Show Review:: Boston Calling May 2015, Day 3

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Written by Kara Kokinos and Eric Riley.
Photos (Halsey, Vance Joy, TV On The Radio) by Kara Kokinos.
Photos (The Ballroom Thieves, ILoveMakonnen, Lucius, Jason Isbell, Tenacious D) by Eric Riley.

On Sunday, the final day of this spring’s Boston Calling, there was a sense of anticipation that hovered over the crowd throughout the day. Following Saturday’s vivacious performers, festival goers had to question if the performances on Sunday, those punctuated by Tenacious D and (Boston’s own) Pixies, could reach the high bar that had
been set over the previous two days.

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Starting once more with a local act, Sunday began with The Ballroom Thieves – a simple trio with a sound far larger than their roster would lead you to believe. With the two-stage setup that attributes to a large portion of Boston Calling’s success, fans of that evening’s headliner can arrive early and camp out on a barricade, knowing they’ll have a cushy spot later on. That being said, I witnessed people trek over to the Red Stage during
The Ballroom Thieves, sacrificing a key vantage point for a chance to see what all the fuss was about. The band’s massive sound, along with their (relatively shocking) command and confidence did not disappoint the Blue Stage defectors. Though, those who chose to stay put were equally lucky, with showstopper Halsey following suit. A newcomer to the music scene, having only been active for the last 11 months or so, the blue-haired badass oozed charisma, drawing up comparisons to Day Two performances – Marina’s vocal prowess coupled with Tove Lo’s raw, unabashed sexuality and charm. Her energy was incredible, made even more impressive by her brief history and her low billing. If she makes her way back around to BC in the future, do not expect to see her filling the second slot of the day.

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The next pair of performances, those by ILoveMakonnen and The Lone Bellow, were as different as possible. The former was a solo hip-hop artist, while the latter were a soulful folk-rock group. Each drew admirable-sized crowds, though the transition between the two acts was arguably the least cohesive of the weekend. With Chet Faker originally slotted to follow these two, a smoother changeover, which was quite likely planned, would have been felt. A last-minute injury forced Faker to drop off of Sunday’s bill, but
swooping in to fill the open slot were Boston Calling alum Lucius, an equally appropriate fit.

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The duo’s return to Boston Calling was kicked off with a breathtaking performance of “Go Home,” and while a somber, heartbroken ballad may not seem like the ideal introductory song, it left the crowd thundering with applause. Lead vocalists Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig entered in signature matching outfits, this time in black dresses, mirrored sunglasses, and vibrant red lipstick rather than the black-and-white getup from their first appearance. Known for their strong vocals paired with a mix of piano and synth, an extended (and wild) drum solo by the vocalists was a standout point in the weekend.

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Both Jason Isbell and Vance Joy had strong performances, but the consecutive pairing of the two, as well as the length of their sets, acted more as a disservice than intended, causing the songs to feel lengthy and muddled, leaving some watchers underwhelmed. Had the two performed earlier in the day, or had a buffer artist performed in between the two, each could have had much greater success. The day was not beyond saving, however. TV on the Radio hypnotized for nearly an hour, combining soul, reggae, punk, and a thousand other genres into something strictly theirs.

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Back when I wrote the preview for the show, listing the 7 bands to see, I listed Tenacious D at the top of that list. And after watching their set, I didn’t waste that list. Jack Black and Kyle Gass, despite not being the visual poster children for what you’d expect from rock stars, thrive off of this, delivering the unexpected. Brilliant musicians in their own right, their backing band kept up at every step throughout a set full of fan favorites
across their discography, a handful of wardrobe changes, and a freeform jazz
solo. The pinnacle moment  of the set, possibly the evening, and maybe even the weekend came after Gass and Black noticed that their electric guitar player was “looking a little strange,” as Black put it. The band then kicked into “Beezleboss (The Final Showdown),” exorcizing the Devil from their bandmate through an epic metal battle and
sending his sorry ass back to Hell.

