The temperature was cool on Sunday, and not just because Saturday was scorching hot, but people were wearing some heavy jackets and were bundled up all day. The music on Sunday was anything but cold though. From the moment Michael Christmas, a local rapper, took the stage he got the crowd dancing and jumping around City Hall Plaza right away. Seeing himself on screen put such a smile on his face you couldn’t help but feel happy that he got this opportunity and didn’t just go up stage, he owned his slot.
Starting off the day with such a bang was great as following him were Christine and the Queens. They absolutely tore through their set and were the biggest surprise act of the weekend. With a sound that mixes the French discotheque with pop and rock, Christine and the Queens could have easily headlined one of the nights, since in France they sell out Madison Square Garden type arenas for five nights. Coming to the stage with four dancers as well, there was a myriad of things to watch as they played their set. Christine and the Queens is a spectacle to be seen and should have no problem rising up the ranks in America.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra brought the jam band vibe to City Hall Plaza and tore through a lengthy set. While nothing was wild about what they were playing, their musicianship is top notch and worthy of witnessing for yourself. Vince Staples aggressively rapped and jumped about the stage to an audience that was doing it right back to him. One of the up and comers in the rap scene showed why he has been getting increasingly popular as the year has gone on. He is easily one of the best out there today. “The Screaming Eagle of Soul,” Charles Bradley brought himself and his Extraordinaires to the stage next in what was easily the sexiest set of the weekend. Watching Charles work is magic and you can’t help but bring yourself to dance right along with him. The Extraordinaires are one of the tightest bands out there and the whole show feels like it came out of the mid-60s. He is a treasure to watch and you need to run, not walk, to his show if he is in your area.
The Front Bottoms followed and played their best pop-punk for the much younger crowd that set up in front of their stage next. Elle King followed and might have gotten just a little drunk during her set of rockabilly tunes that harkened back to Wanda Jackson and Johnny Cash. She has a very strong voice, but the show was just okay. For the next hour Janelle Monae made her presence known. She never stopped moving or getting the crowd excited. Her band hit every note perfectly and were the backbone of her show. She is such a talented woman and it blows my mind that she isn’t a headliner at festivals yet. Covering James Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good)” and going directly into The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” was just brilliant. Janelle ended her set with a tribute to Prince, who recorded with her, playing “Let’s Go Crazy” that saw all of City Hall Plaza get down and dance the day away.
Haim closed out the red stage for the weekend with a solid rocking set. The crowd was large and very into it for the sisters. Joining them for a perfect tribute to Prince with “I Would Die 4 U” was Christine and the Queens and they danced all about the stage getting the crowd wild. Haim also played a few songs from their yet to be released second album that they are working on now. Closing out the weekend and Boston Calling’s stay at City Hall Plaza was Disclosure with one of the loudest sets to ever grace the plaza. The duo’s light show was fantastic and they were easily the best headliner of the three nights this year. While they didn’t have any special guests, a rumor of Sam Smith was around all day, they absolutely crushed the closing slot.
As Boston Calling gets ready to move to Harvard’s Athletic facility, it went out with a bang at City Hall Plaza. Having been there for four years and seven different festivals, it runs like a well-oiled machine. While they will most likely be on a learning curve in their first year at a new location next year, I have complete faith that Boston Calling will continue to be one of the best run festivals in the Northeast.
Article: Bryan Lasky