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Optimus Primavera Sound 2013: Thursday, day 1

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Optimus Primavera Sound 2013. Hugo Lima/Optimus Primavera Sound

Another year has passed and here we are, mssng Porto and the lovely Parque da Cidade, thinking about how perfect its location, its organization, its quiet pace, all the green spaces and, of course, its always interesting lineup (I can’t help but say it’s been really difficult to find some minutes to take a break and eat something both on Friday and Saturday) makes it the best – and the most confortable! – festival we’ve all been to. Primavera, please never change your mind. Expanding to Porto was the best thing you could’ve done for this city and for European music fans. Thank you.

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Wild Nothing. Hugo Lima/Optimus Primavera Sound

Our sunny Thursday afternoon begun with Wild Nothing (it’s a shame we missed Guadalupe Plata this time around!) and their sunny brand of indie rock. Presenting their brand new EP Empty Estate, the American five-piece didn’t stand out and won’t probably figure in many people’s best-of-OPS13 lists, but really, no one expected that. Not that they didn’t have some well-crafted dreamy pop jewels in their sleeve: “Live in Dreams” or “Paradise” will probably spin a lot more on my player now that I’ve heard them live and I surely won’t run away from the stage they’ll be playing in a future festival I’ll be in after mistaking them for the überboring Wild Beasts.

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The Breeders. Hugo Lima/Optimus Primavera Sound

This will probably feel like a sacrilege, but the not-so-spectacular boys from Virginia were more entertaining than the highly praised The Breeders playing an album (Last Splash) that definitely doesn’t suck. Sure, Kim Deal and the rest of the crew aren’t as young and wild and free as Jack Tatum but songs like “Cannonball” or “Driving on 9” deserved a better treatment. Not a bad show either – there’s no way those songs could be ruined by their own creators – but it lacked a certain flame.

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Dead Can Dance. Hugo Lima/Optimus Primavera Sound

Dead Can Dance are one of a restrict group of UFOs who populated this year’s lineup. But visual act apart, these dark wave veterans are nothing but human, musically speaking. Starting with last album’s opener “Children of the Sun”, some doubts I had quickly seemed to dissipate: the mixing (stellar sound all along), the ability to endure a concert obviously not sorted for a Summer music festival (and the answer is yes, it wasn’t even a problem) and if Lisa Gerrard is aging at all (here not so sure, losing vocal capacities she isn’t). Giving us some songs from last year’s record “Anastasis” and others not so recent, I have to say probably the weakest of the set was Tim Buckley’s cover “Song to the Siren”, it didn’t feel right. Luckily, it was the closer, and until then, my acclaims to the rhythm section and exotic instrumentation must be given, hypnotic enjoyable little stuff. – BSC

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Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Hugo Lima/Optimus Primavera Sound

The first big moment of the festival. Nick Cave, who else? He’s an animal, on or off stage, playing the piano or confronting the crowd, playing stuff from his latest record (“We No Who UR”, “Jubilee Street”) or digging deep into his career (“Tupelo” or the magnificent “Stagger Lee”, easily the highlight of his short set). The Bad Seeds also surely look old, but that just means they know better than your quasi-amateur, post-21st century favorite band. Violinist Warren Ellis, the one-man-show behind the incredible Dirty Three concert we witnessed in last year’s OPS edition, should have a giant statue at the festival gates next year. They create petitions for everything, why shouldn’t we do it to honor such a beast? All in all, I ended up wondering if I really needed to see any other band on the forthcoming two days in order to decide which concert was the best of the festival. (Spoiler: No.)

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Deerhunter. Hugo Lima/Optimus Primavera Sound

Deerhunter was next on the Super Bock stage, presenting their latest effort, Monomania. Another warm and rather unenthusiastic concert from a band that certainly isn’t better live than on record – we’ve seen them a couple of years ago at the Paredes de Coura festival and we can’t say they improved – but at least their fans seemed to be enjoying it.

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James Blake. Hugo Lima/Optimus Primavera Sound

I don’t thoroughly enjoy James Blake’s music. That being said, and unlike the borefest provided by the indie rock band above, the man can put out a show that’s at least enjoyable for everyone. His voice is sparkling – I swear I thought some Antony Hegarty samples were being used, but no, that’s just him – he’s talented as fuck (not saying Cox isn’t)  and I can’t name anyone who didn’t at least tip his hat after the young Londoner’s show in the closing hour of the first night of Primavera. Joined on stage by a drummer and a guitar player, songs like the lively “CMYK”, “Limit To Your Love” or the fantastic “The Wilhelm Scream” sounded even better on their new incarnations. For those who don’t quite enjoy Nick Cave’s style, it was easy to elect the best concert of the first night of Primavera.

DSS/AMB/BSC

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