Dreams of Boston Calling: A Look Behind the Scenes of Your Backyard Music Festival with Mike Snow

While the Boston Calling Music Festival has only been gracing the parthenon of City Hall Plaza downtown for two short years, its biannual nature makes this coming weekend its fifth iteration. As I sat down to chat with Mike Snow, COO of Crash Line Productions, the event director sounded much more confident and collected than you might expect, considering the festival was only two days away.

Snow had the self-assurance of an industry vet, because he is one. His history of event production and operation is extensive, dating back to 2004 when he was the Promotions Director at the famed WFNX/The Phoenix radio station. He then was promoted to Operations Director after gaining experience in both the marketing and booking fields. It was here that the beginnings of a long-time dream started to piece together. He had the idea. Now he contacts, the experience, and the passion to actually make it happen.

When I spoke to Snow a few short days ago, it was clear "the dream of having a festival here, in this historic, transient city" was the source of all that passion; it's been something the local man has had on his mind since growing up in this historic city. But even with all that passion behind him, no one said it was going to be easy. Snow and his new production company that he co-founded with Brian Appel were paving a new way, something very few festivals have even attempted: an urban venue. Other festivals like Coachella and Firefly thrive on their ease, choosing venues far out of the way, with wide open spaces and ample grass to frolic. While Snow and company were not the first, as festivals like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits found success in their own right, Boston is a unique city, with a seemingly nonsensical structure and its own set of logistical problems. Where to put stages, how many people can be accommodated, the issue of getting them all there with such limited space and a complex city bureaucracy were all issues Snow and Co. faced. Luckily this wasn't their first rodeo.

"All the logistical stuff certainly wasn't easy. City permitting is hard; however they're working for the same goal we are, and I have a great team behind me," Snow reports, recounting that one of his colleagues has worked with the city on events like Boston Calling for over 20 years. He and his team constantly have to be on the lookout for up-and-coming artists, especially when so much of his demographic are the thousands of college kids that call Boston home. This gives the festival its eclectic lineup, but part of the challenge and pleasure of putting on a festival as large in scope as this is that Snow finds joy in being able to play DJ and find a cohesive theme tying the festival together as a complete, satisfying experience.

While it may not have been easy convincing everyone to buy into the dream of a world-class festival here, Snow never had trouble finding those people that believed as he did.

"Everyone is always so excited about the dream; it was like everyone wanted to help," he recounted, "We are all still fans at heart." Even though Mike and his team work around the clock during the festival, there are always a few sets every year where Snow will let his team know that he's "going radio quiet for a little while, and if they need him they can come find him, or wait until after the set." Ultimately, we should all hope to be so lucky that we find a career that allows us to be around what we love. I was honestly a little jealous, hearing his joyful reminiscing about festivals past and his excitement for what's to come.


Alex Krowiak / Gavel Media

Alex Krowiak / Gavel Media

Boston Calling takes place in historic City Hall Plaza, smack dab in the middle of Boston this weekend, September 25-27. Doors tonight open at 6:00 p.m., and the bands will jam until 11:00 p.m. tonight, only to resume tomorrow morning and finally finish up on Sunday. Single day and three-day passes are still available here: consider coming out, if not for the amazing lineup, awesome venue, or awkward people watching, then come to enjoy Boston while you still can—without your massive Canada Goose jacket.


This bio is dedicated to all the teachers that told me
I'd never amount to nothin', to all the people that lived above the
buildings that I was hustlin' in front of that called the police on
me when I was just tryin' to make some money to feed my daughter, it's all good baby baby