Thursday, June 13, 2024

Billy Dean Thomas performs Sunday at Boston Calling. (Photo: Michael Gutierrez)

Last day of Boston Calling. Last chance to stampede across the greenery to grab a front-row spot for your favorite headliner. Last chance to wear the band’s T-shirt to the band’s show. Last chance to wait in line at the House of Dunkin’ for a free shot of iced coffee and an orange (or pink) bucket hat. Last chance to take a selfie while straddling the blow-up sculptures at the Blue Stage. Make it count.

General admission tickets were sold out Sunday. There were people looking to cash in their last chances everywhere you looked. No particular musical theme discernible in a day’s schedule, which included nostalgic headliner The Killers, along with big name acts such as Hozier and Megan Thee Stallion.

And no theme needed! Boston Calling fills your plate at the generalist’s buffet. Pile that music high, and return for seconds – unless you sold your wristband to the scalpers at the front gate.

General admission tickets were a sellout Sunday at Boston Calling. (Photo: Julia Levine)

Stefan Thev

(Red Stage, 1:40 to 2:10 p.m.) The local five-piece Stefan Thev fired up the crowd with the synth-fueled chant “Sex! Money! Violence!” A slogan for all ages, and the title to his single “sex! money! violence!” (Not to be confused with his single “ghouls! zombies! skeletons!”) A good kick in the pants for a crowd trying to orient itself after two days of dizzying fun in the sun. There’s a kind of clubby, goth aesthetic to this band. Sign them up as the live entertainment for the “Matrix 5” wrap party, if there is, god forbid, a fifth “Matrix” movie. (Michael Gutierrez)

The Thing

(Blue Stage, 2:10 to 2:45 p.m.) Brooklyn-based The Thing picked a band name that’s really hard to Google. Who cares? The search algorithm has been turned over to mindless AI that thinks cockroaches are bugs that crawl up your … enough said. All you need to know is that these four guys rock. A throwback rock ’n’ roll quartet like the Beatles or Rolling Stones playing on a black and white television, punctuated with hard rock progressions that are hummable enough for a stadium crowd, deep in its cups. (Michael Gutierrez)

The Heavy Heavy

(Green Stage, 2:20 to 2:55 p.m.) The Heavy Heavy started the Green Stage day off strong, bringing their retro sound from Brighton to Boston. They began their set with a rousing instrumental intro with heavy electric guitars that got the crowd’s attention and invoked the spirit of Fleetwood Mac with tracks such as“Go Down River” – delivering on describing their sound as “making the music the ’60s forgot.” (Lucy Spangler)

Samantha Hartsel of Tysk Tysk Tysk on Sunday at Boston Calling. (Photo: Julia Levine)

Tysk Tysk Task

(Orange Stage, 2:50 to 3:20 p.m.) Neo grunge act Tysk Tysk Task supplied your early afternoon noise fix. The band shouted out their native Lowell. Don’t sleep on Lowell! Mill City up north just fielded the winner of the 2024 Rock N Roll Rumble, The Ghouls. There’s a chip on that city’s shoulder in the best way, and it produces great musicians. Tysk Tysk Task keeps the tradition alive with a homespun aesthetic that filled the stage with cottagecore fantasies while frontwoman Samantha Hartsel rocked like the bastard kin of Courtney Love and Little Red Riding Hood. (Michael Gutierrez)

Billy Dean Thomas

(Orange Stage, 4 to 4:30 p.m.) The queer B.I.G.? Billy Dean Thomas’ flow flowed too fast for the comparison. But who knows? Maybe the Notorious one would have upped his tempo if he was backed by a rap-rock instrumental trio. The NYC-born rapper resides in Boston, and they whipped up the midafternoon crowd like born-and-bred hometown heroes. Hey, we’re suckers for good energy. Extra points for the Tina Turner-inspired track “Tina TurnUP.” The studio version was produced by Boston artist Rilla Force. So the NYC-BOS circuit is good for more than just train and bus service with unreliable Wi-Fi. (Michael Gutierrez)

Chappell Roan on Sunday at Boston Calling. (Photo: Julia Levine)

