With Saturday’s crazy hot temps out of the way, Boston proves that if you don’t like the weather, just wait a day and it’s bound to change. In the case of this weekend, it’s gone from a sweltering 90 degrees Saturday to a cool, cloudy 57 on Sunday. Despite the welcome cool down, the plaza looks a little sparser than it did the night before—but it’s not for the lack of talent. In fact, it might be more a case of too much talent, too diversely spread. Let me explain.
While Boston Calling has been embracing multiple genres under one roof for a while now, it’s never felt quite as mish-mashed as it does today. We go from rock, to rap, to a sort of 70s style funk/soul all within the course of a couple hours, all back to back. It’s not that any of these artists aren’t worth watching, it’s just I’m not sure they’re meant to be watched one right after another like that. In any case, the lineup doesn’t seem to flow as smoothly as it has in previous installments.
Nevertheless, there’s some fantastic talent in the house and Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires was one of my personal favorites of the evening. While I’m still not totally sure his music was a fit for the festival’s otherwise primarily rock/pop/hip-hop based lineup, his jazzy crooning was a beautiful surprise, and he woo-ed the audience in a way I simply wasn’t expecting. Definitely a favorite of the weekend.
Following Charles Bradley came The Front Bottoms, a band I was anticipating for a few different reasons. I’ve been following these New Jersey natives since 2011’s self-titled album, and when I heard they’d be on this May’s lineup, I was overjoyed. Watching them and their music grow over the years has been really interesting. As they’ve grown (and signed to Fueled By Ramen) they’ve become a bit more polished—still kind of weird in their newer material, but much less so, and far less of that quirky vigor we’ve all come to know and love. This was my first time seeing them in a festival atmosphere, and their performance mimicked that cautious quirk. Still, they delivered a spot on, fantastic performance, and they had the audience singing along to favorites like “The Beers”, “Maps”, and “Au Revoir (Adios).” They even came complete with their own Air Dancers, jamming along to every move on stage.
Breezing through Elle King, who gave a good performance, but nothing particularly memorable, (except for the fact that she seemed to be at least a little bit tipsy), we hit Janelle Monae,who by the sound and look of the crowd was easily one of the fan favorites of the night. Killer stage set up aside, (decked out fully in black and white) Monae paid tribute to Prince calling him her mentor and idol, as she performed “Let’s Go Crazy”, amidst a glow of purple light.
HAIM took the stage next, breaking out a spectacular stage set up that included several background mirrors equipped with flashing lights, along with a surprise guest appearance by Christine and The Queens, who performed earlier in the day. There wasn’t a single body standing still during this set—they had their audience up and dancing the whole way through.
In a surprising twist (or maybe because it was just really cold at that point) Disclosure found themselves closing out the night to a much smaller crowd than HAIM. Still, their light show was indescribably epic, and they took the festival out in style with live video of both DJs mixing, and even blowing up watermelon slices in the audience. Because I guess they wanted to experiment with their inner Gallagher.
Tell us in the comments: who was your favorite act of the weekend?