I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. One of my favorite things about festivals is the ability to not only see so many of your favorite bands in one setting, but to discover new favorites along the way. Every Boston Calling I come across a band that has either never been on my radar, or who I knew about and simply never made the time to get to know.
At the first Boston Calling that was Marina and the Diamonds. Another year it was Bat For Lashes. This year it was The Menzingers. A band that by all accounts should have been on my playlist for the last 10 years, and yet has somehow evaded me. This year, catching them within an hour and a half of the festival’s kickoff, it became clear how much I’d been missing. Full of energy in their stage show and the music itself, these guys have gone from “band I keep meaning to listen to” and transformed into “band I’m about to be obsessed with.”
Right after The Menzingers set was Thee Oh Sees, a band that my friends from Toronto had been raving about, and one of the few that they made sure to get a seat up front for. While I wasn’t able to catch much of their set, the part I did left an impression—I have to check these guys out!
One of the best sets of the day goes to Manchester Orchestra, whose show felt as dynamic, intimate, and captivating as any club show. In fact, if they had performed after dark when they could truly show off their incredible light show, I think it would have been one of the best shows of the weekend. While so many shows end up losing a little bit of intimacy in a festival atmosphere, Manchester Orchestra not only sounded incredible, but they looked it too. Not a ton of fuss was put into their overall stage presence, but with how impeccable their sound was, they didn’t need it.
Between the shows, there was a little down time to check out the comedy portion of Boston Calling, which I have to say, is a great addition in the last 2 years. Martin Urbano hosted, and while he took some warming up to, he eventually became one of my favorites of the night. Jo Firestone helped get things going as the first act, billing herself as “comedy for women who don’t like to have fun” (which I can get behind.) Tony Hinchcliffe, known for his in your face, insult style brand of comedy, had a few good moments, but I tuned out when he started making light of sexual assault, the recent Southwest Airline tragedy, and the dog that recently lost its life on a United Airlines flight. It just all felt in poor taste to me and by the sounds of it, most of the audience agreed. Bridget Everett, a self-described “alt-cabaret provocateur” who mixes raunchy comedy with storytelling, comedic timing, and singing (she’s a classically trained singer!) and has performed stand-up on Inside Amy Shumer, closed out the evening.
The second best set of the day easily goes to St. Vincent, who I had been hearing fans and press buzz about since I first arrived Friday. Anytime I asked someone who they were most looking forward to seeing or photographing, the answer was always “St. Vincent.” She’s no stranger to Boston Calling, having played the Spring 2015 lineup, but in the years since she’s only gained more presence and attention, and her live show has only improved. Throughout her set the sound was flawless, and the stage show brilliant and captivating. Annie Clark seems to be born for the stage, a complete natural when it comes to captivating the audience.
Of course, you know Queens of the Stone Age and Jack White closed out the show to a roaring audience (and everyone else is writing about it anyway). Oh! And let’s not forget the food. With trips to Tasty Burger (a loyal Boston Calling presence), Saté Grill for a delicious tofu and rice mix, and FoMu ice cream for a peanut butter cookies and cream sweet treat, it was a pretty great food day.
Let us know—who have you enjoyed the most this weekend?