Day Three Boston Calling Wrap Up: Ethereal rock, Marshall Mathers & rain soaked jams!
(photo credit by: Jeremy Deputat for Boston Calling)
A lot of emotions were flying yesterday, be it Julien Baker’s ethereal performance to myself included screaming every word back at Eminem during his iconic performance last night to close out the festival. I honestly don’t think the crowd stopped moving at yesterday’s performance, well maybe when he talked about Nicki Minaj for approximately ten minutes asking how the crowd felt about him dating Minaj, which is when his long time hype man stepped in, ‘Wait, how many drinks has everyone had’, when the crowd roared in approval of the idea.
But before Eminem took the stage, there was so many great performances this day and the rain really even cooled it down more just about when Aussie rockers Pond took the stage and continued through out the day in drizzle form until about 7 pm when it started going full force. I attempted to keep notes through out but my hands were even too cold to barely write a few notes. Still, I kept at it and traveled the grounds three times over with a list in hand.
First up on the list was STL GLD, the collaboration between two Boston long time favorites Moe Pope and The Arcitype, who started out the day to a strong note clearly with massive yells from the audience and a huge crowd in attendance. Considering how much the duo have achieved it only makes sense. STL GLD is just the first Boston act to take over the festival today with the first two days not having any Boston presence with the exception of Belly Saturday but the trio of acts playing today are surely making up for it. The band told me to that fans should definitely come out to their next Boston show which will be at Brighton Music Hall June 30th, with some major exclusives for it. With STL GLD first up, we then have Portland power trio Weakened Friends taking the main stage as the first act of the day. And in the primetime slot of 6 pm on the Red Stage, Cousin Stizz, the fastly up and coming Boston rapper, will be taking the spot that was vacated by Stormzy just before the festival began.
Next up were Portland, ME’s Weakened Friends who I’ve been talking about all weekend. As I was leaving the media tent to head out to catch their set, every photographer who returned to the tent, I questioned saying ‘You should be at Weakened Friends right now’ to which they all just smiled. Well, they missed out because the set the band put on screamed festival vibes. The trio’s chemistry is clear on stage as they played through pretty much all the tracks that are available to the public, including highlights with “Main Bitch”, “Hate Mail” and “Honestly”. There were most definitely girls in the crowd singing every word as well as jumping really the whole time the set progressed. Even though it wasn’t music related, the camera work came off as supreme for what was on the screens and made the band seem larger then life. As a band that does play the occasional festival but mostly plays clubs, you really couldn’t tell and the crowd was truly feeling on it. Lead singer Sonia Sturino’s banter with the crowd was spot on and used her platform for good. Just before the band started playing “Hate Mail”, ‘Everyone be a cool person, don’t be creepy, unless it’s in a cool way.’ And it was a message that was much applauded.
I made the quick two minute walk to the Red stage which is oh so conveniently located right next to the green to catch up and comer Taylor Bennett who had an incredibly impressive crowd that was at least half the size of the direct support Queens of the Stone Age’s crowd the night before. The front section were filled with diehards who were singing every word of the set and fully interacting with Bennett. I had a mid day interview with STL GLD so I was a few minutes late to the set but I came up to the crowd when Bennett was saying ‘If you’re a fan of Taylor Bennett, you’re a fan of everybody’. Which can be seen the crowd. Bennett’s crowd was so diverse in the most beautiful of ways. He then followed it up with, ‘Let me bring it back to Broad Shoulders’ immediately playing ‘Wasting Time’ and ‘Roof Gone’ quickly after! The set continued with quick communication with the crowd before each track and screamed natural performer. With highlights like ‘New York Nights’ and of course his latest single ‘Minimum Wage’ which he most definitely played twice but the crowd wasn’t complaining. As someone who did some serious listening to Bennett before this weekend, each song was super familiar and made for a really enjoyable mid day set. It’s a banger and clear that this single could be the one that truly puts him on the map.
