Boston called and delivered with jaw dropping performances at Boston Calling Music Festival 23



Boston Calling returned bigger and better than ever this year for their 10th anniversary festival with an extraordinary Memorial day weekend at the Harvard Athletic Complex. This years fest, like previous years was jam packed with music and fun for everyone. The stellar talent this year was jaw dropping and featured headliners like The Foo Fighters, The Lumineers, and Paramore. Just with the headliners alone we were already in for a treat. The rest of the lineup was just as insane with stellar performances from Alanis Morissette, Bleachers, The Beaches, The Linda Lindas, and so many more including local acts likes Mint Green, and The Q-Tip Bandits. We were so excited to be there amidst all the action and have all the scoop on all the excitement and our standout acts from all three days at Boston Calling.

Day 1

The gates to Boston Calling finally opened for the start of day 1 and it got off to a great start thanks to an early favorite of the day, Zolita. As an artist to watch at the fest she truly did not disappoint. Having an early set at a festival can be tough sometimes but Zolita took it with pride and put on one of the best sets to start the day. She played over at the blue stage next to the coveted ferris wheel to a growing crowd of new fans and old. She brought the queer energy and those devoted fans were up front and singing along to every song. It was truly a fantastic set that definitely brought in some new Zolita fans, and rightfully so.

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We also had the pleasure of getting portraits with Zolita herself which you can check out  below.

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Razor Braids

The day was just getting started and Razor Braids came to play. They were a late addition as artist Leon had to drop out of the festival. Razor Braids were excited for the opportunity to get to play in front of a crowd as large as Boston Calling, even early in the day. It was a stellar set overall and really got the crowd going early on.


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The Beaches 

The Beaches were definitely a top favorite of the day, if not our favorite. They blew us away with their performance and stellar stage presence early on in the day. They drew quite the crowd who were eager to check them out, with loyal fans singing along in the front. The band is originally from Canada but they took Boston by storm that day. They played hits from their 2017 album Late Show as well as songs from their EP The Professional, along with their newer songs “Everything is Boring” and “Blame Brett”. They are set to release their second album Blame My Ex on September 15th of this year. The crowd was loving every moment of their set. The Beaches really know how to get a crowd going, they just have that power. Their set was definitely a highlight of the three day weekend for sure.

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We also had the pleasure to catch up with The Beaches amidst their busy festival schedule to snap a few portraits.

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The National

The National brought the heat and also the sadness to their set, also referred to as sad dad music. The band first played Boston Calling back in 2013 when it was at City Hall Plaza at the time and they had a headlining set. Ten years later and they’re back better than ever. Frontman Matt Berninger brought the stellar vocals and the chaos to their set. From catching a beach ball and then deflating it, to throwing his drink into the crowd and then getting into the crowd wandering deep in the middle with thousands of fans cheering with excitement. They all played their hearts out as the sun set.

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Dropkick Murphys

Hometown heroes as some may refer to The Dropkick Murphys as. And that they were to many who were eager to see them perform Boston Calling for the first time. The band was not originally on the festivals lineup but got added last minute due to a cancellation from The Yeah Yeah Yeahs who unfortunately could no longer attend the fest due to illness. Despite the cancellation, many locals thought the replacement was great, and The Dropkick Murphys brought all their energy that day. From frontman Ken Casey running around the barricade and getting close to fans, to fans screaming back songs about Boston, it was definitely a set to remember from day 1.

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Foo Fighters

The Foo Fighters finally made it to Boston Calling and they were definitely one of the stand out acts of day one and one that possibly drew the largest crowd. Fans were eager to see The Foo Fighters return to the stage after the tragic passing of drummer Taylor Hawkins. Many wondered if they should have continued on with a new drummer or not. They went on to have Josh Freese as their new drummer but no one could truly replace Taylor. Originally slated to play Boston Calling back in 2020 but canceled due to covid, the band made their return to Boston in amazing fashion. The crowd went nuts went the band came out and new drummer Josh was sporting a shirt that said “fingers crossed for the new guy” which was a nice touch. The bamd of course played all the classics but when ‘Learn to Fly’, came on the crowd went nuts and ‘Times Like These’ was the first track to hit particularly hard as Dave Grohl opened the song unaccompanied, a chilling moment. When “I’ll Stick Around” came on the crowd was met with a new drummer, the likes of Taylor Hawkins son Shane to the crowds surprise. It was a heartwarming moment for everyone, including the band who seemed to be a bit choked up. The family affair continued on into the night with Grohl’s daughter joining him on vocal duties for “Rope” and “Shame Shame”. Their entire set was certainly one to be remembered and one of the best Boston Calling sets of the weekend.

