Don’t forget to check out our day seven video recap!
Excuse us, but did you go out dancing last night? Of course you did – because you were at Outside The Box! Day seven was all about dancing and celebrating. Oh, you thought we were going to say heat, didn’t you?
Well, since we’re on the subject, let’s get serious for a moment. Folks, it’s hot out there. In fact, Friday was a record-breaker. Stay hydrated! Bring tons of water with you, wear sunscreen, and as tempting as it may be, don’t dance yourself into the ground. Unfortunately, a few performances on Friday were cancelled due to the extreme temperatures – particularly on the Commonwealth Stage, which takes the brunt of the midday sun. We want to make sure everyone stays safe! Here are some tips on how to keep cool in this weather, and please make sure to check our app for the most up-to-date performance times and locations.
Now, back to the fun stuff. The day began in our favorite oasis, the Spiegeltent, with Company One’s ARTiculation, a stunning combination of poetry slam, spoken word, and music. Based in Boston and conceived and created by Tory Bullock, each piece was performed by its writers Jenibell Santana, Emily Jacobs, and Jazzy Gorgeous, and should be mandatory viewing for any high school student experiencing the brutal ups and downs of life. With stories of bullying (shedding new light on the topic when told through the bully’s point of view), an online dating obsession, and escaping the mundane-ness of life through art, the young women spoke for the disenfranchised and the creatively frustrated. The performance ended on a powerful note, with all three declaring in unison: “Why am I me and refuse to be you? Because I want to.” Inspiring and, most importantly, REAL.
Meanwhile, Vanessa Trien and her band the Jumping Monkeys braved the heat but skipped the Commonwealth Stage –no, they performed, but in FRONT of the stage, under the shade of the trees! This would become a theme at the Commonwealth Stage – more on that later. Suffice to say, the kids in attendance couldn’t help but get up and jump around to Vanessa’s catchy melodies.
Over on the Beacon Stage, three-time winner of the Boston Music Award for Best Singer/Songwriter Will Dailey & The Rivals performed rootsy Americana tunes from his three full-length albums Back Flipping Forward, Torrent, and Will Dailey & The Rivals (which was named Album of the Year by The Improper Bostonian), and a mellow cover of Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U.”
At the Lily Pad, upbeat mom of three Stacey Peasley of the Stacey Peasley Band exclaimed, “I usually play to lots and lots of kids, but this is almost a full audience of grown-ups! But grown-ups get into trouble, too – so let’s sing about trouble!” before launching into country-flavored tunes about, yes, trouble – proving that most grown-ups are really kids at heart.
And how could we forget about the Fork Lift Food Fest and all the bands playing over at City Hall Plaza? It’s going to be tough decision if you’re coming out to Outside The Box today, so wear your walking shoes – the Common and City Hall are a short distance from one another, and you’re going to want to check out both! Yesterday saw appearances from blues legend James Montgomery and local star chefs Andy Husbands (Tremont 647, Sister Sorel, Rouge) and Steve DiFillippo of Davio’s, as well as tasty eats from more local restaurants. We even spotted chef Ming Tsai manning his own Blue Ginger and Blue Dragon booths!
Meanwhile, the Angkor Dance Troupe, nationally recognized as one of the most accomplished and experienced of the U.S.-based Cambodian traditional arts ensembles, took to the Park Street Stage. Formed in 1986 by Cambodian refugees of the Khmer Rouge holocaust, the dancers brought a passion for their cherished cultural traditions that was reflected in traditional dress and movements.
Boston-based Benkadi Dance & Drum also took to the…er…grass at the Commonwealth Stage, truly thinking outside the box and performing under the shade of the trees. Benkadi, which means “coming together sweetly” in the Bamanankan language of Mali, held the audience captive with their joyful music and joyful dances. We were taught a traditional Ghanan call and response song, and despite almost 100 degree temperatures, the crowd couldn’t help but dance along.
Berklee student and guitar virtuoso Shun Ng hit the Beacon Stage for a set of acoustic tunes, incorporating a tribute to some of his heroes with covers of The Beatles’ “Come Together” and Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” Back in the dim coolness of the Spiegeltent, former front woman of the ska band Mass. Hysteria Ruby Rose Fox demonstrated through her music what would have happened if Patti Smith and Leonard Cohen had a love child.