Lastly, it was the Pixies’ chance. Festival veterans, music legends, hometown heroes – that’s a pretty lethal résumé. No matter the age, every person there at some point had either A. grown up with their music or B. grew up with a band who had the Pixies to thank for getting them started in one way or another. Closing out the weekend with a 30+ year setlist was a culmination of the festival as a whole – music for fans from all eras, of all ages, and from countless areas, coming together and singing along.

We’ll see you in September.

Seven Bands To See At Boston Calling: #1, Tenacious D

Today’s the day!! It is day one of Boston Calling and you can expect to see tons of coverage from us over the next couple of days! Wrapping up our Seven Bands To See At Boston Calling, we bring you our number one artist you need to be keeping an eye out for!

On our list so far: #7. Sharon Van Etten / Krill / The Ballroom Thieves, #6. Run The Jewels, #5. Halsey, #4. Marina and the Diamonds, #3. Beck, #2. St. Vincent


Today we talk about our #1 pick, Tenacious D.

They be not angels,
they are but men. But, though mere men, they make up TENACIOUS D, The Greatest Metal Band in the World. While they have
their roots planted deep in comedy, it would be impossible to deny the serious
talent Jack Black and Kyle Gass both have.

 

With a new album (potentially) planned for 2016-2017, and a
trio of rock operas in their arsenal, Sunday night is going to be absolutely
insane in the absolutely best way possible.

For fans of: everything.
For a taste, check out: “Beezleboss (the Final Showdown),” “Tribute,”
“Kickapoo”
Catch them: Sunday, 8:05, Red Stage

Seven Bands To See At Boston Calling: #2, St. Vincent

It’s almost time! It’s only a few days until we’re back at Boston Calling once more. So, to keep with tradition, here is our list of who you need to be keeping an eye out for!

On our list so far: #7. Sharon Van Etten / Krill / The Ballroom Thieves, #6. Run The Jewels, #5. Halsey, #4. Marina and the Diamonds, #3. Beck


Today we talk about our #2 pick, St. Vincent

I first saw ST. VINCENT when she performed on The Colbert Report last February, and
then seeing her a few months later on Saturday
Night Live
had me hooked. It was this strange combination of energetic and
frigid, staged and theatrical, yet free and random.

 

Her music has been labeled “baroque pop” and “art rock” and
a dozen other things, but I think it’ll be something different to each
different listener. And when it translates to stage, it’ll be even more. (Also,
her self-titled album took home “Best Alternative Album” and made my Top 10
from 2014; maybe that’ll hold some merit?)

For fans of: Scissor Sisters, Tegan & Sara, the Dresden
Dolls
For a taste, check out: “Prince Johnny,” “Teenage Talk,”  “Digital Witness”
Catch them: Saturday, 6:50, JetBlue

Seven Bands To See At Boston Calling: #3, Beck

It’s almost time! It’s less than one week away until we’re back at Boston Calling once more. So, to keep with tradition, here is our list of who you need to be keeping an eye out for!

On our list so far: #7. Sharon Van Etten / Krill / The Ballroom Thieves, #6. Run The Jewels, #5. Halsey, #4. Marina and the Diamonds


Today we talk about our #3 pick, Beck.

The Boston Calling
folks couldn’t get Beyoncé this year, so they booked Beck instead. (Not really.)

 

It deserves to be mentioned that Beck’s 12th (12TH!)
album brought home the Grammy for Album of the Year this year, but it also isn’t as big of an achievement as
it sounds, since the man has been winning Grammys almost as long as I’ve been
alive. I sincerely doubt you have better Friday night plans.

For fans of: The Arcade Fire, BASTILLE, Modest Mouse
For a taste, check out: “E-Pro,” “Blue Moon,” “Modern Guilt” (And “Loser,”
obviously)
Catch them: Friday, 9:15, JetBlue Stage

Seven Bands To See At Boston Calling: #4, Marina and the Diamonds

It’s almost time! It’s less than one week away until we’re back at Boston Calling once more. So, to keep with tradition, here is our list of who you need to be keeping an eye out for!

On our list so far: #7. Sharon Van Etten / Krill / The Ballroom Thieves, #6. Run The Jewels, #5. Halsey


Today we talk about our #4 pick, Marina and the Diamonds.

