Who: Run The Jewels, Lucius, St. Vincent, Halsey, Jason Isbell, The Lone Bellow
What: Boston Calling Music Festival, Part 3
When & Where: 5/22/15 – 5/24/15; Boston, MA
By: Eric Riley
For full gallery, click here!
Boston Calling Music Festival City
Hall Plaza; Boston, MA
May 22nd – May 24th 2015
Pre-show Grade: With only a few standout acts (in comparison to past festivals), this
was more of a grower than a shower. B
Post-show Grade: After a handful of fantastic performances from acts I didn’t know much about, such as MØ, TV On the Radio, and The Lone Bellow, there were surely countless new fans, myself included, gained by plenty of bands. Meanwhile, those who were expected to be dominant – St. Vincent, Marina and the Diamonds, HALSEY, and Tenacious D to name a few, lived up to and exceeded expectations. A-
Highlight & lowlights: Boston’s own The Ballroom Thieves opened day three with a bang, drawing an expanding crowd that grew with each song, while hometown heroes PIXIES closed the festival in expert fashion. Not every band could generate the same heightened buzz, however. A few midday acts on Sunday, with focus on Vance
Joy and Jason Isbell, drew the crowds, but didn’t seem to hold their attention throughout the duration of their lengthy set lists. But even without being at full steam, the energy was still better than most. B+
As always, the plaza was immaculate, not showing any signs of wear-and-tear from the 10,000+ weekend attendees. After a few tinkers and tweaks over the last few years, the stage setup has been perfected and cemented, with the dual-stage setup allowing for quick changes to one without distracting from the other stage’s performer, and giving any festival-goer the ability to see and hear from any spot within the grounds. A+
Not like this can be altered or changed by the people in charge, but it helps when it leans to the more favorable side, which it did. A chilly Friday night wasn’t a big issue, thanks to the three-act introductory lineup. The sun shone bright throughout Saturday and Sunday without feeling overbearing or uncomforting. My only issue was some big-time light during a few acts, but really, that’s just me looking for something to say. Good job, Mother Nature. A
Much like the stellar groundskeeping, many other amenities were beyond acceptable. Though I can’t speak for the parking situation since I stayed at a hotel about a block away (which, I’m going to give BC a point for that, as well), public transit allowed attendees to arrive from all over the city. Plus, if people did have trouble parking, that was probably their fault for trying to drive in the city anyway. The portable bathrooms were kept clean and stocked (I mean, as well as a festival’s portable bathrooms can be), and there were designated VIP restrooms to those with higher-level tickets. A handful of vendors and sponsors offered free food or beverage samples, drawing in customers a wide selection of local and widespread options. Shoutout to the Chicken and Rice Guys, Polar Drinks, and Chipotle. I love you all. A
It’s no secret that I love the Boston Calling festival – it’s a killer music weekend in the heart of my favorite city, staffed by some of the nicest, most-accommodating people I’ve had the pleasure of working with. And those are the factors that the general public rarely see, which makes it even more special – they aim for the best in every aspect they can. It sounds biased, but I’d be willing to bet that any random, impartial concertgoer would second at least a few of my opinions. And every piece of the festival that seems impressive is magnified even greater when you consider that this past May was only the fifth time it has been put on, and only the third as a three-day show. Somehow both huge yet centralized, providing all of the key elements with a creative touch, Boston Calling is an up-and-comer if there ever was one. A-
And Go Bruins!
Over the course of Boston Calling’s three-day festival there were plenty of moments that struck a chord with the audience. These came from acts big and small, and we at LOL wanted to recap some of our favorite sights and sounds. From fresh faced newcomers to seasoned festival veterans, every act at Boston Calling performed with aplomb – read on
for some of the stellar moments observed by our staff during the three day festival.
Next Big Thing
Halsey was an absolute stunner, especially considering the length of her career (less than a year!). With the amount of buzz around her Room 93 EP, which has been featured heavily n MTV and Buzzfeed, it was shocking that her time slot was so early in the day. However, the little starlet packed a huge punch with her single ‘Hurricane’, a ballad that is equally biting as it is heart wrenching Halsey has a tremendous future ahead of her if she continues with this momentum, be sure to check her out on tour with Imagine Dragons this summer!
Middle School Flashback
Gerard Way is the obvious choice for this category – the singer did not perform any of the hits from the My Chemical Romance roster but it was obvious that those in attendance were tenured fans. His performance was eerily reminiscent of the past, glad in the same signature black and red getup and bleached hair dyed back to black. The singer’s positivity has still remained contagious but the extremely warm welcome he garnered can be attributed to the loyal support of his t-shirt wearing fans and nostalgia factor.
Best Crowd Interaction
While an argument can be made that many artists on the Spring bill are deserving of this slot, there was nothing quite like the reactions that Tenacious D elicited from their
audience. Fans were hollering lyrics at the top of their lungs, with just as many laughs being elicited as cheers. Not many musical comedy acts are able to support their humor with a musical talent to match but Jack Black and Kyle Glass managed to balance the two in a spectacle that highlighted and played off of both skillsets. The minimalistic presentation but entirely engrossing performance was a testament to how well the duo command a crowd.
Most Underrated Performance
I will not lie, when Chet Faker was forced to drop off of the Boston Calling bill, Sunday lost a bit of its luster in my eyes. Despite this, his replacement act and City Hall Plaza veterans, Lucius, came in and blew us all away. The vocal chops of Jess Wolfe and Holly Laesig, who met at Berklee, were enough to convert even the most disgruntled and fit the overall tone of the festival perfectly.
