Electric Callboy in Boston – September 13, 2023
For a rainy Wednesday night in September, there was an awful lot of buzz radiating from Causeway Street in Boston last week. Upstairs at TD Garden on September 13, a venerable ocean of boomers and classic rock eficianadoes filed inside for what was very likely to be the final send off for the Eagles as they ride off into their own tequila sunset. Downstairs at Big Night Live, however, was a bit of a different scene, and that’s all thanks to the neon-powered pop-metal tapestry woven by German party-throwers Electric Callboy, Detroit’s Conquer Divide, and Solence, hailing from Sweden.
Packed into the intimate and critically-acclaimed club for a night of high-paced metal madness and sweat-inducing power pop, the crowd was an eclectic smattering of Gojira shirts, goth lipstick and fishnets, and at least a few dozen blonde wigs accented by bright sweatbands and those shirts that look like the carpet of an arcade – not exactly aesthetics that would make sense to commingle. As Conquer Divide took the stage, though, two united walls of sound met at the edge of the barricade, and the all-female quartet brought the beatdown from the jump. With Kia Castillo’s soaring clean vocals and bassist Janel Duarte’s guttural screams (that seemed to turn more than a few heads unfamiliar with the band’s dynamic), the evening’s first set was dark and heavy in all the right ways, and if the show was looked at in terms of a cooking recipe, the Detroit-based band certainly added the accenting heavy elements that make up one half of the main event’s musical identity, while cementing the reason why they’re tasked with getting things started every night.
Bridging the gap between the darkness and the bright strobe lights, Solence came out of the gate swinging with a hot-and-ready delivery of rock, and thanks to the ever-glorious presence of a keytar, a big ol’ dose of techno mixed in. Their high-energy stage presence was a mainstay throughout their time in the spotlight, and the enjoyment they have for what they do was evident through their ability to weave in and out of guitar solos, keytar solos, and crowd sing-alongs without missing a beat. Building their own tower of musical excitement, the band came, they saw, and they kicked some ass along the way before relinquishing the stage to the main event – the buzz of which could be felt from all four corners of the club as soon Solence left the stage.
Now, if you see videos of Electric Callboy’s festival performances overseas, you’ll notice a healthy dose of huge video boards, confetti cannons, untethered light shows and unbridled charisma. Now imagine all of that, but on a stage that isn’t in the middle of a German airfield, but rather nestled in a smaller but comfortable club without really any corners cut. From the moment the band rushed the stage to start their third-to-last date of the North American leg of their TEKKNO World Tour, it was obvious that the amount of space changes nothing for them. The Rob Zombie-meets-Backstreet Boys outfit play every space like a stadium, and as they tore through a full 18-song setlist of fan-favorite bangers drenched in the rush of metal and power pop, the crowd mirrored the titanic effort by morphing into what felt more like an enthusiastic fan base of a soccer club than a concert crowd. Even through the many “chat breaks” the band took (which they fully deserved, given the exhausting amount of energy they exuded throughout the night), the crowd was fully hanging on every word.
It was truly a special sight to see both an audience and the band they came to see so enamored with each other, and the energy that fed off both sides of the barricade was a unique connection. A career-spanning setlist? Check. Covers of Frozen’s “Let it Go” and Backstreet Boys iconic “I Want It That Way”? Check. An extended drum solo to the beat of Darude’s “Sandstorm”? Check, check, check. Electric Callboy had the moves, as they so passionately and fun-lovingly displayed all the way through to the very end of their second encore, and we can hope that their next move is to come back and rock the hell out of a much bigger space with bigger video boards, bigger light shows, and bigger confetti cannons.
Here’s to betting that the Eagles didn’t do any of that cool shit upstairs.