Boston Calling Music Festival returns after three years

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The wait is finally over, Boston Calling returned after three years away due to the pandemic and it was well worth the wait. It took place over Memorial Day weekend at Harvard Athletic Complex in Boston, MA. There was so much excitement buzzing around this lineup. Headliners included Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, and The Strokes. Unfortunately The Strokes had to opt out of the fest due to covid, so Nine Inch Nails took over again as the headliner on day 2 which was a treat for the fans who only got Saturday admission. Even with The Strokes not being able to make it, it didn’t put a damper at all on how the weekend went in Boston. Boston Calling has been known for their stellar lineups and stellar atmosphere each year. It is definitely a festival you want to be at and one that will make your friends jealous if they don’t go. And boy did they miss out this year if they didn’t go. Have no fear though, if you missed out this year we got you covered with all the sights and info and our favorite sets from Boston Calling 2022!

Day One 

Paris Jackson

Day one of the fest got off to a fantastic start thanks to Paris Jackson herself kicking off Friday’s jam packed lineup. Paris put on a spectacular set to an ever growing crowd who seemed so excited to see her. Paris brought the energy to her set despite it being one of the first sets of the long day ahead. She played some of her classics like “Scorpio Rising”, “Eyelids”, and “Lost”. The crowd was loving every minute of her set and seemed to want even more. It was a great setlist with a mixture of songs from her new projects as well as some of her older ones as well. Even if you were just there not as a fan you would have soon become one, Paris just has that effect. It was an amazing start to the day.

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Avril Lavigne

It felt like we were all in middle school again, getting to hear Avril Lavigne sing classics like “Sk8er Boi”, “Complicated”, “Girlfriend”, and “I’m With You”. It was truly a trip down memory lane. You just had to be there to fully witness it. Avril drew probably one of the largest crowds of the night besides the headliner, and respectfully so as she put on one hell of a show. From the giant orange balls being thrown around the crowd, to the full on nostalgia of her entire set, Avril really brought her all to Boston. There was even a surprise appearance from Mod Sun who came out to sing their song “Flames” together, it was such a sweet moment and one the crowd was not expecting. It was one of the most memorable sets from the fests three day weekend for sure.

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Pom Pom Squad

Pom Pom Squad were another standout from day one. Even though they played an early set they still drew quite the crowd and everyone there was truly vibing to their set. They played a handful of songs like “Drunk Voicemail” and “Head Cheerleader” off of their critically acclaimed album Death of a Cheerleader. Frontwoman Mia Berrin was electric and the crowd was loving her energy. It was the perfect set to start off your day if this was the first set you were seeing. They put on a fantastic show and someone you definitely want to keep on your radar.

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The Struts

Not to be confused with The Strokes, Britain’s own, The Struts put on a stellar show to an eager midday crowd. The band displayed a giant British flag as their backdrop , just incase you didn’t know they were British. They played a handful of songs from Everybody Wants and Young and Dangerous to the crowds delight. They even brought out Paris Jackson to sing “Low Key In Love” with them, which was a pleasant surprise. The band drew quite a crowd for having a set midday when there was already a lot of action going on. Everyone was loving every minute of their set with people going up on their friends shoulders and clapping along to the songs. It was a blast had by many and surely a set to remember.

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HAIM

The iconic sisters of HAIM were another highlight of day one at Boston Calling. They played a majority of their songs in the set from their latest album Women in Music Pt II, which is a stellar work of art from them. They also played classics from Days Are Gone. Rounding out their set with a total of 11 songs with “Summer Girl”. The girls had such an electric stage presence and definitely know how to put on a spectacular show. If you missed their set you defiantly are regretting it now.

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Nine Inch Nails

The headliner for Friday (and also Saturday) blew the non existent roof off the place. Nine Inch Nails know how to please a crowd. And boy were they all in for a treat. The band played a total of 21 songs including a majority of them from The Downward Spiral. They had a various mix of songs from pretty much all of their discography which was cool to see. Even throwing in a cover of a David Bowie song “I’m Afraid of Americans”, before closing out the set with a bang with “Hurt”. Their light show and stage presence was unmatched. There couldn’t have been a better way to end night one of Boston Calling. And for those who missed their set on day one could see them again on night two, so it was a win win.

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Day two

Orville Peck

Day two was another jam packed day which unfortunately got cut a bit short due to severe weather conditions that forced everyone to evacuate the premises until the storm passed. Luckily it wasn’t for too long but some sets were cut completely and some shorter due to it. But no one let a little rain stop them from still having fun for the rest of the day.  Orville Peck kicked off the first set after the evacuation and he did not disappoint. Playing songs like “Any Turn” and “Lafayette” off of his newly released album Bronco to the crowds delight. It was like being at a rodeo but in the middle of Boston. He sure brought the cowboy energy to the city and the crowd was loving it.

