Boston Calling 2016: Saturday Sound Bites

City and Colour

City and Colour – Boston Calling Spring 2016
City and Colour performs at Boston Calling on Saturday, May 28.

Doubtless, Dallas Green (a.k.a. City and Colour) is a talented songwriter and instrumentalist. His discography, while as a whole quiet and mellow, bursts with understated emotion. But what stood out by far in Green’s performance at Boston Calling on Saturday was the purity and strength of his voice. So though Green was far from the most energetic performer at Boston Calling, he was still a joy to see live. The studio versions of his songs are indeed beautiful, but his lives, supported by impressive quality of his voice, are vastly more so.

Courtney Barnett


Courtney Barnett – Boston Calling Spring 2016
Courtney Barnett performs at Boston Calling on Saturday, May 28.

Only one album into her music career, Courtney Barnett has already garnered widespread praise and a Grammy nomination, and “Pedestrian at Best” off of her debut is easily one of the best rock songs to come out in recent years. However, as a lesbian—like Barnett—I found her music to be only the second most exciting part of her set. Historically, queer female musicians have become popular only within the queer community; even Tegan and Sara, who have recently become relatively well known, have been making music for decades. But at Boston Calling, Barnett was enthusiastically watched by a mostly male crowd, a signal that queer female musicians need no longer be defined by their sexuality. Melissa Etheridge will always be known as a lesbian musician, but Courtney Barnett, it seems, is seen as just a musician.


BØRNS – Boston Calling Spring 2016
BØRNS performs at Boston Calling on Saturday, May 28.

This year’s instantiation was easily the most androgynous Boston Calling has had: The inclusion of both BØRNS and Janelle Monáe in the lineup blurred the line between masculinity and femininity from both sides of the spectrum. What’s particularly exciting about BØRNS and marks him as an up-and-comer that Boston Calling was smart to add to their lineup is the way he blends male heterosexuality with male femininity. He performed his hit song “Electric Love”—which explicitly refers to a female romantic interest—in a flowery crop-top and pink sunglasses. And with two covers (“Rebellion (Lies)” by Arcade Fire and “Heroes” by David Bowie), he handily asserted his own talents as a rising musician.

—Staff writer Grace E. Huckins can be reached at


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