With news that Boston Calling would be only happening once a year every Memorial Day weekend and expanding and relocating to Harvard’s Athletic Complex starting next year, everyone arrived to City Hall Plaza to say goodbye to the only home the festival has ever had. The ease of seeing every performance at Boston Calling has been one of its calling cards that separates it from every other major festival in the country. It will truly be interesting to see what happens next year when they include a full time 3rd stage, a comedy stage, and a film portion curated by Natalie Portman.
But that is next year. This year started off with Lisa Hannigan and festival curator Aaron Dessner playing a set of music that very much eased the crowd into the festival. The set was comprised of what seemed like folk tunes that had a little extra punch to them thanks to a three piece backing band. It was great to see Aaron not play with The National for once and add some great layers of music to another artist.
Sufjan Stevens was next and brought a wild psychedelic stage show to the festival. Jumping around during “Seven Swans” with a pair of wings on, it seemed as if he was flying about the stage. The lighting and costumes throughout his show was one of the best productions the festival has had the honor of having. With the longest set of the night, he was a nonstop juggernaut for the crowd that was rapidly growing to one of the biggest Friday crowds in the festival’s history. Sufjan’s entire set could have sound tracked the trippiest movie you’ve ever seen. His set may have seemed like it was going to be the most theatrical of the evening with everything that was happening on stage, but it was only the appetizer for what was still to come.
For those who were either at Coachella or watched the stream you knew what was coming with Sia. For those who haven’t seen it, it is far more a theatre production than a live show. Subbing in for Maddie Ziegler, the very talented dancer who stars in her videos, was Stephanie Mincone who dances all over the stage in a jaw dropping manner, while other dancers perform as well.
What matters though is how the crowd responded to her and they loved it. From the opening notes of “Alive” all the way through a thank you after “Chandelier,” they hung on every note she was hitting and every move Maddie and the other dancers made. By far the best song Sia sang was “Titanium,” letting her voice completely go wild and showing off what it can do. Sia easily has one of the best voices in pop music today. Overall day one of Boston Calling was a success. With a third stage opening on Saturday for the first time ever and a large crowd expected on a hot day, it should continue to be a grand farewell to City Hall Plaza for the festival.
Article: Bryan Lasky