Tag Archives: boston

Boston Calling: Already a Success in Second Year

by Cherie

New Englanders have a history working hard to overcome all obstacles. We’re fiercely proud of our local heritage and our place in national history. We also love a good success story, and what better example is there than the Boston Calling Music Festival? The festival is only in its second year but it has already integrated itself into the local community with ease. Crash Line Productions, the folks responsible for bring the festival to life, grew out of the ashes of the now defunct Phoenix Media Group, and they aim to breathe life into the music scene. The festival also works closely with many local companies to sponsor the event. Food and beverages were provided by Tasty Burger and Wicked Wines. Official merchandise for the festival was produced by Fenway’s own 47 Brand Entertainment.

Boston Calling prides itself on being “one big party”. It’s a three day event featuring live music from artists representing a wide range of genres. The festival itself is in its infancy; May marks only the second year that the festival has been around and it was the third weekend overall. With that in mind I expected the festival to still be experiencing some growing pains, but I was pleasantly surprised by my experience when I attended the festival in May.

 festival

First of all, the volunteers were absolutely fantastic. The whole setup was well organized and very efficient. Walking in you were first subjected to a wand search and bags were searched as well. After that your ticket was scanned by one person and bracelets were given out by another. Both days that I went it never took more than a couple of minutes to get through security, and re-entry had its own section and went even quicker. IDs were checked at a tent just inside the entrance, and that process took a matter of minutes as well. Not only was the process efficient but the volunteers themselves were all cheerful and pleasant. Just about every single one I encountered said hi and asked how I was. It was a pleasant surprise to encounter such cheerful people working the event. You could tell that everyone wanted to be there and was doing their best to make the festival a good experience for everyone.

red stage

The stage setup was slightly different from last year from what I’ve heard, and I had no complaints with how they were set up this year. With two stages in such close proximity it meant that you were almost forced to watch every single band if you stayed the whole day. Rather than traipsing across large distances you could stake out a spot and get a good view of both stages if you so chose. Festival goers also had the option of leaving the festival and coming back throughout the weekend (with the exception of Friday), which added to the casual vibe of the festival.

frank is god

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls played Saturday afternoon, and were just one of the many highlights of the festival. Effortlessly drawing in the crowd of 20,000 people, it wasn’t long before the crowd was stomping and dancing around to the music. Frank’s blend of punk rock enthusiasm and upbeat melodies easily had the crowd transfixed from the first chords of “Photosynthesis” which he used to open up his set. Frank has always been known for crowd participation, and chose a fan from the crowd to come up on stage with him to play the harmonica solo in “Dan’s Song.” The young man in question, Tom, came to be something of a local celebrity after his musical debut, and was seen walking around and taking pictures with festival attendees after the set. I think it’s safe to say that this was one concert experience he’ll never forget.

box tiger

Another highlight of the festival was seeing indie rock band, The Box Tiger, start things off on Sunday. The band, an up and coming band from Toronto/Portland, ME won a contest by Sonic Bids to perform at the festival, and they put on a fantastic live set. Singer Sonia Sturino’s vocals were perfectly suited to the open air festival. The band played early on in the day but there was a solid supporting crowd there to cheer them on.

Boston Calling might be a young festival, but it’s worked hard to become a reality and it’s already made a name for itself on the festival scene. Most festivals take place somewhere where there’s a lot of open land, but there’s something striking about holding a festival in downtown Boston amidst all the concrete buildings and cobblestone paths. The ability to come and go as you please also adds to the casual vibe of the festival and makes the experience that much more relaxed and enjoyable. Though it’s true that the festival is still trying to work out some kinks, it’s fair to say that it’s already a success and we look forward to the upcoming September dates.

clapping

Leave a comment

Filed under concert recap, editorial

Boston Calling 2014 Playlist

Image

Do you miss Boston Calling as much as we do? Check out this playlist we put together with some of the highlights from the three day festival. And remember, September is just around the corner!

