12 good things that happened last weekend at Optimus Primavera in Portugal
As soundtracked by Rob Fitzpatrick of Spotify
1. Best act who played slightly too late
Owing to Primavera’s famously nocturnal line-up, the artists you wanted to see generally fell into one of two categories:
1. Artists You Like
2. Artists You 3am Like
I really wanted to see him. But 3am was just too late.
2. Singer most likely to usurp Florence Welch
Melody’s Prochet of Melody's Echo Chamber
Received wisdom teaches that women should not pigeonhole other women. But I will, because Primavera is a festival manned and entertained largely by men, and Melody – real name! - is French and pretty with a strong fringe and a warm, celestial voice which last Friday sliced through the male mumbling from the slightly-too-close adjacent stage. Plus, Quand Vas Tu Renter? features a Casio keyboard. I just wonder why they stuck her in the canopied Pitchfork tent instead of the ATP stage which is the aural equivalent of a floral headband and perfect for people with names like Melody.
3. Scariest moment of the weekend
Standing too close to an aggressive man with a bubble machine during Shellac.
4. Most confusing act
Jehnny Beth of Savages sings like she’s starting a fight with your dad. That said, I danced so hard I sprained my neck.
5. Band that could have disappointed but, somehow, didn’t
That we managed to collapse a pine bench wigging out to Song 2 was testament to their brilliance. Charmingly, also, the Portuguese crowd seemed as into the class tourism-heavy repertoire as we were. What, I asked a not-famous Portugese singer, did she like so much about Country House? ‘Hampstead is very pretty’.
6. ‘Prop’ of the weekend
Who hands out free floral headbands?
7. Best cover of a song I actually quite liked
Just Like Heaven by The Cure by Dinosaur Jnr.
8. Unlikely pin-up of the weekend
...of Wild Nothing, one of those terrifyingly young performers who definitely spent his childhood locked up with the Broken Social Scene on his Discman, passing exams and trying not to get beaten up. How they grow up! Last weekend, he sang some lovely glo-fi songs about the glory of nature and people and love and loss underpinned with twenty-something insight and wit. See Nocturne and Gemini, brilliant and brilliant, as well as his ace EP, Empty Estate, for further details. I’m just devastated he didn’t play A Dancing Shell but then again I’m used to having my heart broken by boys.
9. Best non-English-singing-band
In a maverick move, both Primaveras billed some non-English-singing-bands. It’s not the worst idea - day tickets sell well at European festivals, and a straw poll revealed most of the daytrippers weren’t actually here to see Blur. Plus, none of the NESBs were Manu Chao. Nineties’ band Los Planetas are local in the geographical sense (Spanish) and were met with a crowd bent on a singalong. Their sound? Familiar to anyone who’s been on holiday to Europe: taut indie guitar-pop, overly emo vocals performed with serious discipline. They certainly lifted the slightly older crowd who waved their sparklers with gusto having long quit smoking and with it, presumably, their lighters. Still it was sunny and sheltered, and I was on my third wine so I was pretty open to it.
10. Best lighting
My Bloody Valentine.
Obvs. On a bum note, Los Planetas’ visuals reminded me of my work screensaver :(
11. Most discussed band of the weekend
This is not a cuss but I’d hazard 3/4 of the crowd knew that C86 was not a lipstick. The line-up at Optimus was excellent but niche, and Dinosaur Jnr was always going to melt its target audience. Firstly, they are old. Secondly, they look old with wizard beards and sinewy arms, unremarkable really given they’ve been playing for over 30 years. They do, however, own alt rock which you do like, even if you don’t know where it came from. This evening, as the sun went down over the Atlantic, they played songs with names like Freak Scene and Lung which are brilliant and grungy and loud and which embarrassed you when your dad played it loudly during the school run. It should also be noted, they are one of the most influential bands of our time and without them, we’d have no Nirvana. Think about it.
12. Best value drink of the festival
Poruguese lager Super Bock beer is pretty nice (and at 3 euros a pint cheap for a festival – get in, mainland Europe’s economic crisis). But it’s not as nice as the perfectly warmed, subsidised Douro (2 euros) in the VIP tent.