Yesterday I felt like a pinball in a pinball machine as I did a lot of back and forth between the Green and Red stages in the early part of the day but it was a hundred percent worth it and just proved how stacked the bill was yesterday. The next band on my radar for the day is a long time favorite too with Australian psychedelic rockers Pond who are not an unfamiliar face to Boston and it showed in the large crowd that came out for the band. This is when the rain really began to fall but it fit Pond super well. Playing “30,000 Megatons” to open the set, the band had clearly won over the crowd by the second track and front man Nick Allbrock jumped into the photo pit before he took the stage again to say ‘Thanks, here’s another song by Pond. You’re all so far away’. As he’s known for, he began his dancing through out the sets like always and went right into “Fire in the Water” where the band went into story time for a second talking about Australian politician Chris Pine, ‘He’s not too much of a shithead but his name rhymes with a lot of words that work well in this song’. I had to leave a few minutes early to dash to an interview (coming soon!) but I most definitely turned back around when I heard Allbrock say ‘This is an old song with inane lyrics’ and went into a classic, “Don’t Look at the Sun or You’ll go Blind’. The great thing about the line up for Boston Calling this year were those bands at each day that I’ve been seeing/covering for years that really broke up the long days. Today it was Pond and Weakened Friends, yesterday it was Manchester Orchestra, Friday it was Paramore. Just those classic bands to break up those hot ten to twelve hour days of running around like a wild child.
Post interview, I took a few minutes to myself to enjoy the catering that Whole Heart Provisions provided which was a delicious rice bowl topped with broccoli, kale, green beans, just tons of great green veggies with a delish sauce and a spicy peanut topping and it completely hit the spot. It’s an Allston based gluten free and vegan company and even writing about it is making me crave a stop at it. It’s something I’ve been walking past all the time and most definitely will need to be a spot I start hitting more often. (That & the delicious Roxy’s Grilled Cheese I had the day before!). It’s something really cool about this year’s Boston Calling, it’s really reaching out to local Allston food spots and it makes the festival really feel like a neighborhood event, despite the forty thousand or so that attended the weekend’s festival.
All fueled up, I headed out to the Blue stage for the first time that day to catch an act that has been buzzing hard the past year or so and was a definite set I needed to see on Sunday. That act? The incredible 22 year old Julien Baker who despite being on a huge stage with just her and her guitar (up until the last few songs where she had Camille Faukman come out for a few songs), created a sound that washed all over the field. Described as the artist by some photogs/reviewers as ‘that’s the one who will just make me cry right? No thanks’ and picked the safe options of Alvvays and Thundercat, Baker commanded the field. While she did incite some tears, maybe accented by the rain too, her performance was literally angelic. Even now as I listen to it when I write this, I can feel an oncoming tear. As the turning point for the Blue stage that day into a line up that had The Decemberists and Fleet Foxes after her, she mesmerized a crowd who stood in silence except for a uproar of applause after every track and turned me into a new fan.
She charmed the crowd with her banter, first saying ‘Are you staying dry out there? That’s a rhetorical question’. Standouts for me included “Happy to be here”, “Sour Breath”, and “Shadowboxing” but she was one of the few sets yesterday where I didn’t want to leave the set to the end and I think everyone felt the same. It’s clear why Baker’s career has grown so fast and was pretty much perfection.
Post Baker’s set, I stopped by the craft beer tent to take a risk on the ‘Beer Geek Breakfast’ which was a delicious stout style beer with a kick. With beer in hand, I headed into the arena for the one set of the day I really wanted to check out, Cameron Esposito. Esposito laid down some truths last night about Trump, women’s rights and sexual assault. Mid set, Esposito spoke up saying, “I feel like you definitely don’t think I hear what you’re saying, ‘where’s the comedy’. I’m sorry it’s hard for you to hear real truths in smart ways’. Which created a huge roar of applause for Esposito. With a short but sweet twenty minute set, it was time to head back out to the music.
As I exited the arena, I was welcomed by a much heavier rain but that didn’t stop me from heading over to the Red stage for late in the game local addition Cousin Stizz who had taken over the spot vacated by Stormzy only a few days ago and the Boston crowd was grateful. So much hometown love was expressed by Cousin Stizz both verbally and visually as could be seen by his name being on the Citgo sign, written in the Dunkin Donuts iconic pink and orange and even as a Red Line T stop sign. Highlights included ‘Fresh Prince’ and a huge crowd interaction prior to ‘No Ice’ with a big crowd interaction for talking about his drink preference, ‘Hennessy straight, no Gretsky’.
