It's this time every year that we get ready for the Boston Calling Music Festival, which has brought some of the biggest names in music to our city since 2013. Before getting canceled due to the pandemic, the 2020 lineup was huge, including Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, and Rage Against the Machine. Since we can't be there this year, we decided to ask our Mass Mixcontributors to tell us about their favorite performances from past festivals, and here's what they had to say:

A man in a black mask stands on a wall surrounded by audience members cheering and taking photos
Twenty One Pilots perform at the 2014 Boston Calling Music Festival
Knar Bedian

Twenty One Pilots, 2014

Considering where they are now, it is a little crazy to think I was on the barricade watching their set. Twenty One Pilots was the first band I actively listened to by the album rather than by song, and as much as I may hate to admit it, it had a big impact on the development of my music taste. Since this show, I have seen the band ten more times, including Boston Calling last year, and photographed them twice. Seeing the gimmicks they use, like Tyler standing on the crowd for a song and Josh drumming on top of the crowd for the first time, was fresh and exciting. Those of us who saw both of their sets at Boston Calling, five years apart, certainty appreciate how far they've come to headline festivals now. -Ryan Bowman, Photographer, Sound of Boston

Frank Turner, 2014

Between my years at RadioBDC and indie617, I covered all but the first two editions of Boston Calling. Choosing a favorite performance would be quite the undertaking: CHVRCHES, Krill, Charles Bradley, Tame Impala, and St. Vincent are the first few that come to mind. Choosing a favorite backstage moment is easy, however. I was interviewing Jason from Death Cab For Cutie offsite, which made me late for my interview with Frank Turner. Thankfully, my esteemed colleague (and Allston Pudding founder) Perry Eaton got the interview underway. Watch, and you'll see me running up the ramp behind the interview tent right around the 2:20 mark. I slid in to join the interview, and Frank didn't miss a beat. A great performer and a consummate professional. -Adam 12, Weekdays 11a-4p, ROCK 92.9

Run the Jewels
Killer Mike from Run the Jewels performs at the Boston Calling Music Festival
Jeff Porter

Run the Jewels, 2015

My first Boston Calling was in spring 2015 at City Hall Plaza. I'd come for St. Vincent and Sharon Van Etten — rightfully so, their performances were incredible. (Seeing St. Vincent on the Digital Witness tour was life-changing.) But it's also what I left with that I'll never forget. It was Saturday, and I was walking across the plaza when suddenly stopped in my tracks by a 'BOOM' from the main stage. I turned in time to see Killer Mike and EL-P of Run the Jewels pour out while the ground rumbled with heavy beats. Killer Mike pandered, saying he rides with Tom Brady (we were in the suspension period of Deflategate at the time), and the audience roared something epic. That energy didn't stop until the last beat of the last song. I've never seen anything like it, and I've been a Run the Jewels fan ever since. -Stacy Buchanan, Managing Producer, Arts & Culture, WGBH

A women dances and sings on stage wearing a gray suit, surrounded by men in white t-shirts
Christine and the Queens perform at the 2016 Boston Calling Music Festival.
Knar Bedian

Christine and the Queens, 2016

There must have been something about that 1:30 PM time slot that year. Exactly 24 hours before Christine and the Queens came onstage, Lizzo and crew had blasted the crowd with water guns and empowering messages — literally and figuratively blowing them away. Like the flute-wielding rapper, Héloïse Letissier (Christine) brought a hypnotic music and dance combo that left us electrified. "Are you ready for the French discotheque?" she had asked. We didn't know we were. Though topping the charts in France, for most, this was an introduction to Christine and the Queens — and perhaps that added to the magic. Her dancers backflipped through the air as she twisted, tilted, and spun onstage, the dramatic choreography matching her music and energy. When she did break character, it was for a humorous and inspiring monologue involving a bouquet of flowers, interspersed with brief covers of Beyoncé and the like. To this day, I think about how I was tempted to snag a flower off the stage as I walked through the photo pit because even then, it was clear she was on her way to becoming a star. -Knar Bedian, Editor In Chief, Sound of Boston

The Killers perform at the Boston Calling Festival in 2018.
Rob Loud

The Killers, 2018

The Killers closed out Friday's set with a full-blown rock show that pulsed through the thickly-packed Harvard Stadium crowds, and beyond. As the night darkened, festival-goers stood on their tip-toes to catch a glimpse of ardent frontman Brandon Flowers. The Killers took the stage, erupting in the all-too-familiar melancholy pop riffs of "Mr. Brightside," following up with crowd favorites like "When You Were Young," "All These Things That I've Done," "Spaceman," and "Human." The band had a setlist that spanned their entire discography and paid a special tribute to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with "Free Fallin'" and "American Girl." From Flowers' electric yellow suit to drummer Ronnie Vannucci pulling a young member of the audience up on stage to drum with the band, The Killers created a brilliant show brimming with nostalgia, glitter, and rock 'n' roll. -Alexis den Boggende, Staff Writer, Sound of Boston

Brandi Carlile — 2019 Boston Calling Music Festival
Brandi Carlile performs at the 2019 Boston Calling Music Festival.
Michael Last

Brandi Carlile, 2019

My first time at Boston Calling was last year when I covered it for WGBH. There were a ton of great moments, like meeting Guster and interviewing Tank and The Bangas. But one moment stands out: I knew that no matter what happened with our coverage, I had to see Brandi Carlile. I had seen her play in Boston the year before and couldn’t get her performance out of my mind. So as the sun set on the final day there, I hiked over to the blue stage and found a spot near the front just as she came out and yelled: “Hello, rock and roll people!” Her performance was loud, electric, powerful, and everything I could have imagined. As her piercing voice echoed over the fairgrounds, I was overcome with gratitude to be in that moment. -Meghan Smith, Digital Producer, WGBH