From Cheap Trick to Avril Lavigne, Nine Inch Nails, and the Backseat Lovers
All Photos By Matthew Shelter
Paris Jackson had the opening set at this year’s Boston Calling, bringing the festival back to life after a two-year hiatus that felt like a lifetime.
Brooklyn-based Pom Pom Squad, a self-proclaimed “quiet grrrl” band fronted by 24-year-old Mia Berrin, put on a down-and-grungy half-hour set on the Blue Stage early in the afternoon.
Grandson had one of the most political sets of the first day, with frontman Jordan Edward Benjamin raging across the stage before an enormous backdrop of photos of victims of gun violence, including some of those killed in Uvalde, Texas, earlier this week, just the latest in our seemingly endless string of victims of mass shootings.
Boston’s own The Chelsea Curve christened the festival’s new Tivoli Orange Stage, added this year to showcase smaller acts. How can you resist a band named after a stretch of highway that your faithful correspondent drives every day – or used to drive, anyway, in the Before Times.
The Backseat Lovers, an indie band out of Utah, matched the heat and humidity of the day with a scorching, guitar-centric set.
The Struts are tailor made for playing festivals, with their classic rock riffs and energetic frontman, Luke Spiller. They come from across the pond, if the large Union Jack backdrop they performed in front of didn’t tip you off.
Cheap Trick may have lost a step or two from their Live at Budokan days – okay, maybe six or seven steps – but hey you don’t get many Rock and Roll Hall of Fame acts stopping in at Boston Calling. Four decades on, Rick Nielsen still knows his way around a guitar, even if he acts a little bit like the kind of guy you might see in a park yelling at the pigeons.
The multitalented Haim sisters – Danielle, Este, and Alana – fresh from their Hollywood star turn in the Oscar-nominated Licorice Pizza – turned in one of the best sets of the day on the festival’s main stage in late afternoon. They’ve come a long way from their first Boston gig, at the Paradise back in 2013.
Millennial heaven arrived at sunset in the form of emo-pop diva Avril Lavigne, who played before an adoring crowd on the Delta Blue Stage.
Nine Inch Nails were brought in to headline the first night of Boston Calling after the Foo Fighters bowed out in the wake of the death of drummer Taylor Hawkins. It’s the first (limited) tour for Trent Reznor and NIN since 2018. They did not disappoint the packed crowd of diehard fans, with a 20+-song, 90-minute set that even threw in a timely cover of David Bowie’s “I’m Afraid of Americans.”
Matthew Shelter is a Boston-based concert photographer who shoots under the moniker Stage Light Photography. He has covered shows in Boston, New York and elsewhere, and is a six-time nominee for a Boston Music Award for concert photography.