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Must See Bands at Boston Calling

This Memorial Day weekend, Boston Calling Music Festival is celebrating its twelfth installment. Taking place May 26-28 at Harvard Athletic Complex in Allston, MA, the New England-based festival will feature over fifty performers, with legendary acts Foo FightersParamoreQueens of the Stone AgeThe LumineersAlanis Morissette and Yeah Yeah Yeahs headlining over the course of three days.

With 4 stages and an expansive lineup of varying genres, it can be overwhelming to choose which acts to see. More than 20 New England-based artists are also featured in the lineup, highlighting the strong local music scene with hometown pride. Broken down by each day of the festival, here is who we think you should see.

Friday, May 26

Alisa Amador @ Happy Valley Red Stage (1:45 pm2:15 pm)

Cambridge-native Alisa Amador kicks off the festival this year as the first act to take the stage. NPR’s Bob Boilen has called her, “a powerful voice whose tender performance commands attention and fosters connection.” Winning last year’s NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Contest with her original song “Milonga Accidental,” the first ever Spanish language song to win the contest, Alisa seamlessly blends the dualities of her upbringing and her influences. The bilingual artist has cultivated a devoted following around New England with her infectious jazz and funk-inflected folk music, landing her as support for artists like Hozier and Lake Street Dive.

GA-20 @ Blue Stage (3:20 pm4:05 pm) 

Boston-based blues rock trio GA-20 are bringing their boot-stomping music back home. An exhilarating combination of electric blues, R&B, and rock ‘n’ roll, the group have shot to the top of Billboard Charts and garnered a mass following on Colemine/Karma Chief Records. On 2022’s Crackdown, their third studio album, the band creates an unvarnished, ramshackle blues that is at once traditional and refreshingly modern. Their live show is raucous and loud- everything you could possibly want to kick the weekend off with a bang.

The Beaches @ Green Stage (3:55 pm4:40 pm) 

Toronto-bred pop-rock band, The Beaches, are an all-female powerhouse. After winning the 2018 Juno Award for Breakthrough Group of the Year, the band have drawn in impressive crowds across North America. Their debut album, Late Show, was produced by Emily Haines and James Shaw of Metric, and peaked at No. 1 on the Canadian Billboard rock chart. Their second album, Blame My Ex, is set to be released independently on September 15, 2023. We are sure to hear new material from the group, along with beloved hits like “Money,” “T-Shirt,” and “Blow Up.”

Foo Fighters @ Green Stage (8:40 pm10:40 pm) 

This Friday will see the return of rock giants Foo Fighters, who will be returning to Boston Calling after last year’s cancellation due to the sudden passing of their drummer, Taylor Hawkins. The group reunite for their first performance with new drummer Josh Freese on Thursday at the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion in Gillford, NH. They will take the main stage in Boston on Friday night, in what is sure to be an emotional and memorable set. Their new album But Here We Are is set for release on June 2, 2023.

Saturday, May 27

Loveless @ Green Stage (2:20 pm2:55 pm) 

Rising to fame on TikTok, Loveless, who only formed in 2020, have racked up over 2 million followers. After exploding onto the Billboard charts with their emo version of Elley Duhé’s Middle of The Night, they’ve been busy feeding the algorithm with relentless 30-second cover videos of popular music. Loveless has now shifted their attention to creating original music with the release of their End of an era EP, featuring four original songs alongside their most viral renditions so far.

Mt. Joy @ Happy Valley Red Stage (4:55 pm5:55 pm)

Folk rock band Mt. Joy have deep roots in Boston, making their performances here always memorable. Frontman Matt Quinn attended Northeastern University, where he wrote many of the band’s early material in his Mission Hill apartment. The 5-piece group sold out MGM Music Hall this past fall, and are set to return again this September with a special two-set show. Their Boston Calling debut is sure to be packed to the brim with their devoted fan base, who are quickly resembling the likes of Dead Heads.

Actor Observer @ Tivoli Audio Orange Stage (5:20 pm5:50 pm)

Local metal band Actor Observer are bringing their hardcore music to the masses. One of the heavier bands slotted at the festival this year, they are sure to draw attention with their dynamic sound and electric live performance. Charged with a visceral sincerity, their sound is a breath of fresh air in the current age of post-hardcore. Their latest album Songs For the Newly Reclusive was released this past November and has elevated the band to reach newer, and louder, levels.

Noah Kahan @ Green Stage (6:05 pm7:05 pm)

Singer-songwriter Noah Kahan has quickly become a New England legend. His third studio album, Stick Season, became an international hit with the viral success of its title track, and his shows sell out in minutes. One of the hottest acts on the scene right now, his set at Boston Calling will surely draw in thousands of fans screaming along to every lyric- many of which reference growing up in New England. Don’t miss the chance to see this set and scream “I’m mean because I grew up in New England!”

Sunday, May 28

Wunderhorse @ Green Stage (2:25 pm2:55 pm)

UK alternative act Wunderhorse have transformed their punk roots into indie rock with a folk twist. The alias of British musician and actor Jacob Slater, Wunderhorse’s debut album Cub came out this past October to rave reviews. With emotive storytelling and driving force of blaring guitars, each track feels both classic and modern, in a familiar whirl of coming-of-age narratives. For fans of Britain’s alternative scene, Wunderhorse is excellent representation of hard driving rock from across the pond.

The Linda Lindas @ Happy Valley Red Stage (3:00 pm3:50 pm) 

When a video of their performance of “Racist, Sexist Boy” went viral online, all-girl group The Linda Lindas became a buzzworthy and wholesome sensation. The four members are only between the ages of 12-18, yet have already developed their own distinct sound and honed their feminist manifestos early on. Signed to Epitaph Records, their debut album, Growing Up, was released in April. Known for their disarming appearance despite raging into rowdy punk rock, these girls are one of the most kick ass bands you’ll see across the festival.

The Walkmen @ Blue Stage (6:40 pm7:35 pm)

The Walkmen are taking us back to the early aughts with their high-charged indie rock. Part of the 2000s-era post-punk revival in New York City, they became an infamous name in the new wave of rock and roll. While the group have been on hiatus for a decade, they are set to return right where they left off. Alongside fellow performers The National and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Walkmen are sure to kick off the ’00 underground rock revival right in Boston.

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard @ Blue Stage (8:30 pm10:00 pm)

Australian psychedelic rock band King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are hard to categorize into one box. The prolific act are known for traversing genre and their unpredictable nature. Each performance is as unique as it is wacky and utterly captivating, just like their near-constant stream of releases. After pulling out of last year’s festival due to positive Covid results within the band, this year they are back and with plenty of new material to boot. They recently announced their 24th studio album, PetroDragonic Apocalypse; or, Dawn of Eternal Night: An Annihilation of Planet Earth and the Beginning of Merciless Damnation, (yes that’s the real name,) will be released on June 16 as they dip their toes into the realm of thrash metal. What could we possibly hear on Sunday night? Stay tuned to find out.

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About Emma Furrier

Boston-based music writer and reviewer. Passionate about rock and roll, vinyl collecting, and any dog I’ve ever met.

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