I left a few tracks earlier to head back to the Blue Stage for Boston Calling veterans The Decemberists which is when it started becoming nearly impossible to write many notes considering this whole thing called bone-chilling rain. I walked onto the field while the band was in the middle of playing “Ben Franklin’s Song” which got me right away. The band is approximately a nine piece which was a stark contrast to Julien Baker’s set just an hour or so before on the same stage. I hadn’t really delved into much of The Decemberists pre-set and wasn’t expecting the humorous side to it but I fell into it pretty quickly. Creating a mass sing along for the moment, front man Colin Meloy said, ‘This song is perfect for this situation and just right now in general’, as he went into “Everything, Everything is Awful”. What made this moment even more magical was when after inciting the sing along, after every line of ‘Everything, everything is awful’, he had a quick quip including these ‘You have a white supremacist in office’, ‘You’re participating in adult participation’ and ‘You have a straight white male telling you everything is awful’ with the song concluding with huge confetti guns going off. A great set to make a rainy day a little more okay for sure!
I took a “try to get warm break and maybe feed myself break” with a Italian Sausage from The Sausage Guy, a stand I’ve always just walked right past in Boston where a stand is normally set up next to Fenway , but think I’ll be grabbing one more often now for the ride home. Another food win from Boston Calling, thanks for opening my eyes a little more. Sunday night was stacked at the festival for those two prime slots right before Eminem took the stage, with teen sensation Khalid playing the Red Stage and folk favorites Fleet Foxes finishing out the Blue Stage. So clearly I had to make a little of both.
I’m glad I decided to start out at Fleet Foxes, who were criminally under attended compared to the last two closing performances at the Blue stage, but the crowd that was there were Fleet Foxes devotees. While I had never seen Fleet Foxes before, the track “White Winter Hymnal” has some serious instantly induced feelings as it was the soundtrack for a vlog of one of my favorite long time acts, and the band played it just the second song into the set. The track is clearly a favorite for long time fans as well of the band as there was some serious interpretative dancing going down in the crowd by many clad in ponchos and it was a moment that made me not want to leave Fleet Foxes whatsoever. Thank you for booking a line up this year that made me want to never leave so many sets but duty called, and most definitely looking forward to how next year’s line up shapes up.
I walked over the rocky path between the Blue & Red stages to catch about half of Khalid’s set to hear the choice quote of ‘Well if you’re a hater, I guess then fuck you’ which I couldn’t have been happier to hear. If you want to hate on an artist, why would you go to watch it? Khalid’s story is insane, he most definitely played the Middle East Upstairs just last year and here is now playing as direct support for Eminem on the final day of the festival. His crowd was massive, definitely one of the biggest I’ve seen all festival (until that was destroyed by Eminem’s…) and the fans were living for Khalid. Rocking the classic bright t-shirt and jeans that I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say he’s become known for, he rocked his way through favorites like “Angels”, “Young, Dumb and Broke”, “Two Step”, and of course “Location”, which really put him on the map and clearly my favorite because you know your girl always falls in love over subtweets despite Khalid telling me to do the opposite.
As Khalid came up on his last song, I made a mad dash to grab a spot for Eminem. The crowd was at least triple what Jack White’s crowd was but I mean that was to be expected. It was easily the biggest crowd I’ve ever been in but from the moment that Eminem aka Marshall Mathers and his long time hype man, Denaun Porter, took the stage the crowd was enamored with them. And it was fully deserved, Eminem truly destroyed Boston Calling. The set started out a little slow hit wise, a few tracks in before “White American” but after that it was a straight hits parade that continued for just over an hour and a half. Bringing out past collaborator Skyler Grey, she absolutely destroyed “Walk on Water” to go straight into “ Stan” and “Love the Way You Lie” and Eminem showed his appreciation with, ‘Boston give so much love to the beautiful and talented Skyler Grey’ before a sweet embrace.
As he continued through his set, he definitely enjoyed bringing up Nicki Minaj with a bit of vulgarity to start it off then continued to ask the crowd if they approved of them dating. ‘….because I want to date her.’ It went a little bit too far but he swiftly rebounded as the music kept going. After an incredible encore of “Lose Yourself”, fans began to make their way out of the grounds, of course after a mass trip of thousands to the port a potties before hitting the road. I live a ten minute walk from the grounds and it took forty minutes to complete the walk but, I mean it was worth it, no one was leaving that set early, and besides that, it was an incredible day.
For those who stuck with me through this long AF review, thank you and hope you enjoyed your day, the festival, just as much as I did! I’ll have interviews from the festival going up in the next few days and can’t wait to see who Boston will be hosting next year!