Boston Calling 2017 Preview

Boston has long been home to great music, thanks in no small part to its massive college scene. In 2013 it got the Boston Calling Music Festival, in the...
Boston Calling

Boston Calling 2017 Preview

Boston has long been home to great music, thanks in no small part to its massive college scene. In 2013 it got the Boston Calling Music Festival, in the sweet spot between leaving school & summer getting warm. For 2017, the festival is moving to the large Harvard Athletic Complex in Allston, for more music stages and a film festival component curated by none other than Harvard grad Natalie Portman.

So come to this wicked festival, Friday-to-Sunday, May 26th-28th:




Green Stage

Chance the Rapper, 9:20 PM – 10:30 PM

Two mixtapes, 2012’s 10 Day and 2013’s Acid Rap, have launched Chicago’s own Chance the Rapper (QRO photos at a festival) into the big time (like an endearing Kit Kat commercial, and his Chicago-sponsored South-by-Southwest showcase in 2015 was shut down due to massive overcrowding – QRO recap). He comes to headline Boston Calling (QRO photos at a festival) behind his latest collaboration, last year’s team-up with Jeremih, Merry Christmas Lil’ Mama, and his Grammy-winning mixtape, Coloring Book. Book was the first streaming-only album ever to get a Grammy nomination, let alone a win – oh, and he also won the Grammys for Best New Artist and Best Rap Performance!
Chance the Rapper
Migos, 6:45 PM – 7:55 PM

Quarvo, Takeoff and Offset together form hip-hop group Migos, and come to Boston Calling (after a last-minute cancellation by Solange) behind this year’s Culture.
Francis & The Lights, 4:45 PM – 5:35 PM

Francis Farewell Starlite brings ‘The Lights’ (both on stage & on computer) to Boston. His debut, Farewell, Starlite!, finally came out last year – oh, and he’s previously worked with Friday’s headliners, Chance The Rapper & Bon Iver.
Francis & The Lights

Lucy Dacus, 3:10 PM – 3:50 PMQRO photos

Lucy Dacus

XFinity Red Stage

Bon Iver, 8:00 PM – 9:10 PM

Man, have things ever blown up for Justin Vernon – a.k.a. Bon Iver (QRO photos). QRO can remember when he was just the touring guitarist (QRO photos) for The Rosebuds (QRO spotlight on), but after a well-received appearance at CMJ 2007 (QRO recap), he signed to Jagjaguwar and released his stripped solo debut For Emma, Forever Ago (QRO review) – and the rest was history. He appeared on just about every TV show you can throw a stick at, including being interviewed by Stephen Colbert & being mock-portrayed by Justin Timberlake on Saturday Night Live (QRO Music on Late Night TV). He’s even worked with Kanye!

After playing to massive crowds (QRO live review) while touring 2011’s self-titled follow-up (QRO review), which earned him the Grammy for Best Alternative Album and Best New Artist (and leading legions of J. Cole twitter fans to ask, “Who the fuck is ‘Bunny Bear’?”…), Vernon set aside the ‘Bon Iver’ moniker for other work/names, like Volcano Choir (QRO live review), The Shouting Matches (QRO album review), and GAYNGS (QRO album review). But last year he returned, with 22, A Million (QRO review) – and even more acclaim…
Bon Iver
Sylvan Esso, 5:40 PM – 6:40 PM

Durham, North Carolina indie-pop duo Sylvan Esso (QRO photos outdoors) have moved up very fast (QRO photos at a festival) since the release in 2014 of their eponymous debut full-length, with well-titled follow-up What Now just out.
Sylvan Esso
Whitney, 3:55 PM – 4:40 PM

Shortly after Max Kakacek & Julien Ehrlich’s young Smith Westerns (QRO photos at a festival) broke up, the pair formed their new outfit, Whitney (QRO photos at a festival). And they’ve certainly grown up, as debut Light Upon the Lake was one of the best records of last year (QRO Top Albums of 2016).


Vundabar, 2:35 PM – 3:05 PM


Delta Blue Stage

Sigur Rós, 9:20 PM – 10:50 PM

Hands down, Sigur Rós (QRO live review) is one of the best bands to come out of the ‘90s. Few acts have emerged from that decade and been able to maintain even a career, let alone the longevity with grace and style that has been demonstrated by these boys from Iceland (QRO photos from literally the other side of the globe from Iceland). Maybe that’s the big secret: they aren’t from America (QRO photos at a non-American festival).

