Tucked into the heart of downtown Boston lay a sacred gem, a space for 22,000 audiophiles to exist for three days on the melodies and spirits of their favorite performers. Once the first note from the first act sounded into the air, City Hall Plaza transformed into a sprawling dance hall. The celebratory atmosphere was alluring and contagious, gathering onlookers and sneaky listeners on the outskirts of the plaza. Festivalgoers, once inside, were instantly transported to a cozy atmosphere full of great music, great local food, and great local beer. It was a riveting kickoff to what is sure to be an endless New England summer, uplifting the souls of all festivalgoers.
Day Three, May 25th, started off strong with The Box Tiger, a Toronto-based band that fit right in as their female lead singer belted out their tunes in the peak of the Sunday sun. A bright, energetic start to the day, their set was one of powerful rock with an intense female lead, a touch of pop rounding out their sound.
Tiger Man Woah! were up next, a local band from Lynn, MA. An unmatched presence at the festival they have the impression that maybe they should have played later in the day. The bearded, overall clad men played with a voice that resonated through the plaza as festivalgoers arrived, a voice rivaling Tom Waits, their sound is one for the working class of days gone by – sung as if need a ere in hand and a metal lunchbox in the other. A festival favorite they even went so far as to sing a Sam Cooke tune; a rockified, slightly gritty version of “Chain Gang”, an unexpected and delightful surprise.
Next were The Districts, a band from Pennsylvania, invigorating the afternoon with their sometimes tense, sometimes sweet indie rock tunes. They’d amassed a huge gathering of fans, with hands up clapping along to their Americana-like rock. Hey had the perfect amount of lovelorn attitude to keep the energy up and the good vibes going–great music to listen to in the summer sun. Their lead singer has the perfect combination of scratchy and wavering and strong vocals – his energy was high and passionate and he led the audience through their hits and fan favorites.
Kurt Vile & The Violators came out with a southern bluesy mentality, at times mellow and more suited to lying on the grass under the sun. Perhaps they were a bit out of place in this crowd or maybe it was the heat, but the energy of the crowd waned here and many went off in search of refreshment.
Tegan & Sara were another crowd favorite and took the stage amidst hoots and hollers – their fan base reaching to all stereotype extremes and everyone in between, including an eight-year-old dancing machine that didn’t stop through their entire set. Tegan & Sara were super energetic, containing an excitement that had been lacking throughout the afternoon – and they jumped right into their set that had everyone within sight moving and shaking with a fervor that had yet been unmatched on Sunday. Spunky and energetic, they led the crowd through many of their hits, a great example of what a festival is for – appreciating the music.
B∆stille was another highly anticipated set of the night and frontman Dan Smith bounced around the stage with fervor, his vocals backed by heavy guitar and drums of the tough indie rock style of the band. They played most of heir popular album Bad Blood and to round out their set they ended with a throwback of the song “Rhythm of the Night” and their hit “Pompeii”.
Eavesdropping on people making their wye across the plaza it was clear that Brand New was the ‘don’t miss’ act of the night. Their set was one of serious intensity unlike anything we’d seen throughout the weekend and included a smashed guitar, broken cymbal, and an amp pulled on top of guitarist Vincent Accord. One could not have ignored the intensity of the show if they tried; audience members jumped and shouted and it felt as if your heart would beat right out of your chest.
Modest Mouse played the final set for the weekend, another great rock piece played to a jam-packed plaza. They played a mix of fan favorites and radio hits, ending the festival with a lot of dance and a lot of rock and roll. Playing their hit “Float On”, it was a short shout out to the spirit of the festival. An impactful chaser to the intense Brand New that went before, festivalgoers took this as their chance to end the weekend on a high note. Breaking out a flugelhorn and banjo, Modest Mouse played a long set that surprised many with its energy and at times disco-like tunes.