New Englanders have a history working hard to overcome all obstacles. We’re fiercely proud of our local heritage and our place in national history. We also love a good success story, and what better example is there than the Boston Calling Music Festival? The festival is only in its second year but it has already integrated itself into the local community with ease. Crash Line Productions, the folks responsible for bring the festival to life, grew out of the ashes of the now defunct Phoenix Media Group, and they aim to breathe life into the music scene. The festival also works closely with many local companies to sponsor the event. Food and beverages were provided by Tasty Burger and Wicked Wines. Official merchandise for the festival was produced by Fenway’s own 47 Brand Entertainment.
Boston Calling prides itself on being “one big party”. It’s a three day event featuring live music from artists representing a wide range of genres. The festival itself is in its infancy; May marks only the second year that the festival has been around and it was the third weekend overall. With that in mind I expected the festival to still be experiencing some growing pains, but I was pleasantly surprised by my experience when I attended the festival in May.
First of all, the volunteers were absolutely fantastic. The whole setup was well organized and very efficient. Walking in you were first subjected to a wand search and bags were searched as well. After that your ticket was scanned by one person and bracelets were given out by another. Both days that I went it never took more than a couple of minutes to get through security, and re-entry had its own section and went even quicker. IDs were checked at a tent just inside the entrance, and that process took a matter of minutes as well. Not only was the process efficient but the volunteers themselves were all cheerful and pleasant. Just about every single one I encountered said hi and asked how I was. It was a pleasant surprise to encounter such cheerful people working the event. You could tell that everyone wanted to be there and was doing their best to make the festival a good experience for everyone.
The stage setup was slightly different from last year from what I’ve heard, and I had no complaints with how they were set up this year. With two stages in such close proximity it meant that you were almost forced to watch every single band if you stayed the whole day. Rather than traipsing across large distances you could stake out a spot and get a good view of both stages if you so chose. Festival goers also had the option of leaving the festival and coming back throughout the weekend (with the exception of Friday), which added to the casual vibe of the festival.
Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls played Saturday afternoon, and were just one of the many highlights of the festival. Effortlessly drawing in the crowd of 20,000 people, it wasn’t long before the crowd was stomping and dancing around to the music. Frank’s blend of punk rock enthusiasm and upbeat melodies easily had the crowd transfixed from the first chords of “Photosynthesis” which he used to open up his set. Frank has always been known for crowd participation, and chose a fan from the crowd to come up on stage with him to play the harmonica solo in “Dan’s Song.” The young man in question, Tom, came to be something of a local celebrity after his musical debut, and was seen walking around and taking pictures with festival attendees after the set. I think it’s safe to say that this was one concert experience he’ll never forget.
Another highlight of the festival was seeing indie rock band, The Box Tiger, start things off on Sunday. The band, an up and coming band from Toronto/Portland, ME won a contest by Sonic Bids to perform at the festival, and they put on a fantastic live set. Singer Sonia Sturino’s vocals were perfectly suited to the open air festival. The band played early on in the day but there was a solid supporting crowd there to cheer them on.
Boston Calling might be a young festival, but it’s worked hard to become a reality and it’s already made a name for itself on the festival scene. Most festivals take place somewhere where there’s a lot of open land, but there’s something striking about holding a festival in downtown Boston amidst all the concrete buildings and cobblestone paths. The ability to come and go as you please also adds to the casual vibe of the festival and makes the experience that much more relaxed and enjoyable. Though it’s true that the festival is still trying to work out some kinks, it’s fair to say that it’s already a success and we look forward to the upcoming September dates.