Live Review: Making sense of Saturday night’s thumping slate at Boston Calling
Saturday evening featured what we’re expecting to remember as the best performance of Boston Calling’s fall of ‘15. Saturday afternoon barfed up what’ll probably go down as this fest’s most gawd awful offering, unless somebody fucks up really bad on Sunday. Read on to discover who was great and who was the barf. [Note: Click here for the first half of our Saturday review.]
Father John Misty
Someone had to take the piss out of Ryan Adams for his remake of Taylor Swift’s 1989, but in hindsight, perhaps Father John Misty should’ve figured out a way to troll the needlessly ballyhooed project without angering the ghost of Lou Reed.
“Delete those tracks,” Reed commanded, referring to the New Orleans-based troubadour’s renditions of Adams’s renditions of Swift’s “Blank Spaces” and “Welcome to New York,” which FJM performed in the style of the Velvet Underground. “I am not your plaything. The collection of souls is an expensive pastime.”
And thus FJM deleted the tracks. It’s one thing to self-identify as “Father” in winking jest, but invoking the name of Lou Reed against his wishes is truly sacrosanct.
Commencing with the title track off the lauded I Love You, Honeybear, FJM oozed a concentration of charisma possible only for the likes of Bowie and evangelical preachers. But the artist known in bureaucratic circles as “Josh Tillman” maintained a serious face, and solemn delivery only enhanced to the acerbity of lyrics like, “Save me, white Jesus.” Just because it’s satire doesn’t mean it needs to be funny. Adding yet another layer of meta-irony during the final bars of “Bored in the U.S.A.,” Tillman bounced down to the barricade, borrowed an onlooker’s phone, turned to a video camera, and took a selfie of himself taking a selfie.
I bet if FJM was a cult leader, it would be a neat cult, and we would all want to join.
Walk The Moon
Is this baby smiling? No she is not. She looks a little pissed off, actually. That’s because she’s listening — involuntarily, mind you — to Walk the Moon, and babies hate Walk the Moon.
Calling this Canadian electro-funk pair an exhibit of style over substance would be accurate, and also quite like complaining about excessive nudity on PornHub. They’re uber-garish, that’s pretty much the point, and it seems to be working out okay for them.
I couldn’t figure out if what, from a distance, looked like big glow-in-the-dark blue sticks waved by evident Chromeo enthusiasts were made of blue styrofoam, ordinary styrofoam that looked blue when hit with the stage lights, or battery-powered devices of some kind. At any rate, one of Chromeo’s electric drums was rigged to mimic a cowbell, which gives them 15 bonus points, and they applied their autotune with tactful sparseness, which is good for enough five bonus points.
Minus three points for encouraging the audience to sit on each other’s shoulders. It was already hard enough for short people to see the stage from the floor.
They weren’t loud enough. The low end overpowered the treble during the first handful of songs. I could barely hear the backing vocals at one point. Two basic bros standing to my right managed to drown out “Bury It” for me by shout-talking a remarkably knuckle-brained argument about lyrics (BTW: You’re both wrong, she’s singing, “Bury it and rise above,” just like the song title. You’re welcome, assholes).
Thankfully, the audio difficulties, or perhaps merely inconveniences, dissipated by the time the Glasgow trio rolled out “Tether” off 2013’s The Bones of What You Believe. The subsequent blend of Bones tracks with cuts from Every Open Eye — the latter batch, so fresh you shouldn’t touch them without an oven mitt — more than satisfied at least one Vanyaland correspondent who volunteered to to cover this festival for the exclusive purpose of seeing CHVRCHES perform.
Mid-song banter highlights: Lauren Mayberry got the finalized lyrics mixed up with discarded demo lyrics for “Keep You On My Side,” and we know this only because she told us after the song was over. She also confessed to existing in a general state of “diseasey,” and noted “diseasey” probably isn’t a word, which is true, it is not.
Only minor gripe: I question the necessity of Martin Doherty stepping out from behind the keys and sampler to do lead vox on “Under the Tide.” It felt as if the Fantastic Four found themselves in a situation where they had to set something on fire, and the Thing said, “Step aside, Human Torch. We know you’re great at fire stuff, and fire stuff isn’t my strongest skill, but I’m going to do the fire instead of you this time because no discernible reason.” Mayberry is the Human Torch and Doherty is the Thing in that metaphor.
From the VIP area, all you could really make out was alt-J’s lightshow, which complimented the hypnotic nature of their product nicely. The band of Brits came off far more concerned with atmosphere than hooks, making them the perfect act to remind Boston Calling at-large that we’ve been here all day, and it’s time to go home and take a nap.
For a complete photo gallery of Saturday’s action, click here. All live photos by Eddy Leiva for Vanyaland. Follow Barry Thompson on Twitter @BarelyTomson, and stay tuned for more updates from Boston Calling all weekend long.