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The Mass Media

The Boston Calling Experience: When Music & Comedy Collide

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Press photo of hip-hop group Run The Jewels courtesy of 44 Communications (E3 Marketing). 

From Donnie Wahlberg to the Dropkick Murphys, Aerosmith to the Pixies, it’s hard to deny Boston’s strong musical pedigree. Venues like the Orpheum, the Rat Skellar, and the House of Blues have hosted a variety of artists, giving an experience that’s uniquely Bostonian.
However, it wasn’t until 2013 that big outdoor music events reached the city. Debuting in 2013, Boston Calling indie-flavored festival was the first of its kind in Boston. An outdoor music festival in the heart of downtown Boston, at City Hall Plaza seemed improbable: but Boston Calling pulled it off. This year’s festival is a sign of even greater ambitions. This year, Boston Calling will be replacing their film component of the festival with stand-up comedy. Comedians such as Hannibal Buress, Bethany Van Delft, and Josh Johnson to name a few, will share the stage with Boston Calling’s impressive musical lineup. 
Boston Calling has outgrown its formative venue of City Hall Plaza, and transitioned to the Harvard Athletic Complex in Allston, for the first time in the festival’s history. Aaron Dessner, of the National, curated this year’s lineup, featuring rock heavyweights like the progressive alt-metal group Tool, and folksy British rockers Mumford and Sons. With 45 artists, there comes the possibility for an even more diverse cast of musicians for this year’s festival. Also headlining is one of the biggest names in hip hop, this year’s Grammy winner Chance the Rapper.
With a new venue comes a shift in focus for the festival; 45 bands, a 3rd stage, and an expanded comedy lineup replacing the festival’s film component hosted by Hannibal Burress. The Chicago, Illinois native spoke in a press release, on his thoughts on Boston Calling.  “I’m excited to take a break from my construction business to bring my unbridled energy to the Boston Calling festival. When Boston calls, I send it to voicemail 3 times and then text it at 3am. You up?”
Desiring more of a “culture”, the festival enlisted the services of designer, social activist, and sculptor Russ Bennett. Based out of Waitsfield, Vermont, Bennett laid the artistic blueprint for the massively successful Bonnaroo festivals in Tennessee, as well as designing many of the set pieces for Phish’s live shows. This year’s event also is focusing on building a better weekend; over thirty food vendors will be on site, serving up craft beer and wine throughout the festival. 
Festival Advice:
The best way to get to the festival this year is to take the Red Line to Harvard. With bike parking on-site, it’s possible to go green and avoid the crowds on the train. However, it’s also possible to take an Uber, or taxi to the event. 
Artists I’m most looking forward to:
Friday: Chance the Rapper, Sigur Ros, and Bon Iver
Saturday: Mumford and Sons, Tegan and Sara, the 1975
Sunday: Tool, Weezer, Run the Jewels
Gates open at 2:30 on Friday, 12:00pm on Saturday and Sunday