Boston Calling Day One: The Recap

Matt & Kim and a ton of balloons
Matt & Kim and a ton of balloons

A bout of seriously inclement weather — it felt more like late autumn than Memorial Day weekend in the rain-drenched wind tunnel that was City Hall Plaza yesterday — didn’t seem to have dampened the crowd’s enthusiasm any. Dressed in raincoats, parkas, and the clear plastic ponchos staffers were passing out at the gate (though they ran out around 4-ish – a lot of wet fans in attendance) the audience was resilient, pressing together toward the two stages set up on opposite ends of the plaza, probably as much for warmth as to get a good view.

When I finally rolled up around 4:30 — having been camped out at the bar at the Beantown Pub for most of the morning, putting back beers in preparation for the long, cold evening ahead (along with a ton of other Boston Calling-goers who had the same idea)— Matt & Kim were just taking the stage. I fought the urge to retreat to one of the two beer “tents” (pro tip: the one farther from the entrance, near the tree-line, is cooler and affords fine views of the Main Stage) and fought my way through the wall of wet poncho-ed fans for a good view. I was glad I did.

Matt & Kim always put on a hell of a show, their ofttimes borderline manic enthusiasm knowing no bounds. Dropping hip-hop and club samples in between songs, with the push of a button (“I can’t help myself,” Matt told the audience, hitting it mid-song) the duo easily charmed a crowd already prepped to be impressed. It was pretty clear we’d all decided that we weren’t going to let a little freezing rain ruin the first big outdoor festival we’ve had to call our own here in Boston.

Kim manhandled her drums (this chick has got guns) like a pepped up human tornado while Matt wooed the crowd though the mic, a huge grin spread across his face throughout the entire set. Their energy and enthusiasm was contagious and, by the time Kim threw out handfuls of balloons printed with the Matt and Kim’s faces (a schtick of theirs that never fails to score with the audience) and asked people to blow them up, they had the crowd eating out of the palms of their hands. Watching the colorful balloons rise up into the air, with a roar of crowd approval, I could almost convince myself I was standing in a muddy field somewhere — Glastonbury, maybe — instead of a concrete compound in Government Center. This fest is legit!

As the nine hour-long fest wore on it only got colder and wetter but after awhile, as we all got drunker and the music got better, it didn’t seem to matter. During Marina and the Diamonds’ set, I joined a crowd of cheerful folks in ponchos huddled atop a subway grate in the beer garden near the Main Stage, having all discovered that the dirty air billowing up from the T rails below provided an oasis of warmth akin to the heat lamps that we all wished had been set up around the Plaza. It was gross, but it was warm and — listening to Marina ignite a dance party down below, while warming our frozen appendages with the sooty air swirling up around us as the Green Line sped by beneath our feet — it was also sort of awesome. This is Boston.

All of the bands put on great sets, though some were chattier than others. The Shins ran through a string of their hits — to the crowd’s evident approval — like an assembly line. Albeit a well-run assembly line. Unlike the irrepressibly chatty Matt & Kim, James Mercer didn’t have much to say to the amped up crowd, letting the music do the talking. At one point, drummer Joe Plummer stopped to ask the crowd something I couldn’t quite make out about Boston and sports (I’ve seen more than one touring artist in Boston try to pander to the audience in that way, a ploy I find rather cheap, and a little insulting — yeah, we get it, people here in Bahhhston like sports) but the crowd played along, cheering right back at him.

The beer vendors stopped selling beer at 9 pm, just before headliners Fun. took the stage, so I doubled up and pushed my way toward the stage with a beer in each hand. Desperate, cold times and all that. I must admit here that I was prepared not to be that impressed by Fun. — I like them, but liked Nate Ruess’ former band the Format more — and am pleased to report that they proved me all kinds of wrong. Fun. were fantastic, Ruess’ soaring, theatrical vocals made for live performance. This guy doesn’t get compared to Freddie Mercury for no good reason. Fun. could teach some more experienced bands a thing or two about showmanship, they’ve got it in spades. They, too, ran through all the hits, interspersed with quirky picks, like a Paul Simon cover that had the crowd enthralled. Their set was the perfect close to what was was a successful first day for Boston Calling. “We Are Young,” indeed, and we are Boston.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

Boston Marathon 2014 on high alert, Red Sox…

One year on from the horrific Boston Marathon bombings a ring of steel has been thrown around today's race, and a city stands defiant against…

News

Boston Strong: One year on from Boston Marathon…

  For more than a century the Boston Marathon has been an even centred around sportsmanship, endurance and athleticism, but there's no denying the face…

Local

Hillary Clinton headed to Boston for women's leadership…

Former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to visit Massachusetts Wednesday amid continuing speculation about making another bid for the presidency in 2016.

Local

Boston Marathon: Marathoners ready to run, honor victims

Scores of runners will cross the Boston Marathon starting line in Hopkinton Monday and embark on a 26.2-mile journey to Boston in honor of the victims.

Television

‘Mad Men’ recap: Season 7, Episode 2, ‘A…

Peggy and Lou are horrible, Bert's racist, Don is honest(ish) and Roger and Pete are frustrated. "A Day's Work" not quite worthy of "This Will Be Our Year."

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox walk off with…

Red Sox pick up first walk off win of 2014

MLB

Red Sox and Orioles meet Monday morning at…

Red Sox and Orioles meet Monday morning at 11 a.m.

NHL

NHL video highlights: Bruins smack down Red Wings…

NHL video highlights: Bruins smack down Red Wings in Game 2

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.