Optimus Primavera Sound: day 2
© Hugo Lima, Optimus Primavera Sound
Oh, festivals on weekdays. Such a pleasure for people who can’t take days off work. Thank god not everyone on the team has such problems. Still not over the fact I haven’t seen The War on Drugs, for example. Please read on…
Yo La Tengo © Hugo Lima, Optimus Primavera Sound
It’s just… disarming. When one of the greatest bands alive plays just an hour long concert and still they use those 60 minutes in its full plenitude. When all the scenery involved is just three guys, rotating functions with lots of instruments, and then when they get some help, the thing just gets unreal (the chorus of whistles in “My Little Corner of the World” brought by the roadies of the band? Jesus. Not to mention the little help of Flaming Lips’ drummer in the congas, with Wayne Coyne’s approval backstage). When Ira Kaplan just fucking destroys the guitar in “Pass the Hatchet”, “I Think I’m Goodkind” and suddenly we don’t miss Sonic Youth anymore (or even miss much more, can’t tell which). When your friends have plans of watching Tennis or The War on Drugs and when this trio of geeks called Yo La Tengo just gets you glued to the ground and you can only say “Fuck no, I’ll stay ‘til the end” (which I did, but please don’t beat me up for the absence of a War on Drugs review, I went running like a fool for their concert afterwards, Rui Reininho can confirm this). And while it wasn’t for sure their best concert, the joy that overcame me really made me left the Primavera stage running for my life, with the sunset about to come, fueled by this injection of alt rock happiness, about to check other awesome band. And this is what a music festival should be like. Perfection. - BSC
Hey, me again. The fool who ran for The War on Drugs, and guess what: made it in time for his favorite song of theirs, “Come to the City”. Now you get that last section of fussiness. Moving ahead, War on Drugs’ great advantage point in their music is its ambient: dreamy-pop synth, standard country guitars, all tied together with an enduring drum section. And here’s the problem: those four guys in the Club Stage didn’t manage quite well to capture this part, I think I’d like a more heavy, profound sound. Put that aside and the rest was cool, great songs, Dylanesque voice and playing style. Mission accomplished. Don’t forget the weed home next time. - BSC
Rufus Wainwright © Hugo Lima, Optimus Primavera Sound
After running to see the last songs of War on Drugs’ concert when Yo La Tengo finished their amazing show, it was great sit on the grass in the top of the little hill and listen to Rufus Wainwright playing at Optimus stage. Rufus is a lady on the stage and he conquered the audience with the vast roll of songs he played in Porto. It was funnyto hear from him some compliments about the Portuguese surfers that he saw in our beaches during the afternoon, but the concert had some serious parts as well, like when he sang “Montauk”, a song dedicated to his daughter. At some part of the concert, he reminded us about his origins: a folk family, as their parents are both folk singers, and he played “One Man Guy” (“folk off”, said Rufus to the crowd before playing that one song). He said goodbye to Primavera Sound with “Hallelujah”, which was an almost sacred moment that preceded the big party that was about to start in Primavera stage with Flaming Lips. - RBC
The Flaming Lips © Hugo Lima, Optimus Primavera Sound
One… two… three… four… Flaming Lips. What can I say, it’s a show within a show: all the confetti, balloons, bizarre costumes, pretty girls on stage (a friend assures us they’re fozeiras, girls born by the river Douro’s mouth), it’s a riot. As for what matters - the music - you’d imagine these guys betting on the wrong choice of songs, and this here was actually true in some parts - the new track “Is David Bowie Dying??” or the Pink Floyd “drugification” of “On the Run”; come on, you won’t be paying attention to these reveries if Wayne Coyne keeps constantly shooting confetti or rolling in a big bubble -, but as for the rest? If there were doubts this concert wouldn’t be a blast by the time “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Part 1” was making the crowd sing, then the encores assured to make everybody regretless of choosing this one instead of Codeine and Black Lips. I couldn’t see a soul not jumping to the first bits of the melody of “Race for the Prize”, and as for the second encore… I think it’s better for you to watch.
So, do you? In short, one of the great moments this Primavera 2012, if not the best. Not for me unfortunately (or not), due to this. We’ll talk about it later. - BSC
Codeine © Hugo Lima, Optimus Primavera Sound
Flaming Lips on one the main stages. Black Lips on the Club stage. There, you found out where 85% of the festival-goers were by the time Codeine took the ATP stage, and now you can picture what most of the remaining 15% of the crowd look like: old or just forever alone (okay, not forever - just for an hour) bearded guys. Seriously, you would be lucky to find a happy couple down here. Were you seeing any of the other bands? Is this sounding too depressing? You can try and listen to Frigid Stars, Codeine’s masterpiece from over 20 years ago as you read this. Buried beneath the sea of negativity evoked by the music itself there’s now another kind of sadness wandering the corners of your mind: the one you feel when you realize you missed the most beautifully delivered concert of a festival you were attending the whole time. The original lineup of Chris Brokaw, Stephen Immerwahr and John Engle had just reformed almost two decades after calling it quits (damn, I was six at the time) and you missed it.
