The last day of a festival is always bitter sweet. As you arrive to the stage the music starts and you know the next day you have to go back to real life. New friends you made over the weekend, you may not see until next year and the schedule that you have been on for the past few days is gone. As this Boston Calling comes at the end of festival season, it feels like there is even a longer waiting period to get back to having no cares in the world except seeing music. Sunday went out with a bang though with pure rock and roll blasting through City Hall Plaza and a lunar blood moon eclipse giving a show for all to watch.
Local act Dirty Bangs got things off to a great start with some flare as front man Evan Kenney paced the stage and both guitarists moved about like their life depended on it. The crowd went wild for the band and sang their hearts out for them. Ending their set throwing their guitars, mics, and drum sticks on the the stage let them declare that they just destroyed the half hour they were given. Bully, hailing from Nashville followed and brought a lot of power with them. Alicia Bognanno’s grunge-era vocals kept the crowd riled up for their whole set. The raw energy of the band made for a welcomed early day headbanging set.
Boston was not going to get a breather yet as FIDLAR strode on stage to R. Kelly’s “Ignition (Remix)” with mannequins that looked like the rapper flanking the stage, and broke right into the punk rock that would fill the plaza for the remainder of their set. The band never seemed to stand still for more than a moment. At the end of their set the entire crowd in front of them was asked to sit for a moment while the song was built up and then everyone jumped up in unison. It was a beautiful moment to be part of at the festival. Daughter was the first breather of the day with their slow groove tunes that saw those up front dancing their day away while those in the back of the audience sat on the ground to enjoy some lunch and great tunes. The band has been working on new music and previewed a few of the songs, which sounded fantastic. Elena Tonra doesn’t move away from her microphone much, but her strong vocals are wonderful to be enveloped in.
Twin Shadow seemed to be poised to bring the energy back to the concrete jungle the festival takes place on, but technical difficulties never let that happen. A few times during the set the band had to hold on and momentarily stop the next song they were going to play. Live music doesn’t always work out, but to the band’s credit they tried everything they could to keep the crowd entertained during their set. The ska indie infused punks MisterWives from New York City danced and paraded their way through their set and had the crowd in the palm of their hand for an hour. The energy brought smiles from everyone within an ear shot of the band, even the security guards and cops could be seen bopping their heads along to the infectious rhythms. Mandy Lee was an absolute joy to watch and she commanded the masses to jump, dance, and sing their hearts out. With a quick “We fucking love you Boston. Hope to see you soon,” MisterWives stole the afternoon away from everyone else who had played so far.
Nate Ruess, of fun., was next with his solo band and they pretty much sounded like his main band. Though they might be on hiatus, without watching the stage, any festival goer would probably assume it was fun. on stage. Playing songs from his album Grand Romantic, straight by the books covers of Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” and Elton John’s “Rocketman,” and of course a few choice songs from fun.. Ben Howard had the sunset slot for the last day of the festival and his light show was tremendous, possibly the best of the weekend. His spacey indie folk music was perfect for the blood moon to start coming out into the night sky. As Hozier took the stage, the crowd was massive and ready to hear the Irish singer croon through a glorious set of most of his debut album and a few choice covers. His voice was perfect, as was his band, on great takes of “Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene,” “Someone New,” and a cover of Ariana Grande’s “Problem.” As the moon began to be eclipsed, Hozier said a fond farewell with “Take Me To Church.”
The second Hozier ended, everyone’s sight turned to Alabama Shakes over on the main stage to close the weekend down. Brittany yelled to the moon and went right to work. The band is absolutely on fire right now and made sure that their highly anticipated set lived up to its potential. Though the lunar eclipse blood moon happened right in the middle of their set and took some eyes from the stage, those looking away were dancing right along to the music. “Gemini” let everyone get a little weird at the peak of the moon and people got to dance and rock out to “The Greatest” and “Don’t Wanna Fight.” Though an encore would have been nice, the band promised to be back soon following an hour and a half of showing that they are ready to be headliners anywhere in the country.
Sunday was the clear highlight of the weekend musically with most of the bands rocking out for the tired crowds. May’s festival may have been slightly more eclectic, but September’s held its own on the festival circuit. It should be interesting to see what next year brings to City Hall Plaza, as the festival always tries to give a little of every genre to the masses. Till next year Boston Calling!
Article: Bryan Lasky