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Pointedly Political, Boston Calling Releases Its 2018 Lineup

The crowd at 2017's Boston Calling in Allston's Harvard Athletic Field. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
The crowd at 2017's Boston Calling in Allston's Harvard Athletic Field. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
This article is more than 5 years old.

There are a good many people who've been waiting (im)patiently for this day (my 16-year-old daughter included). No, not for the first major snow storm of the year, but for the 2018 Boston Calling music festival lineup.

It's here, and rest-assured we'll be mulling it over in the coming days. For now, we'll lay it down for you to process on your own.

The music fest runs from Friday, May 25 to Sunday, May 27, and includes more than 50 musicians and comedians. Before I get to the headliners, let's just say this: PussyRiot is coming.

Yes, the Moscow-based, all-female, guerrilla punk rock band famously arrested for performing in an Russian Orthodox Church and protesting leader Vladimir Putin. They played their first American show in Los Angeles in December. Their anarchist, timely songs include, “Kill the Sexist!” “Straight Outta Vagina” and “Make America Great Again.”

The three celebrity, big-draw acts include the Trump-bashing, Detroit rapper Eminem. In case you haven't seen his controversial, confrontational, political rant, here you go:

Eminem hasn't played Boston since 2005, according to the festival's statement. He'll be joined by former White Stripes frontman Jack White. Eminem just released his new album. White's is on its way. (They're also headlining New York City's Governors Ball in June.)

The all-male, chart-topping Las Vegas rock band The Killers is the third headliner, and it's another timely choice. Frontman Brandon Flowers has openly lamented on the deadly massacre in his hometown. He's not alone.

Seattle-based Perfume Genius lead and queer icon Mike Hadreas is on the lineup — to appear after Cochella where he apparently plans to joust Eminem (aka Marshall Mathers). He's been taunting him for some time:

Could a showdown erupt on the manicured, grassy Harvard Athletic Complex?

It will be interesting to find out more about programming curator Aaron Dessner's choices for this year's Boston Calling — especially around the ever-pressing question of diversity. His band The National is also returning to play the festival.

Other acts include indie-darlings The Decemberists, Queens of the Stone Age, Portugal. The Man, Fleet Foxes, St. Vincent, Khalid, Maggie Rogers, Dirty Projectors, and the California garage rock band Thee Oh Sees.

As for locals, the '90s alt-rock, female-led Boston band Belly is also playing, along with rising hip-hop duo STL GLD and Weakened Friends from Portland, Maine.

Hollywood producer/director/actress and Harvard alum Natalie Portman was unable to make her film fest happen last year, but according to Boston Calling producers she will be contributing some soon-to-be-annouced programming in May.

Then there's the comedy! Cameron Esposito will take the stage. (Read The ARTery's Amelia Mason interview with her and her wife Rhea Butcher in November about their comedy.)

Also Bridget Everett, Jenny Slate, Jo Firestone, Max Silvestri, Martin Urbano and Tony Hinchcliffe. Podcasts including Pod Save America and Lovett or Leave It are also in the programming.

This will be the homegrown festival's ninth incarnation, and the second at the Harvard Athletic Complex.

After its first run in Allston last year, organizers are making some changes to the layout and amenities. There will be more entrances to relieve the crushing lines some people faced in 2017, more robust wi-fi access, more art, more food and beer. Also bigger video screens and a new sound system that will apparently “mitigate sound bleed in surrounding communities.” Festival designer Russ Bennett has a hand in Boston Calling's overall aesthetic, personality and style.

Here's the full lineup:

The Killers
Jack White
Queens of the Stone Age
The National
Tyler, The Creator
Bryson Tiller
Portugal The Man
Fleet Foxes
St. Vincent
The Decemberists
Maggie Rogers
Royal Blood
Manchester Orchestra
Daniel Caesar
Dirty Projectors
Pussy Riot
Julien Baker
The Menzingers
Thee Oh Sees
Perfume Genius
(Sandy) Alex G
Big Thief
Mount Kimbie
Zola Jesus
Taylor Bennett
Westside Gunn & Conway
Charly Bliss
Field Report
Lillie Mae
This Is The Kit
Weakened Friends
Stl Gld

2018 Comedy & Entertainment:

Natalie Portman
Pod Save America
Lovett or Leave It
Jenny Slate
Bridget Everett
Cameron Esposito
Tony Hinchcliffe
Jo Firestone
Max Silvestri
Martin Urbano

Andrea Shea Senior Arts Reporter
Andrea Shea is WBUR's arts reporter.



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