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From Boston Calling 2018: Sunday Sound Bites

Boston’s own STL GLD opened the last day of Boston Calling with a rousing hip-hop set on the Red Stage. The group, comprised of Roxbury native Moe Pope and New York to Western Mass. transplant The Arcitype, kept the energy up and the music going all in spite of the 50 degree weather. Pope dazzled in numbers like “Torch Song,” in which he rapped, “If we don’t love us, then we’re lost / If we don’t own land, it’s not ours / I’m here to spread love for all kinds, who don’t want us putting truth in young minds.” At one point the group rapped over a supercut of Muhammad Ali footage on the screen behind them. The group gave a nod to fellow hip hop duo Run the Jewels—an obvious inspiration for their style—and sampled House of Pain’s “Jump Around” before performing their latest release “Donut Shop” to close the set. By the end of their 30 minutes, STL GLD managed to amass one of the largest afternoon crowds of the weekend.

Keeping with the New England theme, Portland, Maine’s Weakened Friends brought their indie rock meets pop-punk sound to the music festival’s Green Stage. The self-described “indie noise junk band” could be heard across the main festival ground thanks to lead singer Sonia Sturino’s delightfully wailing and wavering voice. The band played “Crshd” from their 2016 album “Crushed” early in the set, letting loose as they transitioned to earlier album “Gloomy Tunes” with the songs “Main Bitch” and “Miserable.” Bassist Annie Hoffman and Sturino on guitar played off one another well, especially over the solid drumming of Cam Jones. They weren’t much for banter, save a standard greeting, introduction, and a bit of self-deprecation. “If you don’t like it thanks for tolerating it, I’m sorry,” Sturino said to the crowd towards the end of their set. The resounding cheers implied the audience didn’t just tolerate, but thoroughly enjoyed what Weakened Friends had to offer.

A far cry from the early afternoon rock and hip-hop sets at the Red and Green Stages, synth-pop artist Zola Jesus took to the Delta Blue Stage donning a costume of red mesh fabric over a black tunic to perform a haunting, gothic set. While the chilly wind and her eccentric dance moves blew her hair and costume into her face—“I’m doing this blind up here,” she exclaimed—her raw, ethereal vocals emerged whole from the mess of fabric and hair. On a constant crescendo, Zola Jesus at one point wrapped herself in a black and white blanket(the lights, costumes, and backdrops for the set all followed a red, black, and white theme)and began stomping and dancing contortion-style around the stage. The artist played the synths herself, accompanied by violin and guitar to create the ominous instrumentation that characterizes her music. This mood was emphasized by the sinister lyrics of tracks like “Exhumed,” in which she sang, “Bury the tongue between the teeth / Open the jaw and sink in deep / Force it open and claw the grip / Down throat, you let it slip, slip, slip, slip, slip.” Repetitive choruses like that of the song “Bound,” which is just the words “But two is not enough,” gave Zola Jesus the opportunity to showcase her vocal abilities. She alternately riffed on and held sustained high notes for her modest but captivated crowd, provoking cheers of approval. She ended her melancholy set screeching, throwing herself around the stage as her band members sunk to the floor beside her.

As the rain picked up, the indie-rock band Dirty Projectors overcame technical difficulties to put on a folksy show on the Delta Blue Stage. Longstreth likened dealing with the issues—equipment issues, a delayed start time, and a bum bass—to swinging a baseball bat underwater. “It’s like resistance training,” he said. “It feels good.” They opened with “Dance For You,” a track well-suited to frontman David Longstreth’s rustic voice. The six member band’s style is guitar-focused, but by no means guitar-heavy. The piano, keyboard, bass, and drums all blended well with the band’s two guitarists. They conferred before starting each song, eventually settling into an easy rhythm with one another. By the time the band jumped into “Break-thru” the crowd couldn’t help but dance along—and not because of the cold. The tune’s upbeat chorus, “Under the sun, there's nothing new / But she keeps it 100 in the shade / She's a break-thru,” called for dancing. Band members Felicia Douglass, Maia Friedman, and Kristin Slipp took the lead on the song “Beautiful Mother,” while Longstreth sunk to the ground so as not to steal attention from the women singing in beautiful harmony. For all the technical obstacles that slowed them down at the start, Dirty Projectors pulled through and played a wonderful show.

—Staff Writer Allison J. Scharmann can be reached at allison.scharmann@thecrimson.com.

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