The Boston Calling lineup is sure to make the angsty teens of the 1990s swoon. Announced Tuesday morning, rock bands Rage Against the Machine, Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chili Peppers are scheduled to headline the annual three-day festival Memorial Day Weekend. While Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chili Peppers have regularly continued to tour and release music for the past couple of decades, Rage Against the Machine hasn’t performed together since 2011. The hyper-political band is also headlining powerhouse music festival Coachella. In the midst of social and political upheaval and the 2020 presidential election looming over us, the band’s re-introduction into the musical mainstream seems just as fresh as it was when it debuted in 1992.
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Other activist acts on the roster are band The 1975, who has become political in its own right via the hard-hitting lead single and wake-up call “People” from their forthcoming album, and rapper Noname, who frequently calls out capitalism and racism and started a book club uplifting books written by people of color. Run The Jewels, Brittany Howard, Sharon Van Etten, Banks and Liam Gallagher are also set to play the festival. New wave country crooner Orville Peck is performing and Jamaican reggae artist Koffee, fresh off of her historic Grammy win as the youngest and first woman to ever win for best reggae album, are bringing their tunes to the stage.
Last year, there was outcry from Boston’s music community over the lack of local talent on the roster. Boston rapper Cliff Notez specifically criticized Boston Calling for the lack of hip-hop representation in their lineup. This year, Cliff Notez, along with hip-hop group Camp Blood and rock band PVRIS will take the stage. Local blasts from the ’80s come through Dinosaur Jr. and The Sheila Divine. There’s still a noticeable lack of Latinx artists and hip-hop and R&B performers, though. Which still has us asking who the festival is for, a question asked in 2018. It’s not a genre specific lineup, so the exclusions are glaring.