. There was plenty of unique seating options like, grassy hills, turf, blow up sculptures, picnic tables, and bleachers – allowing festival goers to relax and enjoy the music from several areas of the festival while enjoying dozens of food and drink options.
Boston Calling’s attention to the small details is what really set them apart from other festivals that I have attended. Sunscreen stations, free samples of various food stands, water stations, an obvious and large cleaning crew present all around the festival, and unique decor amongst other things made the experience noticeably better.
Unfortunately, not every festival can go off without a hitch. With every city festival the transportation to and from the festival becomes a hassle with the high demand and surge pricing of ride share options and the awkward distance from the public transportation.
Attendance on Friday and Saturday was good, but not overwhelming in anyway. However, Sunday saw a noticeably large increase in attendance, seeming to draw a crowd at least two times larger than day one and two combined. It appeared that Boston Calling had oversold Sunday, or after a chaotic Saturday and ticket resale value dropping over the course of the week, more tickets seemed to find their way into the hands of fans. The crowd was so large that it made navigating the areas around the stages difficult and scary at times, and lines for all food stands and restrooms excessively long. Unlike other aspects from this weekend, this issue seemed fully preventable.
The main issues that seemed to disappoint fans about Boston Calling were no fault to the festival promoters and organizers. The three original headliners that they booked back in 2020 – Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Foo Fighters all had dropped from the lineup for various reasons, and then a positive COVID case caused one of the replacement headliners, The Strokes, to drop out last minute as well. On top of all of this, the weather on Saturday led to an emergency evacuation from the festival from 3:30PM – 5:30PM.
The real MVP of the festival were Nine Inch Nails who were a late addition to the lineup to replace Foo Fighters after the passing of Taylor Hawkins and the cancellation of the remainder of their tour. They showed up for their scheduled set on Friday and blew me away, and then came back on Saturday with less than 24 hours notice to replace The Strokes and did it all again.
Overall, Boston Calling’s attention to the small details and laid back atmosphere made up for the things they couldn’t control. We live in time where COVID cancellations are inevitable, and with the addition of poor weather, Boston Calling couldn’t catch a break this year. However, they did an excellent job at accounting for small details that created a welcoming and relaxing environment that I haven’t seen in many other music festivals. I would recommend Boston Calling to anyone who is looking to dip their toes into music festivals, or is looking for a good first music festival to attend.