In my time at Boston Calling, I talked to people from as nearby as Canton, and far away as Los Angeles. For a festival that stresses its diversity, it had it in spades. Across the sprawling Harvard Athletic campus, three stages were set up, playing more or less consecutively throughout the weekend. Everything from Pup’s energetic punk, to Weezer’s more mellowed out, singalong-friendly set, there was music all day.
Something about live music gives it a quality unlike any other. For every person in the audience, the music will have a different meaning. But no matter what, it will have touched and impacted every single person differently. Once you’re there in the crowd, you’re part of something greater, and there’s a feeling that everyone is in this together. For as much as I love the variety of shows that you can see on Youtube, you can’t beat the feeling of being in a crowd like the one I saw at Run the Jewels.
This is my second year going to Boston Calling. Last year’s venue, City Hall Plaza, had its own flavor. No music festival in the world was as close to the city, and as intimate. But in order to grow, Boston Calling had to expand. They added an extra stage, more vendors, and even a Ferris wheel towering over the crowd. One thing I’ve come to appreciate about music festivals is that it’s a shared experience. For one reason or another, everyone at the venue was there for the music. Some would be there for Chance the Rapper, some would be there for Tool, and many for some combination of bands that’s almost too many to list.
It seemed fitting Tool closed out this year’s iteration of the festival. As someone with an avid interest in heavy metal, the band has always been on my radar, but I can’t say that I ever listened to them in any real in-depth way. In fact, I only knew a handful of songs. I’d planned on staying for a little while in the set, snap a few photos, before making the trek back through the festival grounds, over the Charles River, then winding through the ever-crowded Harvard Square. However, I approached the crowd, and took up position, I found that I really didn’t want to leave. I found myself entranced by the band’s moody and atmospheric sound, and the visual soundscape really complimented the evening. I found something new that I really enjoyed, and I wanted more of it. I hope that people who go to the festival had a similar feeling.
After the attack in Manchester, I began to wonder how this would affect people’s perception of live music. Would people be scared of going out, and experiencing live music? However, it became clear to me that no matter what, the show would go on. People from different backgrounds, races, ethnicities, and appearances had all turned out at the festival. There was Miller Lite, Angry Orchard, cans of soda, and plenty of bottled water. Pixie pink hair, mohawks, crew cuts, and afros. Shared bathrooms, shared excessively long lines for food, and shared muddy sneakers. Everyone seemed like they were having a great time. In a lot of ways, it felt like the world’s biggest backyard jam session.
Live music is a shared experience, and is one that I’m thankful I get to have. I’m very lucky that I get to go to concerts in writing for Mass Media. If you get the opportunity to, I highly recommend going to Boston Calling next year. If this year’s festival is a sign of things to come, this is one you’ll want to be a part of.