This Memorial Day marks a series of changes that add up to the most monumental shift in Boston Calling’s format since the inaugural event was held in May of 2013. Rather than holding a biannual event every Labor and Memorial Day, the festival is going to be appearing in May alone. Instead of staying in the cramped, acoustical snake pit Bostonians call City Hall, Plaza the event has moved across town to the Harvard Athletic Complex, a wide open space offering green grass, smoother transportation options, less red tape and a significantly increased capacity.
With more ticket holders comes more revenue and that’s allowed Boston Calling to make a huge leap forward with regard to their lineup. Previous Boston Calling headliners were acts that tended to be a few lines down on the bill of major festivals like Lollapalooza or Coachella but for the first BC at Harvard Athletic Complex, the first two names atop the bill have both headlined Bonnaroo.
Most folks have made up their minds on acts like Tool and Mumford & Sons by now and Chance The Rapper gets enough press that he needs no introduction. With that said, Glide has listed the Five Lower-Tier Acts You Can’t Miss.
Buffalo Tom: The mid to late 1980’s was a great time for the music scene in Boston. Bands like The Pixies fired the shot heard ‘round the world that ignited the Alternative Rock revolution and both The Lemonheads and Mission of Burma were right behind them. The name that doesn’t get credited nearly as much from this time and place is Buffalo Tom, an act that was knee deep in grunge before anyone had heard of Kurt Cobain or Eddie Vedder. Just because they never got their due doesn’t mean it’s too late to appreciate them in the present and pay homage to one of the All-Time Great Boston Bands.
Danny Brown: He’s as Punk Rock as Hip Hop gets and he’s arguably the most far-out personality in the genre since Ol’ Dirty Bastard was picking up welfare checks in a limo. Although DB reps Detroit, his last album, 2016’s Atrocity Exhibition, featured all kinds of West Coast Hip Hop royalty like Cypress Hill’s B-Real, Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul and Earl Sweatshirt. Brown is a natural, high-energy performer who can work a crowd into a frenzy and should be a total blast.
Strand of Oaks: Everything about the sound, style and swagger of Strand of Oaks translates into a kick-ass live show. Timothy Showalter’s band could be described as a Midwestern Drive-By Truckers or some kind of John Prine-Black Sabbath hybrid but whichever way you cut it, their anthematic sound is made for large crowds and this is a set that’s destined to leave the audience needing a minute to come back to earth.
Moses Sumney: Picture a dwarf star collapsing on itself, creating a space/time bending black hole that fuses Animal Collective’s abstract experimentalism with Keller Williams’ ability to build a full band out of a loop pedal. That’s Moses Sumney. While there’s always the chance of a technical mishap throwing the whole production out of whack, Sumney is as close to an audio alchemist as they come and simply seeing how he does what he does makes his set a must see.
Hiss Golden Messenger: Most of the bands on this bill are either Rock, Hip Hop or Electronica acts and nobody strays farther from the pack than HGM. At it’s core they’re a Country/Folk act that draws in Clavinet Funk and a Big Band sound that is definitively Americana. Anyone looking for a break from the norm will do well giving HGM a shot.