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.
On Sunday festival goers at Boston Calling got the second half of the true ‘New England experience’ as the weather turned from 90’s and sunny on Saturday to the low 60’s with clouds. However, a much more relaxing day in the crowd would prove to make room for an even more exciting day on stage, and it was the girls’ day to shine as several of the days’ acts were female lead artists.
During the early portion of the day it was French synthpop act Christine and the Queens who caused a stir. Backed by several energetic dancers – all dressed alike in plain white t-shirts and grey slacks - it was vocalist Héloïse Letissier whose attitude and swift dance moves drew eyes to the JetBlue Stage. Letissier channeled her inner Michael Jackson as she strutted her way through a set that was unfairly short.
Next up was Unknown Mortal Orchestra on the Xfinity Stage. The groups’ psychedelic, garage rock made for a loose, fun set. The experimental sounds they provided were a great choice by bookers to put early in the day as a crowd full of music fans with a piqued interest danced away. Drummer Riley Geare was a bright spot as well with his energetic playing.
Meanwhile, over on the local stage it was alt-country outfit These Wild Plains who drew a crowd. Their twangy, Nashville inspired sound has earned them praise at festivals as far as California’s Stagecoach Festival. The local band thanked their parents for being in attendance and put on a stellar set in front of friends & family
Charles Bradley & the Extraordinaires brought the funk to Boston Calling, Bradley is a rags to riches story who began his music career at 62 when he released his debut album via Daptone Records. Bradley got his start as a James Brown impersonator in his early days and the influence is still there in his original material, mixed in with some Otis Redding.
Pop punk/emo got it’s turn to shine when New Jersey outfit The Front Bottoms brought their fun, energetic sound to the JetBlue Stage, stirring up the crowd for the weekend’s rowdiest set. Playing songs from their Fueled by Ramen debut “Back on Top” and their 2013 cult favorite “Talon of the Hawk” the band had a lot of fans in attendance, evidenced by the long sing-a-long taking place throughout much of their set.
Ex’s and Oh’s singer Elle King kicked off a triple threat of three consecutive female lead acts, King brought the country rock back out a bit later with her southern attitude and bad girl stage presence. Clad in a black leather jacket complete with fringe King covered both Johnny Cash and the Beatles bringing some mid 20th century festival rock to the modern day sea of iPhones and cameras.
Following King was what was Sunday’s – and perhaps the weekends – strongest performance when Janelle Monae took to the JetBlue stage for a set dripping with style and swagger. Monae arrived to the stage, wheeled in on a hand truck a la Hannibal Lector. Monae covered James Brown, The Jackson Five, and Prince in the same set, a bold move, but one that paid off as she nailed every song, putting her own spin on them and doing them true justice with her own swagger. Her set also featured plenty of original songs like “Electric Lady” and “Tightrope.” Monae’s stage presence was on par with artists of the upper echelon – think ‘Prince level’ cool – her attitude had the attention of everyone at the festival, no matter who they had shown up to see. Her performance was the talk of social media in Boston for the rest of the evening.
Ending the triple threat of girl rockers was the Haim sisters who headlined the Xfinity Stage. The trio’s modern classic rock sound were a perfect compliment to cap off the rock portion of the festival, as their Fleetwood Mac inspired rock and roll was highlighted by Danielle Haim’s guitar playing, showing potential to be a guitar hero for a new generation. Two new songs “Give Me Just A Little of Your Love” and “Nothing’s Wrong” gave the crowd a look at what’s to come for the band as they’re currently in the process of working on their sophomore album, a follow up to their 2013 debut “Days Are Gone.”
The festival’s final set was provided by UK indietronica duo Disclosure. Who’s stage lights were about as powerful as the bat signal from Batman, shining lights into the city of Boston’s skyline. Their set was a visual masterpiece with the lighting, lazers, and videoboards that provided a multi-faceted experience. Their music turned the festival grounds into one big – mostly bad – dancing extravaganza. Rumors had been swirling early in the day that Sam Smith would be making an appearance during their set, but it would prove to be just a rumor. They did however, bring out singer/songwriter Brendan Reilly to sing during their encore.
Thankfully for the crowd in attendance Sunday was not nearly as hot temperature wise, so it was definitely a more enjoyable atmosphere for the crowd. Many had a chance to check out new artists with the comfort factor of lower temperatures giving them more of a chance to relax rather that seeking water and shade.