Music Festival Season: One Man’s Dream

UPDATE 3/5: Dayna read this and pointed out I clearly broke the stated rules (mainly rule 1 as Saturday was filled with male, 80s-90s era alternative rock acts), so I have moved things around and changed a few acts to meet the stated criteria.

courtesy of Modern Vinyl

One of the games Dayna and I will play on occasion is to create our own music festival. We first did this last summer as music festival season was announcing the various acts playing across the country. We have attended Boston Calling a couple times and we were inspired to come up with a festival that we curated. To make this realistic, we had a few guidelines:

  1. A number of genres of music must be represented
  2. Bands who are local to the festival must be included
  3. A range of popularity among bands (you can’t have headliners all day)
  4. Must be two or three days
  5. Must be bands who have played a show in the last two years

I couldn’t find my original list from two years ago, but that’s actually good. I created this list from scratch. My focus city was Boston, seeing as I live less than an hour outside the city. I figured it would be easy to just use City Hall Plaza as the location, since Boston Calling is held there each year. I also considered Green Hill Park in Worcester and Saima Park in Fitchburg, but for ease of scheduling (I can just follow the traditional schedule Boston Calling uses and there would be a plan already in place for things like security, parking, stage design, etc), I decided to just stick with City Hall Plaza.


6:15 Old 97s: Rhett Miller and the 97s have been on tour for awhile now, thrilling audiences with their alternative country rock. The Old 97s would be a fantastic kickoff to the festival and a perfect lead-in to Peter Yorn and Weezer on night 1.

7:25 Pete Yorn: With a new CD out in March, Yorn is hitting the road. He’s about as talented as they come and a nice bridge between Gonzalez and Weezer. 

9:10 Weezer: One of the best live acts touring, Rivers Cuomo and company have a great fan base in Boston and are the perfect choice to headline the first day.


1:00 Darlingside: Acoustic pop band based out of Boston. This group will remind many of Guster – a great way to kick off the second day.

1:35 The Neighborhoods: Dave Minehan reformed The Neighborhoods after touring with The Replacements, and we are glad he did. The 1979 WBCN Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble winners and Boston Music Awards Hall of Famers still rock and still have a great fan base and have played City Hall Plaza in the past.

2:25 Mission of Burma: The Boston legends have done a handful of shows over the past few years, and they influenced virtually everyone else on today’s agenda, so it makes sense to have them on the bill .

3:05 Courtney Barnett: The Australian singer/songwriter was nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy and was at the top of many critics’ Best Album lists for 2015. Catch her before everyone knows who she is.

4:00 Peter Wolf: Wolf is the ultimate performer and has major ties to the city of Boston. Whether he brings the entire J. Geils Band or just performs solo, Wolf deserves a good slot at a major Boston festival for all he has done for music in this city.


4:55 Letters to Cleo: Kay Hanley and her band were based out of Boston and they supposedly have a new album in the works. Plus, maybe we can get Ben Wyatt to show up to see his favorite band (sorry for the gratuitous Parks & Recreation reference)!

6:00 Bob Mould: The legendary Mould has fronted two of the best alternative bands of the 80s and 90s in Husker Du and Sugar, but has been on his own awhile.

7:05 Paul Westerberg/Juliana Hatfield (The I Don’t Cares): After years in seclusion, Westerberg hit the road with The Replacements for parts of three years, then recorded an album with Boston native Juliana Hatfield under the name, The I Don’t Cares. Westerberg is at his best with an acoustic guitar and a microphone, and a mix of new tunes with Hatfield with some classic Westerberg and maybe a track or two from the Juliana Hatfield 3 would be great.

8:10 Joan Jett: Still one of the premier female rock acts in the world, Jett was a groundbreaking artist and deserving of a headlining spot at any festival.

9:35 Pearl Jam: The best live and on the planet and the ultimate festival headliner. Not sure PJ can play a 90-minute set, but there is no one I’d rather have headlining this show.


1:05 Dutch ReBelle: ReBelle was the 2014 Boston Music Awards winner for Hip-Hip Artist of the Year and is starting to garner national attention.

1:40 Pale Hands: A combination of indie rock, electronica, and pop, this Somerville-based trip is considered to be one of the best up-and-coming bands in New England.

2:25 Glen Hansard: Best known for playing the lead in the movie, Once, Hansard is an accomplished guitarist, singer and songwriter. Being an Irishman, he has a solid following in Boston.

3:10 Tommy Stinson: After a brief reunion with The Replacements and ending his relationship with Guns n Roses, Stinson is back making his own music. He has a new CD out and, like pretty much everything else he has done since the age of 14, it’s fantastic.

4:05 Rachel Platten: The Newton, Massachusetts-based Platten hit it big in 2015 with her third studio album, Wildfire. Her anthem “Fight Song” will be a sure hit in her backyard.

5:00 Dinosaur Jr. One of the groundbreaking bands of the 1980s and 90s, J. Mascic, Lou Barlow and Murph have reformed and toured last year for their 30th anniversary. With a new album supposedly in the works, a festival show in Boston sounds like a great idea.

6:05 Violent Femmes: I couldn’t resist putting the Violent Femmes on this bill. They have a new album coming out, they are on tour, and I used to play them all the time on my shows on Salem State radio (WMWM) and Fitchburg State radio (WXPL) in the 80s and 90s, as I did The Replacements, Mission of Burma and Dinosaur Jr.

7:10 St. Vincent: Weird and talented, St. Vincent played Boston Calling in 2015 and was one of the highlights. Though I’m not a huge fan of her music, she is unquestionably an act that people will want to see!

8:15 Alabama Shakes: Fresh off a Grammy, the Alabama Shakes are proving to a critical and popular success. In addition, it provides me a headliner that draws in the millennial, something I have been missing on the other days.

9:30 Ice Cube: One of the geniuses behind NWA is doing a few shows here and there between filming movies, so why not bring him to Boston to finish off the festival? Too many kids know him as an actor but don’t realize the importance of his music. Ice Cube’s words about racism and police brutality ring just as true today as they did in the early 1990s during NWAs heyday.

Obviously, I left our dozens of acts I’d love to see, but I had to follow the basic rules we had set forth. I’d love to hear other people’s dream festivals, so feel free to share in the comments (and you don’t need to go into as much detail as I did!)





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