Thursday, May 30, 2024

Live Shows: Boston Calling, Harvard Athletic Complex, Boston, MA 5/26/24

Tysk Tysk Task
Photo by Ken Sears

Friday and Saturday night were one thing, but Sunday was an entirely different animal. The trains heading into Harvard Square were completely packed, and the areas in front of the Red and Green stages were full before a single note was played. The quadruple threat of The Killers, Hozier, Meghan Thee Stallion, and Chappell Roan were the reason. I'm typically great at weaseling my way through crowds without being too obnoxious about it. Friday night I was able to get relatively close to Leon Bridges halfway through his set, and Saturday I ended up about five people back for Frank Turner about twenty minutes before he went on. However, Sunday it was nearly impossible to get near either of the main stages unless you got there hours early. There was still a lot to see and enjoy, and here are my highlights of the day!

Tysk Tysk Task

I'm sure it comes as no surprise that I loved Tysk Tysk Task's set opening up the Orange stage for the day. The Lowell woodland grunge quartet went all out for the biggest show of their time as a band, and the stage was fully decked out with various faux plants. And they absolutely killed it. The band was very obviously having fun on stage, and were all smiles for their thirty minute time slot in front of a packed crowd. There are just times you watch a band you love become rock stars before your eyes, and this was one of those times. They even inspired a rare Boston Calling mosh pit towards the end of their set. It was just a few years ago that I saw Tysk Tysk Task thrilled to be playing in front of twenty paying customers. It's great to see how much they've grown since then.

Billy Dean Thomas

Billy Dean Thomas had one of the toughest timeslots to be playing. They were up against Chappell Roan, who had the biggest buzz of the entire festival by far. I didn't catch their entire set, but they had a full band backing them up to make their live show even more intense. It was more of a rap rock sound than their typical pure hip hop style. With an artist like Thomas, you never quite know what you're going to get, and this was an unexpected thrill. I wish I could have caught the entire set, but...

Chappell Roan

Chappell Roan is one of those artists that isn't my normal style. It's a much more mainstream pop sound than I typically enjoy, but I felt like I needed to check her out to see what all the fuss was about. She was simply amazing. For an artist with only one studio album out to have enough confidence and charisma to play in front of tens of thousands of music fans at the level she did is astounding. It was like watching a veteran with decades of experience instead of an up and coming artist. The crowd was fully behind Roan, screaming along to every word and dancing an absolute storm for the entire hour long set. Don't be surprised if Chappell Roan is headlining in the next few years.


Unfortunately not a lot of people made it down to the Blue stage on Sunday, possibly because of the four monster acts on the other end of the festival grounds. That was good for me as I was able to get a good spot for Blondshell. It wasn't quite as intimate of a space as when I last saw her at The Middle East Upstairs, but Sabrina Teitelbaum was able to make it not feel like a giant festival stage, either. She just has such an easygoing and 90's slacker style delivery and stage persona that you just kind of feel like it's more of an intimate performance despite how big it was. Even having thousands scream out lyrics instead of two hundred just made the performance more fun.


I'm embarrassingly late to the Alvvays party, but did everyone else know that they're amazing? They're just one of those bands that I know of, and I know that they're great, but I just never quite took the time to become a huge fan of. That all changed Sunday night when they closed out the Blue stage. Alvvays might have been the highlight of the entire festival, and anyone who didn't choose them over Hozier missed out. Their version of guitar based indie pop is meant to be heard live in front of an adoring crowd. They had the most fun set of the night as the crowd danced for the entire hour they played. And of course a couple got engaged during "Archie, Marry Me," which I'm pretty sure happens at every one of their shows at this point. 

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