Straight away we know Saturday is going to be a scorcher of a day—as the doors open the temperature has already hit the mid-80s and the sun is blazing. But that doesn’t stop the droves of dedicated fans from infiltrating City Hall Plaza for the third year and sixth installment of Boston Calling. They’re here to see everyone from Børns to Dallas Green (City and Colour), to the headliners Miike Snow and Robyn, and every other major talent in between. (You can see the full lineup here).
Before long we’re into it with the openers Palehound, Lizzo, and Battles. For me personally, The Vaccines are where the day really kicks off. 3pm and I’m already sweaty and exhausted from the heat, but with The Vaccines comes a kind of indie rock that has me instantly energized and excited for the day ahead. It’s music that you can get into whether you’re sweating it out with the thousands of people packed in front of the stage, or cooling down on one of the shaded areas. It’s my first introduction to the band and I have to admit that with a 50-minute set, I’m initially worried about newcomer fatigue. You know what I mean. When you’re first introduced to a band, too much too soon can be a little overwhelming. But to my delight, no such thing happens. Each song is more captivating than the last, and before I know it we’re on to Børns. Having been recently familiar primarily with the same hit that I’m sure most festival-goers are (“Electric Love” ) his set doesn’t disappoint. His sound is tight, and he owns the stage. Looking cool, comfortable, and totally at home, he’s a natural crowd pleaser and in my opinion, one of the best sets of the afternoon, if not entire evening.
Then comes the moment I’ve been unknowingly waiting for. Each Boston Calling I find myself falling in love with a new artist, and this year, that artist is Courtney Barnett. Coming to us all the way from Australia, Courtney’s music is the perfect mix of rock ‘n roll vibes to bring me back to life amidst the mid-day heat. Her voice soars across the plaza and beyond, so much so that I’m certain she’s becoming a favorite of not only everyone in the festival, but passerby’s as well. She’s a tough act to follow, but Canada’s Dallas Green, AKA City and Colour steals the stage next, sweeping the audience away with his much mellower, though still infectiously captivating brand of folk rock.
Before I know it we’ve creeped up on the headliners, and as the sun finally begins to go down Mike Snow takes the stage. Drinking tea throughout the set, his voice is perfection, and the crowd goes wild for “Black and Blue”, as well as a special extended version of “Animals.”
Next, it’s Odesza warming up the crowd before headliner Robyn closes out the show. The real standout to this dance party was the epic light show and digital animations that played on the screen behind the band. Even if you’re not normally a fan of Odesza’s music, the sheer energy in the plaza would get anyone off their feet and in the mood to party.
Closing out the night was Robyn—although the initial start was a bit slow musically, she carried on an incredible light show and tons of strobes, not to mention a well-timed costume change partway into her set. Although the general consensus and buzz about the festival was a resounding “what happened?!” in regards to poor sound and omission of a certain song— “Call Your Girlfriend,” the live remix, and performances throughout the day were enough to end the night feeling good.
I leave the festival feeling grimy, dirty, and all together like I just really need a shower to wipe the dirt and the heat of the day away. But you know what—this was one heck of a day. And with the constant reminder that this will be the last weekend held at City Plaza before the festival moves to its new location in Allston next May, I can’t help but savor each moment a little more. If this weekend is a farewell to the old and a ringing in of the new, then we’re going out with style—and I can’t think of any better way.
Now, on to Day #3.
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