Boston Calling 2018 Preview

Way back in 2013, Boston finally got a great downtown music festival in Boston Calling. And while it’s undergone some changes (moving locations, going from twice a year to...
Boston Calling

Boston Calling 2018 Preview

Way back in 2013, Boston finally got a great downtown music festival in Boston Calling (QRO recap of inaugural year). And while it’s undergone some changes (moving locations, going from twice a year to once), it’s stayed strong, co-curated by Aaron Dessner of The National (who play it this year, for their first time in years), including a comedy stage and even film thanks to none other than screen star Natalie Portman.

And it returns to Harvard Athletic Complex this Memorial Day Weekend, Friday-Sunday, May 25th-27th:



Green Stage

The Killers, 9:20PM – 10:50PM

The Killers (QRO photos) broke out of their Las Vegas home in 2004 with debut Hot Fuss and great singles “Somebody Told Me” and “Mr. Brightside” – and have failed to match that since. 2006’s attempt at greatness Sam’s Town didn’t make it, and after 2008’s middling Day & Age (QRO review) singer Brandon Flowers went solo for his own middling work. But the group has since come back (QRO photos) with 2012’s Battle Born (QRO review) and last year’s Wonderful Wonderful (QRO review) – and they still play Hot Fuss live (QRO live review).
The Killers
Portugal. The Man, 6:55PM – 7:55PM

Boston Calling draws from very farther up north with Alaska’s Portugal. The Man (QRO photos at a festival). The rambling grunge outfit garnered new fans with 2007 sophomore release Church Mouth (QRO review), and its unhinged alt-rock (QRO live review), though slipped somewhat since then, even while finally playing Europe (QRO photos at a European festival) and becoming a festival favorite (QRO photos at a festival). Their major label debut In the Mountain In the Cloud (QRO review) was more psych-lite, but they still bring it live (QRO live review), and even went Down Under (QRO photos at a festival) after 2013’s release of follow-up Evil Friends (QRO review), hitting both the festival circuit (QRO photos at a 2013 festival) and live gigs (QRO 2013 live review). They come back to Boston Calling (QRO photos at Boston Calling ‘13) touring last year’s hit Woodstock (QRO review).
Portugal. The Man
Noname, 5:00PM – 5:50PM

Off of an appearance on “Lost” in Chance the Rapper’s 2013 mixtape Acid Rap, Noname (QRO photos at a festival) has made her own name.
Big Thief, 3:25PM – 4:05PM

It takes a lot for a band to name their album Masterpiece – their debut, in fact. But Brooklyn indie-folksters Big Thief (QRO photos outdoors in Brooklyn) pulled it off, and come to Boston Calling behind their last year’s follow-up, Capacity.

Big Thief

Red Stage

The National, 8:00PM – 9:15PM

Cincinnati-by-way-of-Brooklyn’s The National (QRO photos outdoors) hit it big in 2007 with Boxer (QRO review) and tracks like “Fake Empire”, “Mistaken For Strangers”, and “Apartment Story” (QRO video) – and again in 2008 with the Virginia EP (QRO review), but that just presaged 2011’s High Violet (QRO review), which debuted at #3 on the Billboard charts (QRO expanded edition review). An impressive and much-in-demand act (QRO live review), they’re fitting in nicely as even festival headliner (QRO photos headlining a festival) or curator (QRO photos curating a festival), like at London’s All Tomorrow’s Parties (QRO photos), Eaux Claires (QRO photos at Eaux Claires ‘15), or Boston Calling itself (QRO photos at Boston Calling ‘14).

Blown up to the point that New York Times Magazine ran a feature on them (QRO spotlight on) & Obama used (a family-friendly) bit of “Mr. November” (QRO video at a festival) as a campaign song, The National (QRO photos at a festival) returned from an hiatus in 2013 to take North America by storm (QRO photos headlining a festival) behind Trouble Will Find Me (QRO review), after having done so in Europe (QRO photos in Europe), the festival circuit (QRO photos at a festival), the European festival circuit (QRO photos at a European festival), Canada (QRO photos at a festival in Canada), Spain (QRO photos at a Spanish festival), Croatia (QRO photos at a Croatian festival), Singapore (QRO photos in Singapore) & their own Brooklyn (QRO photos in Brooklyn). They’ve since keep it going (QRO photos in 2014), including headlining American festivals (QRO photos headlining an American festival).

