Boston Calling Festival Prevails in Spite of Treacherous Weather


The Boston Calling Festival endured despite high temperatures and dangerous storms during the Saturday show.

Jamie Ferguson

The Boston Calling Festival endured despite high temperatures and dangerous storms during the Saturday show.
The Boston Calling Festival endured despite high temperatures and dangerous storms during the Saturday show.

Apart from the wide range of bands playing on the same day, perhaps the biggest advantage to attending a musical festival is the experience of attending a day long event. For music lovers in the New England area, Boston Calling is one of the best opportunities to see a variety of alternative and indie artists, with bands such as Vampire Weekend, Fun., Of Monsters and Men, and Death Cab for Cutie playing at past shows. The Fall 2014 lineup of the biannual festival (which started in May 2013) looked extremely promising thanks to acts such as The 1975 and The National, and the Saturday show in particular looked extremely promising with Lorde and Childish Gambino closing out the night. However, what audiences on Saturday did not know was that the crazy Massachusetts weather would be in full force that night, leaving a slightly hectic but extremely memorable night for festival goers.

When the crowd began to arrive on Saturday morning, they were greeted by 90 degree weather, scorching sun, and extreme humidity. The festival management took extreme precautions to keep people hydrated, with water bottle refill stations and fountains giving audience members free access to cold water throughout the day. However, even with the easy water access, the packed venue and direct sunlight left many audience members feeling extremely wiped out throughout the first half of the festival. “The heat was pretty unbearable during the day, especially in the middle of the dense crowds,” senior Scott McLean said.

Regardless of the intense heat, performers such as Sky Ferreira and S. Carey entertained audiences in the early hours of the festival. In particular, Bleachers, fronted by Fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff, were a fan favorite due to their vivacious energy in spite of the blazing heat, and their hit single “I Wanna Get Better” was a fan favorite. “I thought it was great that the performers actually sounded good live,” senior Emerald Walsh said. “A lot of people say that there’s no good live music anymore, but today’s performances proved how wrong those people are.” In addition to the live music, audience members had access to various activities such as a free photobooth sponsored by the jewelry brand Alex and Ani, lawn games such as Cornhole, and an Oktoberfest sponsored by Sam Adams.

But at the end of The Hold Steady’s set, the weather took a turn for the worse, and the high heat and bright sun were replaced by dark clouds, rain, and lightning. The festival’s management eventually evacuated the audience from the venue at around 6:00 due to dangerous conditions. People found shelter in the surrounding Boston Area, hiding in local restaurants, Quincy Market, or the covered VIP section of the venue for shelter from the storm. “A lot of people were upset about the storm, but I think the rain added to the whole experience,” junior Madelyn Smith said. “It was so much fun hanging around Boston in the rain and then camping out inside Quincy Market with the rest of the crowd once the weather got worse. It really added to that sense of community that we felt during the concert.”

Due to high winds and a second storm, part of one of the stages got damaged, and workers quickly repaired the stage despite the hazardous weather conditions. The Boston Calling Twitter account frequently sent out updates about if and when the show would resume, including words of encouragement for the disgruntled crowd. “We really appreciate everyone’s understanding of the weather being out of our control,” they tweeted. “Lots of people work hard to make more music tonight.”

Two and a half hours after the evacuation, management allowed people to come back in the venue, but due to the huge number of people attending, the reentry process was fairly hectic. Boston Police officers, venue security, and the rest of the Boston Calling staff tried to keep order among the anxious crowd, but the large volume of anxious audience members who all wanted to get into the venue before Lorde’s 9:00 performance sparked chaos outside of the City Hall Plaza. A large portion of the crowd was also disgruntled after the announcement that acts Girl Talk and Volcano Choir were cut from the set due to time constraints. But in general, people more or less cooperated with security, which expedited the tedious process of individually allowing each person to get back in as much as possible (as security had to individually search bags and do a metal detector test before each entry).

Due to her headlining position, Lorde was perhaps the most highly anticipated performance of the night, and after the extra buildup due to the evacuation, the crowd was anxious to hear the young singer perform. And thanks to interesting video screens, smoky atmosphere, and flashing lights, her set was unparalleled by any of the previous performers. “I was most excited to see Lorde, and she was definitely the best act of the night,” said senior Brendan Jeannetti. “Even though her set was cut short, she still put on a great show and was one of the best live performers I’ve ever seen.” Immediately following Lorde’s performance, Childish Gambino stepped out on the other stage and started the closing performance of the night. The actor-turned-rapper and put on a highly energetic set to finish off the night, utilizing the entire stretch of his stage as well as video backdrops to enhance his performance.

Although festivals such as Coachella are known across the country, Boston Calling is becoming one of the most popular live events in the Boston area. Towards the end of the night, perilous weather threatened to ruin the “rain or shine” promise, but the festival triumphed despite the thunder and lightening. Between the diverse lineup, spacious venue, helpful staff, and enthusiastic crowd, the Saturday Boston Calling show all contributed to yet another successful day for the event.