The day had cooled only slightly by the time Siobhan Magnus and Doubtful Guest took the Beacon Stage. The American Idol season nine finalist was backed by a band of ‘90s rock stars – Guitarist Peter Klett (Candlebox), guitarist Kenny Olson (Kid Rock), drummer Tommy Stewart (Godsmack, Fuel) and bassist Sammy Hudson (Everclear) – to “re-present” their hits from that decade. Hard rocking versions of Everclear’s “I Will Buy You A New Life,” Godsmack’s “Voodoo,” and Kid Rock’s “Bawitdaba” got the crowd singing along.
By the way, have you caught any of the roving performances on the Common yet, like Jason Escape? True to his name, Jason is an escape artist that employs audience members to help him into a straightjacket, tie his arms with rope, and hoist him high into the air while he wriggles out of his restraints in record time. He’s also a pretty funny guy, so if you see him setting up shop, make sure to stop and check him out!
Back at City Hall Plaza, it was back-to-back Adams with local bands Adam Jensen and the Adam Ezra Group. Jensen, The former lead singer of indie rock band Mission Hill, loves what he does and it shows through his interaction with the crowd. After his set, he signed copies of his CD Head On A String and sold t-shirts at his own merch booth, chatting and posing for photos with fans. Boston native Jensen said he felt especially happy and welcome at Outside The Box: “Anything I can do for Boston and Boston fests! It’s what the city needs, ‘cause we need our city to come back strong.”
Named Band of the Year at the 2013 New England Music Awards, the Adam Ezra Group had the fans shouting out song requests before the band even picked up a violin or banjo. They completely rocked the crowd with their Springsteen-esque live show, even giving the ladies in the neighboring building a shout-out for helping right our banner, which the wind had blown into their balcony. Humble and ever-grateful, Ezra is an extraordinary frontman, and truly gets the festival spirit. Outside The Box may have been free, but it’s worth noting that the band contributes 25% of their touring to benefit causes in communities across the country and worldwide through their non-profit organization, RallySound.
If you weren’t familiar with Emmy nominated Irish singer Michael Londra’s Celtic Fire, you are now! Here’s where the real dance party started – with traditional Irish riverdancing and stepdancing, hosted by Michael, who’s also the lead singer for the Riverdance U.S. National Tour. He brought traditional Irish music to the stage with all of Ireland’s national instruments: the fiddle, a great drum called the bodhran, and the plaintive uilleann pipes.
Londra also laid down three ground rules for the audience: 1. Clapping mandatory! 2. When the urge takes you, get up and dance! 3. When the music takes you, give a big shout that sounds like “YEW!” Or, for the less energetic ones, “HUP!” would do nicely as well. The dancers took the stage with brilliant flashes of speed and exuberance, and included various riverdance world champions like Boston’s own Melissa McCarthy and Scott Doherty, also from Boston.
Over on the Park Street Stage, Sayat Nova Dance drew a huge crowd looking for some Friday evening fun. The non-profit, all-volunteer organization is North America’s largest Armenian dance company and takes its name from the famous 18th century troubadour, Sayat Nova, whose beautiful music and poetry captures the essence of the Armenian soul and spirit. Indeed, you couldn’t help but get carried away in the celebratory vibe of the Armenian folk dancing – the company even had employees and volunteers dancing backstage!
As the evening came to a close outside on the Common, things were just getting started inside at the Spiegeltent with avant-garde musical groups Jaggery and Walter Sickert and the ARmy of BRoken Toys performing the Looking Glass Revival. Jaggery, whose Mali Sastri calls to mind the theatrical Diamanda Galas, performed operatic tunes like one from Sastri’s collaboration with visual artist Steven Bogart from the Ten Paintings/Ten Songs show. They also performed “Hostage Heart,” from the show Last Day On Earth with Sickert, together for the first time. You can watch the video HERE – it’s well worth it!
The self-described “steamCRUNK” of Walter Sickert and the ARmy of BRoken Toys is theatrical music at its finest, with Sickert taking the stage in his trademark flamboyant costume. Resembling Dr. John in his performance with the Black Keys at the Grammys, and even sounding like him to certain extent, Sickert brought down the house with his dramatic rock n’roll. In true revival fashioned, the audience stomped, danced, and clapped as Sickert cried out, “Even on the hottest day of the year you can be happy with music in your head! Can I get an ‘Amen’?” Yes sir, one ‘amen’ coming right up!
Bring your dancing shoes to Outside The Box today – or, if you prefer, your Dr. Martens – for performances by seminal ‘90s Boston bands Buffalo Tom, the Lemonheads, and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. And don’t forget to grab some food and drink at City Hall Plaza. It’s our next to last day, so we hope to see you all there!