Last year, The National (QRO live review) released yet another amazing album, Sleep Well Beast (QRO review), which earlier this year won the Grammy for Alternative Album of the Year (QRO live review at Grammy party). A perfect headliner for Boston Calling (QRO photos at headlining a festival).
The National
Maggie Rogers, 5:55PM – 6:50PM

Maryland’s Maggie Rogers (QRO photos at a festival) broke out when her single “Alaska” was played to Pharrell Williams at an NYU master class.
Maggie Rogers
Perfume Genius, 4:10PM – 4:55PM

Seattle’s chamber-pop artist Mike Hadreas (QRO photos) comes to Boston Calling as Perfume Genius (QRO photos at a festival).
Perfume Genius
This Is The Kit, 2:45PM – 3:20PM

BBC Radio favorite This Is the Kit (QRO photos at a festival) comes to Boston Calling behind last year’s Moonshine Freeze.

This Is the Kit

Delta Blue Stage

Paramore, 8:05PM – 9:20PM

You might as well just stop being a hater and embrace the pop-punk of Paramore (QRO live review). The group your little sister likes (QRO live review) may be huge, but they’re also enjoyable (QRO photos). Fronted by the singular Hayley Williams (though there have been some revolving cast members behind her since 2013’s self-titled record – QRO review), they come to play Boston Calling (QRO photos at a festival) behind last year’s more synth-pop After Laughter.
Pussy Riot, 6:20PM – 7:15PM

A very special performer at Boston Calling is Pussy Riot. Members of the famous Russian agit-punk act have been everywhere from Russian gulag to sharing a stage with Madonna (QRO photos) to even music festivals (QRO photos at a festival), and have even been releasing actual music & playing actual shows (including with Chelsea Manning – QRO photos with Manning).
Pussy Riot
(Sandy) Alex G, 5:00PM – 5:45PM

When he’s not playing guitar for Frank Ocean, Alexander Giannascoli both shorts & lengthens his name as (Sandy) Alex G (QRO photos at a festival).
(Sandy) Alex G
Citizen, 3:50PM – 4:30PM

Emo-pop meets post-hardcore in Toledo’s Citizen (QRO photos at an Ohio festival).
Charly Bliss, 2:45PM – 3:20PM

Jump on the power-pop of Brooklyn’s Charly Bliss.

Charly Bliss

Arena Stage

Lovett Or Leave It, 6:00PM – 7:30PM

Natalie Portman & Friends, 4:30PM – 5:30PM
Natalie Portman




Green Stage

Jack White, 9:20PM – 10:50PM

The most famous artist in indie-rock, probably the most famous rock ‘n’ roller to emerge in a generation, you already know Jack White’s story (QRO photos) – married & broke-up with drummer Meg White, then formed The White Stripes (QRO live review) with her (pseudo-pretending to be brother-and-sister), massive success as a new generation of rock ‘n’ roll broke out at the start of this century/millennium, Meg’s meltdown, Jack’s work in other bands like The Raconteurs & The Dead Weather (QRO album review), The White Stripes’ final confirmed break up in 2011, and Jack White’s solo career, with 2012’s Blunderbuss (QRO review), 2014’s Lazaretto, and this year’s Boarding House Reach (QRO review).

White’s been on everything from The Simpsons to The Colbert Report, founded his own label, Third Man Records (that included America’s favorite pundit as an artist), and Boarding House Reach hit #1 on the charts – so don’t expect to get anywhere near the stage (QRO photos headlining a festival) unless you camp out there the night before (but hopefully he’ll play for longer than he did at his notorious Radio City Music Hall appearance in 2012 – QRO live review)…
Jack White
St. Vincent, 6:45PM – 7:55PM

After the one-and-only Annie Clark (QRO interview) made 2007 her break-out year, both as part of The Polyphonic Spree on The Fragile Army (QRO review) and with her own debut as St. Vincent (QRO photos), Marry Me (QRO review), she followed that up with even-better years (QRO spotlight on), gracing festivals (QRO photos at a festival), charming and surprising crowds with winning humor live (QRO live review), and bringing a stable of new songs (QRO live review). Those new songs, like “Laughing With a Mouth of Blood” (QRO video) and “Actor Out of Work” (QRO video) formed into 2009’s Actor (QRO review), which vaunted her into the even bigger time (QRO photos at a festival), including playing Lincoln Center (QRO live review) and other storied concert halls (QRO photos at a festival) & venues (QRO photos at Royal Albert Hall).

