Boston Rocks: Boston Calling Music Festival Is Coming

Finally, a major music festival is coming to town.

Imagine this improbable scenario: Each spring, some 20,000 people fill City Hall Plaza for a two-day rock festival that features the city’s and the country’s top bands. Other major cities have long boasted their own extravaganzas. But here in Boston, we’ve resisted thanks to some of the country’s most stringent municipal public-safety codes. That’s going to change May 25 and 26, with the launch of the Boston Calling festival, which will showcase a slate of bands headlined by Fun., the winner of this year’s “Best New Artist” Grammy.

The festival is the brainchild of Phoenix Media Group alums Brian Appel and Mike Snow. The two first conceived of Boston Calling for WFNX, but when the station went off the air last year, they started a company, called Crash Line Productions, and secured financing to run the festival on their own.

The biggest challenge they faced in convincing the city to let them stage Boston Calling was logistical: how to run a festival of this size and duration without disrupting traffic, public transportation, and city life in general. So they focused their planning on safety and practical arrangements, and worked hard at every step to coordinate with city officials.

Appel and Snow eventually won approval for their event, and not just because of their attention to planning but also because of their enthusiasm for bringing a new kind of arts festival to the city. That’s an excitement shared by a number of city officials, including Christopher Cook, Boston’s director of arts, tourism, and special events. “Every day we’re working to make this a more-livable city,” Cook says, “and what we’ve been hearing from young professionals is that they want more arts and culture offerings.” Okay, it’s probably a stretch to think that anything will make City Hall Plaza feel livable—but this ought to help.