Arts, Off Campus

Local Band “Paper Lady” Deliver Electric Debut Boston Calling Set 

In 2019, Alli Raina and her friend started a dorm room recording project called Paper Lady. Raina never anticipated that her project would evolve into something greater. 

“I didn’t picture it becoming fully formed as to what it is now,” Raina said. “I was just thinking about paper boys that deliver the newspaper and I was like, ‘Oh, nobody ever talks about the paper ladies.’”

Five years later, Raina, the lead singer, performed at this weekend’s Boston Calling music festival alongside Will Davila, Rowan Martin, Kenzo Divic and Alex Castile, the four other bandmates that constitute Paper Lady. The bandmates met in their first year at Berklee College of Music. In 2021, they officially transformed Raina’s dorm project into a collaborative band under the name “Paper Lady.” 

“Everybody’s always like, ‘Oh, Paper Lady is such a great name,’” Raina said. “We’re like, ‘Happy accident.’”

Paper Lady opened its 30-minute set with “Absentee,” which Raina refers to as its theme song despite it not being the band’s most popular among listeners.

“The opening song is never the same, but ‘Absentee’ felt like a good tone setter,” said Divic, the band’s keyboardist.

While building its set, Davila, a guitarist, said the band aims to play songs that the crowd can find online and listen to afterward. But, the day before it was set to perform at Boston Calling, Paper Lady decided to alter its set to include “Joe Modern,” an unreleased song. 

“When we were here yesterday, we saw the Young the Giant set and we were all getting really excited to play,” Raina said. “I was like, ‘We gotta play ‘Joe Modern,’ it’s just gonna feel so good.’”

During “Joe Modern,” Raina took her microphone off of its stand and walked around the stage. To make time for the song in the set, the band had to cut down its speaking time between songs, according to Divic.

Paper Lady’s set ended on an energetic and chaotic note with “Violet,” a song that details a situation of admiration and longing.

“Violet, violet / She’s like the sea / Although I know she’s out there / She doesn’t see me,” Raina said.

During the outro of “Violet,” the bandmates raged around the stage as Raina dramatically fell to the ground and screamed into her guitar.

This intense close was fitting for the band, which described itself as “casting spells and wreaking havoc.”

Davila said “Violet” is consistently the band’s final song because they feel as though nothing can follow the passionate display that accompanies it. 

“After yelling and rolling around on the ground, how are you supposed to get up and play something else?” Raina said. 

The bandmates added that the audience is part of what made their debut Boston Calling performance memorable. Davila said that it were as if the crowd appeared out of thin air. 

I shed a tear during a song,” Divic said. “It was really special to see that many faces.” 

The experience of performing their set was euphoric for Raina, who cherished the thrill of performing for the crowd, feeding off its energy.

“When we were up there I was like, ‘Damn, they’re gonna have to drag me off,’” Raina said. “I wanna be here forever.”

May 31, 2024

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