Hot time, summer in the city — The Lovin’ Spoonful may not have been there to sing to us, but the sentiment rang clear as Boston Calling Music Festival kicked off the season this Memorial Day weekend. Its fifth event since its inception two years ago, Boston Calling has solidified the urban festival scene independent from the rural (pseudo-hippie) vibes of Bonnaroo or Coachella.

Starting Friday night, the music echoed the whimsical New England weather. The atmosphere jumped from a chill 50 degrees on Saturday to a hazily hot Sunday, and the lineup also hopped between pop to rap to country, indie and ’90s rock.

The turnout of around 50,000 ranged from cool moms who dragged along their tots, the happily intoxicated older crowd who appreciated the throwback bands and the “millennials” who ensured every moment missed would end up on the Internet. Instead of arranging the lineup according to popularity, the organization drew the younger (fangirl) crowd earlier in the day for energetic sets – then exchanged them for a more mature, mellow audience at night with performers such as Beck, My Morning Jacket and Pixies (the headliners, all who peaked in the ’90s).

Festivals, unlike independent concerts, are meant to foster musical open-mindedness by expanding the tastes of its attendees. Boston Calling does this brilliantly with such an eclectic genre variety, but it would have been nice to desegregate the audience demographic by intertwining contemporary acts with older artists, motivating all attendees to at least experience music outside their usual palette. Boston Calling’s laxer vibes are largely due to the back-to-back setup where no two performances overlap, and attendees could see all 23 performances without sacrificing others — the perfect chance to be exposed to musical diversity.

Opening for the after-work crowd Friday night, Beck proved to the naysayers why he truly deserved this year’s top Grammy honor. His set took a ride through his musical history, from his youthfully soulful “Loser” from 1994, to his sensually-smooth “Debra” that coaxed us into his Hyundai, to “Blue Moon” from his award-winning Morning Phase album. Beck exemplified not only the multidimensionality of his talent, but the diversity of Boston Calling as well.

The tone was set thereafter for the weekend, where each concert wasn’t only about the beauty of the sound, but about creating chemistry with the audience. The rest of the weekend showcased power-ladies of pop with strong “woman-up” anthems that animated the entire plaza.

Danish pop singer certainly gained a mass fan-following after a performance that demanded everyone’s attention (even before she leapt into the mosh pit). She used the stage and her entire body to accentuate her music, never missing a beat even when her hair fell loose from her up-do. There was a ferocity about her that was so primally provocative; even when she stripped down to just a neon sports bra, her nakedness screamed for artistic liberation rather than objectification.

Immediately following Mø, Tove Lo didn’t bring quite the same energy, even though she flashed the whole audience (speak of “Talking Body”). In comparison to Mø, her onstage persona initially seemed to emphasize a deliberate sexuality, but she gradually revealed a more vulnerable side as her set moved through the story of a long-distance relationship — from the infatuation (“Not on Drugs”), the crumble (“Timebomb”) and finally the recovery (“Habits”).

Marina and the Diamonds — complete with eccentric blow-up fruit props — made their return to Boston Calling since performing at the first festival two years ago. Though her new album Froot dropped earlier this year, the crowd was much more eager to hear her older songs, as they knew every word to her classics “Primadonna” and “How to be a Heartbreaker.” In comparison to her bubblegum blonde performance two years ago with her garish clutter of props, Marina matured — simplifying her look and commanding the stage with presence instead of the unnecessary excess.

Sunday, Halsey rounded out the female pop power, rocking turquoise hair and going braless and flawless (“Can you see my nipples?” she asked to a crowd chanting her name). Though her music was seductively empowering with songs like “Hurricane” and “Control” preaching independence, her performance more showcased her rebellious charisma, as she ran her tongue down the mic chord, asked the audience for a cigarette and had the whole audience sing along: “We are the new Americana / High on legal marijuana.”

