While Day 1 of Boston Calling saw long lines for food and drink and sporadic rain showers, Day 2 started off with beautifully sunny skies, much improved lines and slight reconfiguration of the grounds to keep everything moving smoothly. I stepped onto the green fields near the Blue Stage to catch folks tossing around a football, grabbing freshly made cheeseburgers, and simply soaking up every bit of the sun.
Tkay Maidza, a rapper hailing from Australia, exploded into her set, taking great advantage of everyone’s heightened spirits and renewed vigor. The rapper was bubbly and effervescent as she bounced across the stage, long twists swinging freely around her as she moved. Her music is very much on the pop end of the spectrum, which the crowd was definitely feeling judging from their eager reactions.
Switching gears back to the Red Stage, the folk-rock Strand of Oaks were just taking the stage. Watching him smiling from ear to ear, looking out on the crowd that had gathered to see him was wholly satisfying. Performing a string of selections from 2015 release, Heal, as well as his 2017 release, Hard Love, there were more than a few fists in the air as Showalter bellowed “YOU GOTTA HEAL!!!”
Slowing down the momentum a bit, Moses Sumney ushered us right into his world with his ethereal falsetto and minimalist approach to his music. Despite being outside on this huge stage, he managed to make his delivery feel intimate. I found myself enraptured by his presence and fell in love with his music immediately.
Shaking myself out of the spell that Sumney cast, Oh Wonder managed to be the best thing to amp up the energy. The London based duo of Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West’s infectious blend of pop and electro made for a set filled with bountiful opportunities to dance, clap and lose yourself completely in the music. Their trademark “OW” neon letters stood tall behind them, illuminating the stage and highlighting their bountiful sound.
Back at the Blue Stage, I was getting prepared to see Danny Brown. His reputation for being a dynamic and often times unpredictable performer had me intrigued. His penchant for leaning more on the rock side of the performance scale, combined with hip-hop lyricism made him one of the must see acts of the weekend, and he certainly did not disappoint. With his tongue hanging from his mouth on multiple occasions during his set, he spurred on crowd surfing and the rowdiness was a perfect compliment to his flamboyant performance.
With a career spanning 17 years, the crowd that assembled for Tegan and Sara was very unsurprising. What I did not expect, having never seen them live, were the large and colorful balloons strewn across the stage. Their sound was definitely poppy, which seemed to be the underlying theme of the day, but fans of the band were treated to some older cuts that leaned more into their indie rock roots.
One set that I had really been looking forward to was Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. The soulful clamoring of a horn section, guitars, an expertly placed tambourine, and deep grooves made his set one of the highlights of my weekend. While Rateliff admits the songs are mostly about his personal struggles, it’s hard not to get caught up in the toe-tapping nature of the music.
The xx settled onto the Red Stage next, and the anticipation in the crowd was palpable. The trio of Romy Madly Croft, Oliver Sim and Jamie Smith was welcomed with deafening screams. Admitting that they don’t usually play in the daylight, the environment was an all-new way for their fans to experience their performance. The contrast between Romy and Oliver’s voices was interesting to take in, combined with the overarching pop tone of their songs.
Back at the Blue Stage, the last entry of the day for pop-bands ended on The 1975. Now you would have to be living under a rock to have never heard of the band before today, they are literally everywhere. Their fans line up for days before a show to get a good spot, and their set at the festival was no different. One girl in the crowd, desperate for food, was willing to shell out $20 for the KIND bars they had been giving out to festival goers for free. Loyal fans would be a supreme understatement. That said, lead singer Truman Black was entertaining to watch. His facial expressions and movements were unpredictable and I caught myself smiling watching him more than once.
To close out the festival, Mumford & Sons took their rightful spot on the Green Stage. Their stage set up was impressive to say the least. It looked like an ornate mansion. I’ve definitely seen Mumford & Sons perform in the past, but this iteration of the band blew me away. Graduating from the wistful banjo and acoustic guitars, their new plugged in sound was expansive and transformed the songs into powerhouses in the live setting. The songs from Wilder Mind sounded huge and older songs from Babel and Sigh No More were rejuvenated with new life. Spectacular displays of pyro, and a rogue Marcus Mumford bolting offstage and through the crowd was just a few of their set highlights. Mumford & Sons has and always will be a solid band, but there’s something about their live performance that leaves you feeling full of hope.
Article: Lesley Keller