Now Reading: Boston Calling Has Bands To Brighten Up Your Summer Playlist


Boston Calling Has Bands To Brighten Up Your Summer Playlist

May 27, 20198 min read

Summer is upon us, which means it’s time to revamp your playlist! Over Memorial Day weekend, I attended Boston Calling and discovered some amazing artists for the first time. Four bands, in particular, stood out to me. They successfully amped up the crowd, drawing in even the most casual of listeners through their guitar riffs and toe-tapping beats. So without further ado, here are four of the best bands that performed at Boston Calling. They’re sure to have you rocking out all summer long.

Bear Hands

Bryan Lasky / Boston Calling

Despite the crowd on Friday being the sparsest and least engaged of the three days, Bear Hands brought their A game. They didn’t allow the gloomy weather to detract from their performance – at one point, bassist Val Loper jokingly pulled out a pair of maracas to accompany their song “What A Drag.” Lead singer Dylan Rau announced that the maracas were a “special treat” for Boston, making the audience chuckle. While performing the closing song, “Giants,” the band danced around the stage and ended their performance on a (metaphorical) high note.

A few hours after their set, I chatted with bassist Val Loper. He told me the reason he loved festivals so much was that “at festivals, you can stumble upon new artists you never would have listened to otherwise. With concerts, you buy tickets to a concert, you kinda know what you’re going to see. You don’t know what to expect at festivals.” That was definitely the case for me! After watching Bear Hands jam out, I immediately downloaded their latest album and have been listening to it nonstop ever since.

Their song “Giants” is by far their most popular, with over 19 million streams on Spotify. My personal favorites are “Mr. Radioactive,” “Bone Digger” and “Clean Up California”. Or you could just listen to their entire discography… like I did. That works too.



Loreen Kelly / Boston Calling

There was only one thing that was a shame about Shame’s performance, and that was the fact that it had to end! The British punk band took the stage early Saturday afternoon. Their performance was electric from start to finish. They remained passionate throughout the entire set, barely stopping to take a breath as they played. At one point, lead singer Charlie Steen jumped into the crowd. This garnered whoops from the audience, which is the exact energy that the band deserves.

With a band that is capable of making a crowd go that wild, they’re bound to have some crazy memories. At one point during my conversation during the band, I asked them about the wildest thing that’s happened to them while on the road. They told me about the time they “chased Iggy Pop down a highway on a golf cart,” but were quick to blame the entire experience on their tour manager. “We didn’t mean to come off as stalker-y, but I think that was the vibe that he got,” Charlie Steen laughed.

It’s difficult to describe Shame’s music because they’ve expertly blended multiple genres to create their unique sound. If you want a taste of what Shame is all about, I recommend listening to “One Rizla,” “Concrete” or “Friction.”



Ty Johnson / Boston Calling

Pile got its start in Boston, so as a Boston native myself, I was especially excited to watch their set. They did not disappoint. With their intense punk-rock beats, the band got the crowd stomping along. With the exception of Turnstile, Pile was the only truly “heavy” band in this year’s lineup. But I found Pile to have something special.

Frontman Rick Maguire had some of the most versatile vocals I had heard all weekend. He could effortlessly switch between wild screams to soft melodies. His band was equally talented, playing a variety of songs and easily transitioning between energy levels. I rarely listen to “heavy” punk bands, because all of their songs tend to sound very similar to me. Pile was different. Each of their songs was distinct, which I was especially impressed by.

As soon as I sat down with lead singer Rick Maguire, I knew I had to ask him about how he survived those crazy vocals night after night! His answer was simple: practice makes perfect. “I’ve been singing and screaming that way since I was sixteen, I guess. So I’ve just been doing that over time, and over time it gets easier…my body gets more conditioned to it.” When I mentioned that a portion of it was just pure talent, he just shrugged modestly.

“Prom Song” is currently their most streamed song on Spotify, with over 900,000 listens. Other great songs by Pile are “Bubblegum,” “Don’t Touch Anything” and “Firewood.”


Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

Ty Johnson / Boston Calling

The second that Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever began to play, I overheard someone scream to their friend, “This band sounds like summer!” I have to agree with what that random stranger said. The Australian band has an abundance of catchy hooks, lively guitar riffs, and bright beats. Their chilled-out vibe will transport you to a tropical island in no time.

The people of Boston may have loved Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, but it seems like the band loved the Bostonians just as much. “This part of the country feels the most at home to us,” the band told me. “Boston is super cozy, just like Melbourne.” Happy to hear it, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever! Come back whenever you want!

It’s hard to pick a personal favorite out of their songs. But as of right now, their three most listened to ones are “French Press,” “Talking Straight” and “Mainland”.


Boston Calling 2019 was a great chance to discover new music to recommend to others. I stepped outside of my musical comfort zone through Memorial Day Weekend and ended up being pleasantly surprised by what I found.

Will you be adding any of these bands to your playlist? What other musicians will you listen to all summer long? Let us know!


Featured image by Carly Boyle / Boston Calling

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Mia Vittimberga

Mia is a 16-year-old from Massachusetts who loves classic rock, literature, and her cat. When she isn't busy writing, Mia spends her time making playlists, learning about new topics, and writing bios about herself in the third person.