Boston Calling 2023 Review + Photos: Paramore, QOSTA & More

Last year was a rough one for festival season. It’s understandable, considering how out of practice everyone was, the unfortunate wave of bad weather, and the spate of band cancellations. Things seem to be going better in 2023, with a strong kickoff at Coachella (despite that one divisional headlining performance), and now Boston Calling delivering one of the best weekends in its 10-year history.

You couldn’t have asked for better performances, headlined by Foo Fighters making their long-promised appearance at the fest as they returned from personal tragedy. (Check out our full recap and photo gallery of that set.) You couldn’t have asked for better weather, with the hottest day (Sunday) hardly being oppressive. You couldn’t have even asked for better food, with local favorites like Tasty Burger and Roxy’s Grilled Cheese serving the crowd and acclaimed chefs dishing out steak and baked stuffed clams for the Platinum set.

A lot of the festival remained the same as it has been since coming to Harvard Athletic Complex – a testament to how well the organizers have mapped things out from the beginning. The grounds are easily and quickly navigated, and in fact they got easier; prior years saw crowd-flow issues caused by the entrances and exits of the VIP sections on the main stages, clusters which were largely solved with a bit of relocating this year.

Earlier this month, I wrote about how Boston Calling is a perfect fit for its New England home. In truth, the city has changed a lot in recent years, as shiny new developments have sprung up in juxtaposition with the Georgian and Brutalist structures for which the colonial city is known. Maybe that’s reflected in some of the premium upgrades now on offer at the festival, but no makeover is going to stop Boston from being Boston. Its people are strong and sturdy, proud of being exactly who they are and knowing they can stand up against any challengers.

That’s Boston Calling. Sure, its footprint is smaller, its market a bit narrower than other large-scale festivals, but it’s going to provide as rewarding an experience as any of its competitors – if not more so. Like the city, the festival landscape is changing; like the city, Boston Calling is going to dare you to best it.

Calling All Locals

Dropkick Murphys Boston Calling 2023 Ben Kaye-14

Dropkick Murphys, photo by Ben Kaye

Speaking of Boston pride, the festival once again welcomed a score of local talent. While The Q-Tip Bandits earned strong word-of-mouth with their jammy soul bops on the Blue Stage, rapper Brandie Blaze and her band tore into a cover of Rage Against the Machine’s “Bulls on Parade” over on the smaller Orange Stage. Between post-hardcore shredding during their own Orange Stage set, Actor Observer reminded fans why cherishing your local scene is so important.

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