Boston Calling Music Festival
May 27th, 28th, and 29th City Hall Plaza; Boston, Massachusetts
Even before the first note was played, we went into Boston Calling last weekend knowing it would be the biggest one yet.
Early Friday morning, the heads of the festival revealed that this May would not only be 2016’s only edition, but also the final installment of Boston Calling to take place at City Hall Plaza. In an effort to expand the festival in both size and what it offers, this year was a bit of a trial run before making the big move in 2017. With the addition of a smaller stage tucked into the back, a handful of local music acts and comics performed throughout the day, lending a sample of what we can expect next time around – more stages, with more to see.
But, hey, that’s not for another year. Another long, long, what-are-we-going-to-do-with-no-festival-this-September year.
Let’s talk about this year, here’s what you missed; the Good, The Bad, and the Uhhh….
4Knots Festival Pier 84, New York NY July 11, 2015
It’s summer. Have you noticed? You can tell because it’s hot out. I usually feel that this is the time of the year for classic rock and old-school hip hop. Y’know, barbecue stuff.
What I don’t usually think of is Indie rock. It’s more of a winter-y music to me, introverted stuff for staying inside and thinking about how sad you are with your overwrought feelings. When the sky is blue and even people like me (choosing to live in a city with public transportation so I don’t have to drive) fantasize about bumping up the speakers on an open-topped car, there seems like no good reason for the warm blankets of guitar fuzz. Why mumble your lyrics when you can shout them at the top of your lungs?
That being said, it’s an impressive feat of the Village Voice in putting together a festival worthy of Indie rock bands that exemplify summer in the best way. Youthful energy, fast guitars, and poppy melodies combined to create a sound that I would refer to as “surf-rock” if it seemed like any of the people onstage in their ripped jeans and introverted stances had ever surfed in their lives.
It’s a type of music that I forget about sometimes, even though it’s huge. The chilled out middle, in between pop bangerz and morose stuff for banging your head on the wall. Finding a way to turn waves of static into just plain waves. Using that rhythmic alt-rock bass line and tight jittery drumming to maybe make you want to dance, but not in a way that makes you look like a fool.
Maybe this is the stuff you listen to all the time, and I sound like an idiot for forgetting it’s there. But it’s an obvious thing that’s worth being reminded of anyway. On a day like July 11, in a place like Pier 84 on the Hudson River, with a collection of bands that are this green and just excited to be playing a crowd of this size, everything clicks.
Looking forward to this festival, I was most excited for the headliners Stephen Malkmus (former lead singer of Pavement) and his newer band The Jicks, and reunited Welsh psych-pop weirdos Super Furry Animals. Both legacy acts, with members’ ages reaching into their forties, and therefore people whose best albums came in a century with completely different digits.
Compared to the beauty of youth that pervaded the first half a dozen bands at the festival, these bands, hitting the stage as the cerulean sky faded into navy at dusk, were adults. They were a little tighter and better at their instruments, which was sort of a shame. Compared to the eagerness of the bands during the day, these evening groups made me wonder what’s the point of putting a solid, good show when there’s so much more fun to be had with a sloppy mess.
Surfbort – A beached zombie tried to yell as loud as possible. She wanted everything loud. Her bandmates were up to the challenge to varying degrees. She dragged the guitarist along with a leash around her collar. The guitarist seemed overwhelmed by this. It felt metaphorical. C
Heavens – An indie rock dad in reflective sunglasses led a revival of the early-aughts post-punk revival that I was all about in early high school. That is fine with me. They sounded like the beach, though they didn’t look like they’d enjoy actually being there. The bassist was the platonic ideal of a bassist. He had long hair that covered his face and allowed him to be completely in his own world. He sweat through his shirt and it made the shape of a heart over his heart. B Heaters – Heaters turned their amps up to eleven, and then put feedback loops on each of the squawks that came out of them, and turned on the kind of distorted, reverb that I like. They were three dudes with lots of hair and heads ready to shake. The fuzz from their guitar came out in rolling waves, and their long locks rolled in time as if being pushed by the air coming out of the speakers. Every note rang out for longer than it takes you to read this review. Every outro became the next song’s intro. Every song sounded a little the same, but that’s understandable because the reverberations of the previous song were still audible when they were half-way through the next. B
Meatbodies – Some henchmen from Transylvannia went on summer vacation. They formed a band, and tried to have as much fun as possible. Grizzled-looking dudes with hair meant for headbanging sang catchy melodies, and they sang them with an adorable two-singer harmony that I didn’t expect from dudes this heavy. It was great to see someone looking like Igor having this much fun, and to hear the guitars chugga-chugga-chugga with the kind of thuggish skronk that you can’t escape if you grew up in a lightning-struck stone castle overlooking a treacherous ravine. Every now and then one of the guitarists would launch into a metallic solo—meedly-meedly-meedly on the high frets all the way up on the neck—and sorta shrug. “Oh am I blowing your mind with my guitar pyrotechnics? Oops! What a silly thing!” Then his guitar strap would fall off, he’d look at it for a second as if he was going to stop playing and put it back on, and then decide to just play harder to make up for it. They sounded like the Buzzcocks but with more distortion and some drop-D tuning. That’s among the best things I can ever say about anyone. A
