quinta-feira, julho 26, 2012

Optimus Alive 2012

First of all, let me start by apologizing for this long absence, but I was away on holiday back to my dear home in Cascais, Portugal.
I'm aware this was the longest break I took from the blog, but in my defense, work has been limiting my writing time - and social as well - therefore, it was clear for me that I needed a break. And yes, I know this is not something crucial making it useless my action of justification, however, just wanted to let the readers know that I'm not becoming sloppy.

Having said that... let's "get down to business"...

Another year, another Optimus Alive... and even though more than a week as passed by and the topic isn't as fresh, I could not contain myself. This is something I needed to write about, while sharing a few stills and videos of my own.

- I must warn you, the videos are small bits and pieces and not the entire tracks -

As always, the people responsible for this festival brought to the audience a line-up that can only be described as: superb.  And this is not only according to my standards, but to the thousands of attendants who came all across Europe to see some of their favourite bands, be it a revival or just to get a taste of the trendiest sounds across the music sphere.

There was sounds to go around and please all sorts of people... From cult rock vanguard to new beats and rhymes, going on to the best club tunes... even a breed of Portuguese artists had their chance to bombard those around the stage with their explosive and dancy tunes. Examples that will fit into all these categories that I just mentioned are The Stone Roses, Santigold, Justice and Buraka Som Sistema. If these names alone don't seem to impress you, let me just add a few more to the mix: Radiohead, The Cure, Metronomy, Mumford & Sons... are just a few of a star cast that Lisbon hosted in this year's edition.

From a personal point of view, I feel as times goes by, that I don't have the same energy - consequence of a working routine that I've acquired during my stay in London - and yet my desire to come next year remains the same, such is the quality provided in every single aspect of this event. Logistically is one of the best "fests" I've ever been to, considering its dimension, the options/conditions they present and the amount of high quality gigs. And there were plenty of these lasts ones...

Mumford & Sons are likely to top my list as the best live performance. The British folk band made justice to their reputation as one of the best live acts in Europe by putting a mesmerizing show with such power and charisma that everyone - including those who knew nothing about the group - raved about. It was memorable in every way, from the track list, to the arrangements they made and energy they putted in to their music. And the crowd was ready to receive what was being given, which is always good.

Another of the highlights were Justice, who made everyone wiggle their arms in the air or - if the space allowed - put up their best dance moves with contemporary classics such as D.A.N.C.E and We Are Your Friends. Too bad the sound volume was so low. Justice needed their music to be boosted up, which would go great with the fantastic visual performance, trademark of the French duo.

Santigold are in the list, because they were completely fresh and unexpected, making them one of the biggest surprises/revelations of those three days. Unfortunately, by the time I got there, they were half way through Desperate Youth, one of the few singles that I know and by far my favourite. Like a calling, as soon as I felt the music resonate in the air, I made my way sprinting to the crowd so I could witness that epic song. The rest that followed completely justified their spot in my "best of".

Up next in the list are Metronomy and The Maccabees, who I had the chance to see live back in London. I have to say though... The Maccabees have so many great songs that gain from an audience who knows how to sing along... and this time people just seemed to not know the lyrics. This is not by any means any kind of criticism. Just stating something that I've witnessed before and that gave the gig a different dynamic. William Powers for instance, just makes the whole trip to the arena worth it. Regardless of this, it was still a great gig, surpassing the one I saw in the British capital.

Metronomy were probably the second best gig and the perfect ending for the festival. After three intense days (and as I said) I lacked the same energy to face another session of singing and dancing, however, Metronomy's effort took over the crowd and just pumped every single person in that area. A lot of credit has to be given to the audience who behaved in excellent manor by demonstrating their appreciation for their music. Keep in mind this was Sunday (a lot of people worked the next day) and that it was 3'Oclock in the morning when they took over the stage. Guess what... It was crowded! And people sang and danced like it was the first day, with all levels of stamina charged and ready to go.

I would also like to include in this list The Kills, Noah and the Whale and Radiohead, but I won't... for the following reasons:

Noah and The Whale should have played longer than an hour. Again, not criticizing... Having in mind their slot - meaning: their performance schedule - I was aware they would only play for that long, however, it would make such a difference... Even so, they were great. Having presented themselves in a very smart/tidy fashion, their folk came through in same style, unfolding what it seemed discreet to a musical outburst, which certainly made the folk group gain more fans. 

The Kills were electrifying. Both members had such a chemistry that is hard for people not to react to it, but unfortunately, due to my lack of endurance that night and not being a kind of album that I play on my iPod in repeat, it was a bigger challenge to keep up with the same rhythm like those around me.  But credit must be given to the "Rock N Roll duo" has they are likely to be one of these years crowd pleasers.

Finally Radiohead... The group lead by Thom Yorke made their comeback to Portugal after a 10 year absence - not from the music scene, but from the Country - and so, I felt like they should at least play one or two of the crowd favorites. If you think about it, that's a hard task. They have a long and successful career with plenty of remarkable albums full of hits, so.. to make a set-list capable of fitting to everybody's needs and wishes, is rather impossible, but Creep - a track that I'm not particularly fan of - should have made it into their selection. And what about Fake Plastic Trees, No Surprises or Karma Police? All of these milestones of their career...
Anyway, it was still one of the highlights, but from a personal standpoint, it left me with a bitter-sweet taste.

Overall, from a personal and musical perspective, these three days were hard to top. Saw many friends, attended amazing gigs and witnessed great atmosphere.

Definitely will be there next year!

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