Keeping up the empowerment vibes, Run the Jewels pulsated the plaza with their political and social commentary interwoven into their beats (even among chants of “bitch”). Gerard Way, formerly of My Chemical Romance, interspersed messages about acceptance (especially for the transgender community) into songs such as “Zero Zero.” Even amid the chaos of their wild crowd, they both executed solid, unapologetic sets.

Saturday turned from feminine pop to a harder rock tone as the younger crowd filtered out after Marina. St. Vincent brought an ethereal grace to the stage as the day cooled into night and a calmer, older crowd settled in. With synchronized microphone choreography instead of electric dance moves, she commanded attention by standing strong and solo shredding on her guitar — especially in “Your Lips are Red” as she crowd-surfed to end her set.

With such strong performances, some bands found it difficult to stand out among the upbeat or the wildly unique. Saturday started off slow with the Boston local band Krill, which seemed more like an unenthused garage band rehearsal than a connection with thousands of viewers. The Australian DMA’s added momentum to the day by featuring songs from their debut EP (a trio slightly reminiscent of Green Day), but their act was overshadowed by the incredible others that followed.

Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals and headliner My Morning Jacket serenaded the city in a soothing end to Saturday — but though emitting cozy vibes into the cold night, their concert performances were not quite as memorable in comparison to others from the weekend. My Morning Jacket’s set from their recent album The Waterfall featured cyclic ballad tunes enough to lull us to sleep instead of evoke emotion like other artists did at the festival.

The ambience that ended Saturday, however, segued nicely into Sunday — a much hotter, hazier, lazy atmosphere that appropriately fit the lineup — featuring less upbeat pop and more folksy-indie-ambiguity. Starting with the local The Ballroom Thieves, the band played with a passion among underlying percussion and a twang of blues. By the time The Lone Bellow took the stage, most people up front were staked out to see Pixies, but a soft welcome turned into an uproar for their country-meets-Mumford feel. Their five-piece band added a southern touch to the generic indie sound, and each member played their hearts out to rev up the crowd. Solo artist Jason Isbell had a similar vibe, but fell through the cracks among other stand-outs from the day.

Female duo Lucius returned the Boston Calling stage, transcending a more ethereal quality, beating tambourines and maracas into the setting sun. Besides engaging with the audience (and leading a birthday song for one of the lead vocalists), the two women had a beautiful chemistry with each other as they dressed as mirror images and fed off each other’s dynamism.

Vance Joy, currently on tour as Taylor Swift’s 1989 opener, was a middle school and suburban-mom heartthrob with his Australian charm and boyish curls. He took the “just a man and his guitar” approach, remaining stationary center stage with raw acoustic vocals. He bashfully admitted to forgetting the lyrics mid-song, but the audience roared louder as he started again. He picked up the pace as he came into his popular sing-along to “Riptide.”

The one outlier Sunday was Ilovemakonnen, who went up even though it wasn’t a Tuesday (and even though most of us didn’t know they sang that song). The energy picked up toward the end of the night, as TV on the Radio rocked an impressive beard and robe, but also a jumble of lyrical mush. Nevertheless, they worked the crowd with their groovy jam-out beats despite their lack of clarity. In a slight twist of genre, Tenacious D added a comedic flair to their standard rock sound, as Jack Black showcased his humor by getting down and dirty on his electric guitar.

To round out the weekend was Pixies — a headliner some questioned, but a tribute to Boston Calling’s mission to support local artists as well as big-name bands. Like Beck though, they truly hammered out a set that showed they improve with age — and age doesn’t consequent a lack of energy. With barely a note to catch a breath, Black Francis led his band through sing-along favorites like “Where Is My Mind?” and “Monkey Gone to Heaven.”

As Boston Calling came to a close, as per tradition, the festival launched their September lineup, which includes more mainstream headliners than this May’s: The Avett Brothers, Alt-J, Alabama Shakes and Hozier. Of Monsters and Men will be making their Boston Calling return, while CHVRCHES, Walk the Moon and Chromeo will take this festival stage for the first time. Four months is a long wait, but the time will hopefully remind us to stay open-minded when it comes to music.

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