Singing in the Rain: A Weekend at Boston Calling

“And we’ll remember this when we are old and ancient/Though the specifics may be vague.”

Those lyrics from The Decemberists’ song “July, July!” perfectly encapsulated the atmosphere this past Saturday night at the Boston Calling Music Festival. It was during The Decemberists’ set that the festival’s luck with dry weather had finally run out. Loyal fans who had been staking out their spots in front of the stage for hours on end were confronted with what might seem a brutal decision: either leave the show for drier shelter, or get soaked in a spring night’s rainfall alongside other passionate fans during the band’s live performance.

For most of those fans, the decision was hardly a difficult one. After all, the flame of passion ignited in a music lover’s soul while waiting for a beloved band to perform live often explodes into something like grease-fire the minute the band hits the stage. It’s not the kind of passion that’s easily put out, and rain will only add to the roar of the flame.

Passion and dedication were certainly the common denominators experienced by those attending Boston Calling this past weekend. The festival was held at City Hall Plaza in downtown Boston from 6 to 11 p.m. on Friday and from noon until 11 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. People of all ages flooded the festival grounds to see 23 different bands play hour-long sets spilt across two different stages.

Crowds, already large in number, enjoy some mid-day sunshine while waiting for the first band to go on | Photo by Kara Korab
Crowds, already large in number, enjoy some mid-day sunshine while waiting for the first band to go on | Photo by Kara Korab

Although the characteristically mellow Jack Johnson closed out Friday night’s shorter show, the life of the night truly belonged to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Lead vocalist Alexander Ebert stunned the crowd with his fittingly magnetic stage presence. Whether it was his leaving the stage to start a dance party in the crowd, or his having the crowd fill in for the absence of fellow vocalist Jade Castrinos by singing her parts of hit song “Home,” there’s no doubt that Ebert & co. absolutely killed it on stage.

Boston-born band Magic Man kicked off Saturday with a kinetic performance that the crowd received warmly. All-girl indie rock band Warpaint arrived on the scene later and certainly looked incredible while they brought a far mellower mood to the plaza with their trance-inducing psych-rock feel. Another female musician, Jenny Lewis, certainly delivered with her exceptional vocal range, rhythmic dancing, charming presence, and rainbow-colored guitar.

Jenny Lewis, in full rockstar mode, donning a fabulous rainbow suit | Photo by Kara Korab
Jenny Lewis, in full rockstar mode, donning a fabulous rainbow suit | Photo by Kara Korab

The Head and the Heart, The Decemberists, and Death Cab for Cutie all delivered fantastic sets to close out the night. Although The Decemberists’ set surely lasted a little too long, wine-sipping front-man Colin Meloy and his charming conversations with the crowd maintained the set’s vitality.

Ben Gibbard, front-man for Death Cab, and his hysterical stage antics surprised nobody. Many fans (including Quad photographer Kara Korab) who were already pleased with Gibbard’s announcement that the band was working on a new album, were absolutely ecstatic when he took flight from the stage and nearly jumped the fence into the front row of the crowd while performing “The Sound of Settling.”

Sunday’s line-up of bands was about as equally impressive as Saturday’s. Built to Spill was the first major band of the day to appear. Although their performance effectively compelled the crowd to close their eyes and lose themselves in long-drawn rhythms, photographer Hanna Stolarski (COM ’15) put it best when she said, “I have never seen a band look more bored but play so well.”

Brett Netson of Built to Spill plays with lit cigarette on his guitar | Photo by Kara Korab
Brett Netson of Built to Spill plays with lit cigarette on his guitar | Photo by Kara Kora

After Phosphorescent carried on with a more soulful and sentimental soft rock set that was all but missing a candle vigil in the crowd, Canadian indie pop duo Tegan and Sara kicked Sunday’s show back into high gear with their short hair, leather jackets, absurdly comedic banter, and heart-pumping pop atmosphere.

The festival’s closing acts kicked off with a strong performance by English band Bastille, whose highly anticipated performance of the hit “Pompeii” brought the crowd to life in a way that no other song did throughout the rest of the weekend. Modest Mouse kept Brand New’s high-octane momentum alive and finished off the festival by performing their smash hits “Fire It Up,” “The View,” and “Float On.” Front-man Isaac Brock’s bold and charismatic presence provided an uplifting ending to an incredible weekend line-up.

After eight long hours of standing at the gate fans wait patiently for the final band of the weekend, Modest Mouse | Photo by Kara Korab
After eight long hours of standing at the gate fans wait patiently for the final band of the weekend, Modest Mouse | Photo by Kara Korab

It’s lyrics from the Modest Mouse song “World at Large” that best describe the the essence of Boston Calling Music Festival of Summer 2014. “The moths beat themselves to death against the lights/Adding their breeze to the summer nights/Outside water like air was great/I didn’t know what I had that day.”

Memories make all the difference— even those blurred by blinding lights, a booming bass, and singing in the rain on a warm night with your favorite band in the world.

Evan Tuohey

Evan Tuohey is Film and Television major who was born a writer and never strayed from it. He also loves philosophy, thunderstorms, hiking mountains, and wine&cheese dinners. Evan hopes to one day write for a serialized television drama. Until then, you may find him working as a bartender for your local catering company.

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