Monday, July 23, 2012

Optimus Alive '12, live @ Passeio Marítimo de Algés, Lisbon - Part 1 (July 13-14)

Sights and sounds from the sixth edition of Optimus Alive '12, the music and arts festival which took place at Lisbon, Portugal between July 13th and 15th. In the first part of our coverage we bring you photos and videos from our favorite performances of the first two days of the event. The third day, which had the strongest line up of the weekend and Radiohead as the headliners, will be the subject of our next post.

Let's start with Friday the 13th; unlucky for some, but pretty cool for me as I got to see live for the second time one of my favorite new bands, the delightful Dum Dum Girls (do you remember the first time? - if not, check out here our Primavera Sound '10 story).

Dum Dum Girls (July 13th)

The Dum Dum Girls are growing up so fast! In the two years since their debut album, the awesome "I Will Be" which is already considered a classic in C.M.C.'s book, the band hasn't stopped touring and producing mind-blowing rock'n'roll. "He Gets Me High", from the same-titled 2011 EP, was the energetic start of their enthusiastically received early afternoon set at Palco Heineken, the festival's second stage, and what followed, was a well-balanced selection from their two full LPs, one track from their early days ("Catholicked") plus a taste from things to come ("I Got Nothing" from the upcoming "End of Daze" EP and "Lavender Haze").

Their performance reached its climax with a great cover of Pale Saints' late '80s obscure classic "Sight Of You" (originally from the 1989, 4AD EP "Barging into the Presence of God"). The 50-minute set included the following: He Gets Me High, Catholicked, I Will Be, Bhang Bhang, I'm a Burnout, Heartbeat (Take it Away), Rest Of Our Lives, Always Looking, Bedroom Eyes, Jail La La, Hold Your Hand, Wasted Away, I Got Nothing, Lavender Haze, Sight of You.

Other, not necessarily music-related, highlights from the Dum Dum Girls set: Dee Dee's platinum blonde hair, the incredibly cool bass-playing style of new recruit Malia (she's also a photographer and filmmaker, having directed videos, among others, for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and D.D.G.'s "Coming Down" - see also here) and the Dum Dum Girls flag that found its way onto the stage. Later on, all four Dum Dum Girls were spotted right at the front of the festival's big stage, enjoying The Stone Roses' set, while Malia was also there for Refused - great musicians and great music fans as well!

Zola Jesus (July 13th)

My second favorite performance of the day, however, was not that of the recently reformed Roses (as I've explained before, nostalgia is not my thing), but Nika Roza Danilova's late night set at Palco Heineken.

Nika, aka Zola Jesus, came onstage just before 2:00 am dressed in shades of white and sporting a feathery hoody, saying she was happy it wasn't Friday the 13th anymore. Accompanied by a three-piece band (keyboards, violin and drums) she presented a surprisingly high-energy set, involving a lot of dancing and even a daredevil climb up the stage - not at all what you'd expect from the new Goth Queen! The ace, but not as well attended as it should have been, 45-minute set relied on recent album, "Conatus", without neglecting older material. Set highlights included "Sea Talk", "Shivers", "Night" and the closing "Vessel" which you can watch at our playlist below.

The Stone Roses (July 13th)

The first and last time I've watched The Stone Roses live was a little before their break-up, at their best-forgotten 1996 Reading Festival appearance, which featured half the original line-up. If I'd had the chance to see them in their glory days, I would probably have stayed at the second stage for Santigold's performance, but since this was my first and probably only opportunity to see the real Roses in action, I made it to the front-right side of the Optimus Stage (close to the Dum Dum Girls posse as luck would have it - I wasn't stalking, honestly!) for their triumphant return.

Their warmly received hour-and-a-half set included everything that a Roses fan would like to remember from the Madchester heroes heyday, with the best ones coming of course from their stellar debut ("Made of Stone", "She Bangs the Drums" and obvious set-closer "I Am the Resurrection" were my favorites of the night) plus some of their earlier and later highlights with "Sally Cinnamon", "Love Spreads" and the sprawling "Fool's Gold" standing out. Without a doubt, a very enjoyable trip down memory lane; here's the complete set list: I Wanna Be Adored, Mersey Paradise, (Song for My) Sugar Spun Sister, Sally Cinnamon, Ten Storey Love Song, Where Angels Play, Shoot You Down, Fools Gold, Something's Burning, Waterfall, Don't Stop, Love Spreads, Made Of Stone, This Is the One, She Bangs The Drums, I Am The Resurrection.

The best of the rest: Refused (July 13th), The Antlers, Here We Go Magic, Big Deal (July 14th)

Refused, live @ Optimus Alive '12 (July 13)
From the rest of the first day performances, reformed Swedish hardcore punks Refused stood out with a roaring set at the big stage, which brought their highly respected and influential '90s material to a new audience, too young to catch them the first time around. Although I did enjoy their set, I have to admit that I'm a bigger fan of charismatic front-man's, Dennis Lyxzén, next band, The (International) Noise Conspiracy. How about getting that gang back together as well?

The Antlers, live @ Optimus Alive '12 (July 14)

The second day of the festival had The Cure as the headliners who we have seen in better days, so we decided to get some rest and prepare for the much fuller third day. What we did see and enjoy however on July 14th, was the moving, emotional rock of The Antlers, the psychedelic, melodic pop of Here We Go Magic (both from Brooklyn, NY) and the romantic, hushed guitar tones of boy-girl London duo Big Deal.

Here We Go Magic, live @ Optimus Alive '12 (July 14)
Big Deal, live @ Optimus Alive '12 (July 14)
Coming up in part two of our Optimus Alive '12 report: Radiohead, Caribou, The Kills, Mazzy Star and Warpaint (not necessarily in that order).

Meanwhile, watch below a playlist featuring "Sight Of You" by Dum Dum Girls, "Vessel" by Zola Jesus and "Waterfall" by The Stone Roses:

Optimus Alive '12 playlist featuring Dum Dum Girls, Zola Jesus and The Stone Roses

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