Best Summer Song
I need some heaviness to my singles, especially in the summer. It’s the season of ruining
your speakers with heavy bass and head banging in the car so Run The Jewels’ “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)” is my go to selection from the Boston Calling lineup. Any song by the duo should be on your summer playlist- they’re absolute fire and need to be on your radar.
Best Individual Artist
Marina (and her Diamonds) showed the Boston Calling crowd that pop music done well is always something to celebrate. Her brightly colored fans came out in spades to jump
around to new tunes off of her album Froot and older hits like “Primadonna” the pop diva was returning to the stage with. Her performance was classy, energetic, and jam packed with happy, electronic vibes.
TV on the Radio were a band that brought so many musical styles that it was almost impossible not to find something in their set to jam out to. The translation of recorded
music to its live presentation is a spectacle not to be missed. Their lead singer, Tunde Adebimpe, has the sly swagger of a frontman who can execute a flawless performance every night while depending upon his fellow performers to pack a hefty punch.
Best Overall Performance
Bow down to all that is St. Vincent. Annie Clark and keyboardist/guitarist/backup vocalist Toko Yatsuda stunned with a performance that was equal parts calculated movement and improvised perfection. The duo’s tiny, robotic choreography was not lost at any distance and fell perfectly in line with the music, while Clark’s purposeful collapses emoted a break in facade and composure that all could relate to. Clark’s venture into the crowd also won her bonus points, still looking effortlessly cool and composed with audience members clamoring at a chance to touch the singer. St. Vincent earned her spot as this festival’s highlight and possible the best act to grace the Boston Calling lineup.
Beck. Beck. Beck. Did anyone on Friday talk about anything other than the Grammy winner? Yes, but he was on everyone’s minds and had an absolutely stunning performance that met or exceeded expectations. An incredible amount of people swarmed the plaza leading up to his performance, braving the Boston wind-chill to watch an hour and a half set that blew the audience.
Best of Boston
This one is (obviously) going to Boston band, The Pixies. While we salute the other hometown artist’s tributes to the city, there’s nothing that gets a Boston crowd going quite like a hometown act with gritty guitars and a killer light show. Pack decades of
hits like “Debaser” and “Where Is My Mind?” into the mix and you have a perfect choice for the closer to this city’s one and only festival.
Don’t ask a Boston girl how to pronounce her name, but MØ’s cover of “Say You’ll Be There,” the 90’s hit from The Spice Girls, was absolutely EVERYTHING. The singer’s energy was off the walls but you could tell this was one of, if not, the song that she was most excited to perform. The singer wore her hair specifically to pay homage to the girl group and loved every second of it, just like the crowd.
Written by Kara Kokinos. Photos by Eric Riley and Kara Kokinos.
Written by Kara Kokinos and Eric Riley.
Photos by Eric Riley.
Still a relatively new addition, the Friday night performances of Boston Calling have gone a bit unnoticed, or rather underappreciated, over these last three festivals. Neutral Milk Hotel’s media-blackout performance in September was a wonderful springboard into The National’s return to the BC stage, and last weekend’s opening night was another one to be remembered.
Beginning with the angelic-voiced Sharon Van Etten, Boston Calling 2015 was officially here. Combining her strong vocals with the dreamy, airy tone of her backing music, Van Etten lulled the crowd into a soft stir of excitement. Though that sounds like a contradiction, it’s a positive one – the performance was calm and light, but still powerful and hypnotizing. It was a wonderful fit for the setting – chill-inducing music on a warm Friday night, in the center of the city, getting a crowd of fans ready for the very busy weekend to come.
STAND OUT SONG: “I Don’t Want To Let You Down”
Bookended by a band on either side of them, Australia’s Tame Impala filled the second of three slots on Friday. Though they didn’t have the booking as top headliner, neither the band nor the crowd seemed to let that sway their intensity. A stark contrast to the ambient Van Etten, Tame Impala’s spacious psych-rock shook the walls of the plaza. Without much time or indication of a change between songs, the set was very well-received by the fans hoping for an experimental, “jam-band”-esque performance. Performing on a weekend that also featured the atmospheric My Morning Jacket made for a success.
STAND OUT SONG: “Eventually”
Lastly, there was the man of the hour – the one and only Beck. Reminiscent of the aforementioned Neutral Milk Hotel performance from last year, Beck also limited the presence of media and photography during his set, aiming for a performance that relied on the music rather than how it would be taken in. A risky request, but one that a performer such as he could execute. If Tame Impala drew a crowd, Beck brought along a flock of fans. Having been at or near the top of his game for the better part of two decades, his fanbase has had a very long time to reach its current size, and those in attendance did not disappoint.
His set showcased songs throughout the various stages of his career, with each era being performed as if it was his newest, going off without missing a beat. By the time his hour came to a close, the plaza was buzzing with what they were able to just witness – a living legend doing what he does best.
STAND OUT SONG: “E-Pro”
Friday night delivered everything that it was expected to, and then some, much like the festival itself has always done. Just when you think it has reached a peak, it climbs a little further.
And this was only Day One.
For our last giveaway of the month, we’ve teamed up with our friends at Boston Calling to give away a pair of three-day tickets to this May’s festival!* The line-up this year is pretty incredible and includes Tove Lo, Pixies, Gerard Way and Grammy award winner, Beck, just to name a few! The festival will take place from May 22nd to May 24th and will take place at City Hall Plaza.
Entry form can be found here! Contest will run for one month!
*Disclaimer: neither transportation or housing are provided.
Today is your last day to enter our Boston Calling ticket giveaway!! Winner will be announced tomorrow, so if you still want a chance to win a pair of three0day tickets to this May’s festival, enter by clicking this form! Good luck!