Boston Calling Goes '90s With Its Headliners

The gate at Boston Calling. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
The gate at Boston Calling. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
This article is more than 1 year old.

The Boston Calling lineup is sure to make the angsty teens of the 1990s swoon. Announced Tuesday morning, rock bands Rage Against the Machine, Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chili Peppers are scheduled to headline the annual three-day festival Memorial Day Weekend. While Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chili Peppers have regularly continued to tour and release music for the past couple of decades, Rage Against the Machine hasn’t performed together since 2011. The hyper-political band is also headlining powerhouse music festival Coachella. In the midst of social and political upheaval and the 2020 presidential election looming over us, the band’s re-introduction into the musical mainstream seems just as fresh as it was when it debuted in 1992.

Other activist acts on the roster are band The 1975, who has become political in its own right via the hard-hitting lead single and wake-up call “People” from their forthcoming album, and rapper Noname, who frequently calls out capitalism and racism and started a book club uplifting books written by people of color. Run The Jewels, Brittany Howard, Sharon Van Etten, Banks and Liam Gallagher are also set to play the festival. New wave country crooner Orville Peck is performing and Jamaican reggae artist Koffee, fresh off of her historic Grammy win as the youngest and first woman to ever win for best reggae album, are bringing their tunes to the stage.

Last year, there was outcry from Boston's music community over the lack of local talent on the roster. Boston rapper Cliff Notez specifically criticized Boston Calling for the lack of hip-hop representation in their lineup. This year, Cliff Notez, along with hip-hop group Camp Blood and rock band PVRIS will take the stage. Local blasts from the '80s come through Dinosaur Jr. and The Sheila Divine. There's still a noticeable lack of Latinx artists and hip-hop and R&B performers, though. Which still has us asking who the festival is for, a question asked in 2018. It's not a genre specific lineup, so the exclusions are glaring.

The festival will take place at the Harvard Athletic Complex in Allston May 22 through May 24. Ticket prices for a three-day general admission pass are going for $399.99, VIP passes set at $949.99 and platinum passes at $1,999.99.

Here's the full lineup:

Friday, May 22

Foo Fighters
Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit
Brittany Howard
The Struts
Sharon Van Etten
Andrew W.K.
Iann Dior
The Districts
Pony Bradshaw
The Sheila Divine

Liz Ladoux
DJ Knife & DJ Joshua Carl
Bearly Yvng (Big Bear & YVNG PAVL)
DJ Ryan Brown

Alingon Mitra
Will Smalley
Sam Ike
Emily Ruskowski
Shawn Carter
Drew Dunn
Katie Que

Saturday, May 23

Rage Against The Machine
Run The Jewels
Pink Sweat$
Orville Peck
Jay Som
Girl in Red
Phony Ppl
Camp Blood

DJ Frank White
DJ J-Wall
DJ Guru Sanaal

Orlando Baxter
Andrew Mayer
Al Park
Katlin McFee
Peter Martin
J Smitty

Sunday, May 24

Red Hot Chili Peppers
The 1975
Liam Gallagher
Angels & Airwaves
Phoebe Bridgers
Dinosaur Jr.
Jack Harlow
Cliff Notez

ReaL P
DJ Slick Vick

Lamont Price
Hanna Evensen
Sean Sullivan
Jason Cordova
Will Noonan
Tooky Kavanagh


Christian Burno Arts Fellow
Christian Burno is the arts reporting fellow for The ARTery, WBUR’s arts and culture team.