Their music is the definition of beauty and 2012’s album Valtari (QRO review) was absolutely no exception. It was their first in four years, after people thought that the band was finished, the next year they had their follow-up, Kveikur (QRO review). With their share of some of the best and most affecting music of their time, and a live show fuelled by a newfound vigor, Sigur Rós (QRO photos outdoors) is set to deliver one of the best performances of the festival (QRO photos this year).
Sigur Rós
Mac DeMarco, 7:20 PM – 8:20 PM

Some artists toil in obscurity for years, even decades, but Mac DeMarco (QRO photos at a festival) hit success when he was barely old enough to drink (and loves to party, even on stage – QRO photos). His latest, This Old Dog, just came out, and it & a reputation for wild live shows (QRO photos at a festival) bring him to Boston Calling (QRO photos at a festival).
Mac DeMarco
Car Seat Headrest, 5:45 PM – 6:35 PM

After a series of solo, self-released Bandcamp records (named literally 1, 2, 3, 4 and more), Will Toledo’s Car Seat Headrest (QRO photos at a festival) graduated to a full band & Matador signing for last year’s Teens of Style and last year’s Teens of Denial.
Car Seat Headrest
Deerhoof, 4:15 PM – 5:05 PM

A band (QRO photos at a festival) that’s always hard to peg down, the prolific Deerhoof (QRO photos), led by the unmistakable Satomi Matsuzaki, come to Boston Calling (QRO photos).


Xylouris White, 3:00 PM – 3:40 PM


Comedy Stage

Pete Holmes, 6:15 PM – 7:00 PM

Mixing a genial face with comedy that ranges from blue to surreal to sarcastic, Pete Holmes has worked on everything from his own late-night talk show to E-Trade baby commercials. Currently the stand-up comedian has his own HBO series, Crashing – about being a struggling stand-up.
Pete Holmes
Eugene Mirman, 5:50 PM – 6:10 PM

The alt-comedy world of today gets a whole lot of exposure at Boston Calling, including the man (QRO spotlight on) who maybe did more than anyone else to found it, stand-up artist Eugene Mirman (QRO photos). He’s no stranger to sharing a stage with musicians, such as opening for She & Him (QRO live review) and previously (QRO photos) for the first performance by Julian Plenti (QRO live review of that show), a.k.a. Paul Banks of Interpol (QRO live review). He’s also no stranger to festivals, as he’s thrown his own comedy festival in Brooklyn for years now (QRO recap). Oh, and he’s Gene Belcher on FOX’s Bob’s Burgers (which has its own new album of musical numbers out).

Mirman (QRO interview) comes to Boston behind his mammoth 2015 release (on music label Sub Pop), I’m Sorry (You’re Welcome), which features everything from stand-up to over 45 minutes of crying, 195 orgasms, a lesson in Russian, and much more (QRO photos from the album release party).
Eugene Mirman

Lamont Price, 5:30 PM – 5:45 PM

Kelly MacFarland, 5:15 PM – 5:25 PM
Kelly MacFarland




Green Stage

Mumford & Sons, 8:50 PM – 10:30 PM

London’s King’s College & St. Paul’s School are serving as something of the English alt-folk Wesleyan, seeing related acts hit it big. First there was Noah & The Whale (QRO live review), with graduates of both, then Noah’s female vocalist Laura Marling (QRO live review) went out on her own. But the biggest hit from there has to be fellow Marling collaborator Mumford & Sons (QRO live review). Debut Sign No More saw them break through to the mainstream (QRO photos outdoors) with songs like “Little Lion Man”, and 2012’s follow-up Babel (QRO review) hit number one on the charts (QRO photos) on both sides of the Atlantic (QRO photos at a European festival).

Oh, they’ve also done such feats as perform on the Grammys with Bob Dylan – and win album of the year in 2013! They also got a Grammy for their tour documentary Big Easy Express (QRO screening review), where they, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros (QRO spotlight on), and Old Crow Medicine Show toured the southwest by train – a railroad version of their ‘Gentlemen of the Road Stopover’ tours (QRO review). And now Mumford & Sons (QRO live review) headline Boston Calling (QRO photos at a festival), after 2015’s Wilder Mind (QRO review) and last year’s run of massive shows (QRO live review in 2016).
Mumford & Sons
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, 6:25 PM – 7:25 PM

Denver’s Nathaniel Rateliff (QRO photos) brings sad indie-folks sounds with his band, The Nightsweats (QRO photos at a festival), as he successfully climbs the festival ladder (QRO photos at a festival), behind last year’s A Little Something More from Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats.
Nathaniel Rateliff
Brandi Carlile, 4:25 PM – 5:15 PM

Singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile (QRO interview) has emerged alongside a whole new generation of socially minded melodic songstresses (QRO photos), and in 2015 she (QRO spotlight on) put out her latest (QRO photos outdoors), The Firewatcher’s Daughter.
Brandi Carlile

Moses Sumney, 2:40 PM – 3:25 PM QRO photos at a festival

Kevin Morby, 1:10 PM – 1:50 PMQRO photos at a festival

Moses Sumney

XFinity Red Stage

The xx, 7:30 PM – 6:45 PM

Almost overnight, south London’s The xx (QRO photos) went from little known to massive acclaim. Even before debut record xx (QRO review) actually came out, the dark, post-punk revival act was garnering lots of attention (QRO photos at a festival). They quickly jumped from opening (QRO live review) to headlining, as they were overshadowing the headliners. They also saw Baria Qureshi depart (QRO photos with her), leaving them a three piece (QRO photos at a festival).

Certainly subdued, they are much better suited for nighttime (QRO photos at a festival) than at chattering rock clubs (QRO video), but have found a way to make it work outdoors (QRO live review outdoors) and at festivals (QRO photos at a festival) far and wide (QRO photos at a festival). The group comes to Boston Calling (QRO photos) behind this year’s I See You (QRO review) and big tour (QRO live review of U.K. tour kick-off), following 2012’s Coexist (QRO review).
The xx
Tegan & Sara, 5:20 PM – 6:20 PM

Identical twin sisters Tegan and Sara (QRO interview) Quinn emerged out of Calgary at a young age over a decade ago (QRO spotlight on), and are coming back to Boston Calling (QRO photos at Boston Calling ‘14) behind their eighth record, Love You To Death (QRO review). It and the previous Heartthrob (QRO review) launched the indie duo (QRO live review) into electro-pop stardom (helped by contributing to Lego Movie’s awesome, Oscar-nominated song, “Everything Is Awesome!!!”), after a hiatus following the end of their touring behind 2009’s Sainthood (QRO review).

The duo manages to combine both the mature songstress(es) style and today’s indie-rock (QRO live review) – along with some great between song banter (QRO live review). They’ve been everywhere in the world (QRO photos at a festival on the other side of the world) – from French-speaking Montreal (QRO photos) to Major League Baseball’s ‘Fan Cave’ (QRO photos), from Amnesty International’s ‘Bring Human Rights Home’ event (QRO photos) with Pussy Riot to Middle America (QRO photos).
Tegan & Sara
Oh Wonder, 3:30 Pm – 4:20 PM

London alt-pop duo Oh Wonder (QRO photos) is a true Wonder, as they come to Boston Calling in the run-up to next month’s release of sophomore full-length, Ultralife.
Oh Wonder
Strand of Oaks, 1:35 PM – 2:35 PM

For those looking for something a bit more heavy, look no further than Strand of Oaks (QRO photos at a festival). Timothy Showalter is not afraid to be honest in his guitar-driven songs punctuated with soaring solos. There’s a touch of pop, some Neil Young and the cathartic release of Strand of Oaks (QRO photos at a festival) will have you feeling nostalgic and ready for the future all at the same time. He comes to Boston Calling behind this year’s Hard Love (QRO review).


Alexandra Savior, 12:35 PM – 1:05 PM

Strand of Oaks

Delta Blue Stage

The 1975, 8:00 PM – 9:15 PM

Manchester’s The 1975 (QRO photos at a festival) turned heads with their Sex EP in 2012, even though it wasn’t very good (QRO review), they have kept that up (QRO photos at a festival) as the second coming of INXS with last year’s I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It (isn’t that the name of a One Direction song?…). They play Boston Calling for a second time (QRO photos at Boston Calling ’14).
The 1975
Majid Jordan, 6:00 PM – 6:50 PM

Majid Al Maskati and Jordan Ullman form Toronto’s synthwave R&B duo Majid Jordan.
Majid Jordan
Danny Brown, 4:40 PM – 5:30 PM

Detroit rapper Danny Brown (QRO photos at a festival) earned serious critical acclaim in 2011 with XXX, SPIN’s hip-hop album of the year (QRO photos at SPIN party). He’s since gotten even bigger (QRO live review), even as he got older with 2013’s Old and last year’s Atrocity Exhibition.
Danny Brown
Cousin Stizz, 3:15 PM – 4:00 PM

From nearby in Dorchester comes Cousin Stizz, who last year won ‘Album of the Year’ at the Boston Music Awards for Monda.
Cousin Stizz
Russ, 2:00 PM – 2:45 PM

This year rapper Russ Vitale finally released his debut record, There’s Really a Wolf, after a whole slew of mixtapes.