Admittedly, 2011’s Strange Mercy (QRO review) wasn’t quite as good, but then she teamed up with the one-and-only David Byrne (QRO photos at a festival together) for 2012′s Love This Giant (QRO review), and the holy St. Vincent (QRO photos) came back with a vengeance in 2014 on St. Vincent (QRO review), including an absolutely stellar live show (QRO photos in Europe), with her platinum grey hair and mannequin moves shining outdoors (QRO live review outdoors), at festivals (QRO photos at a festival) and in the Old World (QRO live review in Europe). A must-see return to Boston Calling (QRO photos at Boston Calling ‘15), she comes behind last year’s massively seductive MASSEDUCTION (QRO review).
St. Vincent
Manchester Orchestra, 4:40PM – 5:35PM

From Atlanta, not New or Old England, Manchester Orchestra (QRO live review) were more rock than alt- on debut I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child (QRO review), and moved firmly into the rock camp with 2009’s Mean Everything To Nothing (QRO review), 2011’s Simple Math (QRO review), 2014’s Cope (QRO review), and last year’s A Black Mile To the Surface (QRO review). However, the outfit does it well (QRO live review) and big (QRO photos) as they come to Boston Calling (QRO photos at a festival) to rock (QRO live review).
Manchester Orchestra
Oh Sees, 2:50PM – 3:40PM

Hailing from The O.C. (the name was original ‘Orange County Sound’, then ‘OCS’, then Thee Oh Sees, then – well, you get the idea…), John Dwyer formed the band now known as Oh Sees (QRO photos at a festival) to put out his experimental, instrumental home recordings, but over seven records has morphed into a full band and a wild live show (QRO photos at a festival). Oh Sees come to Boston Calling (QRO photos at a festival) behind yet another new name and yet another new album, last year’s Orc.
Oh Sees
Lillie Mae, 1:15PM – 1:55PM

After playing alongside the likes of Boston Calling headliner Jack White (see above) in the filmed concert of Inside Llewyn Davis, Lillie Mae’s own country music career has blossomed.

Lillie Mae

Red Stage

Queens of the Stone Age, 8:00PM – 9:15PM

After the dissolution of the hard rock Kyuss, singer/guitarist Josh Homme formed what today might be the biggest ‘stoner rock’ band in the world, The Queens of the Stone Age (QRO photos at a festival). This is the kind of band that can put Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl back on skins, get contributions from Screaming Trees’ Mark Lanegan & Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, and more. Maybe no record has matched Songs For the Deaf, but 2013’s …Like Clockwork (QRO review) has come the closest. They come to play Boston Calling after recovering from injury – and the release of their latest, Villains (QRO review).
Queens of the Stone Age
Royal Blood, 5:40PM – 6:40PM

Embrace the fast-rising blues-garage of Manchester’s Royal Blood (QRO photos at a U.K. festival), as they come to Boston Calling (QRO photos at an American festival) behind last year’s acclaimed How Did We Get So Dark?.
Royal Blood
Belly, 3:45PM – 4:35PM

One of the key bands in the late eighties/early nineties indie-rock boom in Boston, Rhode Island’s Belly had one of the nineties classic alt-hits, “Feed the Tree”, before breaking up. But they reunited recently, with this year’s reunion record Dove just out (QRO review), and are playing a hometown festival.
The Menzingers, 2:00PM – 2:45PM

Coming from the home of The Office & Joe Biden, Scranton’s ska-punks The Menzingers (QRO photos at a festival in Pennsylvania) bring punk rock to Boston Calling.