Leave a comment

Filed under playlist

Boston Welcomes Back Musical Festival for Second Year

by Cherie
photographs by Ken

Boston has always had a strong sense of history. Its built into every brick and every building in the city. But its not just the buildings or the people, its an entire way of life. Bostonians have a very strong sense of regional pride and a sense of perseverance against all obstacles. When things don’t go our way we deal with our loses and we move on. We adapt.

bc5

Phoenix Media Group, which was based in Boston, had a large impact on the local music and cultural scene in Boston for many years, partly in thanks to its local radio station, WFNX. The group was, unfortunately, floundered and went under in 2012, taking its radio station off the air and closing its doors to the public. It was a heavy blow for the music scene in Boston, since the organization had sponsored countless concerts and events throughout the years. However, two former employees from Phoenix Media Group weren’t content to just sit on their heels after its dissolution and instead formed their own company, Crash Line Productions. Those two men, Brian Appel and Mike Snow, had a vision to bring a music festival to the heart of downtown Boston.

bc3

Like any large city, Boston is no stranger to free outdoor concerts. Free concerts can be a hugely successful project when executed correctly. Bands gain large scale exposure and can play for a wider audience than they might otherwise appeal to and local business can gain additional revenue, whether they sponsor the event or not. And of course the city at large benefits from the added revenue. But planning an event in a big city can be difficult as well, and not every event is a success. Until 2013 a musical festival on a large scale simply hadn’t been attempted and part of that has to do with the makeup of the city itself. Boston is an old city and its brick and mortar center isn’t perhaps the most forgiving of places for an ourdoor concert. Boston also has many strict public-safety restrictions that made hosting a big event extremely difficult. But Crash Line Productions were determined to make it happen, and after working closely with the city of Boston they were able to announce Boston’s first outdoor, two-day concert festival in May 2013 which they named Boston Calling.

bc6

Boston Calling started out as a relatively modest event. The event took place at Government Center in the heart of downtown Boston, a place that is no stranger to outdoor events and small concerts. The festival took place on a weekend in May and was a two day event featuring music from eighteen bands that were curated by Aaron Dessner (from The National). The bands chosen were a diverse group, ranging from Grammy winning fun. to Youth Lagoon and Cults. “It’s a fantastic mix of people, and if there’s a thread that runs through it, it’s songcraft,” Dessner stated in an interview with Rolling Stone. “I think for me to be involved in a festival, there has to be a strong element of songwriting and musicianship. It can’t be all mainstream acts, or all indie acts – it should offer people a real mix of things, where you’ll discover bands you haven’t heard before alongside a Grammy-winning band like fun. It’s a great mix of underground and very much not-so-underground music.”The festival, and its diverse lineup, were a huge success and a second weekend was quickly announced a second weekend in September.

bc4

Last year’s festival received enough positive response that it was given the green light for another pair of dates in 2014. This year’s line-up for May is just as spectacular as last year’s,  featuring twenty-three bands over a period of three days. As with last year, attendees are able to come and go from the venue at will (with the exception of Friday). Though the May dates are sold out there are still tickets available for the September weekend. If you’re in the area be sure to check out what is fast becoming a Boston tradition.

bc7

Leave a comment

Filed under editorial

Beans plays Boston: Beans on Toast at O’Briens Pub 3-4-14

By Cherie

I learned two things last week.

The first lesson I learned was to never take public transportation to an interview. Your bus will have a broken alternator belt and be delayed more than a half an hour. Then your red line train will, of course, be delayed another half an hour or so because it gets stuck behind a disabled train. And to top it off when you transfer to the green line you will, naturally, be so stressed and frazzled that you’ll end up getting on the wrong train and have to back track (I have no excuse for this one, I mean the trains are clearly labeled, yet somehow I hopped onto the D train instead of the B).

