Things to Do

The Weekender: Boston calls, ‘Solo’ stalls, ‘Fall’ spills, everyone grills

Boston Calling returns to the Harvard Athletic Complex this weekend.
Ben Stas for The Boston Globe/file 2017
Boston Calling returns to the Harvard Athletic Complex this weekend.

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Oh hey, it’s me, the Weekender. Back again and all up in your grill.

And what perfect timing! It’s Memorial Day weekend — or as Bostonians know it, winter’s two-week notice. 

Many of you will be spending your Memorial Day paying appropriate respects to those members of our armed forces who gave their lives defending our country. (Thank you for your service to those active-duty members and veterans Weekending along with us here today!) Many others of you will opt for the unofficially appropriate method of observance by inhaling burgers and tallboys, then falling asleep in a hammock. 


America is all about both of those options being OK! (Violent, borderline demonic snoring notwithstanding.)

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I mean, if you wanted to get really nuts, you could even, I don’t know, go out and do something this weekend. Or several things! Like these!

BE FEST: The ninth installment of the Boston Calling festival returns this weekend for its second year (having learned some lessons) on the unsuspecting grasses of the Harvard Athletic Complex, and we are already filling up our water bottles. (With water.) Terence Cawley offers a selection of must-see acts, plus a shortlist of potential breakout stars tucked into a stacked lineup that sports the Killers, Paramore, St. Vincent, Pussy Riot (who will wrap up their first US tour at the festival) and dozens of others — including Boston Music Award winners Weakened Friends. And Rachel Raczka has some tips for the many non-musical things to do (unless you count the slurping of ramen as its own entrancing form of music), including comedy, a live edition of “Pod Save America,” craft beers, and a Ferris wheel — which could be an interesting combo. Prepare accordingly. Oh, and for those of you whose Memorial Day weekend won’t be complete without something fresh off the grill, Ikea will be debuting its new veggie hot dog at its on-site pavilion. Why are you looking at me like that? Single and multi-day passes are still available here.

COUNTRY ROAD: It’s only been about seven months since the worst day of Jason Aldean’s life, but since the mass shooting that killed 59 concertgoers and injured more than 500 during his performance at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas, the country megastar has been refocusing on the road ahead — although the title of his new album may suggest otherwise. “Rearview Town” features Aldean’s familiar brand of countrified rock, this time slightly amped and loosened up (read: he raps). On Saturday night, Aldean rolls into the Xfinity Center on his High Noon Neon Tour, along with Luke Combs, Lauren Alaina, and Dee Jay Silver. Find tickets here y’all

Alden Ehrenreich in “Solo.”
Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm Ltd.
Alden Ehrenreich in “Solo.”

LOW INSTALLMENT:Solo” may not be the “Star Wars” movie you’re looking for. While Globe film critic Ty Burr says in his 2½-star review that the latest wild-child offshoot of the “Star Wars” saga (a la “Rogue One”) delivers “in a way that reminds a viewer of this franchise’s roots in classic Saturday matinee adventure serials,” it also lacks that special something — let’s call it the force — that makes the saga so universally appealing. “At best, it’s a backstory, a project designed to scratch a fan’s itch to know more. At worst, it’s backfill. You’ve always wondered how Han Solo came to be Han Solo? No? Well, here you go anyway.” Alden Ehrenreich brings “the swagger, the sarcasm, and the sigh-guy handsomeness,” while Donald Glover (as Lando) uses his scant screen time to give “a warmly eccentric performance.” Opens Friday.


STAN OF STAN: Also at the cinema this weekend is “Filmworker,” the new documentary from director Tony Zierra that pans all the way around to focus on the man behind the man behind the curtain, Leon Vitali — who served for three decades as personal assistant to the legendary director Stanley Kubrick. Burr gives it 3½ stars, calling it “fond and slightly unsettling” and “a reminder of the egolessness necessary for great egos to flourish.” Opens Friday.

