For the first time, I had the chance to go behind the scenes of one of the biggest music festivals: Boston Calling.
Boston’s streets are full of people passing by and heading off to work, school, or wherever the day leads them. This past weekend though, an unusual sound roared through the city-coming straight from Congress Street.
Boston Calling is unlike any other festival because it’s centered right in the middle of the city, next to the prominent Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall. There are only two stages, and instead of two bands playing simultaneously, the bands switch back and forth between stages. This allows the audience to hear every artist of the day.
The atmosphere was peaceful and all of the artists were so grateful. Contrary to a punk/metal show, members of the crowd simply enjoyed being there, and only passed along good vibes to one another.
Perks of having a press pass: absolutely everything. I had the chance to go behind the scenes-something I’ve never done before-and see the entire show from another point of view. I watched some of my favorite bands perform from the VIP section, passed the barrier in front of the rest of the crowd, and of course, made sure to document the whole festival.
Saturday’s lineup included both new and older bands such as Alt-J, Chvrches, Sturghill Simpson, and Walk the Moon. When Simpson took the stage, the crowd was euphoric, and swayed to the beat of his groovy, country sound. Simpson’s songs are the type of music you’d want to listen to while relaxing in the sun.
At 6 p.m., Walk the Moon brought the crowd to another world during their set. Lead singer Nicholas Petricca danced around the stage during the hits “Different Colors,” “Work This Body,” “Avalanche,” and “Up 2 U” off of their most recent album, Talking is Hard.
“Up 2 U” was probably the best performance, as Petricca jammed on the keyboard and belted out lyrics as the beat dropped. His voice electrifying, and each high note contained just enough power to jolt their own energy through the audience for an experience to remember.
To finish out their set, the band finished with their older hit “Anna Sun” and their top-charting single “Shut Up and Dance.” Petricca’s spirit didn’t falter throughout their set, encouraging everyone to sing along.
Between Saturday and Sunday, there was a consistent buzz of poisitivity between performers. Whether the artist was an “underground” band or a top selling performer, everyone at the event was down-to-earth.
Sunday was the most anticipated day of the weekend because of big-time artists like Alabama Shakes, Hozier, Nate Ruess, Ben Howard, and Misterwives. The day started off with small but incredible bands, including Daughter. Daughter, an indie-folk band from England, has only released EPs in the US. Lead singer, Elena Tonra, has a voice like no other that seemed to draw the crowd in. Her soft yet powerful demeanor made people more inclined to listen as she nervously sang hits off of their EPs, His Young Heart and The Wild Youth.
Halfway through their set, Tonra claimed that she was having a mental breakdown but the audience did not falter, applauding for her melodic tone. Most of Daughter’s songs have soft vocals and a hard bass drop, especially in their song “Youth.” The lyrics are so meaningful that if you don’t listen carefully enough, they could slip right by.
Tonra sang, “If you’re in love then you are the lucky ones, ’cause most of us are bitter over someone else.” The crowd was restless and taken aback for a moment to remember.
My favorite performance of the day was by Misterwives. Mandy Lee, lead singer, had an energetic and bubbly personality that traveled throughout the festival. Dissimilar to Daughter, Lee was loud and made sure her voice was heard.
“This is for everyone who doesn’t give a fine fuck about what others expect them to be,” Lee said before smashing into the song, “Hurricane.” The crowd that formed was one of the biggest crowds of the night as the band continued with songs “Not Your Way,” “Reflections,” and “My House.”
During their last song, Lee took a pair of drumsticks and was beating on the drums and running back and forth across the stage. For a moment, she stopped singing and was taken aback by the crowd. She was emotional and excited all at once, showing how thankful she was to be present at the festival.
Nate Ruess, former singer of the band Fun, was just as jumpy as Lee. He began his set with a few of his new songs, stopping to talk every now and then. Everyone awaited Ruess to bring back a song from Fun’s acclaimed album Some Nights. Ruess obliged, bringing back hits “We Are Young,” “Carry On,” and “Some Nights.”
The night continued with Ben Howard, and finally, Hozier. The space between both of the stages was completely filled before Hozier even approached the stage. He was definitely one of most highly anticipated artists of the weekend, simply because of how many people stayed to watch him perform.
Hozier walked out with his button-down and man bun seemingly un phased by the chaos his presence caused. He played a few songs from his EP From Eden, as well as hits from his self titled debut album that dropped last year. His Irish accent mixed with his soulful sound boomed over everyone’s heads creating an essence of another world.
He ended his set with the (well) overplayed hit single “Take Me to Church,” which both young and old members of the audience belted out with one another.
Alabama Shakes closed out the festival with lead singer/guitarist Brittany Howard’s flourishing voice. A majority of the crowd stuck around to watch the Shakes’ performance and even those who weren’t fans stayed simply because Howard’s voice drew them in.
During Shakes’ set, everyone had the chance to witness the “supermoon” solar eclipse that was set above Boston’s tallest buildings. The festival programmed the moon to be displayed over one of the giant screens for everyone in the crowd to see. Between Howard’s rock ‘n roll voice, the joy of the audience, and the moon above, the night ended on a magical note.