Lots of festivals got hit hard by COVID cancellations, from SXSW to Coachella, but one hit particularly badly was Boston Calling, as it was forced to suspend for not one, but two years, as it occurs on Memorial Day Weekend (to get those college kids before they leave for the summer). But in 2022 it came back, Friday-Sunday, May 27th-29th, only to lost most of its headliners, rain delay, acts cancelling due to COVID, and more.
Yet the event was a success, well-run (even when evacuating & reopening), great music (even with last-minute fill-ins), and much more.
After the rain of Saturday, it was a beautiful Sunday at Boston Calling, sunny, but not overly hot. The grounds were a little damp, but pretty good considering the storm the day before. And it was the biggest crowd of the festival, between it being the Sunday of a long weekend, no rain forecast, and Metallica.
Some of that crowd managed to head over to the small Orange Stage for Boston’s own Paper Tigers, who even had a mosh pit by the end of their set. And during the easy, breezy day was a nice setting for the very nice Cults on the Green Stage. The appealing band was easy to like.
Sometimes, certain acts book a string of festivals at just the right time, when they’ve got a breakthrough record and a whole new level fame. This year, that has been Japanese Breakfast, who came to the Blue Stage behind Jubilee (QRO review) – and closing out the season of Saturday Night Live the weekend prior. Indeed, it was kind of early for an artist that’s gotten this big, but they were lovely sounds (gong included) at this bright time of day. Michelle Zauner & co. were in fine form, not just her loving playing, not just her band loving playing, but her loving her band playing, like when QRO favorite Adam Schatz killed it on saxophone.
Some of that crowd managed to head by the Orange Stage for the Sublime-esque reggae-rock of Crooked Coast – but it appeared that Modest Mouse’s Red Stage set ended early. Having the tough job of playing the Green Stage before Metallica was Glass Animals. Admittedly, their upbeat electro-dance might not have been the choice for the many, many people there wearing Metallica t-shirts (perhaps only The Misfits have more people wearing the t-shirt of the act that’s playing), but they were enjoyable, not as bass-heavy or hard like most EDM.
More fitting to go with the headliner was the act right before them on the next door Red Stage, Weezer. Indeed, frontman Rivers Cuomo noted who was up next, and that while his own band had been covering Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” on tour, this time wouldn’t “tempt it.” Instead, they covered a contemporary of theirs, Nirvana’s iconic “Lithium”, and still did their now-classic cover of Toto’s “Africa”. Oh, and they did some of their own great songs, thankfully leaning towards their nineties heyday like “My Name Is Jonas”, but also the brand-new “Little Bit of Luck”.
And there was much singing along by the crowd – not just to the old classics & covers, but even more recent singles like “Pork and Beans”. One could certainly hear the sing-alongs, because the low sound level of the Red Stage continued, hampering the enjoyment of this band that rocks. But special note to seeing Japanese Breakfast in the VIP, as it’s always great to see a young act catch one of the older acts that they grew up with (Schatz was certainly rocking along, while Zauner was taken up with fans asking for selfies).
There were no volume issues for Metallica, closing out Boston Calling ’22 at the Green Stage. “I think we’ve established that we have some loud Metallica fans here!” All of Boston could hear the band that kind of embodies the classic phrase, “They rock.” And as much as that is true, one shouldn’t overlook the band’s engagement up there, not too-cool-for-school but instead, “Extremely grateful to be up here, after 41 years, to be doing exactly what we’re supposed to be doing.”
Even if you’re not into Metallica, it’s easy to be into live Metallica. Of note was their impressive use of big screens behind them (and fire – Beavis & Butthead would love this), essential for a show & crowd their size, showing not just the band, but use for imagery such as that of WWI soldiers for “One”. And then singer/guitarist James Hetfield could flip to asking if there were Metallica songs the crowd didn’t like, or noting that at a recent Brazilian show someone had had a baby, so if someone was going to have a baby here, go to the medic, “And if you want to make babies, go over here…” “Some dad humor,” Hetfield sheepishly admitted – before going into the anything-but-sheepish classic, “Sad But True”.
-photos: Boston Calling / Active Coverage