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Optimus Primavera Sound 2012: day 3

Oh, festivals on rainy days. Such a pleasure for absolutely no one. Everyone loves guest appearances in festivals, but would invite such an inconvenient entity? My one and only guess is “students who couldn’t attend the festival due to having to study for exams”. You made little girls cry, are you happy now?

Siskiyou © Hugo Lima, Optimus Primavera Sound

After getting last-minute tickets to the Jeff Mangum concert on the following day (thanks to the three kind people who stood in line for me while I was out chasing poor volunteers in order to get a free raincoat) I went to see Siskiyou at the now mud-filled ATP stage. The Canadian band, formed by Colin Huebert (ex-Great Lake Swimmers member) and Erik Arnesen (still playing with GLS) has lately expanded to a full, four-piece band and played songs from their two Constellation-released albums, with an emphasis on the latter, Keep Away the Dead, released last year, the single “Twigs and Stones” gathering the most applause during the small 45-min set, which also included an immense, Canadiana-infused version of Neil Young’s classic “Revolution Blues” and “Big Sur”, arguably their masterpiece from the debut album (“let’s party all night long”). Seriously? Under all this rain? Challenge accepted. – DSS

Veronica Falls © Filipa Oliveira, Palco Principal

Veronica Falls were one of the few bands that had the rain by their side in the third night of the festival and even those that didn’t like their music that much felt very comfortable in the tent-like Club stage. However, most people – myself included – went there because they really wanted to see the London band performing. They presented their debut, selftitled album (playing songs like the catchy “Bad Feeling” (“I don’t remember, I’ve got a bad feeling, bad feeeeeling”) and played some new songs. Time for the fashion review now: Roxanne Clifford, one of the singers, seemed as cute as I had already saw in some pictures. You know, girls with nice hair and vintage clothes are always the best. – RBC

Spiritualized © Hugo Lima, Optimus Primavera Sound

Hey, look, another Spiritualized concert during daytime. It’s my third time seeing them in festivals and the third time they got a daytime slot. At least it was obscured by clouds this time. Clouds that were pouring copious amounts of rain before and during the whole concert, which didn’t matter since it all made sense from the moment Jason Pierce started singing the chorus on “Lord, Let It Rain On Me”: “Lord, let it rain on me/Let it all come down/I’ll sell my soul to let it roll/And I’m about ready now”, after starting the gig with their latest album’s powerful, sprawling opener “Hey Jane”. Religious imagery was the main theme on the first half of the concert, with the Spacemen 3 cover song “Walkin With Jesus” kicking in, starting a trip down memory lane (“Born, Never Asked” blended into “Electric Mainline”, as played on Pure Phase) that ended on the 3-minute long pop ecstasy that is “Soul on Fire”, from Spiritualized’s return to form 2008 album Songs in A&E.

But the most celebrated song (as always) was the chill-inducing title track of their colossal Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, sung along by the audience like it was the last song on Earth, with an adaptation of those famous Elvis words being sung a capella by Jason towards the end of the song: “wise men say only fools rush in / but I don’t believe, I don’t believe, I could still fall in love you” and in that one moment in time, the light shone by the grandiosity of it all seemed to dry the clothes and feet of everyone who stood by the rain. It didn’t, though, as the lackluster “Mary” and “She Kissed Me” followed, seemingly taking the concert in the wrong direction. But hey, can’t complain, as the most rocking out version of “Come Together” I’ve witnessed made sure we left the Primavera stage with a smile on our faces. – DSS

Bob the Builder fixing the Optimus stage © Hugo Lima, Optimus Primavera Sound

Know who doesn’t like “Lord, Let It Rain On Me”? Death Cab for Cutie. Their gig was cancelled after the organization failed to cover up the Optimus stage in time. Major bummer. James Ferraro supposedly was nowhere to be found (a note on the press zone said his flight got delayed or something) and his Saturday gig was also cancelled. Good for those who wanted to see the Euro 2012 Portugal-Germany football game and for the only band who was playing at the time, on the ATP stage. – DSS

I Break Horses © Hugo Lima, Optimus Primavera Sound

While a lot of hopeful people waited for the Death Cab, I Break Horses were playing at the ATP stage (probably the most beautiful but the less visited stage). I had already told you at my festival preview that they would bring us some shoegaze and a dreamy electro-pop to the end of the afternoon and I didn’t lie to you. For some reason (ok, maybe because of the hair and the attitude of Maria Lindén, the female singer) they reminded me of Beach House a bit, which kinda augmented my sympathy about them. Of course I headbanged a bit while they played songs as “Winter Beats” and “I Kill Love, Baby!”. After the annoying rain on the last concerts, their music helped me to forget my wet feet – wow, what a lovely thankful note, but believe me: it made a lot of sense on that night. – RBC

The Afghan Whigs © Hugo Lima, Optimus Primavera Sound

Wow. I mean, wow. For those who read the preview article about the festival, you could remember the section I wrote about the Afghan Whigs as one of the must-see concerts. As this wasn’t enough, the rain had finally stopped, and the sadness we all felt (well, most of us) for Portugal’s defeat in the EURO and the cancellation of Death Cab for Cutie was instantly vanished by the heavy, heavy, heavy, and I mean heavy, heavy sound coming from Primavera Stage. Tough conditions? Hell no! The sound was impressively crystalline, and see this: the band implemented a sort of stereo system by taking two guitars, one for each side speaker exclusively, thus complementing each other. So simple, yet an outstanding effect.

