Boston Calling 2024: Saturday

Must read

Day two of Boston Calling proved to be the weekend’s nostalgia trip—a slate of healing performances that cultivated community diversely and distinctly. The most memorable moments of the festival emerged as a result. 

Songs that Clear Skin: ToriTori

In a festival environment that can breed overstimulation, ToriTori supplied shelter. The local R&B treasure gifted her audience reimagined material from her latest EP Pocket Knife, enlisting dancers and an expanded band to magnify its many layers. From guitar-shredding anthemic rock outros, to extended feats of solo riffing from the supporting vocalists alongside her, ToriTori understood how to translate her art from page to Blue Stage. What grounded this growth in soundscape and scope were the organic moments of musicianship and humanity ever present in her intimate venue performances—the former when showcasing her compositional origins via a looping bassline on “Sundown,” and the latter when excitedly calling and waving to her friends and family in the crowd. (Oh, and the attention to detail by dressing every performer in royal blue to both match the Pocket Knife hue and pay homage to the color of the stage? No notes—ToriTori already sang them in multiple octaves.) – Eben Cook

The localmotive kept a’chugging at the Orange Stage, where indie rock band Paper Lady delivered a lethal, larger-than-life combination. The welcomed punches rained down, with lead vocalist Alli Raina spearheading the sparring unit. The gears to which each contributing member could shift on a dime enthralled an already abuzz audience, as they ping-ponged between lush textures and revved-up hard rock. To observe Raina float on “EVE” with an Alice Phoebe Lou-esque tenderness, and subsequently scream into her guitar as her bandmates unleashed a face-melting barrage of instrumentation on “Violet” left a lasting mark on a day that already had been, and would continue to be, surreal. – EC

Less Talk, More Play: Khruangbin

My God, what a privilege to have witnessed Khruangbin on the Green Stage. The Houston-based psychedelic funk trio wasted not a single second of their hour, diving straight into material off their latest LP A LA SALA and flawlessly interweaving older cuts into the fabric of the set. Many members of the crowd did not know what to expect when they showed up, but they glued their attention and swayed their hips as soon as the opening “Pon Pón” reverberated. Most Boston Calling performers engaged with their audiences through narration and storytelling between songs, yet Khruangbin merely needed drums, guitar, and bass to communicate with the utmost clarity. The trio was on a string all evening—the quintessence of chemistry alongside this year’s Celtics squad—and undoubtedly amassed onlookers through their tri-paneled window. – EC

Any attendee who sauntered over to the neighboring Red Stage at the conclusion of Khruangbin experienced uninterrupted wavelengths, as esteemed Pfish guitarist Trey Anastasio and the accompanying Classic TAB sustained the energy with the tightest psychedelic rock compositions. The set transported listeners to the last day of school in a coming-of-age flick—a shared recollection spanning all ages of the audience. Newcomers gelled with Pfishheads, Anastastio’s fingers an impenetrable riddle no matter how many times they’ve been eyeballed. Stage screen video revealed numerous staring contests between Anastasio and the dimming sky above—a firsthand glimpse into a divine offering channeled through an open vessel.

“Shout out to educators!’ While school is not quite out for the summer, New England band Highwater Haulers took over the Orange Stage at Boston Calling on Saturday and it was truly something worthy of the year books. Highwater Haulers pulls from old fashioned country music with a pop and sometimes punk twist.  Starting off the day on a high note, sun bright and the crowd hungry for live music. People in the back of the crowd singing and dancing arm in arm for the whole set made it feel like a late night country bar with live music. As fans danced their hearts away, the beers were not the only things sweating, the band pouring their soul into each song truly showing their love for what they do. Putting their all into this amazing performance seemed like light work as the tennis court Orange Stage resides on was vibrating with the energy this group was able to pull from their crowd as they performed songs from their debut album Puncher’s Chance.  – Jaliana Colon

Spiritual, Soul-Nourishing and a Blast to Music Past: Bad Rabbits

One set you definitely wouldn’t have wanted to miss was Boston’s very own Bad Rabbits. The absolute amazing energy this group gave off pulled the crowd in like moths to flame. Besides one other recent show, Bad Rabbits has not hit a stage since December, making this be their biggest comeback in a long while, truly taking in the statement “go big or go home”.  Between joking around during their songs, and taking time in between to talk with the crowd and get them moving, the absolut love for craft was outstanding to watch live. Even those who were waiting at Green Stage were joining in waving their arms to the beat and cheering on every soulful song that radiated from the Red Stage. With the amount of crowd engagement Bad Rabbits vocalist Dua Boakye was getting, even a request for a circle pit was light work, as fans pushed and shoved their way to make an opening in the crowd. Their setlist mainly consists of songs from their album Garden of Eden which came out back in October of 2023 and gives nostalgic 2000’s R&B vibes. If you were able to catch their set and allow yourself to fade into the music, raise a can of your drink of choice and sway to their song “In Love & Plane Crashes” consider yourself lucky. Hearing Dua sing to carry on was spiritual, soul nourishing and a blast to music past but in the best ways possible. – JC

Just Can’t Wait to Get Back on the Road Again: Ward Hayden and The Outliers

As the sun began to slowly dim on the edge of Harvard’s horizon, Ward Hayden and The Outliers from Scituate, brought a new era of country music to the Orange stage. Fans old and new flooded in as they kicked off their setlist by introducing themselves with a tip of the cowboy hat and a tune of their guitar. The setlist mainly consisted of songs from their album South Shore which dropped on May 5, 2023 and gives that hometown sitting around a campfire with a guitar feeling. From amazing fiddle solos, to each song coming with a quick backstory, even those who happened to stumble upon this lively group felt like they were a part of the band’s history. Later fans were even given a special treat after a heartfelt statement from Hayden about their newest member and bass player, Greg Hall who joined just before the pandemic back in 2020. Hayden recalled such a time by expressing how grateful he was for Hall who was eager to keep doing what he loved, making music. With Hall’s determination and encouragement, the band continued to make music and has released four albums since the pandemic, even after being pulled from their tour due to the countries shut down. With many thanks, Hayden took a step back and let Hall sing an amazing cover of Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again”, gaining a roaring ovation from the crowd as they sang along to Hall’s outstanding vocals. Throughout the performance, it was clear that Hall loved what he was doing, dancing on stage and interacting with the crowd. It was hard not to join in and dance your heart out. Truly a heartwarming set during a slowly cooling night. – JC

Like Whiskey and Fire: Jessie Murph 

Jessie Murph absolutely captivated the crowd as she headlined Blue Stage on Saturday. The Hip Hop Country music pulled in people from all over the festival as fans danced under the sunset. Amazing background visuals accompanied by pure passion behind her voice it was hard not to dance around with her on stage. As fans couldn’t help but shout as the first few chords of her iconic song “Cowboys and Angels”, the side stage screens showed nothing but Jessie smiling ear to ear as she looked out over her adoring crowd. Treating her fans to a few unreleased songs, she continues to shine brighter than the slowly appearing stars under the clear Boston sky. With a soulful and downright entertaining cover of Rhianna’s “S&M”, Jesse’s ability to pull in crowd engagement was stunning. Having everyone sing such an iconic classic it was easy to let the rest of the festival melt away for her hour long set. But what’s fun without a little emotion? As the music blared and the ferris wheel turned overhead, the crowd raised their glasses and as they took in her passionate live performance of her song “How Could You” from her 2023 album Drowning. As she and the crowd swayed and sang into the growing night, Jessie’s performance set up the other amazing acts that were yet to come.  – JC

More articles

Latest article