When I arrive at Boston Calling for Day 3, it’s already started drizzling. I put up my hood, zip up my jacket, and make my way from the Harvard Square T stop to the final day of Boston Calling 2018. It’s cold, it’s wet, and my body is tired from 2 days of festival-ing, but it’s the kind of tired that gives you energy and keeps you going back for more. It’s the kind of tired that tells you it’s been an unforgettable weekend.
As I’m entering the gates of the festival I notice that while it’s still pretty packed, the weather has almost certainly scared away many of Sunday’s passholders (don’t worry, they’ll all come out tonight for Eminem’s first Boston appearance in 13 years). Still, it’s kind of nice not to fight the crowds. As I meander inside, I hear Pond play in the background. It’s the kind of set that makes me wish I’d gotten there a lot earlier.
I linger for a little bit before catching Alvvays, a band that I heard nonstop on the radio when I was living in Toronto, but that hasn’t quite picked up the following they deserve here in the US. Molly Rankin’s voice has a gorgeous, alluring quality to it, and it carries throughout the festival. Their set is the perfect blend of lyrical smarts, light, danceable music, and a calm, confident stage presence. This is the kind of music that’s easy to fall in love with, even if it’s your first time listening. As I turn to head out and over to the arena, I notice a few girls dancing to the music, amidst the rain. It’s kind of beautiful.
Over in the comedy tent, it’s a lineup of Max Silvestri, Cameron Esposito, and headliner David Cross, with Martin Urbano as host. If you’ve seen Urbano host on Saturday, the repeat act might feel a little stale. I do wish that he’d had a different set for each day, since the comedians were different on Friday and Saturday, and presumably, the same audience members may come through both days. That aside, it was actually kind of interesting to watch him perform a set that I was already familiar with. It gave an added sense of respect and appreciation for the art of it all.
The first act and easily my favorite of the night was Max Silvestri. Time Out New York recently named his show “Big Terrific,” with Jenny Slate and Gabe Liedman, the “best new stand up act.” He’s also hosted his own cooking competition on Bravo called Recipe for Deception and has been the opening act for John Mulaney during his North American tour. Tonight, he broke out jokes about not being a bro, trying to fit in, True Crime audiobooks, and pretentious cyclists, mixing wholesome, relatable moments with the occasional edgy joke. Never offensive but often relatable, he got a strong positive reaction from the audience, and I personally wish his set had been longer. It’s definitely given me reason to look forward to his upcoming appearance on the new Netflix is a Joke series this summer.
Cameron Esposito was up next. A fierce advocate for justice, equality, and treating one another with respect, her passion shone through her act, and although her comedy wasn’t what I normally go for, I had an absolute respect for it and found myself laughing along. (isn’t that the beauty of discovering new acts at a festival like this?) One of the highlights of her set was when a heckler in the audience called out “Where’s the comedy?!” after Esposito had been talking politics. Without hesitation, she handled that heckler in the most professional, respectable, and yet totally bad-ass way possible. It was inspiring to see someone so poised and yet powerful in the face of adversity. She was easily the crowd favorite of the night, and even got a standing ovation.
After Esposito came headliner David Cross, perhaps best known for his role as Tobias Fünke in Arrested Development. He’s also known for his role, writing, and production in The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, and has had appearances in Freak Show and Modern Family. By far, he was the most anticipated comedian of the night, if not the entire weekend. The line wrapped well around the corner of the arena, and I heard people at the back say that they were pretty sure they could at least catch the last 10 minutes of his 45 minute set. They were willing to stand in line for an hour just to hopefully catch 10 minutes. That’s dedication.
Unfortunately, for as highly anticipated as Cross’ set was, it just didn’t seem to land well with the Boston audience. Part of that may have been the recent turmoil that Cross and Arrested Development co-stars Jeffery Tamber and Jason Bateman have landed themselves in, and part of it may be that the material just wasn’t relatable. At least the first 20 minutes of Cross’ jokes had to do with being a new parent—something I’m not sure the majority of the teenagers and early 20s crowd could relate to.
So, I checked out a little early, headed into the rain, and caught a bit of The Decemberists, whose sound is and was poignant, and perfect for the overcast day. Personally, I wasn’t able to stick through the rain for Eminem but by the looks of it, I was in the minority. All weekend, but especially Sunday, the line for Eminem’s merch was insanely long. You can love or hate him, but you have to hand it to his fans—they’re nothing if not extremely dedicated and loyal.
It’s hard to believe after three days of non-stop music, comedy, film, and delicious food (I’m going to miss you Cookie DŌ. Come back to Boston soon) it’s over. It’s times like this that I miss the back to back May lineup followed by another September session, but if Boston Calling keeps putting on Memorial Day weekend lineups this intense and unforgettable, it just might be enough to get us through to another year.
See you in 2019.
This review was originally posted on Infectious Magazine