This weekend, the Lincoln Calling music festival will make its return to in-person festivities, shutting down the streets of downtown Lincoln. Lincoln Calling, a nonprofit organization, is hosting their 18th annual music festival from Sept. 23-25, featuring over 40 bands, interactive art activities and educational workshops. 

In addition to featuring bands from many different genres, there will be public art projects, mural creations, community conversations, circus performers, vendors and various other activities taking place. 

The more than 40 bands performing include punk rock, EDM, country, blues, alternative rock, rap, folk, jazz and indie pop performers. Spencer Munson, executive director of Lincoln Calling, said he believes everyone can find some type of music they like at the festival.

“If you’re any kind of music fan, whatever genre it is, you’re going to find something here that you love, and you’re going to probably find something that you’ve never heard before and fall in love, which I think is the best part of this festival,” Munson said.

In addition to highlighting several different genres of music, this festival will bring in artists that represent all different backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities and sexual identities. One example of this is the Latino Lives Showcase that will feature many Latinx artists. The Vision Maker Media Showcase, which is dedicated to Native musicians, is another example. There are also several artists of color, such as CJ Mills and J Crum, as well as artists that represent the queer community, like Thelma and The Sleaze and Dominque Morgan. 

“We take inclusivity and representation really seriously,” Munson said. “As far as booking both artists and musicians, we take pride in having a 50/50 representation of men and women. We try to have a larger than average representation of the LGBTQ+, queer, community and then just artists of color.” 

Thursday’s performances will all take place at Tower Square. On Friday and Saturday, there will be three stages featuring anywhere from five to 10 bands each. These stages will be located at Tower Square, Duffy’s Back Lot and Night Market. 

Although music is a major part of the festival, it’s far from the only thing they have to offer. On Thursday and Friday, Lincoln Calling will be holding community conversations about various aspects of the arts on the rooftop of Kiechel Fine Art located at 1208 O St. Additionally, there will be public art projects, the creation of murals, fire-breathing circus entertainers, drag shows, projections, vendors, DJs and workshops.

Munson said coming to Lincoln Calling and being a part of these community conversations and activities can be beneficial for young entrepreneurs and artists. 

“You’re hearing from people that have been pouring their hearts into the art scene in Lincoln and in Nebraska for years,” Munson said. “I think you’ll get a lot of really great ideas of how you can go about taking your artistic ideas and making them come to fruition.”

University of Nebraska-Lincoln students can get discounted $20 tickets for the entire weekend through the University Program Council by going to the UPC Nebraska Office in the Nebraska Union, Room 134, before Friday. Other tickets and additional information, such as what festival-goers are allowed to bring, can be found on the Lincoln Calling website. Upon entering, those ages 16 and older will be required to prove they are fully vaccinated or have had a negative COVID-19 test within the last 72 hours each day of the festival. 

Munson believes Lincoln Calling is a great way for Lincoln residents, particularly university students, to break into the art and music scene in the city. 

“We haven’t had the opportunity in the last couple years to have a big outdoor event like this where you’re able to go and really soak up new music,” Munson said. “I think this is particularly fun because, you know, I think it’s hard to find this kind of festival atmosphere in the Midwest without traveling.”