Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Live Shows: Boston Calling, Harvard Athletic Complex, Allston, MA 5/24/24

Photo credit: Boston Calling, Alive Coverage

Boston Calling is New England's largest music festival, drawing forty thousand music fans from all over for three days of music. This was surprisingly my first year attending Boston Calling, and there is simply too much for one post, so we're breaking it down day by day. Here are my highlights from day one!

Madi Diaz

We've been fans of Madi Diaz for a while, so it was great to see the Nashvile singer-songwriter live for the first time. I was also unaware that she spent time in Boston, and she talked about living ten blocks from the venue. Taking the Green Stage with her guitar and only accompanied by a drummer, Diaz was the perfect way to start off my day with her upbeat mix of indie rock, singer-songwriter fare, and pop. I was also pleasantly surprised by how much of her music the crowd knew. I tend to live in my musical bubble, unaware of what's popular or not, and Diaz is much more well known than I thought. 

The Wolff Sisters

The Wolff Sisters opened up the Orange (aka local) Stage, and I was thrilled to finally see them. The trio of actual sisters were playing with a bass player and a drummer, and I had unusually high expectations for them. The well exceeded any expectations I had. It definitely helped that they had a large number of fans in attendance to help build the excitement. The Wolff Sisters played a thirty minute set of folk, country, and folk-rock songs that were an absolute delight. I've been a fan for years, but this set will insure that I make seeing them again a priority.

Ric Wilson

One of the nice things about a festival like Boston Calling is that you get to see artists you probably wouldn't otherwise. Ric Wilson is an artist I would never seek out, but I wandered over to the Allianz Blue Stag to catch his set after The Wolff Sisters. The Chicago dance/electronic/hip hop artist is a dynamic performer, and I was almost instantly sucked in. Wilson has an almost supernatural charisma which had the audience hanging on every moment of his set. Even a story about hanging out in Boston at a restaurant that sold three dollar margaritas was compelling. Boston Calling can give us a chance to step out of our musical comfort zones, and when I can discover an artist like Ric Wilson, that's a great thing.


I hadn't seen JVK for almost two years. Back then, they were playing a nearly empty News Cafe with Tysk Tysk Task, and even under those conditions they flat out gave it their all and played like they were rocking an arena. Friday night they rocked the Orange Stage, and quite simply blew the crowd away. They have a unique style that mixes hard rock, punk, indie rock, and pop that is just made for playing a large stage. Jo Krieger is one of the most dynamic frontpeople in Boston, and the band plays like veterans that have been doing it for decades and not just a few years. As much as I'd like to have seen JVK in between August 2022 and Friday night, seeing how much they've grown in that time was amazing. I'm expecting a repeat trip to Boston Calling at a much larger stage in the near future.


Boston rapper kei closed out the Orange Stage Friday night. I saw her play a brief set at the 2022 Boston Music Awards and was instantly hooked. Hell, the entire audience was instantly hooked by her live show. At Boston Calling, she brought a DJ, drummer, guitarist, and back-up dancers to obliterate the stage, which she did. It was perfectly orchestrated chaos on stage, especially when guests like Clark D joined her. It's amazing seeing someone at such an early stage of her career have such charisma and confidence on stage, but that's just kei. If anyone in the Boston hip hop scene is poised to make a huge national splash in the next few years, it's definitely her. Get ready for her headlining set in 2027.

Leon Bridges

I was a huge fan of Leon Bridges 2015 debut album Coming Home. It seems like I blinked and he went from playing Great Scott and Royale to Agganis Arena. I didn't catch all of the neo-soul star's set on the Happy Valley Red Stage, but what I saw was transcendent. Even playing in front of tens of thousands of people, it somehow felt like a much more intimate performance than it was. I was personally happy that he did go back to Coming Home at times, and the crowd seemed to also know the earlier songs, too. My only complaint (which is weird for a music festival) is that the sound was too low. I was able to weasel my way fairly close to the stage, and still had to contend with a chatty crowd.

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