On Sunday night the 2nd Annual Boston Calling Music Festival came to a close, finishing off the weekend with a passion-ate performance by Passion Pit (I promise, no more horrible puns for the rest of the article). The entire weekend seemed to be blessed by the festival gods. We didn’t see any rain past a few random raindrops, it wasn’t unbearably hot, and most shockingly the bands all started and ended on time.
Even Kendrick Lamar started a few minutes early to give the audience some extra performance time. What other exciting things happened that weekend? Well, read on my friend and you shall see.
Saturday featured Vampire Weekend as their main headliner with other well known bands such as Local Natives, The Gaslight Anthem, The Airborne Toxic Event and Bat For Lashes. The first day definitely had a more mellow vibe overall from the music to the people attending. I often found people who couldn’t make it down front just dancing in the open areas having an amazing time with their friends. Usually with a two stage setup there is either no space between stages, they’re different sizes or the stages are side by side. There were two very similarly sized stages facing each other, which made it pretty easy for everyone (including press) to head back and forth between stages. Usually, there is no rhyme or reason to the setup other than ‘popularity’ so the concertgoers are always shuffling desperately back and forth trying to get a good spot or camped out in the same spot all day hoping that they never have to use the facilities.
The lineup was very well organized by genre for stages, limiting people having to push their way to the front every time. Local Bostonite Jed Jeng remarked, “I could just hang out at one stage, wait for people leaving for the other one and still see the other stage relatively well. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on another band and I could wait for the next band at my current location to start their set and have an even better spot for someone I really wanted to see. I couldn’t have asked for a better setup.” Even the artists were excited by the lineup and if their schedules were flexible, they often stayed to hang out and enjoy some great music. I even spotted Bat For Lashes and other band members walking around in the VIP area, talking to people and relaxing.
I also got a chance to chat with Mikel Jollett, of The Airborne Toxic Event, before his performance about their new single, their upcoming tour and living in LA.
Q & A With Mikel Jollett, The Airborne Toxic Event
PPLA: The Airborne Toxic Event and PPLA are both based out of Los Angeles, so I have to ask, what’s your favorite LA spot to eat?
MJ: It has to be El Gran Burrito on the corner of Santa Monica & Vermont. It’s this authentic taco & burrito stand, and I used to go there really late about three times a week when I would forget to eat. Plus, it is just awesome to see everyone from mariachi bands to gang members peacefully eating tacos.
PPLA: You have a video out for your current single Timeless, what is the inspiration for the video?
MJ: The whole video is a reenactment of various pieces of timeless art. It’s a dream world between death and life where there are these moving versions of the famous art.
PPLA: You’ll be wrapping the first leg of your U.S. tour soon then heading off to Europe if I’m correct?
MJ: Yes, we’ll be touring in Europe for the first time and it’s always eerie and surreal to have people singing our songs with different accents. I’ll be on stage and hear everyone singing along to our songs with German accents and it’s amazing the reach that music has to span across cultures.
PPLA: Final question, who are you excited to see at Boston Calling?
MJ: I’m excited to see Vampire Weekend. I liked them before, but their new record Modern Vampires Of The City, is a masterpiece and turned me into a huge fan. It has these moments in it that are just touching and real. Hats off to them.
Sunday’s lineup had a completely different flavor to it with a lot of EDM acts and some Hip Hop thrown in. Passion Pit was the main headliner but you also had Wofgang Gartner, Major Lazer, and Kendrick Lamar taking the stage. It seemed like the crowd was more energetic the second day, and I noticed a lot more eccentric outfits from a man dressed as a panda, a woman holding a stuffed rooster to your normal rave wear involving flashing lights.
One of the highlights personally for me was when Major Lazer brought out what I call the human hamster ball and went across the crowd. Another highlight was the festival providing a sign language interpreter to the side of the stage for deaf attendees. It’s such a physically expressive language that I found myself watching the interpreter for a few minutes during the Kendrick Lamar set because she was really getting into it.
Overall this had to be one of the best festivals I’ve attended this year from a professional and personal standpoint. Everything was so well organized behind the scenes and it really showed on the public side. Personally, I have a very wide taste in music, so when festivals run the gamete musically I get really excited. The performers all put on varying levels of intensity for their performances which helped to give me a break and not feel as completely exhausted. There’s nothing worse than getting home after a long day at the festival and being almost too tired to participate on the second day.
When talking with one concertgoer, Ed Demaso, about his overall festival experience he commented to me that “…maybe the caffeinated chocolate booth helped keep my energy level up. It was also really great to see locally popular food vendors at the festival and not just your typical large chains.” Now, the million dollar question. Yes, I think that the organizers bribed the music festival gods and did some kind of reverse rain dance to keep the storm clouds away. Maybe sacrificed a guitar Jimi Hendrix style. However, I’m ok with all of that. I’m already looking forward to next year.
Visit Boston Calling
If you are in Los Angeles, check out El Gran Burrito