The second thing I learned was that Beans on Toast, aka Jay, is one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. Playing gigs is what Jay was meant to do. He’s a people person, equally at ease meeting new people and hanging out with old friends. He’ll buy you a drink without even thinking twice about it, that’s just the kind of guy he is. Tipping baffles him, at least when it comes to tipping in America that is. His confusion can be explained by the fact that he’s a long way from home; Jay is the man behind Beans on Toast, a British musician who somewhat jokingly calls himself a drunken folk singer. He’s put out five albums to date, the most recent of which, Giving Everything, was released just last December. This is first proper US tour as a headliner, and I got the chance to meet him when he kicked off the tour in Boston last week.

Image

When I finally got to the pub and introduced myself to Jay, a full two and a half hours after I was originally supposed to meet him, the first thing he said to me was “you’re late!” He then followed up with “if the girl who emailed me because she wanted to interview me was late I was worried no one was going to show up!” The show was at O’Briens, a small pub located in Alston, and was an ideal location for the show. The crowd was small but loyal, singing along to old and new songs alike. Jay’s set was informal and felt more like a living room show than anything. Ditching his shoes and socks, Jay instantly made himself at home on stage. There was no planned set list, and Jay asked the crowd several times if they had any requests, prompting him to play M.D.M.Amazing and an older song that he forgot the words to and gave up on halfway through. His set was interspersed with hilarious anecdotes and made up words, keeping the crowd in stitches for most of the show.

Image

Afterwards I got a chance to chat with Jay for a bit. At one point I asked him to tell me a little bit about his first album, Standing on a Chair, which is a fifty song record and has guest vocals from Emmy the Great, Frank Turner, the Holloways, and Mumford and Songs, among others. Jay revealed that doing a record in the first place had never really been his intention. “I was touring at the time and my label approached me about doing an album. I said I wanted to do a double CD, that was the only thing I wanted and they came back and said it wasn’t going to make any money.” Jay pauses for a second, before laughing, “and they were right; it loses money every day.” Jay didn’t seem to be too upset by the idea though. Playing shows is what he loves to do most, and as long as a couple of people show up each night he’s happy to play for them.

Image

Seeing Jay perform and seeing how much he loves what he does was truly an inspiring experience. What matters most in life is that you love what you do and I can’t think of anyone who embodies this spirit better than Jay.

You can check Jay while he tours the US for the remainder of March before heading home to England.

 Image

Also be sure to check out his latest record, Giving Everything, available now on iTunes or through XtraMile Recordings.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under concert recap, interview

Johnny Flynn at Brighton Music Hall 1-17-14

by Cherie

Boston loves folk music.

Every time I’ve been to a folk show in Boston the audience has been incredible, and it doesn’t matter what the venue is. I’ve seen Laura Marling play at Berklee just a year after she played a small bar in Allston, and the crowd was just as respectful at the bar as they were at the performing arts center. This past week I had the honor of seeing one of my favorite folk artists, Johnny Flynn, play a sold out show at the Brighton Music Hall in Boston and the experience was simply amazing.

 Image

The opening band, The Melodic, put on a great opening set. The band apologized for not having their bass player with them, explaining that he was denied a visa because he didn’t pay his train fines. “You might think we’re just a folk band, but we’re actually rock and roll,” Huw Williams, the lead singer, joked. Captivating the crowd with the hauntingly tragic “Ode to Victor Jara,” the band quickly won the crowd over, despite being relatively unknown. By the end of their set they had the crowd clapping and dancing along with them. Part of the reason they were able to win the crowd over so easily was because of their obvious love of music. Despite being an opening act, and only having one album under their belt, the band played with confidence and a contagious sense of joy. They were the perfect opening band for Johnny Flynn and I look forward to seeing them the next time they are in town.