Chappell Roan

(Green Stage, 4:05 to 5:05 p.m.) A sea of pink cowboy hats and bandanas spilled out before the stage in anticipation of rising pop diva Chappell Roan. Known as the Midwestern pop princess,  her work is an amalgamation of Y2K and ’80s girl rock combined with the extravagance of a West Hollywood gay bar, with all the drama and melodrama. Roan has a flair for it: She took the stage wearing signature 1920s sad clown face makeup and a floor-length red cheetah print robe. The first song she used to show off her powerful vocals was a mashup of “Online Love” and “Femininomenon.” Roan also gave us sight gags, such as singing the sensual “Picture You” to a wig sitting on a mic stand. “She’s my only girl,” Roan jokes, “I’m very monogamous.” Judging by the crowd she drew, and ability to get it moving to her signature dance from the chorus of “Hot to Go,” we’ll see Roan back at Boston Calling, probably as a headliner. (Lucy Spangler)

Zola Simone has gone from attending Boston Calling to performing at it Sunday. (Photo: Julia Levine)

Zola Simone

(Orange Stage, 5:15 to 5:50 p.m.) Local gem Zola Simone has been releasing her music since she was 13, and it’s obvious she’s worked hard on her craft – hard enough to get herself from the audience of past Boston Callings onto the stage. “I have dreamt about being here,” Simone told the audience. It was a passionate performance. Her set got the fans dancing immediately with “Old Soul,” an indie-rock heavy hitter off the 2021 album “Now You See Me.” Simone’s discography touches on pop, indie rock and R&B, united by poetic lyrics. From the cocky pop groove of “Pirouette” she went to the soft longing of “Easy,” followed by the bouncy R&B of “Just Business” with a guest appearance from rapper Dutch Rebelle. She also played her newest single, “Boston,” which talks about feeling disconnected after leaving home. (Lucy Spangler)


(Blue Stage, 5:50 to 6:40 p.m.) Straight outta Los Angeles. The four-piece rock outfit lives and dies on the vocals of fronter Sabrina Mae Teitelbaum, whose voice dominates the ensemble like Chris Martin’s voice dominates Coldplay. So is it mostly living or mostly dying? Happy to report, the former. She’s got a subtle delivery that exercises ferocious restraint. The meat and potatoes of the phrasing is flat, vaguely robotic, so that when she lets the vibrato ring out at rare climax moments, it hits all the harder. Think about the difference between the resonance of a piano note and a church organ note. Most singers sprint toward the richer expressive possibilities of the piano note like moths to flame, but the real ones keep the curtain drawn as long as possible. Sabrina Mae Teitelbaum, with a name like a character out of a Wes Anderson film, is a real one. (Michael Gutierrez)

Megan Thee Stallion was a top draw Sunday at Boston Calling/ (Photo: Julia Levine)

Megan Thee Stallion

(Green Stage, 6:25 to 7:25 p.m.) Who were people most excited to see on the final day of Boston Calling? Nine times out of 10 the answer was Megan Thee Stallion, who reminded everyone immediately why she is the queen of hot girl summer with a set begun with “Hiss” and building from there. Stallion commanded the stage in a blue bejeweled outfit and played all the classics. She is the moment. (Lucy Spangler)

Hozier on Sunday at Boston Calling. (Photo: Julia Levine)


(Red Stage, 7:35 to 9:05 p.m.) The eerie harmonic vocals of “Eat Your Young” announced the start of Hozier’s sunset performance. His set was perfect for the vibe of the evening, carrying the crowd through “Jackie and Wilson” and softer songs on the setlist such as “Cherry Wine” and “Like Real People Do,” which had a cooling and calming effect on a crowd who’d spent the better part of the afternoon baking in the sun. Before launching into “Nina Cried Power,” a protest song featuring the legendary Mavis Staples, Hozier mused on the human connections at the root of protest movements. “No revolutionary movement is complete without its poetical expression,” Hozier said, quoting Irish revolutionary James Connolly. (Lucy Spangler)


(Blue Stage, 7:50 to 8:50 p.m.) Toronto’s Alvvays opened with an unusual two-bass configuration. Sure, it lasted only one song, but that’s a rare bird. And the assembled fans were happy to see this bird in flight. In fact, Alvvays and Boston Calling 2024 were nearly not a thing. A good chunk of fans bought their tickets before the band was added to the bill and the official poster updated. Everyone at the Blue Stage was in the know, though, singing along to the hits with the lead vocalist, who promised no “beach balls,” just “guitar” music. Promise keepers! Extra points for shouting out Boston as “Beantown.” (Michael Gutierrez)