As winter finally gives way to milder temps, a burst of outdoor activities, markets and festivals, it’s time to step out and step it up. In Boston, there are few better feelings than the return of springtime—baseball at Fenway Park, a riot of colorful flora in the Public Garden, the glorious city-wide return of restaurant patio culture, and a joyous eruption of sweet, sweet music.
Festival season gets underway in earnest on Memorial Day weekend (May 24-26) when Boston Calling delivers its customary blend of superbly curated bands, artists, DJs, dancers and comedians. This year’s headliners Twenty One Pilots (Friday), Tame Impala (Saturday), and Travis Scott (Sunday) are guaranteed to shake the Harvard Athletic Complex to its very foundations, and there are plenty of other treats throughout the rest of the lineup.
Eye-catching Boston Calling picks include Janelle Monáe, whose blend of retro-futuristic R&B, conceptual sci-fi and James Brown-inspired dance moves translates impressively to the live stage, and critically acclaimed indie-rocker Mitski. There will also be stand-up from “Saturday Night Live” stars Fred Armisen, Michael Che and Melissa Villaseñor, and several incredible Arena stage performances from the Boston Ballet.
The Boston Pops—a supremely accessible offshoot of the Boston Symphony Orchestra—has been delighting audiences since 1881, when it was founded by Civil War veteran Henry Lee Higginson to play “concerts of a lighter kind of music.”
The spring program this year will take on an inter-galactic dimension when veteran Pops conductor Keith Lockhart leads his charges in a live orchestral accompaniment to the original “Star Wars” movie at Symphony Hall (May 10-11, 14). John Williams, composer of the film’s original score, has a long history with the Boston Pops and is currently their laureate conductor.
Located on the border line between the North End and the West End, City Winery is a relatively new arrival in Boston. It has quickly established itself as one of the most interesting and eclectic live venues anywhere in the city.
Also worth catching in May are Santigold (May 2) at the House of Blues, Rodrigo y Gabriela (May 15) at the Orpheum Theater and Florence + The Machine (May 30), just out of town at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield.