The Commuter Rail is packed, Faneuil Hall is a buzz & great music is resonating through the streets surrounding Government Center, meaning only one thing... it must be time for another Boston Calling Music Festival!
Little has changed in the setup from last fall to now, with both stages relatively close together opposite Boston City Hall. Most of the setup was familiar: the beer garden, lemonade stands, food trucks-turned tents, even a small convenience store. There's nothing revolutionary this year, but Boston Calling has refused to lose its charm in its fourth rendition.
Now to the acts: The night was kicked off by a passionate performance by Future Islands. This performance had the quintessential festival sound: loud, ringing synths, echo-y guitars, etc. However, up their sleeve were unique, deep, growly vocals which added a bit of texture to that familiar concert vibe.
Up next was the long awaited Neutral Milk Hotel. The crowd erupted in cheers as lead singer Jeff Mangum opened the performance with nothing more than his voice and a guitar. Shortly after, the band ran on stage to join in for "Holland in 1945", and the night was off. The clear crowd favorite was the collective three-part of "King of Carrot Flowers", especially with the heavy rock tempo of part 3. Their setup was simple, nothing more than a lit stage with instruments and microphones. Nevertheless, this is a band that needs nothing more than their music to captivate the audience. Mangum performed solo again for "Two-Headed Boy", marking a lull before the final few songs. In a clever attempt to start a singalong, Mangum claimed to have a virus making it conveniently hard to sing the hugely popular "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea". It was an honor to see the elusive Neutral Milk Hotel in concert, and words can only do a poor job to explain how amazing a performance they put on. If you have the chance to see them live, don't even hesitate. Just see them.
The night ended with an old friend to Boston Calling: The National. A mellower performance, this performance was a great end to a great night. Highlights included calls from the audience of "Everything I love is on the table/Everything I love is out to see" during "Don't Swallow the Cap" and their hit "Bloodbuzz Ohio". The National released viewers back into the night in a trance-like haze, making it the perfect ending for this surreal first night at Boston Calling.
See photos from the first day of Boston Calling below: