It its 10th year, Boston Calling has built up a strong foundation, beginning at Boston’s City Hall and settling nicely into the Harvard Athletic Complex grounds for the past 3 years. Overcast skies and windy conditions didn’t keep festival-goers from lining up early to be amongst the first attendees to race across the grounds to grab a spot on the railing at each stage to see their favorite act.
Starting things off at the Delta Blue Stage was Adia Victoria, whose moody blues seemed fitting to match the grey skies overhead. Masterful guitar work and a tight band kept their set from lingering in somber territory, and set the tone for a day full of captivating performances to come.
Upping the energy on the Red Stage, Pale Waves, hailing from Manchester, served up a spirited performance of pop tunes for the eager crowd in front of them. Heavy synths and upbeat melodies urged everyone to lose their inhibitions and dance like no one was watching.
On the other end of the spectrum, Australian indie-rock band Gang of Youths turned out to be one of my favorite acts of the day, with front man David Le’aupepe sparing no expense covering every inch of the stage, and powering through a minor technical difficulty of losing the volume on his vocals, which he amazingly recovered from by beating his chest like a madman and wailing on guitar.
Across the grounds at the Red Stage, Lord Huron gave the folk-loving crowd a treat, with guitar-laden, boot stomping rhythms, peppered with soothing ballads, providing a little something for everyone within earshot.
The Friday lineup reached its peak with conflicting timeslots for Tank and The Bangas, and Christine and the Queens. The former delivered a high energy, highly infectious set that had the entire audience smiling from ear to ear. Halfway through, I sprinted over to catch the end of the latter act’s performance and was surprised by the intensity of the choreography, the dazzling theatrics and the showmanship on display. It’s a shame these two acts were scheduled opposite one another, but I’m hopeful that more than a handful decided to split their time between them as I did, as their sets were not to be missed.
Taking a brief respite from the revelry outside landed me a prime front row spot to see Naeem, fka Spank Rock. Backed by DJ Delish, the duo delivered a set that was a mix of impassioned rapping and singing plus a bit of dancing that invited everyone in the room to join along.
Finally, ending the night was Twenty One Pilots, who seemed a bit surprised about the choice made to allow them to headline as Tyler addressed the waiting crowd, they showcased exactly why they are one of the most popular acts in music today. Compete with backflips from drummer Joshua Dun, and a stint out in the crowd from Tyler along with plenty of visuals and pyro onstage, the band earned a healthy set of new fans to slot in with their throngs of existing ones.
Article: Lesley Keller