Saturday, July 28, 2012

Optimus Alive 12, live @ Passeio Marítimo de Algés, Lisbon - Part 2 (July 15)

In the second part of our Optimus Alive '12 coverage, we are presenting our favorite performances from July 15th, the sold-out third day of the festival which drew approximately 55000 people, most of them there for Radiohead’s first appearance in Lisbon in ten years.

But before we get to the festival’s big event, here are the three performances that really made my day that Sunday:


Once again, my favorite performance of the day was not on the festival’s main stage, but took place early in the afternoon at Palco Heineken, the smaller stage at the opposite side of the site.

A quarter past seven, just as they finished setting up their equipment, Warpaint kicked off their 45-minute set with an intriguing, groove-heavy new tune sung by Theresa Wayman who was kneeling on the floor, tweaking her guitar’s effects pedal for the most part of it. It was the first of just a few new songs that the band had in store for us, whetting our appetite for their upcoming album, but as expected it was the familiar older material from "The Fool" and "Exquisite Corpse" that elicited the loudest applause.

The fluid bass and drum rhythms provided by Jenny Lee Lindberg and Stella Mozgawa form the strong backbone of Warpaint’s intricate song structures upon which singers Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman add their perfectly combined guitar melodies. The results are truly mesmerizing and tracks like "Bees", "Composure", "Undertow" or the extended version of "Elephants" captivated the audience who rewarded the quartet with enthusiastic cheers. With such inspiring performances, Warpaint should soon find their own place on the main stages of festivals like this.

The Kills

The Kills also played at the festival's second stage, but the bravado of Alison Mosshart’s and Jamie Hince’s performance would have you believe they were headlining at the world’s largest rock arena.

Supported by a small army of drummers (ok, they were maybe three, but they sounded like a marching army) and a few gospel singers on occasion, The Kills played a magnificent, hour-long, rabble-rousing set featuring a significant portion of last year’s "Blood Pressures" LP as well as a few choice cuts from their rich back-catalog (favorite moment: "Fuck the People").

It was the last set we witnessed at Optimus (Metronomy followed them at 3 am but there was no more gas left in the tank for us) and, frankly, I can’t think of a better way to say the last goodbye.

The Kills’ complete set list from here: No Wow, Future Starts Slow, Heart is A Beating Drum, Kissy Kissy, DNA, Satellite, Baby Says, Tape Song, Last Day of Magic, The Last Goodbye, Pots and Pans, Fuck the People, Monkey 23.

Mazzy Star

Mazzy Star played at Palco Heineken an hour before Radiohead’s headline slot at Palco Optimus (you guessed it, palco means stage) which meant that as their set progressed the audience began to thin out. All the better for me, of course, as I was able to get even closer to the stage and enjoy a better view of Hope Sandoval’s and David Roback’s band performance that took place in near darkness, with most of the light coming from the images projected in the background.

It’s been 19 years since the last time I had the opportunity to enjoy Mazzy Star live and for approximately an hour the band managed to take us back into the '90s with a masterful, slow-burning, psychedelic performance that included material from all three of their albums (with "Blue Flower", "Ghost Highway" from "She Hangs Brightly" and "Fade Into You" and the title-track from "So Tonight That I Might See" being my personal favorites) as well as a couple of new tracks ("Lay Myself Down" and "Flyin' Low") that leave the promise that the magic can continue in their highly-anticipated new work.

Mazzy Star’s set: Blue Flower, Disappear, Ghost Highway, Halah, Still Cold, She Hangs Brightly, Look On Down From The Bridge, Fade Into You, Lay Myself Down, Flyin' Low, So Tonight That I Might See.


I have to admit I have a rather unusual relationship with Radiohead’s music. I liked their debut album but lost interest with "The Bends" and I still cannot understand why the OK "OK Computer" is considered a masterpiece. Things began to change with "Kid A", as the band managed to surprise everyone with its unexpected turn into electronic-influenced, experimental pop territory and my Radiohead affiliation grew stronger with the records that followed.

Given my preference to their electro leaning '00s period, I have to say I was rather pleased to hear a live set culled mostly from the more recent material with "The King Of Limbs" having the lion’s share, although I suspect that the favorite part for most fans came closer to the end of the 90-minute performance, when they brought out the '90s big guns: "Climbing Up the Walls", "Exit Music (For a Film)", "Lucky", "Paranoid Android" - especially this one, and the closing  "Street Spirit (Fade Out)". Undoubtedly, Radiohead gave a solid performance which was enhanced by an elaborate light show, but the decision to not broadcast it on the video screens (they were used to display arty flickering images) made it rather difficult to follow what was going on on-stage and as a result part of the connection that a live show should create between a band and its fans was lost for a significant percentage of the large crowd.

Radiohead played: Bloom, 15 Step, Morning Mr. Magpie, Staircase, Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, The Gloaming, Separator, Pyramid Song, I Might Be Wrong, Climbing Up the Walls, Nude, Exit Music (for a Film), Lotus Flower (with "Sun" Intro), There There, Feral, Bodysnatchers. Encore 1: Give Up the Ghost, Reckoner, Lucky, Paranoid Android, Everything In Its Right Place (with "The One I Love" intro), Idioteque. Encore 2: Street Spirit (Fade Out).

Caribou, live @ Optimus Alive '12 (July 15)

Other notable performances of the festival’s last and most full day included Caribou’s intelligent dance-fest at Optimus Stage, The Maccabees’ highly energetic britpop and SBTRKT’s Sunday night fever party at Heineken Stage, and Carbon Airways’ electro mayhem at Optimus Clubbing Stage that sounded like Crystal Castles gone disco.

The Maccabees,  live @ Optimus Alive '12 (July 15)

Watch below Warpaint performing "Composure", Mazzy Star playing their biggest hit "Fade Into You" and The Kills killing it with "Tape Song" at Optimus Alive '12:

Optimus Alive '12, day 3 playlist featuring Warpaint, Mazzy Star and The Kills

Click here for our coverage of the first two days of the festival.

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