Arts, Off Campus

Boston Calling 2023: Veteran Bands Return to the Stage

Despite Boston Calling’s history of spotlighting up-and-coming bands, the main draw for many to the annual music festival is its headlining acts. These artists, often well-established in the music industry, cause fans to camp out in the front row for hours—all for a chance to see their favorites up close.

Several of these legendary bands will appear on stage this year—some returning after varying breaks and some with a bit of a different look. 

Foo Fighters

Rock band Foo Fighters will headline the first day of Boston Calling for its first festival appearance since the death of the group’s drummer Taylor Hawkins in March 2022. 

The performance follows a virtual livestream the group held at Studio 606 in Los Angeles on May 21 that debuted the Foo Fighters’ new touring drummer Josh Freese, who will fill in Hawkins’ position, as well as the group’s new track “Nothing At All.”

The Foo Fighters are gearing up for the release of their album But Here We Are with new tracks that further evolve their sound for a future without Hawkins. Fans at Boston Calling can expect a showcase of new singles—“Under You,” “Rescued,” “Nothing At All”—as well as the band’s greatest hits, “Everlong” and “All My Life,” in its scheduled two-hour set. 

Since Hawkins collaborated with Alanis Morissette, including performing alongside her as a drummer in her tours for the Jagged Little Pill album, attendees could potentially see a reference to the late drummer in the veteran singer’s own headlining set on the second day of the festival. Morrisette performed a tribute to Hawkins at one of her concerts in June 2022. 


Bouncing back into popularity in recent years with a resurgence of the pop-punk sound, Paramore came out of a six-year hiatus with This Is Why in 2023. Since its regrouping, Paramore has performed alongside several genre-diverse artists including Bloc Party, Taylor Swift, and Claud, demonstrating its versatility in music. 

The group has also utilized social media platforms like TikTok, which gave its big hits another life. Paramore’s biggest tracks garnered tens of millions of listens on TikTok, and Paramore’s own account has grown to over half a million followers. Unlike its latest appearance at Hangout Music Festival, Paramore, as the main headliner for the third day of Boston Calling, will be performing an extended set that will likely feature both new releases from This is Why, songs from past albums the band never performed before, as well as fan-favorites “Misery Business,” “Still Into You,” and “Hard Times.” 

Paramore will perform on the same day as The Linda Lindas, a young L.A. pop-punk band who will open for Paramore on its summer tour. 

Queens of the Stone Age 

Queens of the Stone Age are returning in full force after only performing a handful of times since 2017, when they released their album Villains. Boston Calling will be their third show this week after a year without any performances. The rock band is known for its heavy guitar sound, whimsical solos, and cryptic lyrics. 

Queens of the Stone Age released “Emotion Sickness” on May 11, teasing their upcoming album In Times New Roman…, which will be released on June 16. Fans will likely hear “Emotion Sickness” performed at Boston Calling. The song showcases the evolution of the band since 2017, which includes a more melodic and swinging blues beat.

The band will likely have the hardest rock sound at this year’s festival, matching last year’s Metallica show as a third and final day headliner. Queens of the Stone Age will likely play their biggest hits, as well as an encore from their fan-favorite 2002 album Songs for the Deaf, as the band has in previous shows.

The Walkmen 

While The Walkmen defined the spirit of 2000s underground rock in New York City, the band was nearly forgotten and overshadowed because of its breakup at the peak of its career in 2013. Ten years later, The Walkmen reunited for its first performance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on April 19. The show mirrored the same energy that The Walkmen brought to David Letterman and Conan O’Brien’s shows—two national performances that propelled the band into fame two decades prior. 

The discography of The Walkmen includes fast-tempo grunge tracks like “The Rat,” “Angela Surf City,” “Little House of Savages,” as well as the slow, melancholic “We’ve Been Had” and “In the New Year.” Fans can expect to hear these nostalgic hits with the certain sentimentality and shakiness that the band has gained while apart for all these years.

Now on its reunion tour in the United States and Europe, the heavy indie rock band will play at Boston Calling on the final day of the festival. Since the band is not a main headliner, it is set to perform on the smaller Blue Stage, perhaps to dedicated fans who have not forgotten the talent of its members.

Whether or not the band will continue to perform after this tour is unclear, but its reunion has solidified The Walkmen as rock legends that, at the time, rivaled the sounds of The Strokes, Interpol, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in the New York City scene. 

May 25, 2023