Westside Gunn & Conway, 12:40PM – 1:10PM

The Menzingers

Delta Blue Stage

Tyler, The Creator, 8:20PM – 9:20PM

Boston Calling flirts with awesomeness and danger by booking the infamous Tyler, the Creator. In addition to fronting the ultra-chaotic Odd Future (QRO live review) collective, he’s released two solo studio albums of his own, 2012’s Goblin (QRO review) and 2015’s Wolf (QRO review), and will come to Massachusetts behind last year’s Flower Boy.
Tyler, the Creator
Brockhampton, 6:25PM – 7:20PM

Formed in an online forum, making them “the internet’s first boy band,” Brockhampton bring the twentieth century phenomena into the modern age, including hip-hop and mixtapes – and not being just lily-white pretty faces.
Daniel Caesar, 4:50PM – 5:40PM

Canadian R&B/soul singer Daniel Caesar heads to Boston Calling after last year’s debut full-length, Freudian.
Daniel Caesar
Mount Kimbie, 3:25PM – 4:10PM

Close friends to post-dubstep big-name James Blake (see above), Mount Kimbie (QRO photos at a festival), bring a lighter electronica, and come to Boston Calling behind last year’s Love What Survives.
Mount Kimbie

Leikeli47, 2:00PM – 2:45PM

Tauk, 12:50PM – 1:30PMQRO photos at a festival

Arena Stage

Bridgette Everett, 7:30PM – 8:15PM

Martin Urbano, 7:25PM – 7:30PM

Tony Hinchcliffe, 7:05PM – 7:25PM

Martin Urbano, 7:00PM – 7:05PM

Jo Firestone, 6:45PM – 7:00PM

Martin Urbano, 6:30PM – 6:45PM

Pod Save America, 4:30PM – 6:00PM

Natalie Portman & Friends, 2:30PM – 3:30PM
Bridgette Everett

Jo Firestone




Green Stage

Eminem, 9:10PM – 10:50PM

When The Beatles reissues came out, it launched the band to #2 on the top-selling artists of this decade/century/millennium. Who was #1? Eminem, a.k.a. Slim Shady, a.k.a. Marshall Bruce Mathers III. The ultra-famous rap star (QRO photos headlining a festival) has had the fastest-selling hip-hop album ever, tons of Grammys (the most ever in the Rap Album category), even an Oscar (for his song his semi-autobiographical starring vehicle, 8 Mile). He took a musical hiatus for a few years, but came back in 2009 with Relapse and the following year’s self-admitted comeback, Recovery, before 2013’s sequel to his best-known & -loved album in The Marshall Mathers LP 2. While he was also almost as famous for his celebrity lifestyle, including feuds with just about everyone (including his mother & now ex-wife, as well as Triumph, The Insult Comic Dog), he’s since simmered down somewhat, with last year’s Revival.
Mike D, 6:50PM – 7:50PM

If you’re gonna watch a DJ set, who better to watch spin records than the one-and-only Mike D? Yes, that Mike D, one-third of the ultra-important Beastie Boys. Fellow Boy MCA’s lamented death in 2012 saw D & Ad-Rock put their iconic group to rest, but they have not been, and Mike D comes to spin at Boston Calling (QRO photos DJing at a festival).
Mike D
Thundercat, 5:00PM – 5:50PM

Known for his psychedelic excursions, Thundercat (QRO photos at a festival) recently worked with the likes of Flying Lotus on his newest album, Until the Quiet Comes. He has been compared to the likes of Jaco Pastorius for his precise and experimental basslines.
Pond, 3:10PM – 4:00PM

The new wave of psychedelic rock comes to Boston Calling from the other side of the globe in Perth’s Pond (QRO photos at home in Perth).


Weakened Friends, 1:35PM – 2:15PM


Red Stage

Khalid, 7:55PM – 9:05PM

Khalid Donnel Robinson released “Location”, and the rest was history. His debut single hit quadruple platinum, followed by last cheer’s hit debut full-length, American Teen, and now the R&B singer very much on the rise plays Boston Calling.
Stormzy, 5:55PM – 6:45PM

“Shut Up” – what was once a freestyle released on YouTube launched Stormzy (QRO photos at a festival) into the heights of the British grime scene, with last year’s debut, Gang Signs & Prayers the first grime album to hit number one on the U.K. charts.
Alvvays, 4:05PM – 4:55PM

New U.K. indie hit Alvvays (QRO live review in the U.K.) comes to America (QRO photos at a festival) to play at Boston Calling (QRO photos outdoors) after last fall’s release of highly acclaimed sophomore record Antisocialites (QRO review).