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Photos by Alive Coverage/Boston Calling


Day 2 

The Q-Tip Bandits

Boston Calling does a fantastic job at showcasing homegrown talent and it was so apparent at this years festival. Local natives The Q-Tip Bandits brought the house down with an early day 2 set that brought a lot of friends and family and new fans to their set. They put on an astounding show full of amazing stage presence and groovy tunes that kept the crowd moving to the beat all set long. The band expressed their appreciation for the hometown love and the fact that they played their biggest festival set to date. It was such a sweet moment for them.

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A day two highlight for sure was Fletcher who played the Blue stage midday. Fletcher brought all the queer joy to her set and its something that is so refreshing and we love to see. Her die hard fans were out early and camped out just to see her set. Some folks even bought a festival ticket just to see her perform, now thats dedication. She played a lot of fan favorites including “Becky’s So Hot”,Undrunk” and a couple of covers including Britney Spears “If U Seek Amy” and “Kill Bill” by SZA. The crowd was going nuts for Fletcher and rightfully so as her set was one of the most stellar sets on day two.

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The Aces

Day two was hotter than day one, temperature wise and also thanks to The Aces spectacular set. The girls brought the heat to their set in their matching grey blazer attire. This was The Aces first Boston Calling and they were stoked for it you could tell. Despite some early technical issues for the first song, The Aces powered through it and put on a standout show. The band was on the eve of their new album dropping in the next week and they played a few songs from it including “Always Get This Way”, and “I’ve Loved You For so Long” which is also the title of the album.

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Declan McKenna

Declan put on a major show in front of some of his most dedicated fans who camped out for hours in the heat just to see him. Declan had originally planned to have his set be more clam than his usual sets, playing songs that didn’t get people dancing as much due to the heat. Even though he played more stripped back songs the crowd was still heavily into it and so was Declan who was moving and jumping around on stage any chance he had. He played a great mix of songs in his set from his first album What Do You Think About the Car? and Zeros, the album he is currently on tour for. The crowd went nuts when he finally played his hit song “Brazil”, to which the crowd screamed along to. Overall it was a stellar set amidst the heat of day two.


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Alanis Morissette

The queen herself Alanis Morisette came out in the evening to grace the Boston Calling stage. The crowd was waiting in excitement until she came out. They were met with a rather long video intro which depicted a lot of Alanis’ achievements over the years in a unique fashion. After the video ended the crowd cheered loudly for Alanis and out she came to the roar of screams. There were a couple of technical issues with her mic and the sounds but it was eventually fixed and the show went on. Despite the difficulties she put on one of the best performances of the day playing all the classics like “Uninvited” and of course “You Oughta Know” to the crowds delight.

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Day 3

Mint Green

Another amazing local act to the city of Boston is Mint Green who blew us away early on day three. The band has been releasing music together since the release of their stellar EP Growth in 2016. The duo since has released their first album All Girls Go to Heaven in 2022. They grew quite the crowd for an early set and it was full of family and friends galore who cheered on Mint Green in their biggest show yet. It was such an amazing moment for the band who grew up in Boston and have wanted to play Boston Calling. Now was their time to shine and they did not disappoint. They played classics like “Callie”, and “Body Language”. The crowd was loving every moment of their set and they definitely made some new fans that day.