Happyness – One band member: “I dunno man. I feel like this song is only okay. We need to punch it up a bit.” Other band member: “What if we add just enough distortion that it sounds like it’s more interesting, but not in a way that gives it any sort of actually interesting texture?” One band member: “OK cool. Also, I’ll play piano on one of the slower songs. Not like, a more emotional song or anything like that. Just a song that lets everyone take a break.” Other band member: “Sure. Why not? And when you do that, we can switch to opposite sides of the stage and hug in the middle.” One band member: “Yeah that sounds adorable.” Me: It totally was. Definitely the highlight of their set, which other than—OH WAIT IS THAT AN 8-YEAR-OLD IN THE CROWD WITH A SCREAMING FEMALES SHIRT AND A SLIPKNOT HAT? THAT KID IS AMAZING AND HAS GREAT HAIR! Oh right. There’s a band playing. I almost forgot. D
Screaming Females – The name is a misnomer. The Screaming Females are actually only ⅓ female and that ⅓ also does all the screaming. She does enough screaming for the other two dudes and maybe 4 extra band members as well. Marissa Paternoster is the loudest girl on the planet. She’s a fireball with a guitar on overdrive, and she has a bassist and drummer working their absolute hardest to harness the heat without getting everyone burned. They’re trying to keep up with her energy, and there’s no shame in saying that they fail, because it’s impossible to keep rhythm for a hurricane. She isn’t playing her guitar. She beats it until it screams in anger and she makes it look easy. A
Mikal Cronin – This guy looks like my friend Josh; both of them look like Bighead from HBO’s Silicon Valley. He also looks like he’s got his shit together. He had a band full of people who played music like it was their job. I say this to mean both that they played extremely well and also that they didn’t really show enthusiasm beyond what was needed to do so. They definitely enjoyed being up there, but also weren’t there because they enjoyed being up there. The songs were relatively straightforward pop songs, with just enough accoutrements to make them feel a little “alternative”–little bits of screech and feedback between verses, slightly unexpected structure–but not enough to derail the hooks. I’ve been meaning to check out Cronin’s albums for a little while now. After seeing him, I definitely should, but will probably get around to it no sooner than I would have before. B-
Twin Peaks – Right when this band was starting, I spilled my beer all over myself in a somewhat cartoonish fashion that made the festival staff who saw me point and laugh. It left me pissed off and smelling of beer, which was luckily exactly the state to be in for Twin Peaks. The band is young (far younger than the TV show they’re named after, I have to guess), loud, and exuberant. They are so enthusiastic that it wouldn’t have mattered if they didn’t know how to play their instruments. They did, and they ably put on a show of solid, stripped down punk tunes, but with the level of fun they were having onstage, they could have just smashed their guitars with hammers and it would have been great. Every song was their best one and every note was a climax. Yelling, writhing on the floor, and pouring with sweat, they rocked. A-
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – Back in high school, Pavement’s debut album, Slanted & Enchanted was my favorite album of all time. Seeing the singer whose slacker whine and meandering guitar defined my adolescence was a big deal. Of course, Pavement has been gone for almost two decades, long enough for Malkmus to have played with the Jicks more than he ever played with them. But hey, I like the Jicks. I was really into Face The Truth back when that came out, and I thought their newest album was pretty good, with Malkmus singing a nice Lou Reed impression. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks played and I could never forget the ampersand. There’s a pretty solid drummer, bassist, and rhythm guitarist/keyboardist, but they play with their eyes glued on Stephen. He’s the power source, and he’s unfortunately not always up to that level of life-giving energy. He’s given a chance to solo on every song, and although I still love the way his guitar work zigzags around like it did on Pavement albums and the Silver Jews records he used to moonlight on, it really sounds like work now. The meandering spirit has been isolated to the point where it no longer feels playful. It’s amazing how little his amazingly youthful voice has changed in the course of my entire life time, but with songs that get this plodding, the bored affectation that always made his singing interesting just takes over, and stops anyone in the band from getting enough energy to have much fun. C+
Super Furry Animals – SFA came out once it was fully dark, along with a full use of the multi-colored lighting apparatus that had been there for all of the bands but had seemed completely frivolous. They wore baggy white full bodysuits that looked like they belonged to NASA that shone with all the rainbows projected onto them.There were props–Power Ranger helmets, signs calling for “Applause”, and, for the encore, super furry costumes to fit their namesake.
