Boston Calling Music Festival 2014
City Hall Plaza in Boston, MA
May 23-25 2014
(All concert photos courtesy of Mike Diskin)
Over Memorial Day weekend, I experienced the third annual Boston Calling Music Festival with my cool bud David. We jammed out to bands that we love on the sweaty, crowded pavement of City Hall Plaza.
David and I decided to skip the Friday show because there were only three acts playing - Cass McCombs, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, and Jack Johnson - and their music was too intimate to enjoy live while bunched between 19,000+ spectators (McCombs’ Wit’s End is a great album, though).
Despite the hoards of ditzy, floral headband-wearing, Brandy Melville crop-topped girls, the towering clouds of Marlboro from pompous chain smokers, and the endless sea of littered Samuel Adams cups, the festival was pretty decent. Here’s Scene Point Blank’s encapsulation of Boston Calling 2014:
Magic Man did a stupendous job of revving up the festival. Their mix of vibrant synthesizers and passionate disco grooves got the whole crowd dancing and in motion. Although their lyrics were subpar (ex. - “It's been a while, and I've been alone/And you've been the only thing I've known”), Magic Man definitely knew how to put on a stellar performance.
Warpaint was blech. The band’s lifeless showmanship included a few awkward sways and timid conversations with the audience. The kick-drum was too loud, the keyboards were malfunctioning, and frontwoman Emily Kokal looked liked a seapunk Ms.Fowl. I enjoyed their rendition of “Love Is To Die,” but other than that, they were horrendous.
Boston Calling was totally digging Frank Turner’s rockin’ poetry. He sang about his childhood with the descriptive folk tune “Wessex Boy” and he initiated a mosh pit with the punk-energy filled “Four Simple Words.” At one point, Turner even got the whole crowd to do jumping jacks. Really wished I got closer to the stage.
Frank Turner with a fan
The Decemberists were a gigantic waterfall of great indie folk. Literally. During tracks like “Crane Wife” and “Down By The Water,” I tried to shield myself from an enormous downpour with a Decemberists shirt wrapped around my head. David and I left their set early because the rain was too unbearable, but for the few songs we heard, the Oregon quintet was catchy and enjoyable.
Colin Meloy of The Decemberists
The Box Tiger was a superb opener on the final day of BCMF. Their addictive set combined indie pop’s cheeriness with post-hardcore’s incredible breakdowns and guitars - very similar to the style of Philadelphia trio Hop Along.
It would’ve been a sin to go to BCMF and not witness Tigerman Woah!. These bearded folk punkers brought a raw, tough energy that the festival lacked: they played blast beats, did gang vocals, and even got a huge crowd chant going. David really loved Tigerman Woah!’s set. It’s a shame that the festival didn’t have more raucous bands like them.
Kevin Landry of Tigerman Woah!
Brand New was a cinematic sensation. They got intense with “Sic Transit Gloria... Glory Fades” and calm with “Jesus” on a magnificently illuminated stage. Vincent Accardi Hail Maryed his guitar into the air while Jesse Lacey belted out nightmarish lyrics like “Take apart your head/Take apart the demon, in the attic to the left.” These guys and Tigerman Woah! were definitely the top two acts that David and I saw.
Jesse Lacey of Brand New
Modest Mouse’s classic indie rock repertoire was a great closer to Boston Calling. Highpoints included “Dark Center Of The Universe,” “Trailer Trash,” and “Float On.” I enjoyed frontman Isaac Brock’s soulfulness and his varying between guitar and banjo. They weren’t one of my favorites, but Modest Mouse definitely ended the festival on a high note.
Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse
Going to Boston Calling was a fun way to spend Memorial Day weekend; I just wished that there were more bands as insane as Brand New and Tigerman Woah!. Hopefully, the curator for BCMF 2015 will include a lot more heavy acts.
Fyi, if you’re in the Beantown area this fall, be sure to catch the year’s second installment of Boston Calling on September 5,6, and 7. Some legendary acts will be playing, including Neutral Milk Hotel, Nas, and The Replacements. It’ll be three days of absolutely spectacular music.
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