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Boston Calling: Elle King Brings the Attitude

Music Reviews :: 05.29.16

By Alex LaRosa:

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Elle King at Boston Calling. Photo by Emily O’Brien

Right at 5:45 p.m., under a sun that was starting to set over City Hall Plaza, Elle King and her five-piece band took the Xfinity Red Stage and took control for a full 14-song set. Sporting blue hair and the jeans to match, as well as a t-shirt that read “Just Right,” King brought all the attitude and swagger that she’s known for, asserting her confidence and celebrating her vices in front of an adoring crowd.

Her bluesy, keyboard-driven band kept the music going for a few songs before they addressed the audience at all. But when she did share her thoughts, King made it clear that there was nothing wholesome on her mind. With a smirk, she told a story about leaving her ex right before going on tour and then writing a song about him in response to one he had written about her. “Nobody writes a mean song about Elle King!” she declared in the third person.

She kept her unapologetic mood going all afternoon, asking the audience at one point, “Anybody else been drinkin’ today?” She made it very clear that she had been, as her microphone stand was equipped with a cup holder for her liquor. Halfway through the set, she took a sip, to the amusement of her fans.

King kept her heritage and cultural pride at the heart of her performance, affirming her status as a “hillbilly” and a bad influence. But as she herself noted, “bad things are more fun!” As she sang song after song about her love life and the drama that follows her, King also paid tribute to the legendary Johnny Cash by covering “Folsom Prison Blues.” Later on, she tipped her cap to the Beatles with a cover of “Oh! Darling.”

Switching between her guitar and banjo, King proved that she wasn’t just another pretty face with a rough edge. But as her band rocked hard, she made sure it was crystal-clear that she was the main attraction. “Yes, I’m a role model, I know,” she joked. “Just kidding.”

She also kept the audience involved, letting the masses sing parts of her hit song “Ex’s and Oh’s.” After the swanky hour-long set was complete, she said her goodbyes and exited the stage, probably planning to refill her drink and party the rest of the night away.

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