Alexandra Savior, 12:35 PM – 1:05 PM


Comedy Stage

Hannibal Buress, 6:15 PM – 7:00 PM

Yes, most people in America first heard of Hannibal Buress (QRO photos at a festival) when he pointed out Bill Cosby’s history of rape allegations that led to that venerable stand-up’s recent infamous fall from grace. But Buress (QRO photos at a comedy festival) is much more, an accomplished stand-up who’s shared the bill with musicians before (QRO photos), and one of the main guys on Broad City.
Hannibal Buress

Phoebe Robinson, 5:50 PM – 6:10 PM

Jordan Rock, 5:30 PM – 5:45 PM

Bethany Van Delft, 5:15 PM – 5:25 PM
Phoebe Robinson




Green Stage

Tool, 9:20 PM – 10:30 PM

There are few acts like Tool. The Los Angeles group was classified under ‘heavy metal’ when they emerged in the mid-nineties, but they were always something more. “Sober” came out and proved that, the hit single with memorable stop-motion video that was featured in many a nineties kid’s nightmare. Yet unlike many nineties artists they didn’t stop in success, critically or commercially, as the new decade/century/millennium dawned, debuting at number one with Lateralus. Yes, there have been hiatuses and rumored break-ups, but the same four men have been together now over two decades, and bring their hit heavy-fusion hybrid to headline Sunday in Boston.
Cage the Elephant, 6:55 PM – 7:35 PM

With hardly a full-length album to their name, Kentucky’s Cage the Elephant (QRO photos) was snatched up by EMI Records at a low-key SXSW showcase. Following some impressive U.K. airplay, the band packed up and moved to London, where they released their first studio album in 2008. The following two years were a haze of international touring, late night TV shows, festival appearances (QRO photos at a festival), and preparation for 2011’s Thank You, Happy Birthday, following that up with 2013’s more indie-influenced Melophobia and 2015’s Dan Auerbach-produced Tell Me I’m Pretty (which won the Grammy for Best Rock Album). As their blues-y rock infused live show will prove (QRO photos), elephants were never meant to be caged (QRO photos).
Cage the Elephant
Piebald, 4:55 PM – 5:45 PM

Alt-hardcore artists Piebald were a staple of the Greater Boston area music scene in the prior two decades before breaking up in 2008. There have been a few reunions since then, but this hometown one will be especially sweet.
Converge, 3:10 Pm – 3:55 PM

Salem’s Converge (QRO photos) have brought together punk & metal into the metalcore witch’s brew since the early nineties, finding themselves on major punk label Epitaph with All We Love We Leave Behind, and now come to Boston Calling (QRO photos).
Hiss Golden Messenger, 1:35 PM – 2:15 PM

Hiss Golden Messenger (QRO photos at a festival) has had a few lineup changes – it’s now a full group (QRO photos at a festival) led by M.C. Taylor and Scott Hirsch with a rotating band featuring members of Bon Iver (see above), Megafaun and Mountain Man. The lush sound and introspective lyrics never feel overwrought and it’s in a live setting where the band really shines (QRO photos at a festival).

Hiss Golden Messenger

XFinity Red Stage

Major Lazer, 8:00 PM – 9:15 PM

The collaboration between DJ/producers Diplo (QRO photos) and Switch (QRO photos) made a serious breakthrough in 2009 as Major Lazer (QRO photos at a festival), with Guns Don’t Kill People. Lazers Do. They’ve since released more, like this year’s Music Is the Weapon (even produced Reincarnated, Snoop Dogg’s reggae album as ‘Snoop Lion’) – and know how to do it at festivals (QRO photos at a festival), like Boston Calling just three years ago (QRO photos at Boston Calling ‘13).
Major Lazer
Run the Jewels, 5:50 PM – 6:50 PM

El-P blew up the Brooklyn rap scene with 2013’s Cancer 4 Cure (QRO review of release party), and brought about his team-up with Killer Mike (QRO photos at a festival) for 2012’s ‘Into the Wild’ tour. Mike & P have deepened that connection (QRO photos at a festival), working together as Run the Jewels (QRO photos at a festival) for two critically acclaimed records, most recently 2015’s Run the Jewels 2 and this year’s critically- and commercially-acclaimed Run the Jewels 3. It’s been really enjoyable watching this duo just love life as they get bigger & bigger (QRO photos from this year), as they return to Boston Calling (QRO photos at Boston Calling ’15).
Run the Jewels
Flatbush Zombies, 4:00 PM – 4:50 PM

Putting an extra exclamation point in “Brooklyn!!!” is the borough’s own Flatbush Zombies (QRO photos at a festival), who are part of this decade’s East Coast hip-hop ‘Beast Coast’ movement.
Flatbush Zombies
Mitski, 2:20 PM – 3:05 PM

Gotta love anyone who names an album after a Millhouse Simpsons quote, like Mitski’s 2014 Bury Me at Makeout Creek. She comes to Boston Calling behind last year’s Puberty 2.


