Festival Review: 10 Highlights from Boston Calling – May ’15


Now in its third year, Boston Calling has become the largest music festival in New England. Happening in Boston’s City Hall Plaza, the three day music festival took place from May 22nd thru the 24th this year. Unlike last September’s festival, this one was uninterrupted by rain and thunderstorms. It was headlined by Beck, My Morning Jacket, and Pixies. There were 24 bands on the Spring ticket, with likely the largest range of genres we’ve seen yet in a Boston Calling billing. Let’s take a look at some of the most memorable moments from the Spring version of the festival.

  1. ILoveMakonnen – “Free Tom Brady!”

If there is one guaranteed way to get Bostonians to react 100% positively to something, simply speak the words “Free Tom Brady.” Midway through the rapper’s set, ILoveMakonnen spoke the magical words to send the Boston crowd into one of the loudest cheers heard all weekend.


  1. MO Crowd Surf

Danish singer Mo, the third act on Saturday’s bill, upped the energy in City Hall Plaza by about 75% with her performance. The Danish singer performed her hits such as “Walk This Way” and “Don’t Wanna Dance.” Her final song was Major Lazer’s “Lean On,” after which she dove head first into the Boston Calling crowd for some human surfing.


  1. TV on the Radio

Probably the loudest band to hit Boston in a while, TV on the Radio could likely be heard a mile away were in not for the skyscrapers surrounding City Hall Plaza. They were fun, extremely energetic despite the sweltering temperature, and even wore clothes that no rational thinking audience member would wear as the temperature approached 90 degrees. Regardless, “Happy Idiot” and “Wolf Like Me” filled the streets of Boston with Earth-Shaking rhythms.


  1. Vance Joy Helps a Fan Out

It wasn’t something that the crowd was aware of during the concert, but it happened behind the scenes and shows just how much these artists care about their fans. Playing on the final day of the festival, vance Joy received a tweet from a fan who had traveled all the way into to Boston for a chance to stand outside the gate and listen to the set. Vance Joy saw the tweet, and responded in kind by putting her name on their guest list along with a plus-one. The diehard fan arrived and was able to hear the rhythmic melodies of Vance Joy’s Sunday afternoon set.

  1. Tenacious D’s Jazz Routine

Between playing their ever-popular hits “Tribute,” “Low Hangin’ Fruit,” and “Beezleboss,” Tenacious D delivered a hilarious spectacular performance of “Simply Jazz.” The duo of Jack Black and Kyle Gass played some funky Jazz that was an unexpectedly awesome part of their set.


  1. S. W.A.G/Fun Activities

Let’s get away from the musical portion of the festival for a moment, and talk about some of the other activities that Boston Calling had to offer this year. Boston Calling had a plethora of local food vendors, organizations, businesses, and other groups on hand to treat concert goers to a great time. The Institute of Contemporary Art of Boston was giving out water bottles and drawstring bags which came in handy on Sunday when the temperatures got to 90 degrees. Obviously, the main attraction was the beer garden sponsored by Samuel Adams Brewing Company. There truly was something for everybody.

  1. Tove Lo Flashes the Crowd

It was brief and unexpected, but it happened nonetheless. Midway through Tove Lo’s performance of “Talking Body,” the Swedish pop star lifted her shirt and gave her fans a very brief bit of bonus entertainment, which was apparently not an uncommon stage act at her shows. Of course, the crowd went wild and she encouraged them to do the same. Lol. #FreeTheNipple


  1. Marina and the Diamonds

The Welsh/Greek superstar made her second appearance in a Boston Calling lineup (she played the first festival in May of 2013). This time, her return was not unnoticed. She hit the stage in a spectacular purple getup which included some glowing headwear that spelt out “FROOT,” the title of her latest album. Her unique sound provided some of the most lively and fun performances of the weekend.


  1. September Lineup Announcement

What’s the next best thing about a festival other than the festival itself? The moment the lineup of the NEXT festival is announced. The folks at Boston Calling made the announcement for this coming September’s show in entertaining fashion. A video of all sorts of random people doing random activities and dressed as even more random things was shown as a fun way to introduce the artists. Among the those scheduled to be in attendance in just over three months include The Avett Brothers, Alt-J, Alabama Shakes, Hozier, Of Monsters and Men, Walk the Moon, Nate Reuss, and many more

  1. Beck

The May version of Boston Calling definitely did not save the best for last. Beck hit the stage as the headliner of Friday’s show, but he should have been the headliner of the entire weekend. The winner of 2015’s Album of the Year delivered some new songs along with his classic hits in remarkable fashion, all while the light show turned the usually-not-so-pretty City Hall into a mosaic of vibrant colors to perfectly accompany Beck’s music.


Written by Dan Hogan
Photos by Kaleb Hart

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