After two days of sunshine, a storm brewed over Harvard’s Athletic Complex for the final day of the highly anticipated New England music festival: Boston Calling. However, fans and artists didn’t let the weather hold them back.
Sunday flooded with more concertgoers than I had seen all weekend. To start the day, the folk band from Milwaukee, Field Report, took the stage. Weakened Friends, the indie group from Boston, followed, along with STL GLD, Zola Jesus, and Taylor Bennett. Pond, Julien Baker, and Thundercat were among the performers throughout the afternoon. Dirty Projectors, fronted by the Yale University graduate David Longstreth, pleased the crowd with hits “Dance For You” and “Cannibal Resource.” The Decemberists were also one of the notable performers of the night; the group played an eclectic set with dance and folk tunes, ending with “The Mariner’s Revenge Song.”
Aside from the shows on the Red, Green, and Delta Blue stages, there was quite a lot of buzz from the IKEA Music Lab. The pop-up store/stage swarmed with guests throughout the day as artists like Sammy & Johnny Bennett, Trans94, Cherrie, and DJ Finest pumped up the crowd. Fans escaped the rain inside hammocks and makeshift couches, letting the jams take over.
Mike D kept the energy alive, revving up fans for the star of the night: Eminem. After Khalid’s set ended around 9 p.m., everyone in the crowd shifted in front of the Green Stage. The rain began to fall harder, and the temperature seemed to drop dramatically, yet in ponchos and heavy jackets, concertgoers still lined the field. From the stage to the entrance of the festival, thousands of fans gathered, waiting for the ‘Rap God.’ When Marshall Mathers emerged singing “Medicine Man,” suddenly, nothing about the weather seemed to matter.
Sporting a red hoodie with his hypeman Mr. Porter and DJ Alchemist at his side, Eminem absolutely stole the show, uniting the crowd with his old hits like “Rap God,” “Square Dance,” “White America,” and “Criminal.” Everyone sang along, belting the lyrics among one of the greatest rappers in the industry. Although his latest LP Revival wasn’t as successful as his previous work, he proved that he can still kill those raps in older hits “Without Me,” “The Real Slim Shady,” “My Name Is,” and “The Monster.” To the crowd’s surprise, Skylar Grey joined the singer onstage, and performed the hit single “Walk On Water” with Eminem. She stuck around afterwards to support him for songs “Stan” and “Love The Way You Lie.”
He was very excited to be in Boston, claiming that he hadn’t been back to the city in 14 years, and this was his first time at the festival. Although he had been overseas playing shows recently, he said that this crowd helps him remember why he loves playing shows in the states at his “home.” Throughout the set, he jumped around the stage, keeping the energy alive even when he played his newer tracks. It didn’t even matter what he sang, because his fast-paced, precise rapping kept the audience intrigued.
I was pleasantly surprised that he performed “Nowhere Fast,” his latest single that dropped this past March with Kehlani. The track is an intense plead for a change in our country with lyrics like “sometimes I don’t know what this world has come to” and “gun owners clutching their loaded weapons / they love their guns more than our children.” It was inspiring, powerful, and a serene moment that really stuck with me throughout the entire show.
Toward the end of the night, it all seemed very surreal as the beat of “Not Afraid” boomed through the air, transporting everyone back to 2010. As expected, after the 28-song set, Eminem emerged for an encore with his most popular hit song to date off of Curtain Call, “Lose Yourself.” Despite any criticism of the rapper throughout the years, and he thanked fans for sticking by him all these years. After attending the festival for three days, it was evident that he completely stole the show and proved to everyone that he still has the passion that fans love him for, and he’s not going anywhere in the music scene.