 Image

After The Melodic played, Johnny Flynn came on and put on a captivating performance. Despite lacking his backing band (Johnny joked they heard about the Polar Vortex and were scared off), Flynn commanded the stage and the attention of the entire crowd from start to finish. You could hear a pin drop during his stunning performance of “Been Listening”, even when he elongated the pause between chords. The crowd was fully invested in the performance, and showed that they were familiar with both old and new songs. When playing a song he hadn’t played in years, Shore to Shore, Flynn forgot the lyrics and looked slightly lost. The crowd didn’t let a beat go, singing the song for him until he was able to get back on track.

 Image

Not one to let a lack of band or partner deter him, Johnny announced mindset that he was going to play a duet. He invited the crowd to sing along with him if they knew the words and the resulting performance went on to steal the show. The crowd not only sang along with Johnny, but they provided the best backing vocals I’ve ever heard at a concert. No one tried to out sing their neighbor, and the overall sound was on key. It was one of those moments that happens every once in a while at a concert and it makes you fall in love with music all over again. Words can’t even describe how perfect the moment was.

 Image

When it came time for the encore, Johnny appeared back on stage mere minutes after exiting it. As he tuned his guitar in anticipation for a new song, he appeared to be pondering what to play next. An enthusiastic crowd member shouted out a request for a “hillbilly song,” prompting a chuckle from Johnny. Inspired by the request, he chose to play “Linden Lea”, an old English folk song he had adapted in 2012 for A Bag of Hammers film soundtrack (which he wrote and preformed). He tuned the guitar for another minute or so, joking that he had to remember how to play it and prompting the crowd to laugh. Johnny ended the set with Tickle Me Pink, and he once more invited the crowd to sing along with him. When it got to the last chorus the crowd took over once more, and Johnny stepped back from the mic and just listened with a smile. It was a beautiful moment, and the perfect end to a great set.

_____________________________________________________

All photos from this article are taken by Kenami. You can check out the rest of his photos from Johnny Flynn’s set at Le Poisson Rouge over on his tumblr.

Leave a comment

Filed under concert recap

Measuring a Year in Music

by Cherie

Image

I kicked off the year with a bang, going to see the Vaccines play a headlining show at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston. The Paradise Rock Club is one of my favorite Boston venues, because its just small enough that there’s really no bad spot in the house. The openers for the show were a (relatively) unknown band from Australia named San Cisco. I looked up their music ahead of time and was impressed by their catchy first single, Awkward. San Cisco is group of young kids, just barely out of high school, but they put on a great live set. I was an instant fan after seeing them live. The Vaccines put on a tremendous set as well. Some might criticize Justin’s vocal performance, which was less than perfect, but he puts so much energy into his live sets its hard to not be won over by his passion and enthusiasm.

 Image

Next I got the chance to see English folk artist Benjamin Francis Leftwich play a set for Radio BDC at Naga in Boston. The venue was beautiful, with hanging glass above the bar; but the crowd was less than respectful during the show. Leftwich is a very mellow artist, its just him and his acoustic guitar, and there was a group of obnoxious people over at the bar who were disrespectfully loud throughout his set. He made sure to call them out on it though, causing the rest of us to laugh. I got the chance to meet him after and he truly is a sweet guy.

 Image

Not long after I saw San Cisco open for the Vaccines I was thrilled to hear that the band was coming back through Boston for their first US Headlining Tour. They played Great Scott in Alston, another one of my favorite venues. The support bands were great, and I discovered a great local artist (Steph Barrack) when she opened for the band. My fellow concert goer was more impressed by Chaos Chaos, who won me over with their live vocals but also for having a oboe in their backing band. San Cisco put on a great live set, and we even got to meet the band afterward. The band swung back through one more time in July, and we were there front and center once more. Mark my words, they really are a fantastic band and they have such a bright future ahead of them. It will be fun watching them grow over the years.

 Image

It was a long, hot July, but the hottest day by far was the day I saw Frank Turner in Portland, Maine. There’s no reason the show should have been as hot as it was, the day was actually cool and rainy but for some reason the temperature inside the venue was off the charts. After just a couple of songs Frank was drenched in sweat and joked about it being the hottest show he’d ever done. It was an amazing experience getting to see Frank perform songs off of Tape Deck Heart which is one of my favorite albums of 2013.

