August 18th, 2018 at Paradise Rock Club
There are two ways I could go with this review. For one, I could say it was my own personal hell. Screaming 14-year-olds packed like sardines into my least favorite venue in Boston is a recipe for disaster. On the other hand, I could address the fact that the young artists and subsequently young crowd created a sense of hopefulness and excitement I haven’t seen at a show in a very long time.
Calpurnia’s skyrocket to fame is a direct result of lead singer Finn Wolfhard. The 15-year-old actor has quickly captured the attention of the world with his roles in Stranger Things and It. He’s also captured the heart of many with his sincere love for music, starring in a music video for fellow Canadians PUP and posting covers on YouTube. Despite Wolfhard’s big name, he doesn’t want to steal the spotlight from the rest of the members. He even recently tweeted about Calpurnia not being his band but rather an equal four piece.
Judging by the multitude of Stranger Things shirts, it seemed like most of the fans were just there to see their young idol. Before the set even started, fans were chanting for Wolfhard and screaming at the top of their lungs any time he may have been visible. Others started yelling at those that were screaming to shut up and those that couldn’t see added to the noise with another layer of complaints. The girl in front of me even Airdropped the crowd a screenshot of her complaints.
Past all the screaming, pushing and complaining, Calpurnia’s performance genuinely surprised me. I’d heard a bit of their music before the show, and while it left a bit to be desired, it was truly impressive to see a young group create a cohesive and mature sound. It felt like something I might hear at a house show with more positivity and less college-age existentialism. As the band performed, they seemed like complete naturals on stage and interacted with the crowd as much as possible. They acted like they just were performing in front of a large group of friends instead of a sold-out venue.
The star of the show had to be 17-year-old guitarist and singer Ayla Tesler-Made. Besides the fact that she’s everything young me wanted to be, her talent and confidence was outstanding. She commanded the stage and when it became time for her to take the reins on lead vocals, she delivered with high energy and an impressive voice. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face as I watched her perform.
Watching fans get so excited about music and hang onto every word was incredible. So many shows I’ve been to are full of people just standing around and nodding their heads while sipping on a drink. I’ve got no problem with a crowd like that, in fact the older I get, the more I seem to appreciate it. But there’s something so special about seeing people enthusiastic about music and act like they’re having the best day of their entire lives. I remembered the days of being 13 and making every concert a special occasion, feeling like I was on Cloud Nine and there was no way my idols were actually right there standing in front of me. I don’t know when that feeling started to fade, but seeing a glimpse into the young excitement I used to have made me hyper aware of how I’ve changed as I’ve grown older. Past all the initial annoyance I had with the crowd, I felt a sense of nostalgia and ultimately walked away from the show with a refreshed perspective on concert-going.
If you’ve got a good set of earplugs, I’d recommend checking out a Calpurnia show for a dose of what the next generation of musicians has to offer. It’s not perfect by any means, but sometimes it’s nice to get away from all the cynicism the world has to offer and just immerse yourself in an environment of youthful excitement and positivity.
Photos by Ingrid Angulo