"Front of the Line” is a recurring series where GBH News' Haley Lerner explores fan culture and talks to the people who show up first in line to see their favorite musicians.
Pop singer Reneé Rapp took her Snow Hard Feelings Tour to Roadrunner in Boston on Saturday night, where fans were eager to see the star despite a track on her album called “I Hate Boston.”
Some might remember a billboard that went up in the North End in August that displayed the phrase: “I Hate Boston.” It was a cheeky marketing strategy by Rapp, who’s debut album “Snow Angel” includes the Hub-hating song.
Rapp, who starred in the HBO series “The Sex Lives of College Girls,” said in an interview with WBZ-TV that while it might seem to be an anti-Boston ballad, it's actually a breakup song about a boy from Boston.
"Yes, I had my heart broken by one of your own. But I know I cannot place that blame on you, dear Boston. I'm sorry for the slander. I love you forever. But I do hate that man,” she said.
Fans of Rapp in line for the Boston show took no issue with the song — and were even willing to join in on the hatred.
Haley Kirchoff, who waited seven hours to see the “Too Well” singer said if Rapp tells her to hate Boston — then she will. She anticipated sobbing during the live performance.
“I personally don't hate Boston, but if Reneé hates Boston, then maybe I also have to hate Boston,” she said.
Noel Vega, from Milton, agreed: “If she says I hate Boston, then I’ll move out. Whatever she does, I’ll do.”
“We’re just going to hate Boston as loudly as possible for three minutes of that song,” said Abby Calistra from North Attleboro.
Though Vega and Calistra were willing to hate Boston along with Rapp, they did come into the show with shirts aiming to change the singer’s mind. Vega came dressed in a pink Red Sox-themed jersey, with the "Barbie"-inspired words “Boston is Renough” on the back, while Calistra’s shirt displayed the message “I (don’t) hate Boston."
Milena Galo, who showed up on the concert line around 1:30 p.m., described the marketing for “I Hate Boston” as “iconic,” and hoped the crowd at the show would change Rapp’s mind.
“I really think the energy is going to be unmatched when she sings it tonight,” she said. “I work in marketing and I think it's absolutely iconic that she put up a billboard in Boston when it came out, so I applaud her for that.”
Caley North, a Bentley College student, said she first became obsessed with Rapp while watching “The Sex Lives of College Girls” — and isn’t bothered by Rapp’s supposed hatred.
“I’ll say I love Renné Rapp and my friends will say 'Why do you support her?' And I'll say, 'Guys, you need to listen to [the song]!'” North said. “We love her. She might not love Boston but we love her.”
Rapp got her start in musical theater— in 2018, she won the Jimmy Awards, a national high school theater competition that often works as a pipeline to Broadway. In 2019, she took over the role of Regina George on Broadway in “Mean Girls”. Now, she’s going to star as the same character in the film adaption of the musical.
Many fans of Rapp have followed her since her early days, feeling camaraderie as fellow theater kids.
“We’re musical theater majors. We’re from the original theater kid Reneé era. We watched her perform at the Jimmy awards. We are the OGs! She is just a gorgeous person and also her personality is amazing. I'm actually in love with her,” Kirchoff said.
Vega, who stood on the line at Roadrunner for six hours to get an up close spot to see Rapp, said her current music never gets old, especially since he's been a fan of her since the beginning.
“I was watching her at the Jimmy Awards and I followed her when she went to 'Mean Girls,'” Vega said. “And, obviously now she’s progressed and it's so cool to watch her grow. She's such a genuine person who deserves the most.”
Calistra, who waited with Vega, agreed.
“She’s such a talented person, but she’s also so funny and really talks to her fans all the time and is always interacting with us and just feels so connected to us and is just an inclusive person all around... its just so easy to support her,” she said.
Anika Agrawal, who drove from Connecticut to see Rapp, said the singer being bisexual and proud is something that made her a big fan — and motivated her line up at 1:30 p.m. to see the star.
“Its great to have more queer representation in the media and having someone who is so out and proud makes it easier and safer to come to concerts too and know that most of the people coming are queer. It's nice to have that kind of space,” she said.
Lauren Boyd, who came to the concert with Agrawal, agreed.
“She is so talented. Wonderful queer representation for women and feminine identifying people everywhere,” Boyd said. “So gorgeous. What's not to love? I feel honored to be at the Boston show and hear her sing 'I Hate Boston' in Boston. There's going to be a lot of hype.”
Janell Smith, who’s been a fan of Rapp since the Jimmy Awards, said its been cool watching Rapp grow as an artist.
“A lot of her songs are very relatable to me and are very healing for things that I've been through,” she said. “I also really like her personality. I feel like she's very relatable.”
During the show, fans held up signs stating “Boston Loves Reneé,” and the feeling seemed to be reciprocated this time around from Rapp. She sold a special T-shirt at the show that said, “I Love Boston” (along with one that said “I Hate Boston”) and admitted during an encore that her view on the city might have changed.
“I definitely don’t hate Boston anymore.”