Boston Calling Set to Begin in Allston

At the Harvard Athletic Complex in Boston's Allston neighborhood, the turf is transforming where 45 bands will be performing at the Boston Calling music festival this weekend.

Setup was underway Thursday for the three-day event, and organizers said this year is also about making up for what did not go smoothly last year. From long lines to sold-out vendors, they said there are tweaks ticket-holders will notice.

"We call it the 50 percent rule," Boston Calling co-founder Brian Appel said. "We just added 50 percent more food vendors, 50 percent more bathrooms, 50 percent more entrance lanes and 50 percent more staff."

The 16-acre spot has a capacity for 40,000 fans, and keeping them safe is a priority. Boston Police are working with Cambridge and Massachusetts State Police to protect the crowd that will be lined up across five stages. Their safety top of mind given recent attacks at outdoor concerts like the one in Las Vegas.

"We've thought of every different scenario you can think of," Paul Ivens, a retired police officer and director of public safety for the event, said. "We read up on what went right and what went wrong and try to learn from them."

Backpacks and a long list of other items are banned. Metal detectors will greet fans at the front. A new wristband will allow fans access into certain areas. It will also let them connect a bank account so they can go cashless, tapping the wristband to pay vendors at the festival.

Listening closely to the festival will be not just attendees, but also neighbors across the Charles River in Cambridge. Police received roughly 30 noise complaints from them during the event last year.

"The noise was dreadful. People described it as cacophony," Dennis Friedland said, who lives on Memorial Drive in Cambridge.

Organizers said a new sound system should fix that and make it so its music to the ears of attendees only.

"We really wanted to make sure the people inside had an incredible auditory experience and the people outside of the venue had minimal to no interaction with the sound," Appel said.

Boston Calling runs from Friday to Sunday at the Harvard Athletic Complex in Allston. Tickets are still available.

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