Reneé Rapp No Longer Hates Boston After Stunning at the Roadrunner
February 7, 2024
It wasn’t until I finally joined the end of a miles-long line that wrapped around the corner of Guest and Life Street that I began to process the incredible night of music I was in for. Actress and singer-songwriter Reneé Rapp was performing at the Roadrunner in Allston-Brighton.
Boston was one of the last stops of the United States leg of Rapp’s Snow Hard Feelings tour (named to honor her debut studio album Snow Angel).
Everyone crowded into the center of the Roadrunner and along the balconies just in time for the opening acts: Towa Bird and Alexander 23. Bird kicked off the night with electrifying songs like “Boomerang,” and Alexander made fans sentimental with his hit “IDK You Yet.” Both artists would join Rapp onstage later in the show: Bird for “Tummy Hurts” and Alexander for “I Wish.”
Then the lights went dim, and a compilation of childhood videos alongside the title of Rapp’s tour played. Fans erupted into cheers that paled in comparison to the explosion that would come moments later when Rapp sang her first notes.
A pair of red Rocky-Horror-esque lips appeared onscreen to accompany Rapp in “Talk Too Much.” Rapp’s powerful voice filled the room with awe and brought tears to every eye before the band joined in. She frequently yelled “Huh?” into her microphone and pointed it to the audience who responded perfectly on beat with the lyrics.
This was especially evident in her second song “Poison Poison,” a personal favorite, which has a biting outro that fans live for. It includes the line “I think you should shut the f—k up and die,” a heartfelt sentiment that everyone in the Roadrunner screamed.
Rapp’s set had a beautiful blend of these spicy songs and her more woeful ballads. “Bruises,” a song about feeling like a punching bag for your friends, was a seamless tone shift backed by Rapp’s unrelentingly gorgeous vocals.
Picking up the tone, though with a song with a sad meaning, was “Pretty Girls.” As a tradition on the tour, Rapp received a bedazzled bra from a fan in the crowd, which she swung around playfully. Then, in a more heartwarming display, she was given a bisexual pride flag, which she danced and draped herself in. Rapp, a proud bisexual woman, illuminated the room in pink, purple, and blue.
Finally, the highly-anticipated moment arrived. “I’ve been waiting all tour to play this next song,” Rapp said to a roar from the crowd; all of them knew that “I Hate Boston” was beginning.
The song received some backlash from non-fans of Rapp, especially when Rapp put up a humorous yet controversial “I Hate Boston” billboard in the North End. The song isn’t actually about the city; it’s a ballad about a past partner who hurt Rapp, causing her to be reminded of them whenever she visits their hometown.
However, Rapp’s fans understood the message, and they came prepared with a fan project to prove it. During “I Hate Boston,” fans held up pieces of paper that said “Boston Loves Reneé,” to which Rapp smiled at while she sang.
The show climaxed with the famous “In The Kitchen.” The audience sang the pre-chorus in unison. Rapp held a bouquet, gifted by someone in the crowd, and launched into the earth-shattering second chorus. The riff to end all riffs came when she sang the lyric, “Done me a favor and packed up your clothes.”
Words cannot describe the magic in that moment. It may be cliché, but there is truly no way I can listen to that record the same after hearing Rapp sing it live and belt with every Broadway-trained bone in her body. If people weren’t crying yet, this broke them.
Rapp left the stage but returned seconds later in a white button-down prepared to sing the title track of her album, “Snow Angel.” The song starts soft before crescendoing into a repetition of “I’ll make it through the winter if it kills me.”
For a vulnerable song about Rapp’s harrowing experience with substance abuse, a change from the love songs she usually releases, “Snow Angel” ended the night on a hopeful note: we will all make it through the winter.
“I definitely don’t hate Boston anymore,” Rapp said when she thanked the audience for coming, and fans applauded and held up their “Boston Loves Reneé” signs one more time before saying goodbye to the singer.
Rapp’s concert was a perfect embodiment of shared heartbreak, picking up pieces, and embracing one another and oneself. Her fans have every lyric committed to memory, and Rapp brought them together in a loving embrace at the Roadrunner that night. This was one of my all-time favorite concert experiences; one that ensures that I’ll never hate Boston.