Boston Calling Fall 2015: A Review of the Eclectic Fall Music Festival

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This year’s Boston Calling music festival in City Hall Plaza wrapped up on September 27th after an exciting weekend of good vibes, fried food and a myriad of diverse and entertaining performances. The festival showcased the biggest names in indie rock, electronic dance music, alternative rock, and folk country.

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Day 1:

Gregory Alan Isokov put on a low-key performance that served as an odd kick off to Boston’s major music festival. The quiet folk-country set had people in the crowd nodding their heads and gently swaying to the music. Once Isokov exited the stage, Of Monsters and Men picked up the vibes as the crowd grew larger and more enthusiastic. The Icelandic band put on a solid show for their eager fans, but the set didn’t go above and beyond expectations.

The Avett Brothers brought down the house on the Blue Stage with a show that proved their worth as Friday’s headliners. Seth and Scott Avett enchanted the crowd with their bearded, rugged charm, while band members harmonized, danced and jammed on their instruments. At one point, the brothers moved off the stage and to the front row of screaming fans to give high fives and hugs while continuing to play and sing without an imperfection. The entire set and encore captured and mesmerized fans until the end of the night.

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 Day 2:

The daytime acts on Saturday were varied, inconsistent and not particularly memorable. The day began with Boston-native rock band Grey Season, and then continued on with the funk-pop artist Skylar Spence. The aggressive hip-hop group Doomtree seemed to be a misfit to the festival of predominantly folk and indie music. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks as well as Sturgill Simpson were particularly forgettable acts, but once Father John Misty took the stage, crowds slowly began to grow.

Just as the festival seemed to take a turn for the worst, Walk the Moon came on stage and revived the crowd. The happy, high-energy, face-painted group performed with an upbeat sound and finally brought the excitement back to Boston Calling. The crowd’s enthusiasm heightened as the band closed their set with mainstream hits “Shut Up and Dance” and “Anna Sun.”

The electropop artist Chromeo had one of the most unique performances, with flickering white lights and auto tune. The set was an overall bizarre experience, yet surprisingly enjoyable for many. The electropop genre continued as CHVRCHES commanded the Red Stage and entertained the crowd with hit singles like, “The Mother We Share” and other lesser-known tunes.

The night’s headliner, alt-J, captured the biggest crowd of the day, and enchanted all who were there – both those intoxicated and sober. The performance paired with the incredible light show served as the well-deserved highlight of the day.

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Day 3:

Sunday had a slow start, with more minor acts like Dirty Bangs, Bully, and Fidlar. As the afternoon settled in, the crowd was more hyped for Daughter, Twin Shadow, and MisterWives.

Major acts like Nate Ruess and Ben Howard drew in more fans to the venue. No one in the crowd can deny that they sang along to all of Nate Ruess’ performances of Fun. songs. Ben Howard’s performance, although long awaited by many of his fans, was somber, lulling, and frankly too long.

Although the crowd was extremely packed (some fans even passed out), Hozier delivered an expected success of a show. The 6’5” Irish singer had the crowd singing along to his bluesy, indie rock soul songs, from “Someone New” to “Take Me to Church.” He captured people’s hearts as he expressed his true love for Boston to the crowd and reminisced about his first show in the city at a small venue at Berklee College of Music.

Alabama Shakes wrapped up the festival with perhaps one of the best, most rousing sets of the weekend, beneath the Blood Moon. Brittany Howard’s melodious howls paired with the big red moon presented on the stage screens, served as a memorable festival-closing performance.

From Friday to Sunday, the headliners stole the show each day, as expected. Overall, Boston Calling was a grand celebration of modern, indie, folk, and even electropop music. Lucky for fans, May’s Boston Calling dates have already been released.

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Boston Calling Spring dates: May 27th-29th

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Photos by Katie Williams and Sophia Grifferty