Walking into Havard’s Athletic Complex on Friday for the return of Boston Calling Music Festival’s 2022 edition felt like waking up from a bad dream. After the cancellation of the festival in 2020 and 2021 due to the global pandemic that changed the world, the festival had returned in all of its musical splendor. The layout and appearance of the grounds were similar to pre-pandemic versions, with a few small changes including the addition of the Orange Tivoli Stage and the moving of the now iconic ferris wheel to the Blue Stage. And despite the lack of onsite vendors slinging out free merchandise (as compared to years prior) the food options were both plentiful and delicious. The music lineup was diverse as usual for the festival, always keeping fans on their toes for their next pleasant or unexpected surprise.
Day one highlights included Paris Jackson kicking things off. Her grungy look was a complimentary contrast to her angelic voice and made for a great slow intro to the day ahead as fans entered the complex. Alternative artist Grandson tore up the Green Stage with his powerful and emotional performance getting the crowd going with his intense energy. The Struts also performed on day one. The british rock band is known for always putting on a great show, and they did not disappoint, interacting with the crowd and amping up the excitement. Cheap Trick brought us some classic rock for the day with a fun filled set complete with handfuls of guitar picks tossed to the fans. Pop rock trio HAIM returned to the festival for their second time, with a much more engaging set than the one they delivered prior including switching instruments and a choreographed dance routine. Avril Lavigne was a huge draw for fans and she delivered a flawless performance that brought me right back to the early 2000’s. Headliner Nine Inch Nails delivered a legendary strobe and fog filled set, delivering a mix of favorites from “The Downward Spiral” peppered with other material from their extensive catalog of hits. Making this 90’s grunge girl’s heart very happy.
Day two came with multiple challenges for the festival. After Friday’s announcement that headliner The Strokes had to pull out due to a positive covid case, Nine Inch Nails stepped in for another set filling the empty slot. While many fans were upset by the change, others (including myself) were happy to be able to catch not one but two sets by the industrial rock legends. In addition to the lineup change, the day was also temporarily sidelined as a massive thunderstorm and downpours rolled in mid-day forcing the festival to evacuate and shut down for a short time due to safety concerns. Despite the pitfalls of the day there still were some great highlights including local artist Julie Rhodes who put on a powerful opening performance. Charlotte Sands appealed to pop punk fans delivering an fun filled energetic set that got the crowd pumped for the day ahead. As the storm clouds rolled in, multitalented artist Celisse owned the stage with her powerful personality and stunning vocals. Just after the festival gates were reopened and fans poured back into the complex a masked Orville Peck rocked the crowd with his alt/country sound bringing life back to the dampened crowd. Run The Jewels, a forever favorite in Boston returned to the festival for the third time and did not disappoint, riling festival goers into a frenzy before Nine Inch Nails owned the stage for a second time.
Day three delivered sunny skies for another fun filled day. The crowd on day three for legendary headliner, Metallica was possibly the largest in the festival’s history. Japanese Breakfast was an early highlight of the day. Followed by a great performance by rock band Modest Mouse. Jam band Ripe put on the most fun, funky and energetic set of the day that had everyone dancing in the crowd. Glass Animals also had a huge draw of fans, delivering their viral hit Heat Waves to hungry fans who sang along. Weezer performed for their second time at the festival and killed it once again. Metallica’s headlining set was nothing short of incredible. The massive crowd of fans packed into the grounds like sardines to catch the rock legends perform in a festival setting.
Despite the challenges presented to the festival for their return, the weekend was nothing short of incredible as per usual. They adapted in stride to things that were out of their control and ultimately delivered a delicious lineup of an incredible variety of genres and soundsl. I can’t wait to see what Boston Calling has in store for us in 2023.
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