By Conrad Young
Saturday’s performers may have seemed to be simply opening acts for Saturday night’s headliners of Chromeo, Chvrches, and Alt-J, yet those that came early to see Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Sturgill Simspon, and Father John Misty saw fantastic performances that rivaled those later in the evening. These three artists are decidedly more folk/rock oriented than the electronic sounds of the night performances, which set a light-hearted mood for the sunny Saturday afternoon in Government Center.
Perhaps in preparation for the madness of Saturday night, the crowds that came during the day listened casually, picnicked out on the ground, and enjoyed the day. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, whose lead singer and songwriter was originally apart of the 90’s rock band Pavement, gave a performance that highlighted the band members’ pure musicianship and talent. Malkmus, who sported the classic haven’t-showered-or-gotten-a-haircut rocker look, sang songs that die-hard fans sang along to and the rest of the crowd enjoyed.
While his performance with the Jicks featured newer material, staying away from his old band’s discography, most fans vibed to his unmistakable vocals and Joanna Bolme’s fresh bass riffs. Sturgill Simpson came to the stage and surprised the audience with their more country/folk sound. While some of the Boston Calling lineup flirted with folk, Sturgill Simpson acted as a much appreciated deep dive into the genre. The Kentucky native’s unique blend of contemporary country and bygone Western sound had much of the crowd dancing and swaying to his impressive guitar skills and voice.
The standout performance of the day was without a doubt Father John Misty. Gaining more recognition as a formative and groundbreaking folk singer-songwriter with his newest album, “I Love You, Honeybear”, his performance at Boston Calling was absolutely electrifying. J. Tillman, the man behind the moniker, puts his heart and soul into his music and leaves nothing out; his songs tell tales of heartbreak, loss, love, and the messed up effects of society. His rendition of “Bored in the USA” was raw and powerful, and ended with J. Tillman going into the crowd and video taping himself singing into a fan’s iPhone. “True Affection”, a uniquely electronic song within his mostly acoustic guitar-based repertoire, was brought to life by Tillman standing up on the drum set and throwing his guitar across the stage (which was miraculously caught by a crew member off-stage). Father John Misty’s set kept the audience in a trance throughout the performance and left everyone reeling long after it ended into Boston Calling’s second day.
By Maggie Veltri
If anything is to be gained from Saturday night’s performances at Boston Calling it is this: Lauren Mayberry is all of the amazing things we’ve imagined her to be. This was Chvrches first trip back to Boston since before their first album was released, and the magic they brought to the stage was manifested in the sheer volume of people who adorned the pavement to watch them perform. The art of performing is so seemingly natural to Mayberry as she conversed and interacted with the audience, telling short stories or thanking the audience for random objects thrown on the stage after each song. There was clear connect in each piece that Chvrches gave the audience to enjoy, including a new song that they had released the day before.
Taking the stage before Lauren Mayberry and her perfectly modest personage, Chromeo set the stage on fire. Their set was truly an experience from the lighting to the sound, everything they did made the crowd go wild. Their intensity exploded off of the stage and they caused the entire audience to dance with them. It was the most incredible outdoor rave Boston has seen which can be proven by taking one look at the beer stains covering my shirt.
Although they didn’t have the largest crowd of the night, Walk the Moon also put on a magical show playing crowd pleasers like “Shut Up and Dance,” to which the crowd responded by dancing and screaming. But they also left room for songs loved by more of the true fans like “Anna Sun” and “Tightrope.” The songs showed a clear musicianship from all of the band members but Nicholas Petricca’s soul stole the show as he gave the audience a piece of himself while creating an atmosphere that people could dance to (which most of the crowd curiously did not feel compelled to do).