Boston Calling: Saturday’s Guitars and Pop Stars

by Ryan Dowd and Haley Cormier

Day One | Day Two | Day Three

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It was a day for ’80s inspired pop and a night for guitars.

This was day two of the Boston Calling Musical Festival, and the headliner of the night—My Morning Jacket—treated a mostly middle-aged, male crowd to over an hour and a half of their expansive repertoire of alt-country rock. In contrast to the morphology of last night’s draw Beck, My Morning Jacket has its sound. It may twist and turn to different forms at times from funky rock and roll to softer acoustic and even some synth based songs, but My Morning Jacket always came back to frontman Jim James’ vocals and the group’s dueling guitars.

As the night wore on, James and the gang drifted back to songs from the early millennium. “Golden” and the evening’s closer “One Big Holiday” off the band’s 2003 album It Still Moves kept the core of young dads swaying in the crowd.

Ben Harper and St. Vincent had preceded Jacket. Harper and the Innocent Criminals is a jam band of the highest order. Harper brought the blues to Boston Calling. Nothing really sounds like St. Vincent and her howling guitar. The indie rocker combines long, harrowing guitar notes with pop melodies, letting her notes hang in the air like she just doesn’t care. Her “Digital Witness” is a prime example. She was the perfect chronicler of the setting sun.

But before the guitars took over the city square, it was ’80s inspired pop that ruled most of the square from the red stage. In succeeding acts, Mo, Tove Lo, and Marina and the Diamonds got the afternoon crowd members up on their feet and in Tove Lo’s case out of their shirts.

Mo—the second act of the day—was a high-energy combination of rock and techno. After Gerard Way’s sound set across the courtyard, Tove Lo followed. The Swedish singer-songwriter caught the attention of the entire crowd, which is hard to do with so many consumer decisions to make in such a small space (Chipotle or Roxy’s?). She exposed the crowd to rising hits “Talking Body” and “Habits (Stay High).” She was the most engaging performer of the day/night.

Marina and the Diamonds capped off the ’80s afternoon. It was as if she were an older sister of Tove Lo with a bigger, galactic sound and a more modest performance. Both artists blended ’80s style pop with modern sensibilities. Marina used plenty of theatricality, including a planetary background, golden antlers, and purple pants. She closed with the popular “How to Be a Heartbreaker,” but treated the audience to plenty of infectious pop anthems like “Hollywood” and “I Am Not a Robot.”

The festival’s final day will feature Tenacious D, TV on the Radio, and the Pixies on Sunday. You can find a recap of Friday’s coverage here.

Featured Image Haley Cormier / Heights Staff

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