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The Quest for Fests

by Taleen Simonian and Victoria Wasylak

Photo Courtesy of Callanan & Klein PR

As soon as finals season ends, the reading glasses come off and the sunglasses go on. Whether you’re a raver or a folk enthusiast, the Buzz has complied capsules of the best local festivals for all tastes and budgets to check out in the first half of the summer.


Each year, Whole Foods and Radio 92.9 unite forces to transform the Charles River Reservation State Park into the costless, family-friendly food and music affair known as EarthFest. The event spans a stretch of greenery that parallels the Esplanade and is home to iconic Hatch Shell, the centriole of event’s the musical festivities. The goals of the fest are to feature music that is true to the sound featured on the station, to create a family-oriented environment and to promote the message that individuals can reduce their environmental footprint.

The lineup, which is fittingly revealed on Earth Day each year, has featured both mainstream names and local groups. When searching for performers, the station takes into consideration the type of music each artists or group plays in an attempt to have the overall sound of the fest mesh seamlessly with its proclaimed family-friendly environment.

“[The station] plays classic alternative music, so the good news is that we have a wide variety of artists that we play from…Because of the venue and because of the audience that is attracted to the event, we try not to be too heavy,” says Ken West, the program director of Radio 92.9.

While the musical performances are a main focus of the fest, the food is another factor that draws in the annual crowd and requires ample amounts of planning. Whole Foods, the presenting sponsor of the show, holds the integral responsibility of setting up an array of vendors for festivalgoers to indulge in. Those who help bring EarthFest to life also work tirelessly to promote concepts of sustainability and environmental consciousness, seeking out sustainable brands that are willing to participate in the fest. Their diligence has allowed EarthFest to hold the title of the largest radio station concert that promotes a green lifestyle in New England. Through the careful selection of performers and partners, Radio 92.9 builds the image of their brand through events such as EarthFest, hoping to leave their unique mark by not only promoting environmental consciousness, but also by presenting quality live music.

“We definitely want to be known a station known for concerts. Live music is a pretty important part of what we do. So that alone, I think, feeds our brand,” West said.

You can attend EarthFest at the DCR Hatch Memorial Shell (Boston, MA) on May 21. No tickets required: free event.

Boston Calling

Boston Calling remains the ultimate festival experience for Boston college students, especially after the festival moved the September portion later in the month to accommodate for out-of-state students to attend. May marks the seventh edition of the City Hall Plaza festival, featuring the usual lineup of independent and pop acts like BØRNS, The Vaccines and The Front Bottoms. Most notably, the fest has seemingly taken a few cues from criticism of festivals being dominated by male artists and boasts Sia, Robyn, Haim, Janelle Monáe and Courtney Barnett, among other female-fronted acts in the lineup. This May, the festival will include a third stage to showcase more local acts and comedians, such as violin rockers Nemes and self-proclaimed “ugly pop” group Lady Pills. Boston comedian Lamont Price will host the stage on Saturday on Sunday.

The festival’s food and drink selection is more savory than ever, featuring treats from Bon Me, Zinnekin’s Belgian Waffles and Arancini Bros. Students over 21 can sip on selections Wicked Wines and get tipsy to ballads by Sufjan Stevens. Come hungry for new music, killer sets from your favorite artists and mouthwatering gourmet food trucks.

Boston Calling is May 27, 28 and 29. Purchase tickets here.


EDM junkies, get your crop tops and daisy dukes ready, because Mysteryland is the EDM summer any flower child worth their LSD will be at. Located in Bethel Hills in upstate New York, Mysteryland is one of America’s premier electronic festivals, and their lineup says proves it. Skrillex, Bassnecter and Odesza, all masters of the genre, headline the four day fest alongside current Top 40 hitmakers The Chainsmokers and Ty Dollar $ign. The 19+ festival kicks off June Friday 10 in the same city as 1969’s legendary Woodstock festival. The 2016 edition may only be the festival’s third American installation, but it’s actually the world’s longest-running electronic music, culture and art festival.

Sebtastian Solano, the CEO of ID&T, said that Bethel Wood’s role in Woodstock is a major factor in how Mysteryland is planned and perceived.

“Woodstock had a tremendous impact on the youth who grew up in the ’60s and ’70s,” he said. “Today, Mysteryland strives to bring together the global forces of music for the millennial generation’s revolution.”

Through what Solano calls “the Nomadic Approach,” the festival invites both famous acts, and local and worldwide unknowns to give guests the most well-rounded and cultured festival experience.

Unlike the other festivals on the Buzz’s list, Mysteryland offers camping both on-site and off-site, but make sure to reserve space ahead of time. Solano also says that there will be a free shuttle service for campers to get to and from the festival.

“If you’re 21+, camping on the original site where Woodstock took place is an unforgettable experience,” Solano said. “Round up your crew, make sure you pack plenty of layers and sunscreen, and get ready to tumble down the rabbit hole on a one-of-a-kind adventure…If you’re under 21, Lander’s River is very close to the festival grounds, and it’s also a fantastic camping experience.”

Mysteryland is Jun 10, 11,12 and 13. Purchase tickets here and reserve camping at 1.800.252.3925

The Newport Folk Festival

Reigning as the oldest festival in America, the Newport Folk Festival has been captivating crowds with its rich history and stellar lineups since 1959. Co-founded by jazz producer George Wein, the three-day event has featured the likes of current folk sensations The Avett Brothers as well as classic icon Bob Dylan. The festival, which takes place in late July, notoriously sells out just days after tickets are put on sale. Recently, ticket sales have increased, and in 2015, they completely sold out merely 48 hours after being put on sale and prior to the announcement of the lineup.

“We’re the oldest festival in America, and we are on basically a speck of land off on the islands of a small state in the Union. We are in our own kind of universe," Executive produver Jay Sweet told Rolling Stone. And this “universe” is a hub for jazz and folk music of all calibers that has existed for nearly 60 years. Now, the festival is majorly funded by co-founder Wein.

Bookings for the show, especially big names, are sometimes done over a year in advance. Sweet recalls calling Bob Dylan 16 or 17 months before the festival's tribute to his iconic electric set played there 50 years prior. As a result of the influx of new festivals, planning has begun earlier and earlier each year. The 2015 festival took just over twelve months to plan in full.

Yet, the Newport Folk Festival is not strictly structured and works to stray away from mainstream festival culture, especially with their lineup. “We’ve given up on trying to follow the album cycle for bands and for the most part 70 percent of the lineup each year are friends. Not just the players but friends of bands and acts we’ve invited before, we try to reach out to those people and bring them into our little family,” Sweet told The Patriot Ledger, further proving that the festival is unlike any other.

The Newport Folk Festival is July 22, 23 and 24 at Fort Adams State Park (Newport, RI). Purchase tickets here.

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