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Review: INDOURO FEST, 2-3 May 2015

How to arrange a proper music festival 101 in 5 easy steps:

1.       Bring quality bands to your event

2.       Delineate a theme, music style or common ground to these bands

3.       In case of different attractions like the surrounding environment, other art events and fun stuff, reassure if worthwhile or unnecessary.

4.       Respect your brand, but also believe in it and don’t be afraid being a bit flamboyant promoting it

5.       Pray for good weather!

This should be enough to a great music festival, and INDOURO FEST seemed to follow these steps, although I’d like to see a bit more branding on Serra do Pilar, hence the 4thpoint; and if you’re about to call me a “capitalist marketer”, I’m just saying: an Indouro porch would be nicer than a Super Bock one.

Also, the fifth obviously failed, welcome to the North, folks. However, the worst was yet to come, as two of the most expected bands didn’t. Thanks to the TAP pilots’ strike, Clinic and Toy couldn’t make it on time to their shows, leaving Indouro to reorganize its schedule, as there were no actual replacements for those. This, and also seriously, would an awning for the audience to be rain-free be too much to ask, since the fact that a bit more than a hundred people showed up in the 2nd and 3rd of May, resulted in Indouro missing the 6th step of arranging a music festival: be prepared for anything.

DAY ONE – 2ND MAY

But enough criticism, because for what really matters, Indouro gave it to us: great concerts. And if The Lost Rivers (starting a bit late due to filling up Clinic’s spot) were somewhat, well, lost in their power trio wall of sound, Electric Litany gave us the great start for the festival. Nevertheless, kudos to TLR and their 10 minute-mark jam of a final.

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Electric Litany. Credits: Francisco Vaz (Omessa Magazine)

At the first look, Electric Litany shares the same feature sound of modern indie rockers acts like Wild Beasts or Editors, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Also, nothing interesting, so why they differ? Maybe because of their sudden silences in mid-song followed by crescendo, perpetuating an improved and more instrumental version of the song, or also the fine guitar reverb built in cahoots with the unfading synths, as the rhythm section dictates if it’s time to wither or explode. Great band chemistry and great performance, showing why “immigrant” acts (frontman Alexandros Miaris is Greek) may be an improvement to older hometown selves.

Next were The Limiñanas, also showing how multiculturalism can improve things. Native French, English, Italian, be it: they sing it. Obviously inspired in Serge Gainsbourg’s secular pop, don’t expect much more than on-beat drums, a repetitive organ riff and incessant guitars while the feminine try not-much-to-sing-as-to-speak-but-end-up-in-singing-anyway. Let’s face it, it’s an easy way to make a melody, but you can’t go wrong. And although it felt like it missed some aggression and change, Limiñanas sure were competent. Can’t lie, would be much more enjoyable if it hadn’t start to rain.

Yes, of course the rain contributes to the outcome of one’s “enjoyability” of a concert. Even if you’re impermeable up to your sleeves with your best raincoat and wellington boots, it still can annoy you and your constant trickling wet face. But who said it can’t have positive influence as well? Tristesse Contemporaine (translating to Contemporary Sadness in English) turned something bad as an eleven hour wait to a flight (courtesy of TAP pilots’ strike) only to play during rain in something no other than galvanizing, thought-provoking dancing minimal electro pop. Truth be told, frontman rapper Michael Giffs knew how to turn around the audience, giving them some words and appreciating the acclaim back, other than saying “thank you” and moving on. Trust me, I for one do not give an ass if an artist is communicative or not, in most cases I appreciate the ones who aren’t, given their related music performance vibe. But then there are occasions like this when people are watching you while raining, here you can really thank their support/endurance, because that’s dedication, and also because it fuels them up to continue. Not only was that the case, but also Tristesse’s fitting urban depressive sound came together to make this concert one of Indouro’s memorable moments.

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Tristesse Contemporaine. Credits: Francisco Vaz (Omessa Magazine)

Speaking of personal disposal, The Lucid Dream sure are great shoegazers, and again, quite incredible amount of noise for a trio, but I wasn’t in the mood for no introduction nor conclusion, just middle fuzzy rock tunes. Still, in overall, much more structured and better quality output than the previous rock trio The Lost Rivers. I’m sure given a second chance I’d enjoy better The Lucid Dream, although not so sure if I’d understand the spokesman guitarist’s strong British accent.

The day had been long, Clinic was missing and White Haus being the most setup complex band of the day, their soundcheck took a bit while. Reasons why João Vieira urged to start his concert as soon as possible and why even fewer people were enjoying another stiff and jig electronic performance of his and theirs partners in dance. At least it stopped raining, giving us some rest from the first day of the festival.

DAY TWO – 3RD MAY

If in the day before there was some doubt on whether it would be raining or not, there wasn’t on the second and last day of Indouro. It rained all day!

Possibly the only positive aspect of Toy’s cancellation, at least you’d spend fewer hours at the festival, with fewer bands and an earlier headline. And given this strategy of spending the fewer hours possible at rain, here’s how I arrived promptly in time to one of my Indouro’s favorites, Yuck.

