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The final edition of Boston Calling to be held in City Hall Plaza kicked off on Friday night of Memorial Day weekend. Not only will this be the last of many to be held in the iconic location, but this year also marks the first year that the formerly bi-annual festival will now only be held once annually in May. The first night happened to draw the largest crowd of all three nights, largely as a result of the bills headliner, SIA.Sufjan Stevens @ Boston Calling Festival
Lisa Hannigan opened the evening on the Calling’s Jet Blue Stage. The Irish folk singer was joined on stage by the National’s Aaron Dessner. The duo kicked off the evening with a low key but beautiful performance as the sun began to set and the plaza steadily began to fill with the crowd.
As Lisa Hannigan wrapped her set, attention was drawn to the elaborate stage setup being prepared for the next performer, singer and songwriter Sufjan Stevens. After bearing witness to Sufjan’s lackluster performance at the Newport Folk festival I was expecting the second set of the evening to follow in the footsteps of the opener. However, I have never been more wrong.
Sufjan came out of the gates swinging, decked out in a neon printed costume, blacklight body paint and a giant pair of feathered angel wings. After throwing and smashing his banjo during the first song I was left wide eyed and brilliantly surprised, but the performance had only just begun. Through out the set, brilliant rapidly turned to bizarre as Sufjan transformed into a silver disco ball like creature followed by a balloon suit covered in multi-colored balloons. The performance was far from the boring one that had me yawning at Newport Folk festival, however personally I thought it bordered on over the top and absurd. Overall the crowd seemed to devour the antics and were thoroughly entertained.
SIA @ Boston Calling Festival
By the time Sufjan’s set was over, the plaza was teeming with eager fans ready for the headlining performance. After SIA took Coachella by storm I (along withthe rest of Boston) could not wait to see what she had in store for us. She was escorted to the stage unable to walk alone, her face covered in her signature wig and giant bow. She was surrounded by a giant gown, that unfolded to the music to reveal her dancers, among the most brilliant I have ever witnessed. The live dance performances backed by SIA belting out her powerful lyrics was simply magical. We lived the music from beginning to end as each song told a story through lyrics and dance. SIA performed the popular “Alive” and closed with “Chandelier” which had the crowd up in arms. However, my favorite performance was of one of her older songs and a personal favorite of mine “Breathe Me”, the emotion that poured off of the stage gave me goosebumps.
As the weekend went on SIA remained one of the best performances I have seen, not only of this years Boston Calling, but ever. Everyone in City Hall Plaza truly witnessed something special that evening and it was only the beginning of an incredible weekend of music.