Mondo Cozmo, 1:00 PM – 1:35 PM


Delta Blue Stage

Weezer, 8:00 PM – 9:15 PM

For a long time, the new output from Weezer (QRO photos at a festival) like 2010’s Hurley (QRO review) and Death To False Metal (QRO review) or the previous year’s Raditude (QRO review) wasn’t up to their nineties classics (and 2008’s red album-covered self-titled – QRO review – couldn’t hold a candle to the blue- and green-covered earlier Weezers – QRO blue Weezer live review – or PinkertonQRO deluxe edition review), but they still played those nineties classics like “My Name Is Jonas” (QRO video), “Say It Ain’t So” (QRO video), “Buddy Holly” (QRO video), “No One Else” (QRO video), “Surf Wax America” (QRO video), “Falling For You” (QRO video), and “Dope Nose” (QRO video), which can even lift later pieces like “Islands In the Sun” (QRO video) and “Beverly Hills” (QRO video). And their live show (QRO live review) – especially outdoors (QRO live review outdoors) headlining a festival (QRO photos headlining a festival) – has stayed great (QRO photos headlining a festival).

2014 came Everything Will Be Alright In the End (QRO review), their best record in years & years (QRO Everything live review), then last year another Weezer, the white one (QRO review), another good one (QRO White Album live review) – plus dude, Hurley (QRO photo).
Wolf Parade, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Sometimes overlooked in the original ‘Canadian Invasion’, Montreal’s Wolf Parade (QRO live review) delivered a strong debut in 2005 with Apologies To Queen Mary, and kept that up with 2008’s At Mount Zoomer (QRO review) and 2010’s Expo 86 (QRO review). One reason the attention wasn’t as high was because it’s been diffused into not only the Parade (QRO live review), but also the acclaimed side-projects of singer/keyboardist Spencer Krug (Moonface, Sunset Rubdown – QRO live review) and singer/guitarist Dan Boeckner (Operators, Divine Fits – QRO album review). There’s also that the band disappeared after touring Expo (QRO live review of performance shortly before break) – but thankfully they’ve returned in style last year (QRO recent live review), including at festivals (QRO photos at a recent festival).
Wolf Parade
Frightened Rabbit, 4:30 PM – 5:20 PM

Scotland’s Frightened Rabbit (QRO live review) are at the forefront of the tragic, heartfelt wave coming from England’s neighbor to the north, most recently with last year’s Painting of a Heart Attack (QRO review), 2013’s Pedestrian Verse (QRO review) and 2010’s The Winter of Mixed Drinks (QRO review). They (QRO spotlight on) also really put themselves out there on record, but their live show (QRO photos at a festival) also sees them joking (QRO live review), in their Scottish brogue (QRO interview), capture on 2009’s live album, Liver! Lung! FR! (QRO review). Also a strong festival band, they can even take requests (QRO live review of all-request show).
Frightened Rabbit
Buffalo Tom, 3:05 PM – 3:50 PM

Boston’s own Buffalo Tom were all over the nineties alternative music scene, from alt-hits “Big Red Letter Day” & “Sleepy Eyed” to contributing to seminal benefit album No Alternative, appearing on Claire Danes’ ‘brilliant but cancelled’ My So-Called Life and the final episode of The Jon Stewart Show.
Buffalo Tom
PUP, 2:00 PM – 2:35 PM

Toronto punk rockers PUP come to Boston Calling behind last year’s sophomore release, The Dream Is Over.
The Hotelier, 1:00 PM – 1:30 PM

Worcester’s The Hotelier (QRO photos at a festival) bring their post-hardcore emo-rock to Boston Calling.

The Hotelier

Comedy Stage

Tig Notaro, 6:15 PM – 7:00 PM

One of the most acclaimed of today’s modern stand-up comics, Tig Notaro is coming off huge accomplishments like her Netflix movie Tig, HBO comedy special Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted, getting married, Amazon series One Mississippi, and beating cancer (which featured in a special Town Hall show that she did topless, post-double mastectomy).
Tig Notaro

Kate Berlant & John Early, 5:50 PM – 6:10 PM

Josh Johnson, 5:30 PM – 5:45 PM

Nick Chambers, 5:15 PM – 5:25 PM
Josh Johnson



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