If this spring’s Boston Calling lineup is any indication, the sounds of the early aughts are about to make a thoroughly unexpected comeback. Eminem, the Killers, and Jack White are set to headline the 2018 fest, which will take place May 25-27, organizers announced Thursday morning.
The three-day event, which will take place for the second consecutive year at the Harvard Athletic Complex in Allston, will constitute Boston Calling’s largest outing to date, with more than 54 performers set to appear across three stages and an indoor arena.
Through its choice of headliners, the fest, now in its ninth iteration, openly invites comparison to the just-announced Governor’s Ball lineup, which touts Eminem, supporting his 2017 record “Revival,” and White — apparently on the verge of releasing anticipated solo disc “Boarding House Reach” — in top spots. Eminem, considered the best-selling artist of the ’00s in the United States, has also been slotted to perform at Coachella, headlining opposite Beyoncé and the Weeknd. The rapper’s Boston Calling stint will mark his first time playing a show in New England since 2005.
Other high-profile names on the genre-spanning schedule include guitar goddess St. Vincent; alt-rock icons Paramore; rock rabble-rousers Queens of the Stone Age; “Flower Boy” rapper Tyler, the Creator; hip-hop collective Brockhampton; R&B breakout Khalid; and indie-folk fixtures Fleet Foxes. In an excitingly out-of-nowhere development, Russian protest punk-rockers Pussy Riot — who gained worldwide recognition in 2012 after being arrested and incarcerated for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” related to a performance in a Moscow church — are confirmed to perform; they played their first-ever US date just last month.
As usual, returning festival curator Aaron Dessner (of the National, which will also perform) has taken care to highlight local and regional acts, including beloved ’90s rock outlet Belly, Maine trio Weakened Friends, and rising rap duo STL GLD. The latter two earned accolades at the Boston Music Awards last month.
Portugal. The Man, the Decemberists, Maggie Rogers, Royal Blood, Manchester Orchestra, Daniel Caesar, Dirty Projectors, Stormzy, Thundercat, Julien Baker, Alvvays, the Menzingers, Thee Oh Sees, Perfume Genius, Noname, (Sandy) Alex G, Big Thief, Mount Kimbie, Citizen, Pond, Zola Jesus, Taylor Bennett, Westside Gunn & Conway, Charly Bliss, Leikeli47, Field Report, Lillie Mae, Tauk, and This Is the Kit round out the eclectic lineup.
After bowing out ahead of last year’s fest, Oscar winner (and Harvard grad) Natalie Portman is back on track to curate and host a “series of special programming” for the multimedia festival, which had been referred to last year as a “film experience” but is this time around being advertised in broader terms. A comedy and entertainment portion of the fest, to be held in the indoors arena, will feature Milton native Jenny Slate, Bridget Everett, Cameron Esposito, Tony Hinchcliffe, Jo Firestone, Max Silvestri, and Martin Urbano, as well as the podcasts “Pod Save America” and “Lovett or Leave It.”
Though last year’s festivities — the first to be held in Allston — were generally well-received for their merging of musical genres, food and drink offerings, and (highly Instagrammable) Ferris wheel, attendees notably took to Twitter to lodge complaints about long lines (for restroom access, food service, and even getting past the front gate) and inadequate cell service. Organizers have subsequently re-evaluated the festival’s layout, adding additional entrances, stronger Wi-Fi, dozens of additional food vendors, expanded craft brewing options, a new, 20,000-square-foot VIP & Platinum lounge, and an all-new Platinum level viewing experience. Additionally, the fest’s activations and art installations have been scaled up, as have sound systems and video screens.
A limited number of “Early Bird” three-day general admission, VIP, and Platinum VIP passes are on sale now at www.bostoncalling.com, with general admission passes starting at $279 and prices escalating from there. Regular-price tickets will be available thereafter, for $289 plus fees. Information about single-day passes will emerge as the day-to-day lineup schedule is announced.Isaac Feldberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @isaacfeldberg.