And if they take the award for best mixture, as for the concert it’s a close call: oscillating between delightful cheesy/being miserable rock songs, like “When We Two Parted”, and riff-genius headbanging-obligatory ones right next (yes, “Gentleman”. Just yes), it was a fulfilled lesson of rock ‘n’roll. Also, one of the most enjoyable moments of the festival, which I assume lots of Weeknd fans would had been interested to watch (haha), was right in here: their cover version of “Lovecrimes” from the acclaimed mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra. by OFWGKTA’s Frank Ocean, certifying that Afghan Whigs are well preserved (I can’t exactly say that Greg Dulli’s voice is way better, since I was a kid back then, but I take a guess) and still make sense in the 10’s (How do you say this? Teenies? Insert lame tennis pun). All in all, if you missed this not just for a bit, too bad. – BSC

Lee Ranaldo © Hugo Lima, Optimus Primavera Sound

We still don’t know what the hell is going to happen with Sonic Youth now that Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon split up. But as long as both of them and Lee Ranaldo keep themselves occupied separately by releasing new music and touring, who cares? Ranaldo presented songs from his latest song-oriented album, Between the Tides and the Times in Porto for the second time, after playing stripped-down renditions of those same songs when he was around for the last time, in November 2011. You couldn’t help but see the words “Sonic Youth” written all over the ATP stage as he played numbers from said album, like “Off the Wall”, “Shouts” or “Waiting On a Dream”: that voice is unmistakable and he still excels at writing songs. – DSS

Kings of Convenience © Hugo Lima, Optimus Primavera Sound

Kings of Convenience had already conquered a loyal audience in Portugal and it is not difficult to understand that. In fact, these two Norwegian guys discovered the right way to win a lot of fans in Portugal – I don’t now exactly their trick, but it always involve a very kind speech addressed to the country and a bunch of indie-pop songs that almost everyone already knows. Once again, they played all of their gold repertory – “Misread”, “Boat Behind”, “I’d Rather Dance with You” and so on, with the help of a faithful audience that knew very well the songs and that sang along with them. They had a little stressful moment because of the noise/music that they could hear in the Optimus stage from “a random rock band” that played at the moment in another stage, but they keep it cool. Sweet moment: they dedicated “Homesick” to everyone that lives abroad, in a big city and far away from his friends and family – hey, thank you so much Erlend and Eirik. – RBC

Dirty Three © Thomas Perry, eFestivals.co.uk

Let’s start off by electing Warren Ellis as the best frontman of the whole festival. After 20 years, Dirty Three finally debuted in Porto (after playing a gig in Lisbon five years ago) and we all got to know crazy Warren Ellis’ stage antics. I can’t think of a single instrumental rock band with such a frontman – among a sea of introverted, boring joes (not talking about his bandmates, but about the average post-rock band member) Ellis looks like the captain of a tumbling ship, totally drunk on gin but fully dedicated to running his ship ashore through his violin and piano – stopping midway a couple of times to entertain the frightened passengers.

“…and the fucking birds stopped saying fuck and they start tweeting again and you realize your work is done.”. A show within a show. The musical one itself consisted mostly on tracks off the latest album, Toward the Low Sun, decent amount of improvisation included. It also pissed off the guys from Kings of Convenience due to extreme loudness. I don’t get them. I would feel blessed to be able to listen to these three men playing while also playing my own concert. – DSS

Washed Out © Hugo Lima, Optimus Primavera Sound

Previous note about Washed Out concerts: yes, they’re totally different from their records. Saw them about a year ago, expecting some slow-dancing body-lifting chillwave, and, huh, take those last two meanings apart, add some 80’s to the mixture and that’s it. Hadn’t lots of patience for that back then. But as for this one? Better. (I’ll leave you wondering if it was due to a better performance and a most cohesive work due to one more year on the road or, well, low expectations). More danceable, more band, more sound – and thank you for that, Club Stage’s awning -, the fans up front followed Ernest Greene’s calling and made lots of love and fucking and sweet boning (no they didn’t) to the sound of “Amor Fati”, sold lots of Samsung phones through the rhythm of “Soft” (now this one is true) and took lots of drugs with “Eyes Be Closed”, success of the night and, exception to the rule, somewhat faithful to the album’s version. Managed to keep the night unruined. Back to you, DSS. – BSC

The XX © Hugo Lima, Optimus Primavera Sound

I kinda get why people would enjoy The XX. They seem to be the perfect band to soundtrack stuff on TV (like Sigur Rós is used on pieces about people struck by disease and disaster, their music is often used to soundtrack Fashion TV-like reports about beach parties in the Algarve – hence my association of the XX’s music to fashion bloggers) and you know those songs always stick to your head. They played songs from their debut, selftitled album and some new songs from their upcoming album (coming up next September). I couldn’t tell which songs were from which album. They all sounded more or less the same. Which is great for TV producers as soon they’ll have ten new songs to soundtrack footage of orange men and women having fun at a cocktail party. Is anyone willing to trade my memories of this concert for a formal invite for one of those? – DSS

Erol Alkan © Hugo Lima, Optimus Primavera Sound

Erol Alkan. Really dug those bass sounds, although I think it missed some exploding moments, the building up was there, but resulted in more bass layers. While it doesn’t make him tacky, it makes his set a little boring after half an hour of that. And c’mon, only one rework of a song? Would have been so much funnier lots and lots of these. Well, “The Bay” by Metronomy at least made sure we all went home with a smiley face. As far as I’m concerned. – BSC

© Hugo Lima, Optimus Primavera Sound

Well, not everyone went home. Some went from the Club stage to the HARD Club for an after-party until well after dawn. See folks? No need to pay for an extra night on a hostel if you leave the morning after. See you tomorrow.

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