I’m not entirely sure how to describe her, but all I
can really say about Marina and the
Diamonds
is that I am 145% sure we are going to have a ridiculously great
time watching this performance. She’s part dancefloor, part opera house, but it
all works.

 

Her crowd will be wild and energetic and ambitious, which
will be a perfect fit. And for those who may be new to Marina and aren’t sure
how to handle it, it’s simple: rule number one is you gotta have fun.

For fans of: The Ting Tings, La Roux, Ke$ha
For a taste, check out: “Homewrecker,” “Primadonna,” “How to Be a Heartbreaker”
Catch them: Saturday, 5:45, Red Stage

Seven Bands To See At Boston Calling: #5, Halsey

It’s almost time! It’s less than one week away until we’re back at Boston Calling once more. So, to keep with tradition, here is our list of who you need to be keeping an eye out for!

On our list so far: #7. Sharon Van Etten / Krill / The Ballroom Thieves, #6. Run The Jewels


Today we talk about our #5 pick, Halsey.

I didn’t get my first
listen of Halsey until early this
year, but from then on, there was no turning back. Her music is purely
addictive, and her huge “Ghost” is anything you could hope for from a pop song
– smooth, soft, sharp and seductive.

 

One of the serious contenders for Breakout Artist of
late-2014/2015, her early time slot is going to be a serious treat for those
who get there early. But, if she makes her way back for another round sometime
down the road, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see her performing much later.

For fans of: Ellie Goulding, Lorde, Sia
For a taste, check out: “Hurricane,” “Ghost,” “Empty Gold”
Catch them: Sunday, 1:35, JetBlue Stage

Seven Bands To See At Boston Calling: #6, Run The Jewels

It’s almost time! It’s less than one week away until we’re back at Boston Calling once more. So, to keep with tradition, here is our list of who you need to be keeping an eye out for!

On our list so far: #7. Sharon Van Etten / Krill / The Ballroom Thieves


Today we talk about our #6 pick, Run The Jewels.

In comparison to the
last time around, this lineup features a much smaller amount of hip-hop.
September had Childish Gambino and Nas (and twenty one pilots, if we’re being
fair), while September 2013 brought us Major Lazer and Kendrick Lamar. The May
editions seem to favor the indie/pop/rock side of things, so Run the Jewels’ chunk of time is sure
to be a contrast from the majority of the rest of the weekend, in a good way.

 

Plus, even though El-P has assured the public that Run the Jewels 3 will definitely not be
coming out until 2016, that doesn’t definitely
mean we won’t be getting the first taste of new music, right? We’ll seeeeeee.

For fans of: Childish Gambino, Lupe Fiasco, Major Lazer
For a taste, check out: “Close Your Eyes,” “All Due Respect,” “Oh My Darling
Don’t Cry”
Catch them: Saturday, 2:55, JetBlue Stage

Seven Bands To See At Boston Calling: #7,  Sharon Van Etten / Krill / The Ballroom Thieves

It’s almost time! Happy Saturday! Yesterday marked ONE WEEK until we’re back at Boston Calling once more. So,
to keep with tradition, here is our list of who you need to be keeping an eye
out for!

In the past, we’ve begun these countdowns with the winners
of the contest that granted them the opening slot on each day. However, this
year, we’ll shake things up a bit. There’s no contest to discuss, and it came
to my attention that, in discussing the openers on Saturday and Sunday, I was
unconsciously ignoring the Friday night support. Shame! So, let’s fix that,
yes?

Friday evening, the night (and the festival itself) will
begin with Sharon Van Etten.

Her soft, yet strong voice is sure to draw in the
concertgoers who are waiting around outside, unsure whether or not they should
bother showing up early. Hint: you should. This is just a suggestion (or, more
of a hope), but if she begins the night by playing “Serpents,” we’ll be off to
a very favorable start to our weekend.

