Between A Better World By Design and A Slightly Better World By Design, a lot of great things happened on campus this past weekend. Not all students opted to stay in Providence, though, and instead took a train-ride trek to the 6th installment of Boston Calling Music Festival. This two-stage festival occurs twice a year (once in September and once in May) and spans over the course of three days. There are never overlapping acts, never obtrusively massive crowds, and only a few places with low visibility of the stages, making this festival pretty exceptional for discovering (or rediscovering) some great acts. Single day tickets are usually around $85 and previous headliners include Lorde, Beck, The National, Kendrick Lamar, Vampire Weekend, etc.
In case you didn’t heed the call, here are 10 things you might’ve missed this weekend.
1. Some good freebies
Boston Calling is 60% about music and 40% about collecting all the free things distributed around the perimeter of the fest. Polar Seltzer gets the MVP award for giving away sets of friendship bracelets that compliment each other by saying “Polar” and “Seltzer,” and also using a massive slingshot to launch foam polar bears into the crowd. Sam Adams shelled out baseball caps, Kind Bars tried to make us forget about that FDA scandal by distributing granola, and it was actually impossible to walk anywhere without being offered some free cough drops courtesy of Ludens.
Without fail, every night around 7 p.m. it would suddenly occur to me that it’s basically October and thus basically freezing. My denim jacket (the only jacket I packed) didn’t cut it. The majority of festival-goers were wiser, though, and brought blankets. Not coats, not gloves, not scarves, but blankets. Patterned blankets, wool blankets, fuzzy blankets… keep this in mind when it starts to inevitably snow in Providence and you’re looking for a new fashion statement.
3. Doomtree’s Crack Attack
Doomtree brought an intense and high energy performance to the Saturday stage, and however briefly, got the crowd to chant “crack” as part of “No Way.” And yes, it does beg the obvious Mean Girls reference.
4. Father John Misty throws the mic
Father John Misty is known as much for his brutally honest lyrics as he is for is brutally honest on-stage remarks. He danced atop the drum set, against his microphone, and in the audience all while pointing out banality of life and hedonism of festivals. He did not drop the mic after his last note, but rather threw it on the ground and walked off. This gets my pick for favorite performance of the festival.
5. Chvrches’ “snot” on themselves
Chvrches’ latest album, Every Open Eye debuted just one day prior to their performance. Their set was full of new music that kept the crowd engaged and eager to hear more. Some of the music was so new that front-woman, Lauren Mayberry, forgot some of the words. This was totally OK, though, because she redeemed it impeccably with frank and quirky conversations to the crowd in between songs. She was even as upfront as to admit when she “snotted” herself due to a dangerous combination of a head cold and head banging to their music.
6. Alt-J remains an enigma
Alt-J headlined the fest on Saturday night, and brought with them an incredible stage set-up complete with lights, moving screens, and smoke. They filled the hour and a half long set with all the notable tracks from An Awesome Wave and This Is All Yours, and remained entirely mysterious throughout the show. The screens that typically showed close-ups of the artists faces instead displayed visual after-effects that complimented the stage design. The lights were cast directly on the band such that their faces were impossible to see, even from near-by in the crowd. Only one member of the band, keyboardist Gus Unger, spoke to the crowd, and did so infrequently. The enigmatic vibes served the music perfectly.
7. Misterwives with all the energy in the world
If you haven’t listened to Misterwives’ music, now is a great time to start. They brought to the stage endless energy and positivity and swept the crowd away. The played in the afternoon on Sunday, but treated the performance as if it were a headlining gig.
8. Nate Ruess sings all of fun.’s music
Nate Ruess, the lead signer of fun., is touring with his new solo album, Grand Romantic. Surprisingly though, his set was more of a throwback to the inaugural Boston Calling, wherein fun. headlined. He sang “Some Nights,” “Just Give Me a Reason,” “We Are Young,” and also covered Elton John’s “Rocket Man.” If you’re bummed you missed him, have no fear. He’ll be at at Lupos this November.
9. Hozier covers the Beatles and Ariana Grande
Early on in his set, Hozier covered a jazzed up version of Blackbird. Additionally, right before closing with “Take Me To Church,” he promised the crowd, “this next song is just for fun. I promise!” Accompanied by his soulful back-up singers, Hozier brought harmony and blues riffs to Ariana Grande’s “Problem.” It sounded something like this…
10. Alabama Shakes under the Blood Moon
Brittany Howard shrieked, sang, and shredded her way through an incredible performance to close out the festival. She paid special reverence to the lunar eclipse as it shown above the crowd and directly in her line of vision from the stage. Upon announcing it was the Shakes’ last song, the crowd started to groan. Howard shut this down immediately by saying, “don’t boo. Never boo, please.” It was hard not to boo, though, at the thought of leaving Boston behind until the next Calling in May.