Brian Appel (Boston Calling Music Festival)...

Interviewed by
Brian Appel (Boston Calling Music Festival)...Boston Calling is a biannual music festival that takes place at City Hall Plaza in downtown Boston, MA. The upcoming third iteration runs May 23-25 with such acts as Death Cab For Cutie, Modest Mouse, Jack Johnson, Brand New, The Decemberists, Tegan and Sara, and Frank Turner. Brian Appel, the co-founder and the producer of the festival, answered some questions about the upcoming show.

The third Boston Calling festival is approaching quickly. Tell us how the event came to be.

We saw there was a void for a music festival in Boston and thought the location of City Hall Plaza could be transformed into the perfect space for this. Thanks to the support of the city we were able to take this location and give Boston the outdoor music experience that it had been asking for.

The National's Aaron Dessner is one of the curators of the event. How did he get involved?

Aaron has a lot of experience curating festivals around the world and he was a big supporter of bringing a music festival to Boston. We were connected to him through one of our partners, and he was excited to get involved. He has been integral in the curation process for all of the events, and his involvement has generated interest from many bands who would like to perform at Boston Calling.

When does the planning process for each festival begin?

We start to plan each festival about 8 to 9 months prior.

Who have been your favorite acts to watch at the first two festivals?

Loved watching the Shins and the National in May, and Major Lazer and Flosstradamus in September were amazing.

Who are you most excited to see this time around?

Modest Mouse hasn’t been through Boston in years, and I’m glad they’re coming to the festival. And if you haven’t seen Frank Turner live you’re in for a nice surprise.

If you had to pick one, who is an up-and-coming artist we should watch at the show?

Do not miss the Districts! They’re fresh out of high school. They’re just starting to develop their sound and live show. They’re raw right now and amazing to see live. By this time next year they’ll be big.

Is there anyone you've really wanted to get for the festival but were unable to?

I hope Tom Waits is reading this article!

The festival has expanded to 3 days this time around. Assuming all goes well, do you think future ones will continue with the 3-day format?

Assuming all goes well, yes, we’d love to continue the 3-day format, but we’ll have to wait and see.

One thing I like about the show is that the bands alternate, so you don't have to miss anyone. Was this a conscious decision or a logical one based on the layout?

This was a conscious decision to maximize the time we have available throughout the day. With the alternating stages we’re able to setup for the next band while one band is performing. There’s no waiting in between bands. We can seamlessly move on to the next performer within seconds of the other finishing, which ultimately leads to the ability to book more on our lineup and for the audience to see all the bands that they came for.

Why did you decide to hold two festivals a year instead of doing it annually?

We thought that if people couldn’t make it to one festival then they wouldn’t have to wait a full year to catch the next one. Also, our event is much smaller than a number of other festivals around the country so we figured with our city’s size, we would be able to reach a large enough audience to do it twice.

September's Boston Calling featured a lot of hip hop and EDM artists. Is that something you'll continue to do?

May’s festival is more indie/pop slanted, however that doesn’t mean we won’t have any at future festivals. Stay tuned…

Thanks for your time. See you in May!
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