Inclement weather prompted a two-and-a-half hour-long delay and the cancellations of sets from Volcano Choir and Girl Talk at Saturday’s Boston Calling. Nonetheless, the day was filled with some surprising performances — but a few flops as well. Check out our grades for Day 2:
Representing Boston University on the Capital One 360 Red Stage, St. Nothing kicked off the second day of Boston Calling with violins and futuristic synth beats. Self-identifying as “nocturnal electro-pop,” St. Nothing’s muffled sentimentality came across as earnest, sweet and headed for success.
“We wrote these songs two years ago in a bedroom,” said Marco Lawrence, lead singer of St. Nothing. “We never thought in a million years we’d be playing on a stage like this.” With a set like that, you better get used to it. — Jackson-Glidden
With a profusion of tribal beats and fun, upbeat drumming, CliffLight got the crowd considerably more energized than expected for an early set. At times, there were issues with pitch, but other than that, it was by all means a clean performance. It wasn’t particularly original, though. It’s all been done before. It wasn’t the sort of music you’d want to scope out actively, but if it was already playing, there’d be no reason to complain, either. — Kirkpatrick
Time to be frank: Depressive/ethereal indie-pop has got to go. If I see yet another white guy playing a piano over muted electro-beats, I’m going to scream. Maybe if S.Carey was the first of its kind, maybe if the vocals were a little tighter, the set would have struck a chord. Instead, City Hall Plaza had a festival-wide siesta. — Jackson-Glidden
For perhaps the first time all weekend, Boston Calling had a performer that felt like an artist made for festivals. Sky Ferreira’s larger-than-life vocals permeated through the open air in a nearly symbiotic relationship: Ferreira gave the festival atmosphere something truly beautiful, and in return, the outdoors gave her voice an entirely new dynamic.
Ferreira needed to stop midway through the final song to adjust her headset. The band then restarted the song. For anyone else, that would have been embarrassing. But it worked for her. She was so nonchalant that it gave a personal, almost intimate feel to the finale, as if it were an in-studio recording. If that isn’t cool, I don’t know what is. — Kirkpatrick
Seeing Bleachers perform is as close as anyone in our generation will ever get to seeing The Cure in concert. Lead singer Jack Antonoff was all smiles yesterday, adopting the role of ‘80s pop rock god and holding his guitar up over his head. Antonoff can get away with it: His remarkably talented band, from the sax player to both drummers, hold solos well and interact with their ringleader, apparently has happy to be here as we are.
As a frontman, you can feel Antonoff’s love for what he does, screaming out into the crowd and reflecting all our excitement. It’s hard to dislike a band that is so happy to be doing what it’s doing.
Antonoff’s show was successful not only because he’s clearly a brilliant performer, but also because his sound reflects the message of his music. Antonoff’s roots in fun. show with each anthemic number – the climax of each piece erupts, and even when no one in the audience knows the words, somehow, we’re all singing along. — Jackson-Glidden
The Hold Steady
Boston College-alum Craig Finn and his fellow band members invented a genre when they were founded in 2004 – “Can you get a load of this?” hard rock. Throwing his hands up over his head like a brick-wall stand-up comedian, Finn sings like he’s telling us all a joke, a crazy story about girls from his past and Oxycontin Boston memories. Finn is subtly a clever, profound poet, and his lyrics can be funny, heartbreaking and universal without anyone batting an eye. That mosh-able 2006-hard-rock sound feels unsettlingly dated, but these old nerds still got it. — Jackson-Glidden
After a grueling hiatus in the middle of the festival, Lorde started late. That pent-up energy all shot through her arms and legs – she swung her body like a dishrag, flinging her torso to the ground as she rocked through her iconic Pure Heroine.
Lorde is clearly a talented young songwriter with a unique sound, but her performance at City Hall Plaza was a disappointment to say the least. The levels were so drastically off during her set, many of the audience members couldn’t recognize songs over the deafening bass. That low, sultry voice was lost over 808 and, to the chagrin of this reporter, twice the chanting of “Gam-bi-no!” in the middle of her songs.
How much of this egregious misstep was her doing is hard to say. Regardless, her set was disenchanting as a whole. — Jackson-Glidden
I’ve seen Childish Gambino perform twice now, and each set was nothing short of rap gold. ‘Bino’s a people-pleaser and he knows it – his background in comedy and acting explodes with every wild-eyed lyric, and as he wiggles his knees and screams along with his own songs, he feeds off the craziness of the crowd.
“Let me see you move!” he howls from the stage. As if it weren’t a choice, we all deliver.
Gambino can pump-up a crowd, there’s no doubt, but what gives him an edge is the sharpness of all his rhymes. Again, the audience was extraordinarily packed with fans, screaming along with hits like “Sweatpants” and “Heartbeat,” but part of the reason people can rap with Gambino is because all of his rhymes are witty enough to remember. — Jackson-Glidden