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Boston Calling music festival: 5 must-see acts

Posted by Glenn Yoder  August 29, 2013 12:25 PM

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(Steve Mitchell/Invision/AP, File)

In Kendrick Lamar, Boston Calling landed "the most talked about person in hip-hop right now," according to Kevin Hart.

Ready for the second Boston Calling festival of the year? Along with food trucks, twin beer gardens, and hopefully better weather than May's festival, there are 20 acts to navigate over two days at City Hall Plaza, Sept. 7-8. So we've quartered off five sets you simply can't miss. Take a look and tell us what you think.

Okkervil River (Saturday, 2:45 p.m., Blue Stage)
Several years ago at the annual South By Southwest festival, we wandered into an alley behind a thrift store (so South By) where a massive crowd had packed in to watch Austin natives Okkervil River play a midday set under a tiny tent. Trust us: Daylight does nothing to strip these guys of their manic energy. Saturday's 2:45 p.m. set promises to be the true opening bell of Boston Calling, a dose of adrenaline well worth the early start.

Deer Tick (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Red Stage)
Couldn't make The Replacements reunion show north of the border last Sunday? Sorta locals Deer Tick, the pride of Providence, channels a similar ramshackle, might-fall-apart-at-any-second punk spirit into a live show that could literally leave the Red Stage in pieces. If they're a little too rough around the edges for your taste, you may enjoy the comparably hard-rocking, more gooey Joisey boys The Gaslight Anthem at 7:30 p.m.

Bearstronaut (Sunday, 1:30 p.m., Blue Stage)
After May's festival was criticized for its subpar local recognition, Bearstronaut leads a more robust contingent of Boston-based bands, including You Won't and Viva Viva, the latter of which (along with Louisiana's Royal Teeth) were added to the bill Wednesday after winning a contest through Sonicbids. Bonus points: Bearstronaut's name is very fun to say (almost as pleasing as fellow festival act Flosstradamus) and their set, full of danceable beats and catchy hooks, is equally as fun. You may even recognize their tune "Passenger Side" from hearing it over the loud speakers at Fenway during a Red Sox game. The group will get your blood pumping and your body loose for a long day of live music.

Kendrick Lamar (Sunday, 7:45 p.m., Red Stage)
Buried somewhere beneath the twerking firestorm at last Sunday's MTV VMAs, presenter Kevin Hart called Lamar "the most talked about person in hip-hop right now after that verse." That verse, of course, is Lamar's turn at the mic on Big Sean's "Control," in which the young rapper torched nearly all of his musical kin to much controversy. Kudos to the Boston Calling organizers for booking the most talked about person in hip-hop before he reached that plateau (in fairness, he was already well on his way, with a platinum-selling major label debut of his own). If Lamar has the chutzpah to essentially declare himself the best in the game, we're ready to see him live up to his own hype.

Passion Pit (Sunday, 9 p.m., Blue Stage)
Will this be the grand homecoming moment for this Boston Band Done Good? Sure, they've played passionate electric shows here many times before, but now they're closing out a major music festival being held a stone's throw from the Emerson dorm room where frontman Michael Angelakos first started making the bedroom recordings that would win the band international recognition. Here's hoping that this is the show that cements Passion Pit as Boston rock legends.

Which acts are your must-see performances? Tell us who and why in the comments and check out the full lineup, complete with set times (below):

Viva Viva – 12:50 p.m. (Red Stage)
You Won’t – 1:30 p.m. (Blue Stage)
Lucius – 2 p.m. (Red Stage)
Okkervil River – 2:45 p.m. (Blue Stage)
Deer Tick – 3:30 p.m. (Red Stage)
The Airborne Toxic Event – 4:30 p.m. (Blue Stage)
Bat for Lashes – 5:30 p.m. (Red Stage)
Local Natives – 6:30 p.m. (Blue Stage)
The Gaslight Anthem – 7:30 p.m. (Red Stage)
Vampire Weekend – 9 p.m. (Blue Stage)

Royal Teeth – 12:50 p.m. (Red Stage)
Bearstronaut – 1:30 p.m. (Blue Stage)
Big Black Delta – 2 p.m. (Red Stage)
Flume – 2:45 p.m. (Blue Stage)
Flosstradamus – 3:30 p.m. (Red Stage)
Solange – 4:30 p.m. (Blue Stage)
Wolfgang Gartner – 5:30 p.m. (Red Stage)
Major Lazer – 6:30 p.m. (Blue Stage)
Kendrick Lamar – 7:45 p.m. (Red Stage)
Passion Pit – 9 p.m. (Blue Stage)

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