Taylor Bennett, 2:20PM – 3:05PM

STL GLD, 1:00PM – 1:30PM

Taylor Bennett

Delta Blue Stage

Fleet Foxes, 7:55PM – 9:05PM

After the decent Sun Giant EP (QRO review), maybe no band broke out in as big a way in 2008 as Fleet Foxes with their self-titled debut full-length (QRO review) – a breakthrough that earned them (QRO photos at a festival) a fair share of hype-backlash. The Seattle band’s folk hymnals garnered huge popularity (some of which was due to their more engaging live shows – QRO photos). After the whirlwind, the Foxes took some time off, but came back in 2011 Helplessness Blues (QRO review), disappeared again, and last year come back (QRO live review last year, playing for television) behind Crack-Up (QRO review). Whether or not you think they’re overrated, they come to Boston Calling (QRO photos at a festival).
Fleet Foxes
The Decemberists, 6:05PM – 7:05PM

Portland, Oregon’s The Decemberists (QRO photos at a festival) have been booming in recent years, from their showdown with Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report to 2009’s excellent magnum opus, The Hazards of Love (QRO review), 2011’s The King Is Dead (QRO review), which earned them a Grammy nom, 2015’s What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World, and this year’s I’ll Be Your Girl (QRO review). Oh, and they taught the children of Springfield Elementary on The Simpsons, plus played the Unity Concert on Parks & Recreation! The band (QRO photos) returns to Boston Calling (QRO photos at Boston Calling ’14).
The Decemberists
Julien Baker, 4:35PM – 5:25PM

Memphis singer-songwriter Julien Baker (QRO photos at a festival) comes to Boston Calling behind last year’s sophomore LP, Turn Out the Lights.
Julien Baker
Dirty Projectors, 3:10PM – 3:55PM

What began as a solo project by songwriter David Longstreth has become so much more (QRO photos). His Dirty Projectors (QRO photos at a festival) have not only grown in size (with three female co-vocalists – QRO photos at a festival), but also acclaim, thanks to 2009’s Bitte Orca (QRO review), followed up by Swing Lo Magellan, last year’s self-titled record, and this year’s Lamp Lit Prose. Their arrhythmic stylings married to pitch-perfect harmonies take some getting used to (QRO live review), but many have (QRO photos at a festival), allowing for experiments like Rise Above, Longstreeth’s ‘reimagined’ back-to-front cover, from memory, of Black Flag’s seminal punk record Damaged, and performing their Getty Address top-to-bottom (QRO photos at a festival) to numerous festival appearances (QRO photos), even headlining (QRO photos headlining a festival). The band (QRO photos at a festival) returns to Boston Calling (QRO photos at Boston Calling ’13).
Dirty Projectors
Zola Jesus, 2:00PM – 2:40PM

Goth-chill is very big these days, including acts like the blowing up Zola Jesus (QRO photos at a festival). Fronted by the haunting Niki Roza Danilova, they seriously impressed with 2011’s Conatus (QRO review), 2013’s Versions, 2014’s Taiga, and last year’s Okovi (QRO review). They are, however, better suited for playing indoor classy places like sponsored space (QRO live review at House of Vans), museums (QRO photos at The Guggenheim), but unfortunately it’ll still be daylight when they play Boston Calling (QRO photos outdoors in the daylight), not nighttime (QRO photos outdoors at a festival at night).
Zola Jesus
Field Report, 1:00PM – 1:30PM

Chris Porterfield may be best known for his association with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and members of Megafaun, but Field Report (QRO photos at a festival) is different from those roots. Get ready for some intense storytelling and get lost in Porterfield’s lyrics.

Field Report

Arena Stage

David Cross, 6:00PM – 6:45PM

‘David’ of HBO’s great sketch comedy show Mr. Show with Bob & David, not to mention analyst-therapist (or ‘analrapist’) Tobias Fünke on Arrested Development (whose reunion fourth season debuted the same weekend as the first Boston Calling – and fifth season comes out right after this year’s), and the one making the increasingly poor decisions on The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret (he was also the bad guy in the Alvin & The Chipmunks film franchise…), David Cross is also a killer stand-up comedian.
David Cross

Martin Urbano, 5:55PM – 6:00PM

Cameron Esposito, 5:35PM – 5:55PM

Martin Urbano, 5:30PM – 5:35PM

Max Silverstri, 5:15PM – 5:50PM

Martin Urbano, 5:00PM – 5:15PM

Natalie Portman & Friends, 3:00PM – 4:00PM
Natalie Portman



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