Unlike day 1, Boston Calling got off to a rocking start with local act Grey Season. The band started out their set with a little snippet of London Calling, changing it to Boston Calling of course, and then followed it up with a half hour of pure rock and roll. The jumpstart was welcomed by all and set the tone for a majority of the day.
Skylar Spence followed with a short set of pop based synth tunes that had the early face painted crowd dancing. Spirits were extremely high throughout the middle day of the festival and everyone came to party. Much of the crowd could be seen dancing all over City Hall Plaza, grabbing drinks, or eating some more of the local food that the festival offers. Doomtree came on like dynamite next with their 5 MC and 2 DJ crew. With so many people on stage the energy was wild. The group gave each MC a chance to shine in front of the adoring crowd. One thing Boston Calling does great is make sure they grab a little piece of every genre out in today’s vast musical landscape.
Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks strode onto the stage next and played a great laid back set of music. Some of the music had a slight resemblance to The Grateful Dead, while others sounded more like his previous band Pavement. The set was fantastic and the band even threw in a quick “Sweet Leaf” tease from Black Sabbath before heading into their last song of the set. Country and bluegrass music was next as Sturgill Simpson and his band arrived. The crowd howled and chanted his name as he took the stage and he seemed taken back by it slightly. On paper he may not have fit in with the rest of the music on the festival but his set was one of the major highlights of the day. His strong voice is balanced out by the beautiful playing of his band. Laur Joamets’s slide guitar playing was a huge highlight of the entire set.
Following Sturgill was Father John Misty who oozed rock and roll out of his bones. From going into the first row of the crowd to waving and throwing his mic stand around, J. Tillman gave us all a lesson in how to be a front man for a band. Playing much of the material from I Love You, Honeybear, his set was a non-stop whirlwind of sound. From there, the music turned to Walk The Moon and their brand of pop-rock. The young crowd danced and sang throughout their set, which was the best attended of the day up to that point. The band was clearly loving the crowd and gave them everything they had. The one-two closing knockout of “Shut Up and Dance” and “Anna Sun,” got City Hall Plaza dancing once again in unison for the first time in a couple of acts.
Chromeo kept that going with an amazing set and light show. The duo’s funky electronica was slotted perfectly as the sun set and night took over Boston. With the beginning notes of Intro (Chro-me-o…o…o) blaring from the stage, the crowd enthusiastically sang it right back to the band, and the following “Night by Night” sent everyone into a dancing frenzy. Chromeo stole the night with their set as Chvrches and Alt-J just didn’t seem to have the energy of the duo. This is not to say that either band was bad, as Chvrches put on great performance, highlighted by new tracks “Never Ending Circles” and “Make Them Gold.” The synth-pop trio were embraced by the crowd, but not to the extent that a stage closing act should be.
Alt-J had the honor or closing down the festival and brought a spectacular light show, but their music, while great, wasn’t up to speed of past Boston Calling closers. The energy level at City Hall Plaza began to escape as some left their set a little early to go out into the night life Boston had to offer them. “Fitzpleasure” was the best song of their set and for a moment brought some energy back to life, but it just didn’t match up with a majority of the rest of the sets of day two. It was a fantastic Saturday of music at Boston Calling with a little something for everyone. Sunday looks to be the pure rock and roll day and should be a good one.
Article: Bryan Lasky