The fourth installment of Boston Calling this past weekend had its ups and downs but was overall an exciting, enjoyable festival that catered to Boston’s immensely diverse music scene.
While this year’s spring lineup was mostly centered around the type of indie, alternative rock that is becoming increasingly popular these days, the fall lineup had a more varied mix, including rap artists Nas (in a collaboration with The Roots) and Childish Gambino, pop stars Lorde and Sky Ferreira, hard rock bands White Denim and the Replacements, and of course well known names in the indie scene Neutral Milk Hotel and Lake Street Dive.
The concert also hosted the annual Samuel Adams Boston Octoberfest, which gave concertgoers over 21 the chance to enjoy good music while drinking Sam Adams, munching on grilled sausage, or playing one of the assorted lawn games. All this made for a very loose, fun-filled atmosphere that at times was suitable for some eccentric dancing.
But the massive storm front that quickly took over Saturday night’s festivities was what really stole the show this weekend. Right after The Hold Steady finished their decently entertaining bluesy rock set, the crowd had to leave premises due to safety issues regarding a fast-approaching storm. After nearly three hours of waiting for two downpours to pass, everyone was anxious to get in and resented the police officers that kept pushing them back. Although things didn’t go very smoothly, it was pretty impressive how fast security was able to get the thousands of people back in time for Lorde’s performance at 9 p.m. and Childish Gambino’s at 10 p.m.
Unfortunately, Volcano Choir and Girl Talk were cut from the set because of time constraints. Although this left the audience disappointed, they still had plenty of energy to cheer for the two remaining artists’ killer sets. Lorde, with her mystical dancing and deep yet catchy tunes, had her “Praise the Lorde” tee-wearing crowd swaying and singing the whole time.
Even the rap fans waiting in front of the other stage for Childish joined in on her fabulous performance of “Royals.” Childish Gambino started the night off with “Crawl,” a popular track off his newest album Because the Internet, and had the crowd jumping around with insane enthusiasm. Running through almost the entire album, the comedian-turned-rapper ended the night on a strong note by playing some old favorites like “Heartbeat” and “Freaks and Geeks”.
Luckily, the other two days went without a hitch, with more good music and beer. Future Islands kicked off Friday night opening the concert and, with their soothing voices that quickly became deep growls at times and unforgettable theatrical dance moves, they proved to be a great start and set the mood for an awesome weekend. Sporting beards of various lengths, indie favorite Neutral Milk Hotel came on next, for the most part playing songs off their last album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, as they recently came off their ten year hiatus and have yet to come out with new material.
The National ended the night as the only repeating act in the festival’s short history. Their long set was worth seeing through to the end as they closed their set with fan favorites “Fake Empire” and “Graceless.”
On Sunday, a large chunk of people didn’t start pouring in until Twenty One Pilots began their set. Pulling from many genres, including rock, pop, and rap, this band’s style is hard to place, though the fact they appeared on stage in full body suits says a lot about their quirky style.
They were followed by The 1975, a popular Brit pop band whose smooth vocals and upbeat style makes for plenty of dancing. Spoon had a lot of hype from the audience but personally fell a bit flat. Their popular songs “The Underdog,” “The Way We Get By”, and “I Turn My Camera On” should’ve made the crowd excited but instead left them swaying and not much else. What should’ve been a memorable performance was overshadowed by the next two performances.
The Replacements came together afterwards, playing their first show in Boston in about 20 years. In between playing favorites like “Valentine” and “Androgynous,” lead singer Paul Westerberg managed a quip about the festival’s copious amount of drug consumption, stating, “I smell weed… [censored] hippies!”
Ending the weekend was the collaboration Nas x The Roots. Or at least that’s what they claimed to be. Instead of a brilliant mix of the two different styles that the audience expected, it turned out to be Nas opening the set with a few Illmatic favorites and then handing the stage over to The Roots.
Though Nas did play tunes the crowd loved, such as “If I Ruled the World,” “One Mic,” and “N.Y. State of Mind” (replacing ‘New York’ with ‘Boston’), The Roots brought the energy down to play some of their more jazz-influenced pieces, leaving the crowd confused and causing many of them to leave early to catch the relatively empty T. Not a completely disappointing ending, but a little more Nas never hurt anybody.