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Yuck. Credits: Francisco Vaz (Omessa Magazine)

With a new frontman for their second album, following the depart of original member Daniel Blumberg, the green raincoat superhero sure knew how to tease the public (“Fuck Lisbon”, “Just kidding”). As for the Yuck trademark sound, it teases itself, being the most youthful, revival 90s cool rock of the bunch. Playing their older songs switching the vocalist here and there but keeping the core of the song, gliding in their current ones (even originating a mosh during “Middle Sea”, who would’ve thought), the best was saved for last, playing two new songs from the upcoming third LP ­– at first listening, I’d say they’re trying to be less one-tone for song, but it’s a Yuck still – and, as it’s being usual, “Operation” rocking the fuck out of Serra do Pilar. Rock‘n’Roll is alive and well, it’s only a question of where can you find it.

Lola Colt is a sextet band composed by equal parts of male and female performers and this simple explanation/fact might help you find out why their sound is so rich, complete and loud. Music directly taken from any OST you can think of, their abrasive reverbed guitars, the tambourines louder than drums, psychedelic keys, the impeccable roaring voice of the female singer… all of this to a fantastic combo with the power to make the venue rumble. Seriously, I remember a section of a song with all their parts reaching a climax louder than any other act passing by during all Indouro Fest. Formidable.

Without Toy to continue this quality run of concerts, Malcontent gave their best to support this wave of satisfied ears, but any wave they’d create it would bump against the Northern Sea strength of British Sea Power.

Talking about ending in style! British Sea Power presented us with this strong five of a female violinist accompanying frontman Yan and the guys on guitars, bass and drums, enchanting us through the everlasting rain drawn in the blasting lights from the stage, turning away our attention from the tiny slideshow at the center of the stage. The longing strings charged with the upbeats of the drums surrounded in melancholy uplifted us to stratospheric levels of coziness in heart, from the great start with “Machineries of Joy” to slow-paced “A Light Above Descending“, right before the fully charged anthem “Waving Flags”, driving us to the great fest of infuriating rock of a final, while the band cheered us with a beer up high in between song. What cool guys. What a finish. And what concert to premier BSP in Portuguese territory. Lucky who got to witness this, and lucky Indouro to be associated with such moment. Let’s hope for future editions, better weather and fewer cancellations. Here’s the setlist as well for the concert, although at the end they went in a hurry and missed a few tracks. Come again!

– BSC

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Indouro Festival 2015

Oh joy! Here’s to the Portuguese festival season, cause and consequence to our Summer vacations, fulfilled with concerts, camping/airbnb, after-hours and hangovers.

Usually, during its four years of existence, Optimus/NOS Primavera Sound would debut the yearly round of music festivals, not even waiting for the Summer season (as Primavera translates to Spring, dear non-Portuguese speaking readers). But guess what? A brand new urban festival, INDOURO FEST

obviously a pun between Indie and Douro, the river separating the cities of Porto and Gaia

is taking place next weekend (May 2nd-3rd) right across the river, at the Serra do Pilar, this steep hill overlooking Porto by the riverside. The place is also known for its ancient monastery, right next to the main stage.

Does it work? For a fact, Indouro won’t be the first festival at Serra do Pilar, the place used to host many concerts years earlier and that might help explain why it is such a brilliant scenery. While simple and plain, the monastery and the surroundings really work together at any time of the day, and it’s expected for many people to gaze around, although probably you should pay attention to what’s going on on the stage. Or stages.

Yes, there will be another stage at Jardim do Morro, a nice garden by the end of the hill, where a metro station can be found — in fact, the festival’s organization guarantees Indouro is the only festival with a metro station inside its area. But Guinness World Records aside, this stage, named FNAC Stage, will feature lots of up and coming or already established Portuguese acts, like local singer-songwriter The Weatherman, who closes the stage on Sunday. And all of this for free.

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Clinic

Back to the Main Stage, where you can make your euros worth (€32 for one day, €55 full pass), Indouro Fest presents us with a very modern, contemporary UK indie rock-based line-up, while at the same time featuring two strong headliners who have been around for some time – but not in Portuguese stages. The first being Clinic, revival rockers from Liverpool, provided with synths and dysphonic harmony, unscrewing the place by Saturday night. Also for the first day, we count on The Lucid Dream to keep with the British psychedelia, or João Vieira’s White Haus to bring the dancing electronica, while DJ Kitten (a.k.a. João Vieira once again) extends the night away, now on the turntables.

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British Sea Power

Did I already mention the huge British influence in the line-up? Because Sunday, to the exception of Portuguese openers Malcontent, all the names come from the cultural relevant and influent London and its surrondings (well, Brighton isn’t far). Starting with Yuck, authors of the great shoegazing influenced self-titled Yuck LP from 2011, and although with new frontman and record from 2013, the quality isn’t shaken. Lola Colt, as the film which gives name to the band, really captures the spaghetti western feel, both starring leading females. And then Toy will be playing (worst pun ever), continuing this English conquest, now directly from Brighton. Their rock miscellany (post punk, Manchester’s music scene, shoegazing, all there) would be enough to satisfy us from the indubitably stronger day of the Fest, but Brighton isn’t done as British Sea Power ends headlining the final day in their melancholic but incessant indie rock, as well as presenting their last art-rock effort, Sea of Brass. How about that for a Sunday?

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And how about that for a festival as well? If you’re a rock’n’roll vertebrate, you can’t miss this Indouro Fest. Let’s rock!

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