Boston Calling is celebrating its tenth edition this year and is doing so with style. Their lineup is easily one of my favorites of the year and is absolutely stacked from top to bottom. Some of the world’s largest acts are headlining Boston Calling, including Twenty One Pilots, Travis Scott, and Tame Impala. Each of these can easily sell out arenas and is enough justification to purchase a ticket, but there’s a lot more to a lineup than just headliners. The true art of a spectacular music festival lineup is in the undercard, the bands who play throughout the day before the headliners.
Boston Calling has the undercard covered and have done it in a magnificent fashion. Rock fans can go crazy at Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Turnstile, White Reaper, and Greta Van Fleet. Hip hop heads can check out Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals, Logic, and Denzel Curry. Electronic fans have Odeza, Chromeo, and Snakehips. There’s even an insanely strong comedy lineup featuring Fred Armisen, Jenny Slate, and Michael Che. If somehow none of this tickles your fancy, then go check out the Boston Ballet, yes, the actual Boston Ballet. They even managed to book Imogen Heap. If you can’t find at least five artists to see each day, you’re doing something very wrong.
I had the opportunity to speak with the man who helped make this lineup a possibility, Trevor Solomon. He was able to shed some light into what it takes to make a music festival lineup happen along with the stressors and obstacles people face making a music fest happen. Solomon has been booking acts for Boston Calling since 2015 and got his start out in Portland, where he worked for a promoter named Mike Trasher. From there he started working at a booking agency where he began to learn the ins and outs of talent booking. Soon the music festival scene started blowing up, and he knew he wanted to a part of it, so he took what he learned and started working with MusicFestNW.
Fast-forward a few years, and he’s speaking to me, a music festival junkie dying to know what it takes to put something as stellar as Boston Calling together.
What are the biggest obstacles you face when trying to book acts?
There are numerous problems. There are production issues, there’s travel/scheduling. The biggest issue we come across is production. Bands and management are on top of it; it’s just about having the communication. We want to make sure that the artist’s vision is able to come through correctly.
How long before release day do you have every band set up in the lineup?
To be very frank, some years it’s a month or more; sometimes it’s hours. We’re grinding away every day to make sure we have it ready to go.
How stressful is it the day before the lineup drops?
My blood pressure definitely goes up, I can’t lie about that. I wouldn’t want to have my blood pressure read, because I’m sure it’s high.
No matter how strong the lineup is, it’s always met with mixed emotions. What does that feel like from somebody who put so much work and soul into creating something that others can enjoy?
I wouldn’t lie and say that I don’t read it. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. At the end of the day, the only opinions I care about are my wife and son. My wife likes this lineup, maybe more than others maybe not as much; but she does and that’s what matters.
Who is your white whale act?
I don’t want to say. I don’t feel like there is an act we will never get. I never thought we would ever get Eminem, but we got him. Those white whales can happen.
Are you attending any other fests this year beyond Boston Calling?
Yeah, I plan on attending Oshega again, which is one of my favorites. I want to go to this new festival in Washington called Thing. Adam Zacks, the guy behind Sasquatch, is making it happen. It looks very interesting.
Will Monkey Trick ever be on a Boston Calling lineup?
(Monkey Trick is a band that Trevor Solomon is part of)
Hahhaha! I’m glad you did your research. No, we will not be playing. My body can’t handle that stuff anymore.