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Befriend Allston: Boston Calling meets its new neighbors, outlines spring festival plans

 
 

By Brad Searles

Boston Calling is set to relocate its four-year-old music festival to the Harvard Athletic Complex in Spring 2017, and last night at the Honan-Allston branch of the Boston Public Library, organizers made their first pitch to local residents with a brief presentation at the monthly Allston Civic Association meeting.

Crashline Productions co-founder Brian Appel and festival community liaison Kristen Franks (former aide to Massachusetts Rep. Michael Capuano) offered a quick overview of the scheduled three-day event. They took a few questions from the collected crowd of roughly 60 area residents, and made available a 13-page document with more info, including the proposed layout of three stages on the complex’s athletic fields along the Charles River.

Most details remain the same as previous years, when Boston Calling held seven festivals at City Hall Plaza since May 2013, or have already been shared: The fest takes place Memorial Day weekend on May 26 to 28 with an expanded lineup of bands, comedy, art installations, and a film fest curated by actress and Harvard grad Natalie Portman. There will also be food vendors and alcohol, the latter of which is often a sticking point with the the ACA.

State Rep. and Brighton resident Michael Moran was on hand to ask about that very subject, mentioning negative comments he’d heard from Boston Police Commissioner William Evans after the final City Hall-hosted edition last spring. Appel and Franks assured the crowd that their relationship with the BPD remains strong and that they’ve already opened discussions with police, fire, and EMS services while also noting that they are not able to officially apply for necessary permits until the calendar hits 2017.

One resident asked about the rumor that Boston Calling had been “kicked out” of City Hall Plaza, but Appel made it clear that they had simply outgrown the space and wanted to expand (Crashline sold a “controlling interest” to Madison Square Garden Company back in June).

When asked about the potential crowd size of the new Harvard location, Appel said that an inspectional services assessment is currently underway, and he expected it to “compare to the attendance of Harvard-Yale football game.” That clocks in generally around 34,000 spectators, a dramatic increase from their former home’s max of about 20,000 per day.

The big takeaways from last night’s session were the exact location of the three stages (two are seen above in a photo from the informational handout; the third can be found in the full image below) and the news that the fest will be taking place primarily inside the open-area soccer, field hockey, and rugby fields in the “horseshoe” made along the Charles River, with no bands performing inside Harvard Stadium itself. Also notable: When asked about the possibility of a “local stage” for area bands, Appel noted that Boston Calling has always included local openers on their main stages (#krill4eva!), and that the plan is to expand that in the next edition. That’s good news for Allston’s noise-makers, though any hopes of playing a stadium are now a little further off.

Both parties agreed that last night’s meeting was mostly informative, and served as a precursor to more in-depth sessions in the future.

Boston Calling “Super-fan” general admission and VIP pre-sale tickets have already sold out, and further ticket info will be released in the New Year. For more details, fest organizers have set up an informational page at bostoncalling.com/2017 and promised same-day responses to any questions sent to community@bostoncalling.com.

Brad Searles is the founder of Bradley’s Almanac Music Blog.

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