In its second triumph, Boston Calling has returned to dazzle music fans with a lavish mix of indie rock, hip-hop, EDM, and everything in between in a two-day takeover of City Hall Plaza.
As I enter the grounds, the setup is already worlds better than it was this past May. The process is quick, easy, and painless, with the added perk of a separate entrance for media and a setup that puts the two stages directly across from each other, allowing fans to easily migrate from one to the next without ever missing a beat (literally!)
This time, Saturday’s lineup was reserved for the indie/alt-rock/bluesy crowd and Sunday boasted R&B, EDM and a little indie-pop, leaving something for everyone. While the general consensus has been that Sunday took on a much different atmosphere with a far different crowd (I have to wonder with the separated genres how many weekend passes were purchased) I applaud Boston Calling for their efforts in bringing a bit of everything to the festival, and I hope to see it done on their Memorial Day Weekend return.
Now, I happen to believe that some of the coolest bursts of inspiration come when you least expect it. Last May it came in the form of the incredibly talented Marina and the Diamonds, who I stumbled across right before fun’s set. This time around, inspiration came in the form of two lovely young girls, covered in body paint and sitting barefoot on the bricks of City Hall Plaza. I watched as these two girls, carefree and living entirely for the moment, drew to them stranger after stranger, men and woman alike, all seeking a bit of body paint themselves, and a quick conversation. In a culture so self obsessed, so unwilling and afraid to step outside our comfort zones, these girls were literally creating a community, a mini-movement, right inside the confines of Boston Calling. That my friends, is the power of music and creativity.
But onto the music! I may be a little biased here, but there were two stand-out acts for me, both of them coming from Saturday’s stellar lineup. First up, California natives The Airborne Toxic Event.
I’ll admit it took me about three songs to really get into the energy of their live set, and for a while I was afraid it might falter—for a long time fan, that’s something I was dreading. However, a few songs in and their energy was apparent, addictive, and moving. Thanks to the jumbotrons alerting me of the band’s every move, the clear passion, talent, and vigor of each band member as they played their instruments with full force, and the clear emotion vocalist Mikel Jollett displayed was apparent. This is a band with clear connection to their fans, and a clear love of what they’re doing—easily the most connected, energetic set of the day.
And then there was The Gaslight Anthem. A band who, although I’ve long admired and listened to in passing, I have never had the good fortune to see live. Let me just say—I’ve been missing out. Maybe it was the glow of the city lights behind them, or the smiles plastered to those that watched, but I cannot deny that watching them perform was the most mesmerizing experience of the evening, and you can bet the next time they’re passing through the city I’ll be there.
Overall, an amazing experience and we owe thanks to all involved, from the promoters, to the techs, the bands, and all those behind the scenes. Without their hard work, dedication, and talent, we wouldn’t be able to experience what was without a doubt, another amazing weekend put on by Boston Calling.