I’ll start this article by stating the obvious: the fifth edition of NOS Primavera Sound ended up having the most solid set of shows so far. As it’s the case with most festivals, this obviously depends on the choices you make, your taste in music, from where you choose to watch the gigs from, your level of intoxication, your company (or absence of) and, of course, the profile of the crowd surrounding you. Never leave those bastards spoil any show for you. Also, don’t be that bastard. Everybody hates you. Why don’t you just play with your phone in the new amazing food truck area instead of being in the front rows shouting like you’re in a loud bar? Summer festivals definitely need to have a stage with DJs permanently playing dance music the whole day. Maybe those idiots who don’t want to see concerts anyway spend the whole day there.
Parquet Courts. © Hugo Lima
That being said, let’s start with the worst and go uphill from here. No matter the lineup for the first day, there’s a huge chance that most people will think Thursday was the worst day of the festival for them. The truth is you can’t please everyone, and having no choice but to see the band that’s performing in one of the main stages seems a bit limiting in an era of multi-stages music festivals.
The major downside?
Since there’s no other choice, all the morons mentioned in the first paragraph will be concentrated in front of the same stage, ruining most concerts for you, especially those who aren’t particularly loud. We look forward to seeing Julia Holter playing in a non-hostile environment, when you can actually pick whatever spot (or seat) you’d like without being exposed to people’s phone calls, drunken antics, or plain old “hey, you! Haven’t seen you since last year’s edition of the festival, let’s catch up in front of this stage instead of doing it over a beer and a sandwich 100m from here!”. At least Sensible Soccers’ concert wasn’t ruined by jerks, since only those really interested in seeing concerts get to the festival grounds by 5pm. The Portuguese trio (although they play as a 4-piece live) kicked off the festival in style, with the highlight being the beautiful non-album krauty track “Sofrendo Por Você”.
But there’s worse things than having the audience sabotage a gig: the band itself doing it. Sigur Rós, only a three piece, decided to bury their own legacy in front of everyone. Their majestic instrumental “classic” sound was replaced by layers of bullshit electronica that every newcomer to the scene does better. Anyone up to signing this useless thing called an “online petition” to call them on their murder of their beautiful, absolutely essential classic “Starálfur”? Seriously, it’s 2016 and your national football team is more relevant than you. Nobody would predict this in 2015, let alone ten or fifteen years ago. The bottom line? Stop predicting things. (Of course, even if the band itself didn’t want to ruin their own gig, there was this idiot shouting to his friend on the phone, and, when told to shut the hell up, said something alone the lines of “what? Am I not allowed to talk now?”. Sure. #JeSuisIdiotTalkingOnThePhoneAtASigurRósShow
Thursday had a clear winner: Parquet Courts. Under some light rain that couldn’t stop itself from visiting the Parque da Cidade for yet another year, the NY rockers made sure their superb new album Human Performance isn’t the only reason people would talk about them in five years. They’ll be known, at least by the people who were there, as that band that defeated all the loudmouthed retards at once in the first day of the 2016 edition of the festival. “Dust”, “Berlin Got Blurry”, “One Man No City”, “Sunbathing Animal”, some proper mosh and crowdsurf, etc. They’ve delivered it all.
Fifth time watching Cass McCombs for me, fifth time it was totally worth it. From the rambling of “Big Wheel” to the typical show closer, warm slow burner “County Line”, and also going through the lovely “Morning Star” and the old favorite “Don’t Vote”, McCombs and his band were jammy as we never saw it before, the perfect soundtrack to a lazy, sunny Friday afternoon.
Destroyer. © Hugo Lima
In one of the best back to back concert sequences of the festival’s history, Destroyer was to follow on the Super Bock stage. Dan Bejar, cool as ever, led an eight element band through songs off their latest record, Poison Season, while also revisiting select tracks off Kaputt and the amazing “European Oils” off his masterpiece Rubies.