Saturday and Sunday mornings will start off in more
customary fashion, with a local act leading off the day. First, Krill bring along a sound that is
somehow both unpolished and sharp, with a vibe that spans decades – 70’s
psychedelic rock meets 90’s garage grunge and modern grit.

Sunday, the Boston trio The
Ballroom Thieves
will start things off a bit cleaner. Their folk-pop brand
slips in and out of a handful of genres, making them a great choice to begin a
diverse day’s lineup.

For fans of:
SVE: A Fine Frenzy, VÉRITÉ
Krill: The Front
Bottoms, mewithoutYou
TBT: Edward
Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, Bright Eyes

For a taste, check out:
SVE: “Serpents,”
“Afraid of Nothing”
Krill: “Phantom,”
“Theme From Krill”
TBT: “Loose
Lips,” “Archers”

Catch them:
SVE: Friday, 6:30, JetBlue Stage
Krill: Saturday,
12:55, Red Stage
TBT: Sunday, 1:00, Red
Stage

Interview With:: Nick Santino

We recently sat down to chat with Nick Santino about success, playing with Hanson and his latest release, Savannah. We recently reviewed the album, which you can read by clicking here!

You can read the interview below!

The last time we spoke with you was right before you hit the road for the Vans Warped Tour where you played in the Acoustic Basement. Following that, you hit the road again on your own headlining tour, The Long & Winding Roadshow -which is such a great name, by the way. What drives you to constantly tour and hit the road?
I love being on the road. It’s where the songs really come to life and become something special.  I love interacting with all of the people who come out to the shows.  I love it just as much as I love being in the studio making new music.

You previously shared with us that being solo allows you to be more honest and more yourself. What other positives and negatives are there in touring solo compared to touring in a band? How are you adjusting to it?
I enjoy playing solo shows yeah. It gives me a bit of practice to get my stage banter right and to be honest and true to myself as well as the people there.  I love playing with a band for the energy it brings and the over all good time it is.

I think everyone has a different way of defining how and when they make it, whether it’s a radio single or playing sold-out shows.  How do you measure your success? 
I think if you are able to do what makes you happy then that is being successful. If you want a family, a nice house, a good job and you eventually get that and you’re happy, that is success.  I think some people have big dreams and goals and that’s great to have. I just like to set mine a bit lower and gradually work my way up the ladder.

Savannah has a more melancholic theme to it than your previous album Big Skies. How was the writing process different for this EP?  Can we expect more songs like this on your next album?
I went into writing Savannah with the feeling of wanting to do an EP that would fit the season.  Something cold and wintery and I think I accomplished that.  I’m sure I’ll continue to make this kind of music but theres no telling what I’ll write next. I don’t set out to write in a certain genre. I don’t like having rules or guidelines. I let the songs write themselves.

My favorite track off of Savannah is “How to live with a Ghost”.  It’s kind of hauntingly beautiful, just to be punny.  What was your mindset writing this song? 
I wrote this song a year ago and I wanted to put it on Big Skies.  I’m glad I waited til now
because I wasn’t sure how exactly I wanted it to sound.  I think when I was gonna use it on Big Skies I made it more upbeat and had sort of a shuffle to it.  I think it was the best move to wait.  This song has such a strong message and I think it speaks louder with this chilled out vibe it has now

In your song “Rio” you talk about heading out to Mexico, and you happened to go to Mexico to play with Hanson.  Was that strategically planned or just a coincidence?
Just a coincidence .  I had actually never been to Mexico before I wrote that song. I for some reason kept singing the line/melody “We used to go to Mexico” and thought it sounded pretty so I rolled with it..

Speaking of Hanson, how excited were you about playing with them and how was the experience?
They are great.  That whole getaway was great and I hope we can do more things together.  David Ryan Harris was also a part of it and him and I were talking about writing some music together.  Everyone there was amazingly talented and I was honored to be a part of it.

When you’re not writing new songs or playing gigs, what do you like to do during your off-time?
I’m lazy.  I do normal boring people stuff.  Netflix, laundry, cooking, design work.  I try and stay busy. I like taking guitars apart and rebuilding them. Just anything to keep sane.

For more on Nick Santino: Facebook | Twitter