June 8, 2022
Photo: Boston Calling / Alive Coverage
It’s been three years since the last Boston Calling festival took place in Massachusetts. The festival debuted at City Hall Plaza in 2013 and took place twice a year in May and September. In 2017, it transitioned to once annually each May at the Harvard Athletic Complex, just across the Anderson Memorial Bridge from Harvard Square. It’s further outside the city than the previous venue with less parking, but the expansive athletic fields are ideal for the large crowds that flock to the festival each year. In typical post-Covid fashion, there were a few delays and cancellations, but the excitement among those from New England and beyond was palpable as the region’s biggest music festival returned to action. Nine Inch Nails stepped up and headlined both Friday and Saturday night to replace the Strokes after the band and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard had to cancel due to positive Covid tests.
A narrow entryway near the banks of the Charles River leads to the massive festival grounds laid out over various Harvard sports fields and complexes. A cloudy and wet Saturday allowed attendees to take advantage of shorter lines to sample some of the dozens of food vendors lined up along the football field or stop by one of the pop-up bars hosted by Samuel Adams, Miller Lite, or Truly between stages.
Lightning near the venue caused a two-hour severe weather delay on Saturday afternoon that knocked out the sets of Ali McGurk, Celisse, Coral Moons, Frances Forever and Sudan Archives while postponing a few others and forcing attendees to run to their cars or find shelter. But in spite of a rough Saturday, Sunday went off without a hitch.
The Harvard athletic complex grounds were packed to the gills as soon as the gates opened at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday with the lines at the merchandise booth and food vendors snaking through the fields and the pop-up bars flooded with people.
Here are some of our favorite moments from Boston Calling 2022:
Black Pumas pumped much-needed energy back into the crowd early Saturday evening following the storm delay, with vocalist Eric Burton jumping off stage numerous times to shake hands with the front row crowd as the sun slowly poked out from behind the Green Stage. Each member of the band had stage presence, from guitarist and band co-leader Adrian Quesada ripping on the guitar to background vocalists Lauren Cervantes and Angela Miller encouraging the crowd to join in and sing along. The Grammy-nominated band (Best Rock Album in 2022) put together a setlist that featured “Fire” and “Colors,” a pair of hits from their 2019 self-titled album. “Touch the Sky” translated well to a live show, allowing Burton to show off his impressive vocal range.
Another set that was delayed due to lightning was EarthGang, and attendance suffered after the thunderstorms rolled in. Regardless, the Atlanta-bred Dreamville duo brought loads of energy to the Delta Airlines Blue Stage on Saturday night. EarthGang fans still gathered at the stage in front of the ferris wheel for hits like “BILLI” and “Proud of U.” Boston Calling didn’t have as many big-name hip-hop artists as usual in this year’s lineup, but EarthGang’s bubbling set helped pick up the slack.
Fresh off of a performance in Brooklyn, Madrid indie rockers, Hinds, put on for a raucous afternoon crowd on Saturday that was engaged for a set where thunderstorms were imminent. Colorful background visuals highlighted a performance that featured a handful of songs from their most recent album, The Prettiest Curse. They even covered The Clash’s “Spanish Bombs,” which the band members expressed great appreciation for given that the song is about their home country. The musical chemistry between lead singers/guitarists Carlotta Cosials and Ana García Perrote is noticeable even to those who aren’t dedicated Hinds fans.
Run the Jewels
Killer Mike and El-P’s often defiant lyrics and bass-heavy production play well for a large crowd, and they certainly had one as the sun set behind the Red Stage on Saturday night. One night ahead of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat, lifelong Knicks fan Killer Mike repeatedly taunted the crowd with support for the Heat due to having his heart broken by Larry Bird “too many times” in the ‘80s. A packed mosh pit was in full motion for RTJ’s set and an excess amount of smoke filled the air while the duo raced across the stage rapping back and forth.
Starting off with “Hash Pipe,” finishing up with “Buddy Holly” and even covering Nirvana’s “Lithium,” Rivers Cuomo and company gave fans what they desired. Cuomo noted it was a “dream come true” for Weezer to be playing a festival set ahead of Metallica, and it was clear the attendees were excited for the opportunity to see two legendary bands back to back. A giant illuminated, Weezer-stylized “W” logo hung above the band members as they ran through a stacked setlist that nearly any crowd member was surely able to sing along to.
“Ride the Lightning”
“The Memory Remains”
“Seek & Destroy”
“Holier Than Thou”
“Sad but True”
“Whiskey in the Jar”
“Wherever I May Roam”
“For Whom the Bell Tolls”
“Fade to Black”
“Master of Puppets”
“Nothing Else Matters”
It would’ve been nice for Boston Calling 2022 to have had their original headliners and not endure a two-hour severe weather delay. But although Saturday was a bit chaotic, Sunday was exactly what the return to Boston Calling deserved– a beautiful day as summer set in on New England.