We arrived fairly early on Friday afternoon. It was nice to wander around the venue before the crowds got big. Vendors had yard games and other activities set up, so it was a nice and relaxing atmosphere. We particularly liked the Miller Lite area, where we were able to play Plinko with our empty Miller cans for prizes. We won a hat, a pin, fake tattoos, a coozie, a fanny pack, and a bandana (over the course of the weekend). Jess and I wanted the bandana more than anything - for Violet, of coarse.
The very first band we saw was Big Thief. We saw this band last year at Newport Folk Festival - and they didn’t put on a very good show back then. But they were much better this time. This band has potential, but they might have consistency problems.
A highlight of Saturday was Maggie Rogers, who performed a fun, energetic, and adorably sincere set while donning a blue cape. Maggie Rogers is a new artist and she doesn’t have many songs, so I’m looking forward to her expanding her catalog a bit.
The Killers headlined Sunday night. They sounded great and had really excellent stage presence. I was particularly impressed with their drummer, who brought a lot of intensity to the whole set. It’s really special when the crowd enthusiastically sings along with a band, and that happened a lot with The Killers.
There were a few time slots on Saturday where we didn’t have any concerts that we were excited to see. We spent some of the free time in the IKEA area, which was an odd little environment setup by the Swedish furniture company. It had a lot of hammocks and comfortable benches set up, as well as a dance area where DJs played sets. They served nothing but vegetarian hotdogs - and they gave away free pouches of the pickled vegetables that go into those hotdogs. What a strange place! We liked it!
This is a good time to mention how great it is to go to Boston Calling with friends. Jess and I went with our friends Abby and Amanda. We all did our share of dancing and goofing around. With a good group of friends you can have fun even when you’re not listening to live music. Unfortunately, our friend Jackie couldn’t make it this year, but she was still present in our hearts - and to show that, we brought a printout of her face on a popsicle stick.
We saw the hard rock band The Manchester Orchestra up and close. I don’t know this band very well - but I was happily surprised by their set. Their lead singer is able to blur the line between screaming and singing, so you get melody and intensity - the best of both worlds! I think I saw their guitarist throw his guitar onto the ground after furiously shredding through the last track. Woah!
Later that day, I was excited to see the hip-hop “boy band” BROCKHAMPTON. Despite being a new band (group?), they have a big catalogue of unique, emotional, and textured songs. Their live music seemed slightly off-kilter because they were missing one of their rappers. The next day, it was revealed that he was kicked out of the band due to assault allegations. Unfortunate to lose talent, but the fact that they kicked him out is a testament to the character of this young band.
Jack White headlined Saturday night. His music has a ton of complexity - much of which was unfortunately lost on me. I think I would have gotten more out of his set if I had tuned my ear to his music prior to this concert. Nonetheless, he has a cool and confident stage presence that makes you feel like you’re watching a master at work.
While the weather on Friday and Saturday was nearly perfect, the weather on Sunday was cold, rainy, and miserable. We spent some time hiding from the rain in the big tent set up by the Danish brewery, Mikkeler. Their beers were good, but the location (in the back of the festival) was a little unfortunate. It’s bizarre that Boston Calling chose to have Mikkeler be the only craft beer at the festival - what with there being so many great craft breweries in Massachusetts - but having Mikkeler there is sort of fun and interesting. I think it helps make Boston Calling special.
We ventured out into the cold to see a very fun set by Thundercat, who was very groovy. Then we saw The Decemberists make excellent music look completely effortless. We left that set a little early to see the legendary Mike D (of The Beastie Boys) play a few songs of a DJ set.
Eventually the weather and the fatigue got the best of Jess and I, our mood sharply declined, and we decided to call it quits a little early on Sunday night. It would have been nice to see Eminem, but it wasn’t in the cards for us.
Overall, it was a great time. We heard a ton of music - much more than I could fit into this post. The organizers did a really good job reducing wait times for security, food, and restrooms. Also, they did an excellent job with keeping the music punctual. I’m already looking forward to going again next year.