 Image

I also got the chance to see the amazing Ben Marwoos, sorry Ben Marwood, open for Frank Turner; which ended up being a more momentous experience then I realized at the time. After every show I go to I try to find the setlist and burn a copy of the setlist onto a CD. I make personalized art work and everything (though its really nothing that special to be honest). When I realized that I probably wasn’t going to find Ben’s setlist on setlist.fm (my usual source for the information), I felt like I was facing a brick wall. On a whim I reached out to Ben via e-mail, not expecting to ever hear back from him. To my surprise he responded almost instantly, revealing that he actually keeps a notebook full of setlists and promptly sent me the information I had asked for. Realizing what a great opportunity I had I immediately thanked him and asked him if he’d be willing to do a short interview for my music blog and he instantly agreed (you can read the article here and the full interview here). It was the first “big scoop” for the blog, and I will always be proud that my first interview was with Ben (seriously, he’s such a talented guy, you should check out his music if you haven’t yet).

 Image

August brought one of the biggest concerts of the year. Mumford and Sons had announced a show in Queens, NY and with the help and company of some good friends, I had the chance to go. It was an unbelievable experience. The crowd might have sucked, but the company I was in certainly didn’t. Forest Hills Stadium was an incredible venue, being a converted tennis stadium, and despite the hiccups I hope they finish the restoration project and restore it to a concert venue in the future. I fell in love with the opening band, Bear’s Den, who put on an amazing set despite only having three members. The Vaccines came next, and the highlight from their set was when Winston Marshall, from Mumford and Sons, came out to play guitar on a couple of songs.

 Image

Mumford and Sons themselves were, of course, amazing. Words can’t express my love for this band. They are such a great band, and their songs have helped me through some really hard times. Their Gentlemen of the Road Stopover shows are such an amazing experience; I’m glad I got to experience not just one but two of them. When news broke a few weeks later of their temporary hiatus I was sad, but happy I got to see them twice before they went on break. Rumor has it the boys will be back in the studio in February working on the new album. Here’s hoping that it doesn’t take them as long to write album #3 as it did to write their second album!

 Image

My last concert of 2013 was Noah and the Whale, and what a fitting way to close out the year. This was my second time seeing the band, but this year they were playing the House of Blues; a step up from their last show at the Paradise Rock Club. They blew me away once more. NATW are one of those bands that are made to perform live. Not only did they sound fantastic, but they also dug deep and played songs off their debut album that don’t get played much more. A highlight for me had to be hearing “Mary” played live.

 Image

After the show we stuck around for a little bit hoping to meet the band. We picked a time to hang out until and decided that if they didn’t come out by that point we would give up. It was cold and windy and with our light jackets we were soon freezing. The time came and passed and no band. I didn’t mention the time to my friend, hoping she wouldn’t realize it and we could stick around a little bit longer. Eventually our patience paid off and the band exited the venue. They seemed surprised to see so many people waiting for them, perhaps because of the weather, but they cheerfully stuck around for pictures. They were the band that really introduced me to British indie folk music, and getting the chance to meet them was truly awesome.

 Image

But the biggest highlight of 2013 for me had to be Lyrically Addicted. For years I’d had the idea to start some sort of music project, though the specifics were always vague in my mind as to what exactly that project would entail. In May I finally solidified the idea, creating Lyrically Addicted as a sort of music blog, and inviting two of my closest friends to take part with me. It’s been difficult at times, trying to come up with new ideas for stories and debating the relative merits of various albums that were released this year. The whole thing has been a blast so far, and if you’re reading this right now, thank you so much. Your support (even if it’s just silent support) means a lot to me and the rest of the team. I’m proud to announce that by the end of 2013 we reached 2,023 views!

Leave a comment

Filed under concert recap, editorial, retrospective