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Boston Calling Organizer Addresses Allstonians’ Concerns

Boston Calling Allston
Despite concerns from the local community, this year’s Boston Calling Music Festival is set to take place at Harvard’s athletic facilities in Allston.
UPDATED: February 23, 2017 at 1:09 p.m.

Though some Allston residents say they are concerned about the congestion Boston Calling could bring to their neighborhood this May, the popular music festival’s director said he is focused on involving local residents in the planning process.

Brian Appel, the director and CEO of Boston Calling, said his team will strive to keep Allston residents informed as they stage their largest festival yet. For the first time, Boston Calling will be take place at Harvard’s athletic facilities in Allston instead of Boston’s City Hall Plaza—a bigger venue that Appel said will allow the festival to grow.

“We wanted to find a bigger space because we felt that we wanted to book bigger bands, we wanted to invite more artists, we wanted to do things aside from just music, and City Hall Plaza wasn’t going to be able to accommodate that expansion,” Appel said in an interview.

But some Allston residents are worried that the festival’s move out of the city could bring traffic and safety concerns to a normally-quieter stretch of Western Ave. Last month, some Allstonians voiced concerns at a meeting of the Allston Construction Mitigation Subcommittee that the festival—which has drawn more than 20,000 attendees in previous years—could significantly disrupt the neighborhood.

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Appel said he and his team have attended monthly community meetings to involve residents in their planning process. To address parking concerns, Appel said, they hope to share a preliminary plan within the next few weeks.

“We’re spending a lot of time in the Allston community right now, making sure that residents know what’s going on, making sure that businesses know what’s happening. We just want the people that are most directly impacted by this event to feel like they are informed and that they are part of the process,” said Appel.

Appel said he hopes to provide the best experience for festival attendees, artists, and residents, as well as leaving the Harvard facilities “in better condition than how we found them.”

“If you run a poor event, it doesn’t matter if you made a lot of money, because you’re not going to be able to come back the next year,” Appel said. “We are hyperfocused on the details to make sure that it runs as smoothly as it possibly can.”

This year’s Boston Calling—set for May 26 to 28—will host 45 artists and bands including Chance the Rapper, Solange, Mumford & Sons, and Cage the Elephant. The festival will also feature a film series curated by Natalie Portman ’03.

“We think it might be a different audience that’s interested in going to see [the film programming] versus going to see Chance the Rapper,” Appel said.

While Appel said he has looked to successful festivals like New York City’s Governor’s Ball and California’s Coachella for inspiration, he wants Boston Calling to feel like a New England-specific event.

“Delivering the best event that New England has ever seen—that’s our goal,” said Appel.

—Staff writer Sarah Wu can be reached at sarah.wu@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @sarah_wu_.

—Staff writer Lucy Wang can be reached at lucy.wang@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @lucyyloo22.

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