Festival Review: Boston Calling 2013



    Boston has recently been shaken, and for awhile there was a disconcerting haze we all seemed to be walking through. But out of this darkness, the catchphrase “Boston Strong” has sprung forth, and not without reason. We’re a city that isn’t going to let anyone else hold us back. You can hit us in the heart of our city, but we won’t fold. You can beat us on the field for 38 to 86 years, but we’ll keep coming. And you can throw the coldest, rainiest summer weekend of the year at us, but we’re going to put on our first Boston Calling festival as scheduled, and we’re gonna have a wicked good time.

    That seemed to be the general vibe even on the damp and dreary Saturday. The weather may have made the first day an arduous experience, but the sold-out crowd soldiered on, many holding down spots along the main stage rails all day. Despite being ranked both a meanest and worst dressed city by various publications, there was a lot of comradery in City Hall Plaza. From massive dance circles and conga lines to police officers gently threatening to “kick your ass out that door” before shaking your hand and telling you to have fun, people were clearly there to enjoy themselves.

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    Food choices and activity options may have been sparse though well priced and lines for the main beer garden entrance and re-entry gates may have been jammed due to having only one guard checking wristbands, but all in all the fest was markedly well run. Every conflict-free set started right on time, occasionally while applause were still fading for the act ending on the other stage. The festival staff were some of the nicest I’ve ever encountered; I’ve never seen photo pit bosses actually try to learn everyone’s names so they could say “hi” on the way in and “thank you” on the way out. Throwing a festival in the middle of a major city center must provide some logistical issues, but Crash Line Productions pulled it off with aplomb. (Though considering the events of April, one would have expected a bit more caution from security checks at the entrance.)


    So even with a strange month prior and a wet start, Boston Calling rang with success. And the Hub has needed an event like this. We’ve got a great music scene, full of audiences who’ve been itching not only to have adored national bands come play their city, but to discover new ones and introduce the world to their local favorites. Each band that came to this inaugural festival had a call to make, and it was up to the sold-out crowd to answer. Will they answer again for the just announced fall edition? If the inaugural weekend is any indication, you bettah frickin’ believe it.

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    Boston Calling’s call sounds like: Boston Strong.

    Who answered?: A younger, greener crowd on Saturday, and a more alternative, college-aged crowd on Sunday.

    Do I answer?: A festival in the heart of my home city? Wicked.