Boston Calling impressed all, despite rainstorm

As the final days of summer lingered over downtown Boston, thousands of festival goers piled into City Hall Plaza for three days of music. People of all ages, from college students to middle-aged music lovers, gathered to hear the sets of artists whose style spanned across several genres. From Hip hop to alternative, nearly every aspect of the musical spectrum was displayed throughout the weekend at City Hall.

Future Islands kicked off the festival on Friday evening, followed by Neutral Milk Hotel and The National.  Thousands of fans gathered and sang along, craning their necks over the massive crowd to get a glimpse of each band. Many embraced and climbed onto shoulders of friends as the notes resounded off of walls and buildings.

Saturday began with Sonicbids Winner, followed by many other acts including Sky Ferreria and Bleachers.

As the day progressed, fear of the festival being cancelled grew as reports of extreme weather were predicted to strike the area. A shelter in place was declared and the music was postponed for several hours, as water-logged fans took shelter from the storm in parking garages and shops surrounding the plaza. Although multiple acts were cut due to the severe thunderstorms, the show went on with Lorde and Childish Gambino finishing out the night in a cool and misty atmosphere.

Despite the rain, the crowd’s energy was not diminished. The liveliness and enthusiasm of fans was tangible, even to the artists. Lorde commented on the spirit of the crowd during her set saying, “What you have done tonight is something special … not every group is like this”.

The next day, the crowds returned with the same level of intensity and excitement as the previous days. Gentleman Hall opened the show and was followed by several bands including 21 Pilots, The War on Drugs, The 1975, and Nas x The Roots.

New to the festival this year was the introduction of the Blank Canvas art contest. The contest challenged Boston artists to create a 36 by 60 inch mural that was inspired by both the festival and the city.  From the entries, five winners were selected to create their piece and have it displayed at the festival. Each winner received a $1,000 prize, of which $250 would be given for art supplies to create the mural, as well as VIP tickets to all three days of the festival.

“We are always seeking ways to extend our connection to the community and further celebrate the talents of the people that make Boston, and the entire region vibrant,” said Brian Appel, co-founder of Boston Calling, in a press release regarding the contest.

Each of the five winning designs was unique, capturing different aspects of Boston, and skillfully incorporating them into the murals. Contest winner Corey Corcoran’s mural, which features a brightly colored duck tour boat with the names of the various acts inside of it, said, “I do a lot of drawing in and of Boston. I wanted to come up with something that wasn’t cliché but would also be distinct and accessible.”

Another winner, 17-year-old Michelle Stevens, incorporated Boston into her mural by sketching the different performers in sports jerseys and festival t-shirts with the state house and the harbor vibrantly displayed in the background.

“The variety of music at the festival is just as diverse as Boston culture and the attendees themselves, so I made it appear as though the band members were part of the crowd, watching the festival goers” said Stevens.

Another winning mural by Kyle Hebert, depicted a high-top sneaker with the Boston Calling logo as well as the names of the various acts written on the sole. Hebert said the inspiration for his piece was more about music than Boston, saying, “Remember when your passion for music began? When you heard your favorite album for the first time? When every blank canvas, whether it be the walls of your bedroom or the soles of your shoes, was covered with the artists and musicians that you loved? That statement describes my piece perfectly.”

Hebert also expressed his hopes that Boston Calling will incorporate more art into the festival in the coming years saying, “City Hall Plaza is a great venue but it’s so big, it’d be great in the future to see some artists tackle murals, sculptures, or artwork that’s even bigger”

The next Boston Calling festival is scheduled for May 2015.