The second day of Boston Calling featured a schedule overflowing with talent that made for unfortunate news on one front, but mostly didn’t disappoint. Although it was cloudy all day, the sky played ball and the rainy forecast never materialized. The Arena hosted a live recording of the popular podcast, Pod Save America, that used humor to address subjects ranging from the Mueller Investigation to Scott Pruitt’s ethical lapses while making sure to take their fair share of shots at Harvard University’s elitist reputation. The Delta Blue Stage hosted a few hip-hop and electronica acts like Tyler, the Creator, Mount Kimbie and BROCKHAMPTON, while the dueling Red and Green stages hosted an all out onslaught of guitar-based rock of marathon proportions.
BROCKHAMPTON member Ameer Vann was absent from the performance following allegations of sexual misconduct and as of press time, he has officially been kicked out of the band and the rest of their tour has been canceled. During their set, band members awkwardly stood around in silence during Vann’s versus, suggesting they were not at all ready to perform without him.
Although BROCKHAMPTON broke fans hearts, the rest of the talent knocked it out of the park. As we wrote in our recap of Day One, the Red and Green stages are next to each other and host a single act at a time while the other stage sets up for the next artist, thus allowing no overlap or delay between acts. Folks who spent the day camped out at this part of the grounds were treated in chronological order to performances by Manchester Orchestra, Royal Blood, St. Vincent, Queens of the Stone Age and Jack White. Royal Blood has been opening for QOTSA on the road for some time now so it made perfect sense that the former played on the same stage prior to the latter while St. Vincent slayed the Green stage between the two. Her avante garde videography, bizarre choreography, violently thrashing guitar licks made the rock goddess an easy highlight of the weekend so far.
St. Vincent’s Masseduction was one of the best albums of 2017 and the tour supporting it was just as inventive. She essentially reformatted her studio material into performance art with a live score. It was unlike anything her peers have come close to, but it would be near impossible to reproduce on the festival circuit. She ditched the one-woman format and returned to her touring quartet who kept things flowing while she belted her heart out, wowed the crowd with her creepy charisma and straight-up slayed her lead guitar licks like a dragon. She gets lots of praise for her songwriting, singing, performances and production but her work as a lead guitarist is criminally underrated. St. Vincent, aka Annie Clarke, is an alumni of Boston’s Berklee College of Music and while she has the chops to show for it, it’s in the tone of her lead guitar work where she truly shines. She has a gritty, augmented bent in her playing that is instantly recognizable within a single note of being heard. It’s the kind of stylistic trademark guys like QOTSA frontman Josh Homme dream of. The only other artist on the bill with a more recognizable tone is Jack White, who put on the single best performance of the day.
White has been touring in support of his recently released Boarding House Reach and while he played plenty of material off the album, he managed to craft a setlist that was heavy on White Stripes classics, hits off his two previous solo records, as well as material he created as a member of both The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather. Plenty of artists have a discography that spans multiple decades but White is one of the few who plays a different setlist every single night. Anyone with a smartphone could find out what The Killers were going to play the previous night before they played it, but White still has the unpredictable mystic that makes him one of the single most interesting rock acts in the world. Blowing past curfew, the highlight of his set was a version of “Ball and Biscuit” off The White Stripes’ Elephant that showcased more lead guitar work than any song he’d performed previously. White is a proficient slide guitarist, has meddled in Tom Morello-styled kill switch work, has a mastery of tone shifting and knows hot to make feedback work for him. Add Eddie Van Halen-esque tapping to that list of methods and he used them all in “Ball and Biscuit” like he was going for broke. He followed it up with a predictable conclusion of “Seven Nation Army” that had his audience chanting the refrain so loud you could literally hear them from the other side of the Charles River.
This was arguably the best schedule of any of the three days for Boston Calling this year but tomorrow brings the promise of Eminem’s first performance in the Boston-area in well over twelve years and in light of his status as the single most commercially successful rapper of all time, it wouldn’t be wise to write this weekends ending until Marshall Mathers has had his say.
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Photos by Marc Lacatell and Andrew Bruss