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The Linda Lindas

The Linda Lindas put on a fantastic show and most certainly one of our favorites and most surprising of the day. Boston’s Mayor Wu came out onto the stage to introduce the band, talking about how important asian representation is in the music scene and how excited she was to see the band perform. And boy did they not disappoint. They practically blew the non existent roof off the place. Thier stage presence was electric and they really brought the punk energy to Boston Calling. They know how to rock out and were having so much fun doing so. Their witty stage banter was a highlight as they got some laughs from the crowd. Overall they were a top contender for favorite act of the day and blew everyone away with how hard they rocked early on in the day despite the heat.

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Jersey natives Bleachers brought their tunes to Boston Calling for an early evening set at an already packed red stage. Bleachers always bring top energy to every set they play and they brought their best to Boston. Loyal Bleachers fans lined up early to make sure they were as close as possible to see their favorite band. Though frontman Jack Antonoff is originally from Jersey, some of his band is actually from New England so it was a special show for them. Bleachers always shows their appreciation for Boston with Jack shouting multiple times “Boston and Bleachers forever”.  Their set was full of surprises starting with Jack bringing out his own dad Rick to play guitar on “How Dare You Want More”. Later in the set he would also bring out Joy Oladokun who also played the festival, to sing “Against All Odds (Take a Look At Me Now)”.  He would end the set with “Stop Making This Hurt” with giant inflatable tomatoes flying around the crowd, a Bleachers staple. Bleachers know how to put on a great show every time and they may have played their best yet at Boston Calling.

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Ever wonder what the best way to end a three day festival is? Have Paramore perform of course. How could you not love Paramore ending an already fantastic festival. Paramore never disappoint and they definitely brought their all to Boston Calling. Of all the three headliners of the weekend it is pretty easy to say that Paramore were one of the best if not the best. They made their triumphant return to the Boston Calling stage after five years when they played the blue stage back in 2018. They sure have grown a lot since then and have deserved this headlining spot for awhile. The band released their new album This is Why earlier this year to astounding success and played a majority of songs from that album like “This is Why”, “Running Out of Time” and “The News”. Of course it wouldn’t be a Paramore show if they didn’t play the classics too, like “That’s What You Get” and “Misery Business”, along with a beautiful rendition of “The Only Exception” with everyone’s phone lights swaying in the air. As growing tradition, a fan was brought up on stage to sing “Misery Business” with Hayley and quite possibly the best fan was brought up, a woman named Sammi Jo who had moved to Nashville and traveled to Boston just to see her favorite band. She even had her hair dyed at Hayley’s hair studio in Nashville which was a pleasant surprise to Hayley. Sammi Jo had the best stage presence and killed her performance up there, the crowd was loving it. Through all the confetti, sparks and dancing, there was no better way to end a fantastic three day weekend.

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            Photos by Taylor Hill/Getty Images for Boston Calling


Festival Atmosphere 

Every year Boston Calling exceeds expectations and this year they went even more above and beyond. The music lineups are always amazing, along with the food and drink lineups as well. This year saw new food vendors come to town in Blackbird Doughnuts, Dumpling Daughter, Joanne Chang’s Flour Bakery and Cafe, El Jefe’s Taqueria, Lily P’s Fried Chicken, and The Broadway, just to name a few. Platinum ticket holders enjoyed specialty menus created and prepared by Boston’s top culinary talents. For drinks beers and wines such as Miller Lite, Samuel Adams, and Truly Wild Berry, were available, as well as cabernet sauvignon, rosé, and prosecco from Josh Cellars. So everyone at Boston Calling was certainly fed well, both food and music wise. Along with the great food options  came the overall festival atmosphere. Fans waited outside early to catch their favorite acts each day, dedicated as always. Day one saw gorgeous weather in the high 60’s, day two and three got warmer with day three being the hottest. Despite the heat, fans came out in numbers and danced the day away into the night. This years Boston Calling saw near record numbers for attendance with Saturday GA fully selling out. The energy was high all weekend long and people were enjoying their time at the festival. Boston Calling always does a fantastic job at putting together a festival that has unique and diverse talent from multiple genres so theres something for everyone, as well as their amazing hospitality.  That’s why it proves to be one of the best music festivals on the east coast. We had a blast at this years fest and we can’t wait to see what next years brings!

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all photos (except Paramore and Foo Fighters) taken by Erin Crowley

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