Live Review: Freezing our asses off Sunday afternoon at Boston Calling with Vince Staples, UMO, and others


Okay, so yesterday the heat made me delusional and I got vertigo every time I stood up too fast and today I’m wearing a scarf — not as any sort of quasi-ironic fashion statement, but to keep my neck warm ‘cause it’s fucking chilly out here at Boston Calling, man.

New England weather is a capricious bastard. Someday, after President Trump nukes the sun into space rubble, we will live under a bio-dome where it shall remain 64 degrees at all times, and everything will be just the best ever.

Some pretty neat-o music stuff already happened on Sunday, tho. Sadly I didn’t make it down in time for Michael Christmas (editor’s note: thankfully our photographer did, so that’s him up top, and we tweeted a few pics/video of him earlier), but I saw these bits here…

Christine And The Queens

Relentlessly jubilant whilst bounding about the JetBlue stage in slacks and white shirts, Heloise Letissier and her entourage collectively resembled a late ‘90s Old Navy commercial. But as the French government quietly outlawed Old Navy in 2002, Letissier likely has no idea that her wardrobe selection has traumatic associations for American audiences. More importantly, her band/dance trope supplied more than sufficient whipsmart pop tracks and high-risk showmanship for us to forget they were dressed the same way annoying people on television used to dress. One transition recalled the dance club wham-pow of C+C Music Factory, and isn’t it sort of incredible “This sounds like C+C Music Factory” is an earnest compliment in 2016?

Shortly before her final number of the afternoon, Letissier picked up the remnants of a discarded batch of flowers, and summoned the essences of Beyoncé and Rihanna for the purposes of a brief but trenchant impromptu puppet show. It was then I realized what Boston Calling’s been missing all these years — puppets. Next year at the Harvard Athletic Complex, there better be a fucking puppet show.

Listen to our interview with Letissier here.


Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Automatic plus-12 points for the weekend’s first proper drum solo, as well as the rare deployment of a cowbell that didn’t feel like a dubious excuse to shoehorn a cowbell in somewhere for the sake of itself. Drummer Riley Geare was totally the shit in high school jazz band, I’ll bet. UMO’s expansive, lightly-psychedelic tuneage tied Battles’ Saturday set for the most sonically adventurous of the festival thus far, creeping as closely as possible to the border between practical wizardry and Dave Matthews-esque indulgence without stumbling over to the dark side.

These Wild Plains

Singer dude Ryan Bambery dedicated a song to his “folks” in attendance. By “folks” did he mean “parents?” If so, These Wild Plains, Lady Pills, and Palehound all gave their sires onstage props this weekend. Is this all part of some subversive new fad in which rock and rollers shall advocate being nice and appreciative to parents instead of telling them to go fuck themselves?

Irregardless, I now believe all country music should be presented in the same context as These Wild Plains were on the Verizon Stage — shuffled off into a cramped corner, while a much more widely-known artist of a more popular genre plays to four times as many people within three minutes walking distance.

It’s impossible to take Garth Brooks or whoever the current version of Garth Brooks is seriously when he sings about making it through the rough times. He’s filthy rich and wildly successful. Meanwhile, three-fifths of These Wild Plains could easily pass for homeless. So when they sing about being obscure and miserable, I know they’re coming from a place of experience.

Vince Staples

Aware that much of his audience haven’t yet lived long enough to buy cigarettes or vote, Vince Staples takes his position as a role model seriously. As such, he took moments between songs to condemn drug use, encourage the audience to stay in school because rap careers don’t pan out for most people, and wondered aloud where Mark Wahlberg went to college. He also inspired the most underwhelming response to a call to “Fuck The Police” we’ve ever experienced.

Unfortunately, 15 percent of the attendants at this Boston Calling are working festival security in some capacity, while another 26 percent are white girls from wealthy north shore towns whose dads are cops, and yet another 30 percent do hate cops but don’t like hip-hop and were over watching These Wild Plains on the other side of the fest.

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