In a normal year, Memorial Day weekend would mark the return of the Boston Calling music festival to the Harvard Athletic Complex in Allston. But 2020 was no normal year. Neither is 2021, and both resulted in cancellations. Looking ahead to next year’s holiday weekend, Boston Calling announced Wednesday that its 2022 headliners will include Foo Fighters and Rage Against the Machine, who were both scheduled to top the bill at last year’s festival before it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Foo Fighters had intended to spend 2020 celebrating their 25th anniversary since debuting as Dave Grohl’s post-Nirvana band in 1995 before the pandemic shut those plans down. Even so, the band has been busy, releasing 10th album “Medicine at Midnight,” performing at President Biden’s inauguration, and getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, while Grohl spent part of quarantine engaged in a trans-Atlantic drum battle with British 10-year-old Nandi Bushell.
In the time since Boston Calling 2020 was canceled, Rage Against the Machine has managed to become more relevant than ever, a remarkable feat for a band nearly 30 years after the release of its first album and in the midst of its second reunion. After a year that has seen increased scrutiny of police violence, rising anti-capitalist and anti-fascist sentiment, and the mainstreaming of discussions of systemic racism and conspiracy theories, sloganeering songs like “Killing in the Name” and “Sleep Now in the Fire” speak even more directly to the everyday politics of post-Trump America.
Additional 2022 acts — including the final headliner — have yet to be announced. The renewed selection of Foo Fighters and Rage Against the Machine suggests that Boston Calling to some degree aims to pick up where it left off, but the blank space where the rest of the lineup would be offers an opportunity to address some of Boston Calling’s prior blind spots. Earlier iterations have featured exclusively male headliners, and the scrapped 2020 event went one further by failing to include a hip-hop headliner for the first time in years.
Early-bird three-day passes for the 2022 festival, scheduled for May 27-29, start at $299.99 and can be purchased at bostoncalling.com.
Marc Hirsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @spacecitymarc