Pick up the Phone, Boston’s Calling

| May 2, 2013 | 1 Comment
The Boston Early Music Festival of 2007, right before Cupid (of Jean-Baptiste Lully's Pysché) lights his guitar on fire.

Main stage of the Boston Early Music Festival, right before Cupid (of the French opera Pysché) lights his guitar on fire.

Dude. This summer it’s time to chill out. Pack your tie-dye shirts, roll yourself a doobie, and head on up to Boston for the most far-out, psychedelic music festival this generation has ever seen. I’m talking of course about the Boston Early Music Festival: a biennial celebration of medieval, renaissance, and baroque musical performance. Totally groovy.

Wait. What’s that? L’il Beethoven’s no longer a hit with the G-units?

In that case, you might want to check out Boston Calling, the city’s first multi-day, multi-stage, outdoor rock concert. Scheduled for Saturday, May 26 and Sunday, May 27, the festival will feature a bundle of big-name artists, including The National, Fun, The Shins, and many more.

This festival marks a huge step in the way of Boston traditions. Why?

Because Boston is boring.

Okay, I take that back. Because Boston is afraid to have fun.

I’ve always admired the slogan of Austin, Texas — ”Keep Austin Weird” — which embraces the city’s eclectic, off-beat culture. Beantown’s catchphrase, meanwhile, seems to be more along the lines of “Keep Boston Historically Accurate.” Our biggest tourist attraction is a cemetery, and our equivalent of Times Square is a neon, gas-station sign. (All hail Citgo, the merciful.) What I’m saying is that Boston Calling is the perfect opportunity for this city to let loose, to rebrand itself as cool and full of culture.

Since the days of Monterey Pop and Woodstock, outdoor music festivals — such as Lollapalooza, Coachella, and the Governor’s Ball — have been the breeding grounds for new ideas, art, poetry, and counterculture. Every year, an approximate 80,000 concertgoers attend Bonnaroo, a four-day music festival in Manchester, Tennessee. For Citgo’s sake, that could be Boston!

Will Boston Calling be the next Woodstock? No, not at the moment. The lineup features a somewhat homogeneous mixture of indie rock bands. What makes festivals such as Bonnaroo great is the melting pot of indie, pop, and alternative rock, hip hop/rap, electronic music, jazz, techno, that one band your dad likes, and every other genre under the sun. Hopefully, as Boston Calling develops a reputation, the concert will be able to attract a wider variety of artists.

City plaza, the location for Boston Calling

City Hall Plaza, the location of the Boston Calling music festival

One potential problem is that the festival is set to take place at City Hall Plaza in Government Center. Inspired by an M. C. Escher nightmare, City Hall Plaza and its stairs upon stairs never struck me as the most convenient place to hold a concert. I don’t know where the closest open field is — Boston Common? — but I suggest finding it and hosting next year’s Boston Calling there.

Lastly, what with everything that has gone on these past few weeks, Boston really, really needs this. The bombing of the Boston Marathon left us crippled and afraid to go outside. Boston Calling represents a chance for our city to reunite, have fun, and rock out.

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Category: Boston

Jeff Marks

About the Author ()

Jeff Marks (COM '15) is from Scotch Plains, New Jersey. He studies film and television. "I have an older sister and a fast metabolism." He ran track in middle school.

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