Outside the Pit is a recurring installment for Mosh Pit Report that focuses on the music we at Mosh Pit Report listen to when we're not moshing. We encourage our readers to check out all the artists we cover and expand outside some of their typical musical comfort zones.
Sweltering temperatures were the theme of the day on the second day of Boston Calling Music Festival. With unseasonable temps in the 90’s and a high humidity level, the line at the water refill station was where many of the festival attendees spent a portion of their day.
Amid constant reminders from Boston Calling organizers to stay hydrated, it was local lo-fi rockers Palehound who kicked off the music with the day’s first set on the Xfinity Stage. Palehound has been the talk of the town in the last year plus, taking home the “Best New Artist” award at last fall’s Boston Music Awards. Playing on perhaps the biggest stage they’ve ever been on, the local three piece lead by singer/songwriter Jackie of all trades Ellen Kempner’s faux-awkward stage persona was a great way to kick off the day. With power pop style, 90’s influenced music Palehound draws comparison to girl rock acts of the 90’s such as Boston icons The Breeders.
Keeping with the alternative theme, mostly instrumental experimental trio Battles followed shortly after. Battles won the title of most unconventional drummer placement of the weekend with John Stainer and his highest of hi-hat cymbals drove the math rock band through a set highlighted by the seven minute, underground classic track “Atlas” from the bands 2007 debut album “Mirrored.”
British invasion inspired punk rock was the next genre to be tackled as London rockers The Vaccines took over the JetBlue stage. With guitar driven garage rock, the punk band got the crowd moving even in the extreme heat with a sound that made it impossible to stand still. The track “Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)” was played with the energy it deserved, feeling like a lost track from the Ramones catalog.
In a weekend full of star power, it was glam rock artist Garrett Borns and his eponymous band Børns who perhaps best embodied the epitome of what is to be a rock star. Borns’ stylish, androgynous outfit mixed with a sound of cool, sexy, strutting rock and roll that provided the weekends’ most Woodstock worthy set. Børns would play their hit song “Electric Love” a track currently leading the new glam rock revival that seems to be taking place in the last couple years. A cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes” was a very appropriate track for the band making waves in a genre that Bowie himself was instrumental in building.
Buzz worthy girl Courtney Barnett picked up where Palehound left off, with her own brand of 90’s girl rock inspired rock. Barnett has made noise in the indie rock scene in the last year plus with her album “Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit” which she would go on to play nine tracks from on Saturday, including the hit single “Nobody Really Cares if You Don’t Go To the Party.”
Over on the Xfinity Stage shortly after was former post-hardcore hero and vocalist of the group Alexisonfire, Dallas Green, performing under the moniker City and Colour, his more mature, indie folk rock project. Typically performed acoustically, on Saturday Green appeared with a full band, even plugging in for some songs. The sound was mellow, with a folk, almost southern rock undertone that was low energy, but in way that was needed to give festival goers a chance to catch their breath while still enjoying some great music.
Swedish indie pop band Miike Snow was next, putting on a fun, dancey psychedelic set. Miike Snow won the weekend’s catchiest new tune playing their song “Ghengis Kahn” an infectious indie pop track with a memorable chorus that had festival attendees heading over to the merch table to pick up their album.
The night was capped by sets from Seattle, Washington electronic duo Odesza and Swedish pop queen Robyn. Odesza’s set was a fun, albeit repetitive dance set, that met expectations but didn’t quite surpass them the way some had hoped. As for Robyn, her set was perhaps the weekend’s biggest let down, rather than playing a set of originals Robyn elected to take a big risk and instead play a set entire composed of remix’s, played out as a continuous dance set. While the courage to go out on a limb and do something unconventional with her headline slot is admirable, the risk did not pay off for the pop queen as the crowd thinned out the longer the set went on. Perhaps if the day hadn’t been so long and overheated the crowd may have found more enjoyment in it, but as it stood, Robyn’s set was underwhelming and up against performances like those from SIA and Sufjan Stevens the night before just didn’t hold up.