The visual gimmicks were fun, but also clearly incidental to the performance they were putting on. There was very little going on visually in the music – they played the songs without much dancing, posing, or intense showmanship. They were a reunion touring band (straight from their first show in six years at Glastonbury) and their attitude was clearly that they didn’t need any of that silliness. They played the great songs they wrote twenty years ago, and they played them well. They already made it to being rock stars, so who needs to show off? What more could you want?
For someone like me who is really into the Animals psychedelic weirdness version of what is often labeled “Britpop” (even if they were Welsh), it was easy to be happy with what they gave us. The band played with the confidence of not just headliners but of returning champions, and the skill of people who had played these songs hundreds of times before. It would be ridiculous for me to gripe about seeing “Do Or Die,” my favorite of their songs, with the intensity of their musicianship and the added bonus of a great freakout from the rainbow lights.
But the best thing about the Super Furry Animals has always been their exuberance, the real sense of weirdness and fun that made them twice as interesting as their supposed peers Oasis and Blur while the other two were sucking up all the attention. And in a day where the feeling of youthful summer pervaded, where less good bands put on way better shows on the strength of their excitement at playing for a crowd like this, it was hard to feel the same level of enthusiasm about a legacy act like this, even one whose legacy I admire so much. B+ – Review and photos by Jon Hecht
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.
Best Band 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.
Most Popular 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.
Best Cover 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.
It was phenomenal weather for the always-raining Seattle, WA and Bumbershoot 2014 was hands down one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I was able to enjoy the luxuries of a three-day pass to scope out both old and new artists. The experience as a whole can be best described as breathtaking – I say this because between all of the walking, my breath was literally gone (not to mention how many “wooo’s” and “you’re amazing’s” were screamed out after each outstanding performance). I ended the weekend with no voice, sore legs, and a giant grin.
For those who may not be familiar, Bumbershoot is a festival hosted around the Seattle Center in Washington, which highlights a variety of different artists, comedians, and other performers. It is a HUGE deal over on the west coast and people all over come to be swept up in the action. (Fun fact – bumbershoot actually means umbrella…does anyone else see the connection here? no? …okay, moving on.) Here at Lucy Out Loud, we had the chance to cover the festival for the first time(!!!) and this was not only an opportunity for us to get some west coast coverage, but it was also a way to check out even more artists we’ve never heard of or posted about before!
Though the festival also included some great comedic performances, we focused more on the musical side of the festival and took some time enjoying awesome live acts! Our musical favorites from the festival included The Lonely Forest, Hook ‘N Sling, and Young Karin. Their performances were phenomenal and their crowds were screaming for an encore – what more could you ask for?
In between the chaos that is a music festival, we also had the chance to sit down and chat for a bit with a handful of bands and artists who were scheduled to perform. All of who were ecstatic to sit down and talk to us about their future goals, beginnings, and share their enthusiasm for being at Bumbershoot!
This experience left us with some new musical favorites as well as some exclusive interview teasers. And to continue with the festival coverage we’ve been posting lately, starting tomorrow we’ll be giving you guys a daily dose of Bumbershoot interviews with artists including Gregory Alan Isakov, Kins, Young Blood Hawke, Campfire OK, and La Luz!
Keep your eyes peeled and let us know if you attended the festival – if so, what were your thoughts and experiences?!
The inaugural Fashion Meets Music Festival kicked off this past Labor Day weekend in the Columbus, OH area. Music and fashion have intermingled for a long time and there are many musicians who even create their own clothing lines and brands. FMMF set out to provide the best of fashion and music and although these two didn’t necessarily mesh over the weekend, there were plenty of activities for each respectively.
There were well over 100+ plus performances throughout the festival with concerts on three main stages along with after party shows at local bars/clubs in the downtown Arena District. For the fashionistas in attendance there were fashion seminars held by Project Runway alum Kelli Martin and Althea Harper, runway stages and a retail marketplace.
The music lineup was filled with a variety of different genres, but seemed to mostly contain indie/alternative artists. One of the highlights at festivals for me is discovering new music that I haven’t heard before. A few of the artists that stood out the most to me were NGHBRS, Envoi and empires. Each band brought a lot of energy to the stage and left me wanting to hear more of their music.
Overall FMMF brought in a fair amount of concert goers with numbers increasing later in the night for the main headlining acts: O.A.R and Local Natives (Friday), Circa Survive and Switchfoot (Saturday), New Found Glory and Cold War Kids (Sunday). The drawback of the headlining performances was the overlapping set times (with one headliner starting 15 minutes after the other) which didn’t allow festival goers to see full sets of both bands if they wished.
Besides the fashion and music, FMMF also offered a couple of other extras. A variety of food trucks, vendors and sponsor booths were available to the public. There were also some fun activities that included ferris wheel rides and ziplining.
Since FMMF is an up and coming festival there is room for a few improvements, but overall it was a very fun weekend full of great music. I think it has the potential to develop over a few years and become a very successful festival that people will look forward to attending every year.
For our photos from the festival, please click here!