Boston Calling day two was the hottest day of the weekend and not just in terms of the weather. With fiery performances by hip-hop acts like Tyler the Creator and Brockhampton, as well as virulent rock clashings by Manchester Orchestra and Royal Blood, day two sought to outdo day one with the sheer brute force of its performers. Hot and humid, with every peek of the sun from behind the clouds sending fans to the water and beer stations, the festival’s second day opened with a rock heavy start as Thee Oh Sees took over the main stage with an especially furious set. Belly just next door continued to give early arrivers something to bang their heads about as lead vocalist Tanya Donelly’s and bassist Gail Greenwood worked the crowd with their incessant charm and hot licks.
Back on the main stage Manchester Orchestra continued what Thee Oh Sees had started by sending the crowd into a frenzy with their surging, emotionally visceral anthems. Sonically, the band’s massive sound filled most of the athletic fields that made-up the festival grounds, soaring across the soccer fields and out across the Charles River beyond the main entrance. Andy Hull, the band’s enigmatic, vocal powerhouse, howled away into his microphone and imbued the crowd with a sharpened sense of energized melancholy. Rocking the crowd into the late-afternoon was U.K. duo Royal Blood, a band that for all intents and purposes does way more than they should be able to with just two people. With guitarist Mike Kerr shredding away and drummer Ben Thatcher pounding a tequila bottle as hard as his drums, the duo lit a fire under their crowd that refused to go out even as the evening started to get cooler.
As the day started to wear down, the festival’s day two standout performers took the stage. Brockhampton, the rap group that refers to themselves as a “boy band,” came out to the wild roar of hundreds of fans clamoring for them. Wearing bulletproof vest emblazoned with nicknames for each member, the boy band let loose on the crowd ripping through their bars with an unhinged ferocity. Like a well-oiled machine, each member unleashed their spit-fire bars in perfect sync, tossing them into the crowd like grenades and relishing in the poignant but brash lyricisms of their creation.
The performance was in stark contrast to Tyler the Creator’s, who stepped onto the same stage to unleash his own brand of off-kilter rhymes for his own rabid following. At first from atop a podium, swinging his long legs and flailing his arms in punctuation of every verse, Tyler had the crowd eating out of his hands within seconds. The moment he came down from his throne, illuminated by dark branches and stars that lit up the screens behind him, the crowd absolutely lost it. Never one to allow himself to be outdone, Tyler ran through his set as if he was competing with the crowd’s energy, hammering out every verse with such inflammatory gusto that it was a miracle he was still standing by the end of it.
Out on the main stage, just an hour previous, St. Vincent descended upon Boston Calling and gave a performance that was in every way out of this world. Standing at the far end of the stage in her orange jumpsuit about as far from the crowd as she could possibly be, St. Vincent didn’t need anything other than a six-string and her own ethereal voice to hypnotize her massive crowd. The first three songs of her set saw her switch guitars for each one and show off her chops in the process, shredding away between the heady-reverb and blown-out synths of “Los Angeles.” But it was the fourth song, the gushing ballad “New York,” that really unleashed all the sublime otherworldliness that St. Vincent had to offer. Between pounding bass and twinkling piano keys that seemed to mirror the stars in the early evening sky, the track thrust itself forward on the heels of St. Vincent’s disarmingly candid vocals. The rest of her set was a similar exercise in piercing tracks, each accentuated by her characteristically quirky beats and orchestral sized melodies. From her position on the main stage St. Vincent baptized hundreds, maybe even thousands, in her glittery sonics and without a doubt was crowned goddess and queen of day two.
Words & Photography: Steven Ward