As a Bostonian, I can speak on behalf of the whole city when I say that we take our music seriously. From house shows in Allston to your new indie favorite at the House of Blues to the current biggest sensation at The Garden, live music is everywhere. So when Emerson College’s radio station, WERS 89.9, announced that they were hosting a small music festival, Wicked Good Fest, everyone was buzzing about it. It had some great Boston-based bands on the lineup like Air Traffic Controller, but the band that really drew crowds was Bleachers. As the August 18th date approached, excitement grew, but so did anxiety: the weather forecast predicted high temperatures and heavy rain. Regardless, the show went on.
Unfortunately, I missed out on the first two acts due to a delay on the green line. But, it’s not a day in Boston without the MBTA ruining your travel. I arrived just in time to see Air Traffic Controller’s performance, which was incredibly fun, lively, and had the whole crowd dancing. They’re an indie-pop band hailing from Boston, so most people were at least remotely familiar with them. Their hits “Hurry, Hurry” and “You Know Me” (both off of 2009 album NORDO) echoed throughout the Boston Commons as more and more festival-goers arrived.
Air Traffic Controller
Even when the bands weren’t playing, there was a lot to do. After ATC’s set, I wandered over to the locally-famous Roxy’s Grilled Cheese truck and got a three-cheese grilled cheese with some truffle oil tater tots. It wasn’t cheap, but it was so worth it. Additionally, there was a kids’ area, various tents for nonprofits, and lots of free merch.
Following ATC was Juliana Hatfield, another Boston-based musician, mostly known for her roles in the bands Blake Babies and The Lemonheads. I wasn’t too familiar with Hatfield’s work prior to her set, but as soon as she took the stage I fell in love with her guitar skills and unique voice. Her set wasn’t as high energy as Air Traffic Controller’s, but it was nonetheless incredibly entertaining. Seeing such a versatile Bostonian musician was certainly a treat.
As Juliana’s set came to a close, the storm clouds rolled in and the sky opened up. The rain was a relief from the almost unbearable heat we’d been battling through all day. Nobody seemed to mind the rain too much and most of the crowd stayed put. A little rain never deterred us Bostonians, and the show went on.
The rain finally began to let up after about 45 minutes, and Buffalo Tom took the stage. I had heard nothing but great things of these alt-rockers (once again from Boston), so I was anxious to see their set. About a minute into their first song, I could tell they wouldn’t disappoint. Frontman Bill Janovitz, 52, was rocking like a kid in a garage band and held nothing back. I can honestly say that Buffalo Tom’s set was one of the most pleasantly surprising sets I’ve experienced.
Finally, the time everyone was waiting for arrived: Bleachers’s set. Boston had been buzzing since their October set at the House of Blues, and we’ve eagerly awaited their return. Saying that they didn’t disappoint is an understatement. Jack Antonoff came bounding on to the stage in a white tank top, white shorts, and a massive grin. The band launched into “Goodmorning” followed by “Shadow” and “Wild Heart.” Although Bleachers’s last performance in Boston was incredible, their set this time was even better. Their energy and happiness seemed infinite, and after a long day of waiting in the heat and rain, seeing the headlining band was a triumph.
Overall, Wicked Good Fest was a major success. The music, food, and atmosphere was all-around incredible, and I can certainly say that Boston is looking forward to having a wicked good time at the next Wicked Good Fest.