Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Live Shows: Boston Calling, Harvard Athletic Complex, Allston, MA 5/25/24

Frank Turner
Photo by Taylor Hill Selects

Saturday's Boston Calling had a bit of a musical theme. Friday's "I Hate Boston" and "Good Tits, Big Heart" shirts were replaced with tie dye and cowboy hats (especially the free Miller Lite ones being handed out). The day was a bit more mellow with a country/folk/jam band sort of theme with some exceptions to the full day of music. Here are some of our highlights.

Senseless Optimism

Senseless Optimism had a tough crowd to win over, as she was mostly playing to Frank Turner and Trey Anastasio fans making sure they had a spot up front. She quickly won over the crowd with her unique style, and the fact that she's one of the most engaging live artists in Boston today. Her style encompasses so many different genres to make her sound that it almost works in every setting. It fit it smoothly enough for both the jam band fans and the folk-punkers to get into it. She also busted out a wildly unhinged cover of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" that sounded closer in spirit to The Stooges than the classic rock mainstays. It was the perfect way to kick off Saturday's festival.

Highwater Haulers

While preparing for the festival, I had been listening to a Boston Calling playlist on Spotify. I had never heard of Highwater Haulers previously, but after they popped up a few times I knew I wanted to check them out. They are described as a "cosmic rock and roll outfit," and I certainly can't argue that. They play a style that reminded me of when Drive-By Truckers focus more on the country side of their sound while keeping the punk and rock in place. Taylor Brennan played some of the most firey guitar solos of the festival, and certainly the most athletic. Highwater Haulers were one of the best discoveries of my weekend.


Cakeswagg has been one of those artists I know more by name than anything else, so I was excited to take a break from the country/folk theme and check out some hip hop. Joined by DJ WhySham, Cakeswagg took the stage with a group of background dancers and absolutely slayed the crowd. Her energy was unmatched, and had more than enough swagger and confidence to win over the crowd immediately. This was one of the most surprising sets of the weekend for me, and one that made me a fan within maybe thirty seconds of Cakeswagg taking the stage.

Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls

I've been a fan of Frank Turner's for years now. Some of his albums work better for me than others, but he's been consistently good to great for well over fifteen years. His live show is unmatched (Saturday was show number 2884 for Turner), and Saturday showed that it's been far too long since I've last seen him. There isn't a better frontman in all of folk-punk, and he's right up there in all of punk. His show demands audience participation, and he got it. You either join in with his show completely, or you get left behind. Towards the end of his set, and during "Photosynthesis" (which was the song I discovered him through), he got the crowd to make a large circle. If you had been to a punk show before, you knew what was coming up. He coaxed the audience into a circle pit, and with Frank Turner fans it was the fun kind. That energy kept up for the rest of his show, including Turner jumping into the audience to crowdsurf. He said he had one more show in Boston this year, and we'll be there.

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