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Van Burren Records

Among the many local acts to Boston, Van Burren Records had to be one of the best out there. They are no strangers to Boston as they hail from Brockton and have been making a name for themselves not only in the city of Boston but also worldwide. The band formed in 2014, with their name inspired by the gang in Seinfeld — has made their proper debut with their 2021 album Bad for Press. The 13-track release showcases the collective’s brilliant and natural chemistry as a band. They also released their EP Black Wall Street in 2021 to immense praise and admiration. Now they played one of their biggest stages at Boston Calling and they did not disappoint. Playing hits like “Medic”, and “Braindead” from Bad For Press and “CULT” and “FINGERPRINTS” from Black Wall Street. They brought all the energy to their set that day and the crowd was eating it all up. You had to be there to truly witness greatness.

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Earth Gang

High energy hip hop duo Earth Gang brought the heat to Boston Calling in the early evening. Hailing originally from Atlanta the duo is composed of Olu (aka Johnny Venus) and WowGr8 (aka Doctur Dot – born Eian Parker). The duo formed in 2008, and released their first EP, The Better Party, in 2010, which was followed by many singles and two mixtapes, Mad Men and Good News in 2011. In 2013, the duo released their debut album Shallow Graves For Toys to immense praise. In early 2022 they would release their most recent album Ghetto Gods. The duo would play a majority of their songs at Boston Calling from that album to the fans delight, as well as a few classics from their older projects. Earth Gang brought the Atlanta soul and funk to Boston for a groovy night under near perfect conditions. What better could you ask for.

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Day three

OOMPA

Day three kicked off early with a bang with OOMPA taking center stage. OOMPA is another great local artist from Roxbury, MA. She is both a poet and a rapper who makes some of the catchiest music in the scene. She has been such a strong force in the city of Boston ever since she dropped her debut project November 3rd in 2016. Since that release, she has released numerous songs about survival that have given her national acclaim. She has made countless hits like like “Lebron” and “By You.” Her second album “Cleo,” came out in 2019. In 2021, she released her latest album “Unbothered” to critical acclaim. OOMPA was super excited ahead of performing at Boston Calling and you could tell in her energetic stage presence. Backed by a few backup dancers and friends she brought out on stage it was a fun time had by all in attendance, and a moment OOMPA soon won’t forget that’s for sure. Definitely a big highlight of day 3.

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Japanese Breakfast 

Japanese Breakfast stole the stage on day 3 with a mesmerizing and energetic set. Frontwoman Michelle Zauner brought the energy to Boston Calling and fans and causal watchers were loving every minute of it. The band first got started in 2013 as a DIY side project. They would release their first studio album Psychopomp in 2016. The critical acclaim from that record would get them signed by the Dead Oceans record label. Soft Sounds From Another Planet was their second album release in 2017. Their most recent album and one of their best to date is Jubilee in 2021. Japanese Breakfast played a majority of their set with songs from Jubilee including “Be Sweet”, “Paprika”, and “Kokomo, IN”. Michelle praised the Boston crowd for always bringing their best energy to their shows and it was evident at this set for sure. Japanese Breakfast always know how to put on a fantastic show and this might have been one of their best in Boston yet.

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Glass Animals

United Kingdom’s own Glass Animals blew the metaphorical roof off the place at their Boston Calling set. Glass Animals consists of singer, songwriter, and producer Dave Bayley, the group also features his childhood friends Joe Seaward, Ed Irwin-Singer and Drew MacFarlane. The band first formed in 2010 and released their debut album Zaba in 2014. The indie rockers brought the “heat waves” to the crowd with one of the most energetic sets of the day. Playing classics from their most recent album Dreamland, along with songs from their older albums as well. It was a midday classic set that had the crowd up and dancing off their feet almost the entire time. That’s what Glass Animals will do for you. They of course played one of their biggest hits “Heat Waves” to the crowds delight with everyone screaming back all of the lyrics to the band. It was an electric moment. Glass Animals know how to bring the energy to a performance and that they did at Boston Calling.

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Festival Atmosphere

The atmosphere is always electric at Boston Calling every year but this year felt different, in a good way of course. It was probably due to the fact that the festival had been away for three years due to the ongoing pandemic. People truly missed Boston Calling and festivals in general and you could tell that with the energy and love they brought to each set every day, no matter who it was or no matter what the weather was like. Even during the evacuation put in place during the thunderstorms on day two, not one person let that ruin their mood and people made the most out of it all. The energy was a constant on all three days of the festival, it never seemed to die down and festival goers were as eager as ever throughout the weekend. Not only was the music lineup phenomenal but so was the food and drink lineup as well. There were more than 30 all star food vendors including Tasty Burger, Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, and The Chicken and Rice Guys, just to name a few stand outs. For drinks you had Miller lite, Sam Adams, and Truly just to name a few. You had endless options at Boston Calling and that’s what makes it such a great all around festival. We had such a great time at this years fest and we can hardly wait for 2023’s fest!

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