Boston Calling day 3 pics/review: Fleet Foxes, Decemberists, Julien Baker, more
Boston Calling wrapped up on Sunday (5/27) and though the weather was significantly worse than the two previous days (it was about 35 degrees cooler and rainy), it seemed like the crowd was actually the biggest for day three, and that was surely because of headliner Eminem. My review of Eminem’s set is HERE.
Before Eminem, I spent my entire day at the blue stage, which was basically an all-day stage of indie/folk (the calm before the storm that was Eminem). I got there around 3 as Dirty Projectors were on, and their quirky pop sounded as good as ever, complete with their off-kilter and airtight vocal harmonies, and Dave Longstreth’s tricky guitar playing. Right after them was Julien Baker, who still does most of her set with just a guitar and her voice (but is now joined on a few songs by violinist Camille Faulkner, and she also uses more piano than she used to), and still has more power than some full bands. Her music is filled with raw, honest, unfiltered emotion, and it comes across even more powerfully live than on record. When she shifted from her hushed delivery to a belted, soaring wail, the crowd screamed back in approval every time. It’s tough to play a festival set with music this quiet (in uncomfortable weather no less), but Julien pulled it off.
The biggest pre-Eminem highlight of the day for me was The Decemberists, who are fresh off releasing a synth-fueled new album that really reinvigorated their sound. With the new album’s songs in the mix, The Decemberists’ live show was more diverse than ever, moving from dancey synthpop to their trademark folk to their classic sea shanty “The Mariner’s Revenge Song,” which they closed with. (The only side they didn’t show at this show was their prog side.) The set was heaviest on the new album, and also included The King Is Dead favorites “Down by the Water” and “Rox in the Box” plus one from 2015’s What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World, with the only “old” songs being “O Valencia!” and the aforementioned “Mariner’s Revenge Song.” Even if more old faves would’ve been nice, their set didn’t suffer at all from being heaviest on newer material. They’re still ace performers, and the new songs they played really sounded terrific. Colin Meloy was also especially entertaining at this show. He started the set saying “this is actually the right weather for a Decemberists festival set,” and another memorable quote came when he introduced “Rox in the Box” by saying they were going to give us something we wouldn’t get at other festival sets: a song about mining. After they played it and included a snippet of the traditional “Blackleg Miner” (which they also recorded for their Offa Rex side project last year), Colin remarked: “You got two mining songs for the price of one. Eminem’s not offering that.” Another such moment came during “Everything Is Awful,” when Colin started improvising the lyrics and listing things that are awful, including “there’s a white supremacist in the white house” before getting self-aware and singing “there’s a straight white male telling you that everything is awful.” The crowd liked that one.
The last blue stage act after Decemberists was Fleet Foxes, who are fresh off making a comeback with last year’s great, hiatus-ending Crack-Up, and they offered up a nice mix of songs from all three of their albums. I sadly could only stay for the first 30 minutes or so because I had to run over to Eminem’s stage, but everything I did see sounded as lush and lightly trippy as ever.
Pictures of day three, including shots of Alvvays, Zola Jesus, Thundercat, Mike D and Cousin Stizz, are in the gallery above.