ORLANDO MAGIC: Not everything from Worcester is unintentionally funny. (Braces for e-mails.) Case in point: Orlando Baxter, who is totally making people crack up on purpose. The rising comic has popped up on “Conan,” BET, the BBC, and (whaddaya know?) Boston Calling. He’s also cohost, along with Corey Rodrigues, of the “30 Jobs Later” podcast, and he surfaces on “Nova” now and then to chat about the origins of the universe. This weekend, he makes a two-night stand, Friday and Saturday, at Nick’s Comedy Stop; grab tickets here.

SYLPH OBSESSED: August Bournonville’s classic ballet “La Sylphide” stands as a Romantic masterpiece, and through June 10, you can experience Boston Ballet’s production (with additional choreography by Sorella Englund) at the Opera House, paired with the rarely seen “Bournonville Divertissements.” Rising star John Lam returns in the role of James, the young Scotsman so entranced by the spell of a woodland sprite that he deletes Tinder and wanders into a foggy forest realm that has like zero reception. It’s a moving story about the power of love and the danger of scarves. (Look. Ballet isn’t my strong suit, OK?) Tickets here!

SON RISE: Also onstage this week is the Huntington Theatre Company world premiere production of Bernard Weinraub’s “Fall,” a “work of the imagination based on real events,’’ which shines a light on a dark secret held by renowned American playwright Arthur Miller: his son. Daniel Miller, here played by Nolan James Tierce, was born with Down syndrome. Miller, whom the Globe’s Patti Hartigan notes “doted on his daughter Rebecca (now married to Irish actor Daniel Day-Lewis), expunged his son from his life.” Directed by Peter DuBois, “Fall” starts previews Friday and runs through June 16. Find tickets here.

HUMANE NATURE: Starting Sunday and running through August 2019 (which leaves you some wiggle room), the Peabody Essex Museum will host “Wild Designs,” an exploration of “bioinspired innovations in design, technology and art” — i.e. blatant violations against Mother Nature’s intellectual property. These can range from everyday staples like Velcro (inspired by the burrs that stuck to Swiss engineer George de Mestral’s socks) to high-tech advances like Geckskin (an adhesive inspired by the toe-pads of lizards) to compelling works of art (like Emily Longbrake’s chiropractic nightmare of a sculpture, “Origin/Insertion”). More information here.

Natalie Dormer in “Picnic at Hanging Rock.”
Ben King/Amazon Prime Video
Natalie Dormer in “Picnic at Hanging Rock.”

OR STAY IN! As long as you don’t wheel the grill in with you, staying in this Memorial Day weekend is also a perfectly fine choice. For one, Amazon will drop its new limited series “Picnic at Hanging Rock” on Friday, and Globe television critic Matthew Gilbert is here for it, especially Natalie Dormer’s performance: “As Hester Appleyard, the English headmistress of a girls’ school in the Australian bush, she’s shrewd, twisted, petty, vengeful, cutting, and all the while, as she rains down both physical and psychological abuse on her students, exceedingly composed. She’s like 8 ounces of sulfuric acid poured into an exquisite golden chalice.” (Which is also how I describe my Memorial Day punch.) 

And will I be faking a Saturday night fever to take in the new HBO film “The Tale”? You’re Dern tootin’. Gilbert calls it a “wisely written, inventively directed, and extraordinarily acted story in which a woman — Laura Dern’s Jennifer — journeys into her past, so laden with unexplained pain, to reclaim her life.” That’s Saturday at 10 p.m. on HBO.

And the Glaswegian trio Chvrches continues to thrill fans and irk copy editors with its latest album, “Love Is Dead,” in which the band “leans hard into the commercial side of their identity, resulting in some of their biggest, most energetic songs to date,” according to reviewer Robert Steiner. (For what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure love is just sleeping.)

And that, three-day-Weekenders, is all I’ve got in the cooler. (Although the Globe does have some pretty choice grilling tips and bevvie suggestions, if you’re into that sort of thing — and have a bottle of Pavan lying around.)

Enjoy your time off: Go live, feel dawn, see sunset glow. And until next time, make it a weekend you’ll miss come Monday. 

See you next week!

Michael Andor Brodeur can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MBrodeur