Arts, Off Campus

Boston Calling Day 2: Festival Flourishes Despite Rain Delays

Instead of flooding toward the stage, festival-goers were flooding the exits when Boston Calling Music Festival attendees were asked to evacuate the Harvard Athletic Complex amid severe weather warnings around 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. As people herded down the cobblestone sidewalks of Cambridge toward Harvard Square, it started to downpour. 

Music fans huddled in cafes, stores, and archways around Harvard Square and were ready to stream back to the festival gates when organizers announced that gates would reopen at 5:30 p.m. and the music would resume at 6 p.m. 

Right on schedule, the skies miraculously cleared for a sweeping sunset that shone across the large stages, and the speakers once again blasted music.

(Boston Calling / Alive Coverage)

Run The Jewels Struggles to Capture Crowd With Middling Hip-Hop Set

Queen’s “We Are the Champions” and the sound of shoes squelching on the damp turf rang out as people flocked toward the red stage for a performance by hip-hop duo Run The Jewels, composed of rappers El-P and Killer Mike. With angular chandelier pieces hanging overhead and bright sets of lights flashing, the pair opened its set with the song “Ju$t.” 

After the first song, El-P checked in with the audience to ask if the music and vocals were loud enough for the crowd before shouting to someone in the wings to turn both up. Throughout its set, the duo seemed to rely on the theatrics of the laser lights and smoke machines that filled the stage to attract its audience. 

Still, the crowd seemed less enthused than it had for other acts of the weekend.

Although the performance was not the most captivating of the weekend, the hip-hop artists shared heartwarming messages with the crowd. At one point, Killer Mike looked out into the  crowd and thanked the audience members packed near the stage for respecting each other’s space.

The pair brought its set to a close with the track “a few words for the firing squad (radiation).” The swelling sound of a saxophone swept across the audience. 

El-P and Killer Mike traded lyrics as they faced their audience. As the sound of the instrumentals faded away, the lights dramatically left only the outline of the musicians’ figures as they walked off the stage, leaving the audience with a final message. 

“Love and respect each other, and I missed you,” El-P said as the crowd chanted “RTJ.”

KennyHoopla’s High-Energy Show Revives the Festival Festivities

As the first act to return to the red stage after the venue was deserted due to rain, the speakers crackled to life as KennyHoopla ran onto the stage. The rock musician, whose name is Kenneth La’ron, and his band not only enlivened the festival crowd once again but delivered a distinctive set, giving his whole body over to singing his lyrics and jumping with the crowd.

On the opening song “smoke break//,” KennyHoopla got the audience members to wave their hands in the air as he sang with a passionate, gravelly voice and reached impressive high notes. 

During one standout song, the musician sang the rhythm of “how will i rest in peace if i’m buried by a highway?//” before the drums and guitar suddenly came in like a beat drop. KennyHoopla extended the microphone out to the audience, and members of the crowd sang the chorus.

 “She’s gonna cut my head off / But I don’t care, I don’t care,” they sang along.

The musician successfully revived the energy of day two of the festival with his closing song “estella//.” Leaping down from the stage, KennyHoopla dove into the audience and crowd-surfed, letting the crowd carry him as he had carried the spirit of the festival back to the stage.

June 1, 2022