Review and Photography by Sara Sturtevant
Boston Calling is for rock music lovers seeking to start their summer off right. When you arrive at Harvard Athletics Complex, you’re immediately greeted and immersed in a crowd of individuals of all ages joyously walking under the notorious Boston Calling arch. There are local Bostonian food vendors from Tasty Burger to Greco along with soft drinks and the festival culture necessity classic alcohol booths. The performers themselves change each year. This year there were artists on the rise like The Backseat Lovers and those cemented in time, like Nine Inch Nails. In short, there is something for everyone—including musicians to see at various stages both physically and metaphorically. When attending Boston Calling, prepare yourself for the beginning throws of summer weather and to be blown away by the talented singers and their bands.
One of the first performances of the day, Paris set the tone for the opening of Boston Calling. She was honest and vulnerable with her lyricism and admitted that she had only one happy song out of all of her tracks, which she had to sing. Despite the gentle cadence of her voice, there was an edge in her sound throughout her performance. She’s not the most lively performer, but she will prompt an appreciation for unique musicians trying to pave their own way in the world.
A social activist through his music, Jordan Edward Benjamin aka Grandson, used his presence on the Green stage to honor those lost to the recent shooting in Uvalde, Texas. You could hear in his voice how truly upset and earnest for change he is. His messaging was further elevated throughout his various songs and the liveliness he brought to the performance. Grandson sang his infamous hit “Blood in the Water” which got the crowd even more ecstatic and concluded with a legendary crowd surf.
If you have ever listened to The Struts in any capacity you have to see them live. Lead singer Luke Spiller is the embodiment of both Freddie Mercury and Mick Jagger with his own twist. He is performative in the best kind of way without getting overly cliché and makes sure to create a welcoming atmosphere for audience members. The rest of the band- guitarist Adam Slack, bass player Jed Elliott, and drummer Gethin Davies- transcend their on-stage presence through superior instrumentation. Without each of them, The Struts would not be The Struts. Although they resemble classic rockers, this group brings fresh music that’s really worth listening to.
Unfortunately, this TikTok song hitmaker is not for everyone. He was late to perform and then once on stage claimed he would only keep performing if the energy was reciprocated from the audience. Albeit half-jokingly, it wouldn’t seem that Oliver Tree has reached the status of being able to perform selectively. Those who have seen him before said that he was good, but always late. Others said that he’s someone they would only go to see at a music festival such as Boston Calling. He is a niche musician that intertwines comedy and music while being unabashed as ‘himself.’ The music was fun and he did a good job at getting the audience to interact with him.
An icon, a legend, the Pop-Punk Princess. Everyone around the crowd was eager to fulfill their early 2000s dream of seeing Avril Lavigne perform live. Although she was slightly late and finished a bit early, her time on stage was exhilarating. She sang the classics of course, like ‘Complicated’ and ‘Sk8er Boi,’ but also introduced new music. In fact, she had her fiancé Mod Sun come out to perform their new song ‘Flames’ to the crowd. To say everyone got even more excited is an understatement.
Nine Inch Nails
By the end of the long, hot day, everyone was ready to hear the infamous headliner: Nine Inch Nails. The crowd consisted of fans both young and old, with each clinging to every lyric Trent Reznor left hanging in the air. The production of the show was intense with flashing lights and amps adjusted so loud you can feel it in your chest. NIN is cemented in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for a reason. But, as an audience member wanting to see the main headliner, you’d have to wait out in the front beforehand and miss other acts or take the bold move of pushing through the crowd of rock fans, who aren’t afraid to throw an elbow your way, if you want a chance to see them up close. Depending on how interested you are in seeing NIN live if it’s even in the slightest, you must.
Altogether, Boston Calling 2022 Day one was a success. It is the chance to discover new artists you will want to add to your playlists when you leave. Each performer is dedicated to their craft and to giving the audience a set to remember. If you are looking for a gateway into the music festival life, Boston Calling is the place for you. It’s welcoming, authentic, and truly an experience curated for rock lovers of all backgrounds.