Tim BriggsBoston Calling 2018: Sunday Mikey Enwright May 31, 2018 Featured, Festivals, Reviews For the past few years, Boston Calling has always had the bad luck of falling on a weekend with at least some rain, and while festival-goers were blessed with Coachella-like weather on Friday and Saturday, that unfortunate tradition occurred again on a cool, rainy Sunday. Luckily, Sunday also had plenty of danceable music thanks to acts like Weakened Friends, Taylor Bennett, and the the festival’s most highly anticipated performer, Eminem. Most Band Members At A Rap Show: STL GLD Rap duo STL GLD gave a much needed dash of local flavor to this big-name festival. Combining a DJ with a live drummer and guitarist, their energy was great even if the songs were occasionally overproduced. “Wild Style,” their race-conscious, pop-oriented anthem, was the strongest moment in their opening set, and additions like the wail of police sirens and a thick layer of electronic textures got the crowd bouncing. Besides a Run The Jewels and “Jump Around” cover, the set was all original, high-voltage material, packing hooks, dense lyrics, and maximal beats together as tightly as they could. There was a small but engaged crowd at the set, and a few fans towards the front could be seen rapping along to their lyrics. Most Likely To Buy Intentionally-Ripped Jeans: Weakend Friends Local pop grunge three-piece Weakened Friends made a great first impression at Boston Calling, ripping through their early-day set at the Green Stage with dry wit and nearly no breaks in between songs. The day was chilly, so bassist Annie Hoffman’s colorful shirt/sunglasses combo and the band’s crackling sound provided some much needed warmth to the damp grey chill. The few diehard fans in the crowd appreciated it—one woman enthusiastically took off her shoes and jumped around in socks. When she sings live, lead singer Sonia Sturino’s voice cracks and quivers with emotion like a wah-wah pedal, spinning loosely outlined verse melodies into punchy, singable choruses that deserve a later and more well-attended timeslot. Sturuno was profusely grateful to the festival and relaxed while bantering with the crowd, joking during the few pauses between songs: “So… you guys excited for Eminem later today?” Hoffman chimed in, “I just realized, that’s the last time we’ll ever get to say that!” Maybe, but Weakened Friends are on the rise—check out their latest single with J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr.! Longest Intro: Taylor Bennett Before Taylor Bennett’s set even started, the crowd had already been jumping for at least 10 minutes. His DJ came out right at the 2:20 start time and led the crowd in a whirlwind tour of rap smash hits over the past 20 years including “God’s Plan” by Drake, a Kanye track, “Humble” by Kendrick Lamar, and finally… The Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song and “This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan. Whether the warm-up set was meant to contextualize Taylor’s music or simply get the crowd moving, everyone was in a great mood by the time he entered. While his verses were well-crafted, the crowd’s enthusiasm carried him more than the strength of his songs. While he occupies the same corner of the rap world as his older brother, Chance the Rapper, his tone is less joyful, exploring more complex issues (Taylor came out as bisexual to the rap community last year) and embracing slightly darker production. Highlights included the Tennyson- and Kyle-produced “Favorite Colors” and “Broad Shoulders,” his breakout song featuring Chance. Most Emphatic Crowd Response: Dirty Projectors As a light rain began falling at the Blue Stage, Dirty Projectors began a losing battle against technical issues with their bass guitar. Naturally, the songs sounded thinner and occasionally confusing as a result, making for an enjoyable but at times, garbled, set. “Can you hear the bass?” lead singer and guitarist David Longstreth asked after the first song, and the crowd responded with a cartoonish “Noo!” He made the most of it with a great MLB reference: “I feel like Wade Boggs up here, doing resistance training!” he laughed, “Feels good!” Despite this issue, the set was salvaged by Longstreth and his backup vocalists’ exquisite, sometimes experimental, harmonies. Holiest Set: Julien Baker We are taught this rule from a young age: don’t talk in church. But here in Boston, a city of godless liberals who go to SoulCycle on Sunday mornings, the rules don’t apply. Many people chattered away during Julien Baker’s set, distracting from her unassuming stage presence. Songs like “Everybody Does” and “Rejoice” are directly addressed to God, so it felt surreal and special to be given a glimpse into something so interior and personal, especially in a festival setting. A little later on, her lone bandmate Camille Faulkner came on stage to provide subtle accompaniment on the violin. Along with the intense fervor of her lyrics, the intensifying rain felt like a baptism. Most Likely To Be Named Homecoming King: Cousin Stizz Roxbury native Cousin Stizz aka Stephen Goss had the highest lineup placement of any hometown act in this year’s festival, but this was a complete accident. After British Grime artist Stormzy had to pull out due to illness, Stizz was tapped to cover his set, and he came through with the best hip-hop set of the weekend. He immediately set the mood from his first words on stage— “It feels so good to be home!” At home in front of a crowd, his friendly, freewheeling style put the crowd in a great mood. As visuals flashed behind him of his name morphed into familiar Boston-centric logos (Celtics, Red Sox, Dunkin’, etc.) he sipped Hennessy and led the crowd in enthused renditions of Boston-referencing cuts like “Where I Came From” and “Lambo.” The crowd certainly got their money’s worth. There was a surprise appearance by fellow Bostonian Michael Christmas, who has played the festival in the past, and an ad. “Who like Hennessy!?” he asked the crowd, “I’m trying to get paid by Hennessy.” Most Likely To Live In An Orchard: Fleet Foxes Fleet Foxes have been together since 2006, and in their time (with and without former drummer Father John Misty) they’ve played plenty of festivals, so their set at Boston Calling was efficient and focused. As the evening light faded, a steady rain fell as Robin Pecknold and co. took the Blue Stage, appropriate for the windswept and salty-aired “Grown Ocean.” With a quick work of thanks between songs, Pecknold took the audience on a whirlwind tour of their discography, carving out time for the deeply personal “Third of May / Ōdaigahara” in addition to crowd favorites, “Blue Ridge Mountains” and “Mykonos”. While their lyrics (especially on their debut) are woodsy and poetic, the music is often outward facing, basking in the glory of nature on “Ragged Wood” or searching for place and purpose on “Helplessness Blues.” A high percentage of the crowd sang along enthusiastically, making for an uplifting communal experience. The “uplifting” aspect was also literally true—this was the only set of the entire weekend with a crowdsurfer. Angriest Dad: Eminem Eminem closed out the final day of Boston Calling with a performance that had been hyped up all weekend. The field in front of the Green Stage was noticeably more crowded than the previous two nights. There was a good reason, too—it had been over a decade since Eminem played a show in Boston. Fireworks, a full live band with strings, and a dazzling light display gave the crowd their money’s worth. Sporting a black baseball cap and accompanied by his hype-man Mr. Porter, he raced through a set that had everything from deep cuts from The Eminem Show to his radio hits with Rihanna and Skylar Grey (Skylar performed live with him). There was some celebrity intrigue as well when Em asked the crowd, “Boston, do you want me to date Nicki Minaj? Well goddammit, me too,” setting fan Twitter accounts and gossip-hawks buzzing. As Eminem reaches the bearded, elder statesman era of his career, he still maintains the razor-sharp, boxer-like quality of his rapping—dodging, weaving, and landing precise blows—but after so many years of success, it’s unclear what he has left to fight against. 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