Boston Calling Brings All Ages, Over 50 Bands, and Live Debut

Boston Calling celebrated its 12th incarnation last weekend (May 26-28) at Harvard Athletic Complex in the Allston neighborhood of Boston. Headlined by the ubiquitous Foo Fighters, Paramore, Alanis Morissette, and The Lumineers, over 50 artists performed to 40,000 mostly-pleased fans. Unless the Pats, Sox, Bruins and Celtics win it all in the same year, there is bound to be a furrowed brow somewhere. Also, no three-day rock fest will be without its hiccups. In this case it included some sporadic sound issues, long lines for merch, and lack of water stations. But one last-minute curveball ended up being a huge hit. When the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were forced to cancel at the last minute due to singer Karen O catching a nasty bug, organizers replaced the New York art punkers with local darlings, The Dropkick Murphys.
Dropkick Murphys - Boston Calling 2023
It was the Celtic punk rock group's first foray into a Boston Calling, an omission that should be permanently rectified moving forward as the group won the jubilant crowd over from the opening bagpipe strains that segued perfectly into the anthem, "The Boys Are Back."
Foo Fighters closed the opening night with a 20-song set in their second show with new drummer Josh Freese. Dave Grohl welcomed his daughter, Violet, up on stage for "Shame Shame" and "Rope." Continuing the youth brigade, Taylor Hawkins' son, Oliver Shane, filled his fallen father's hi-tops by playing drums on "I'll Stick Around."
Foo Fighters setlist - Boston Calling
The National guitarist Aaron Dessner has been one of the co-curators of Boston Calling going back to its inception. The Grammy-winning NYC band has performed every year of the fest and this year was no different. A quarter of its set was gleaned from their latest offering, First Two Pages of Frankenstein.
The National - Boston Calling 2023
Saturday night the capacity crowd were treated to two complete albums by two very different acts. The Flaming Lips brought their own brand of psychedelia to the stage by playing the entirety of their 2002 classic, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. The Oklahomans are touring the nation while honoring the album's 20th anniversary, but typically they'll add about a dozen tunes from their deep catalogue. In Harvard Stadium they only played "She Don't Use Jelly" and two others, due to their short time slot.
The Flaming Lips - Boston Calling 2023
Alanis Morissette performed her 1995 smash Jagged Little Pill from beginning to end and then played a few more to the delight of the Gen Xers in the audience - some who arrived with their teenage kids.
Alanis Morissette - Boston Calling 2023
The Lumineers wrapped up the second night by giving those same Gen Xers a treat by placing "Ho Hey" as the third song on the set, a relief for those who wanted to cut out early. Those who made it to the middle of the set got to hear folk/rocker Noah Kahan join the band to cover Jason Isbell's "If We Were Vampires."
The Lumineers - Boston Calling 2023
Sunday was highlighted by breakout star Genesis Owusu jumping into the crowd on "Black Dogs!" as the enthusiastic audience chanted his name.
Genesis Owusu - Boston Calling 2023
Not long after him, the teen pandemic phenoms, The Linda Lindas, won everyone over with their quirky stage banter and fresh brand of riot grrrl punk which included a cover of the Go-Go's deep cut, "Tonite."
The Linda Lindas - Boston Calling 2023
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard had to cancel last year's apparence, but last weekend jokingly assured the crowd that they still have COVID. Then they proceeded to unleash some modern metal. Under the veil of night, the band live debuted "Converge" from their forthcoming LP with the wildest title so far this century: PetroDragonic Apocalypse; Or, Dawn Of Eternal Night: An Annihilation Of Planet Earth And The Beginning Of Merciless Damnation. Ask for it by name.
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard at Boston Calling 2023
Paramore closed the show with a blistering 19-song set. Sprinkled among their hits the band added asides from some of their favorite tunes growing up. "Rose-Colored Boy" was accented by moments from Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody," "Hard Times" featured a taste of Blondie's "Heart of Glass," and "Told You So" included a tiny tribute to Tina Turner with a smidge of "What's Love Got to Do With It."
Paramore setlist - Boston Calling
See more setlists from Boston Calling 2023 here.
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Queens of the Stone Age - Boston Calling 2023

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Last updated: 26 Sep 2023, 08:19 Etc/UTC