Well, I’ll give you a break since the only way you could’ve missed such a concert was due to the fact that you don’t know them that well. On festivals with more than a couple of stages it’s hard to see an audience composed entirely of fans of said band and this was one of those extremely rare cases. Now I’ll speak to the fans: “D”, “Cigarette Machine”, “Pickup Song”, “Loss Leader”. Have you ever imagined listening to those songs live after all these years? Did you let go a smile when you heard the first chord of “Cave-In” right after having your mood ruined by the noise coming from other stages? Oh, and dear Wayne Coyne, thanks for ending your gig before they went into the last song, “Pea”, with Brokaw on bass and Immerwahr exclusively devoted to delivering the spine-chilling moment of the festival through his vocal folds. And, in a music scene dominated by big reunion tours driven by money, seeing the three of them hugging each other on stage after their gig like they wouldn’t even imagined they’d manage to come back as strong as they were back in the early 90s made me as happy as everyone else who was on the other two stages seeing happier bands playing happier music. - DSS
Wilco © Hugo Lima, Optimus Primavera Sound
How come I never saw Wilco live before? To punish me for that, the OPS12 organization made me do the toughest choice in a festival ever: one of my favorite bands and probably the one I’ve been listening to more often in the last couple of months or my favorite live band? I chose Wilco. “Let’s hope they forget about their latest two albums”, I heard someone say before the gig. While they didn’t play anything from Wilco (The Album), the setlist was obviously heavy on The Whole Love songs, like the couple of ones in the beginning, “Art Of Almost” and “I Might”. Those, along with “At Least That’s What You Said”, “Spiders” and “Impossible Germany” (the first time the crowd roared was when those first chords were played) made up some sort of mini-set from a different band than Wilco, which I’m going to refer as “The Stupendous Glenn Kotche and Nels Cline Seemingly-Non-Alt-Country Band”. Maybe this is why a lot of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot-era Wilco fans don’t really like their latest phase: “guitar solos and too-good-to-be-true drumming in a band that was practically untouchable in the indie scene of the beginning of the 00s? They’re too virtuoso now! Where’s the feeling? Hey look.. they’re playing “Radio Cure”! Forget about that rambling, let me get that tissue like it’s 2002 again…”.
“Laminated Cat” (by Tweedy’s spinoff band Loose Fur) and “War On War”, again from YHF, were next and preceded the big moment that mr. BSC highlighted some paragraphs ago. I’m glad they’re bringing Summerteeth songs to the mix again and “Via Chicago” wasn’t, obviously, left behind, and Kotche was happy to disrupt some of the most quiet parts of the song with some heavy metal drumming (yes, I’m relating it to the song “Heavy Metal Drummer” which was played some 15 minutes later) while Jeff Tweedy kept singing like the madness happening behind him was none of his business. I saw no reason for such a catharsis until that part when he sings “and a cracked door moon that says I haven’t gone too far” (around 3:15 here) and beyond. They were just in the middle of the concert and had already won the trophy for best concert of the whole festival. If anyone had a single doubt about that, the last three songs helped dissipate that. “A Shot in the Arm”, “Jesus, Etc.” and “The Late Greats”? Having better songs than all the other bands on the lineup should be considered cheating. Isn’t it? - DSS
Meanwhile, Shellac were playing on the ATP stage. I did my best to pretend they weren’t there. This is a paragraph about the best concert of the festival that none of us really saw because we were all seeing Wilco. Sorry, guys. Your concerts on the 2009 and 2010 editions of Primavera Sound in Barcelona were among the best I witnessed on both festivals and I hope you come back next year (and every year after that, of course). I’ll be seeing you no matter what. 3 years without attending a Shellac concert is a really fucking long time. Can you hear me now? - DSS
Beach House © Optimus
“It is happening again, it is happening again” echoed on my mind when I felt myself falling in love again with Beach House, at the beginning of their concert on the Club stage. I don’t think that they are a band that fits on a festival context and also the stage and that tent were too small to receive them and all of their fans. However, I missed Victoria and Alex so much that when they played “Norway”, second song of the concert, I forgot my all complains about the conditions. They brought us Bloom, their sweet fourth and new album, which they played almost on its entirety. But it’s still too recent and it was their old songs, as “Zebra” and “10 Mile Stereo” that made my heart beat faster. They deserved a better place to play, but hey: we can never say no to Beach House. Especially to hairy-Victoria, one of the cutest girls of the musical scene at the moment. - RBC
The Walkmen © Hugo Lima, Optimus Primavera Sound
The paragraph above pretty much sums it all - there was barely enough room to breathe inside that tent, let alone accommodate everyone who was trying to see Beach House. The Walkmen were playing at the same time in one of the bigger stages to half the BH crowd. The last couple of songs, their absolute classic “The Rat” and “In the New Year” (taken from their probably best effort yet, You & Me) made me wonder why the hell I spent half of the duration of their concert trying to get a glimpse of the overcrowded Beach House concert. Competence. - DSS
M83 © Hugo Lima, Optimus Primavera Sound