There was barely time to breathe: pop music giant Brian Wilson was to perform the Beach Boys’ biggest piece of legacy, Pet Sounds, right away on the NOS stage. It was quite a sad sight to see the 73 year old musician being carried in arms to the stage. The show could be even more depressing if the audience wasn’t as happy as they were, singing the Beach Boys’ classics in unison and cheering for the old man as if they were some sort of football ultras. After the magical sequence “Sloop John B” and “God Only Knows”, it was time to move.
Dinosaur Jr. © Hugo Lima
Admittedly, the only reason that made us move away from the NOS stage was Dinosaur Jr. That was also one of the best decisions anyone could make. After decades in the road, Mascis & co are still one of the best rock bands you can see on a stage. If you’ve looked me in the eyes during the Brian Wilson concert, you could actually Feel the Pain of me missing half of their concert. At least I was still on time to see them blast through the new song “Tiny” from their upcoming album coming this August, and to witness them play a certain classic song that’s arguably even better than the original, written by some guys named “The Cure” or something.
But the most surprising moment of the night for me was Protomartyr’s concert at the Pitchfork stage. The Detroit post-punk act completely blew away everyone who bothered to go see them instead of watching Mudhoney (still kicking myself for not seeing them, though) and they’ve probably earned quite an amount of new fans. The Agent Intellect isn’t exactly a hidden gem or something since they’ve generated quite some press last year, but this is a good time to dig up their past work.
Tortoise. © Hugo Sousa
The night would not be completed with one of the best live bands in the world, one that transcends the typical indie-rockish world that Primavera is all about. Tortoise were presenting their latest album in their first visit to Portugal, leaving behind some fan-favorites (where are my songs off TNT, dudes?), but that doesn’t mean every moment of the show wasn’t superb. Bonus point for opening with the all victorious “High Class Slim Came Floatin’ In”.
Cate Le Bon. © Hugo Lima
First highlight of the day right after getting to the festival site: the marvelous Cate Le Bon was finally touching holy ground. Or did it only become holy the moment she touched it? We’ll never know. While her native Wales was defeating Slovakia at the Euros, Cate Le Bon and her four piece band were defeating a harsh heat with some of the most beautiful and intricate songs of the three days of festival. Can’t wait to see her again in a proper room setting.
Now for something completely different: the Neil Michael Hagerty & the Howling Hex concert could perfectly be forgettable, as it was clearly the show where less people were attending, possibly in the history of the festival. But the copious amount of already consumed drugs being showcased in that stage during the 25 (!) minutes of the show made it memorable for everyone who was there. Of course the songs off the great Denver, released earlier this year via Drag City, were somehow botched in the process, but hey, it’s only rock and roll.
Speaking of rock and roll: how could you not love Saturday night’s lineup?
Drive Like Jehu looked like they’ve never disbanded, even if it’s been 22 years since Yank Crime. The San Diego post-hardcore heroes delivered swell guitar hooks left and right (”Super Unison”, “Human Interest”…) motivating the first big pit of the night. Maybe we could expect a brand new album anytime soon?
Titus Andronicus. © Hugo Sousa
But the biggest party of the night had to be the one Titus Andronicus put out. Like my Spanish friends say, ellos la liaran parda. A proper punk rock party like you almost can’t find in any decent festival anymore with everything we deserve and more: their new hymn “Dimed Out”, classic tunes from their debut album (“Titus Andronicus”, “Upon Viewing Brueghel’s “Landscape With the Fall of Icarus””…), a Ramones cover, and, of course, some cuts off The Monitor, arguably the most iconic punk rock album of the past decade (”The Battle of Hampton Roads” and the closer “A More Perfect Union”). Can anyone top this? Better call…
Shellac. © Hugo Sousa
Well, the truth is any single person who has been to a Shellac show before certainly can’t comprehend how can anyone that has a little bit of life left inside themselves (and a half-decent taste in music to go along with it) not go to a Shellac show, especially if they’re in a 10min walking radius from the stage.
I love my life, and I always side with the defenders — the defenders of fun.
Never change. And see you next year, regardless of who plays at the same time.