Under much sunnier and pleasant skies, Day 2 of Boston Calling saw many more fans out and roaming the grounds, trying to grab a quick bite to eat before settling in front of the stage of their choice. For many, they decided on Sidney Gish, the Boston native and hometown hero. The twenty-year-old singer/songwriter armed only with her guitar stood in the middle of the vast expanse of the stage, and belted out songs about embracing awkwardness, and self-deprecating humor. A fitting beginning to a day full of surprise acts.
Next up was Princess Nokia, who along with her two dancers came out of the gates on 10. Chanting “Who that is, hoe? That girl is a tomboy!” from her appropriately titled song, “Tomboy,” Princess Nokia was out to make her presence known and definitely remembered. Strong messaging of words like “WARRIOR,” and “LEADER” flashed behind her in huge letters on screen as she danced and fed off the crowd eventually prompting her to jump right down into the pit to get closer and take selfies with her fans.
On that same stage just a short while later, Betty Who showed up with upbeat choreography, and fun chemistry with her dancers that made the crowd holler with glee at every turn. The Australian artist had me humming her catchy tunes as I left the stage, and wandered into the Arena tent to catch Imogen Heap. Funny enough, Imogen Heap seemed a bit confused about exactly what she was meant to present to the crowd, so she settled on a unique arrangement of her hit, “Hide and Seek,” followed by a TED Talk-esque demonstration of how her electronic gloves worked with software to trigger the sounds and textures live. Off the cuff, sure, but still incredibly entertaining.
Oh and you’re wondering about the “surprises” that I mentioned earlier, aren’t you? Well, that came in the form of London band Shame, that pushed the crowd to their absolute limit and tested their own limit in the form of throwing water everywhere, jumping offstage and losing their shirt. Also, there was Denzel Curry, the Florida native that brought high energy rapping and bass loud enough to make your teeth rattle. Clearly, the crowd loved both acts, bursting at the seams to get as close to the stage as possible despite being crushed against the rail.
Back at the Red Stage, the Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner project titled Big Red Machine took the stage with J.T. Bates on drums, Brad Cook on bass and Bella Blasko on backing vocals. The band played through most of their self-titled debut, they also threw in some unreleased numbers, as well as a brand-new song, that Aaron teased they were working on last month during the PEOPLE festival in New York. Around me, crowd members mouthed along as best they could with the oft times perplexing lyrics, and I found myself laughing when I heard someone say “Man, that bass player has it good, he just gets to chill up against the stack and jam, man.”
At the Green Stage, things shifted back into high gear with Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals. Anderson ceremoniously made his appearance sitting at a drumkit that was hoisted high above stage level so everyone could enjoy his drum stylings from every vantage point. From playing drums to standing center stage and showcasing all his best dance moves, Anderson .Paak proved to be a consummate performer and all around star. His infectious smile, and funky music proved quite hard to ignore, as proven by more than a handful of folks getting off their blanket strewn on the ground and dancing a two step.
One of the most anticipated acts of the day was Irish born Hozier, who, in my opinion, released one of the best albums to date this year. His band was incredibly tight as the tall singer effortlessly nailed each note, and proved exactly why his shows are usually sold-out.
Back at the Arena stage, Dessa, who joked about playing inside the high school gymnasium-like structure with lazer beams on the ceiling as she referred to the triangle shaped light fixtures with “this might not be the future we imagined, but it’s the one we got” pulled off set laden with free-flowing rhymes and pristine vocals. Making use of every bit of time onstage, she made time to pose for the photographers in front of her and charm the audience in one fell swoop.
Last but certainly not least, closing things out for Day 2 was Tame Impala. After a cannon blast of confetti, the band played an invigorating set which saw them shrouded in dense fog, backlit and cast in silhouette, streams of lazer beams shooting far out into the crowd, all the while they threw down hit song after hit song. I even found myself shocked at a song I loved for so long that I didn’t know the band was responsible for. Brightly colored lights and songs that urge you to sing along from the first note was a grand way to end what might arguably have been the best day of the festival this year.
Article: Lesley Keller