It was the first weekend of June and summertime should already be hitting the shore of Matosinhos beach. However, the chilly wind still raised some eyebrows and a few hats.
“We are gonna get rain again this year,” some of us cursed, recalling the first Primavera Porto Edition in 2012, when pouring rain broke down the main stage, canceling a show and sending home a lot of heartbroken festival-goers.
This is the exact spot where the Douro River meets the Atlantic Ocean. The birthplace of the (in)famous Port wine and the ‘francesinha’ (bread served on a plate with egg and a mixed filling of whatever meat you can find, although you can find an exquisite veggie version also, topped with melted cheese slices, a delicacy everyone should try at least once in a lifetime).
This is the neighborhood that welcomed Primavera Sound – Porto Edition for the third time, Thursday to Saturday, June 5th to 7th. Three days of pure music and gathering for music lovers, still makes this event unique in Portugal, regarding the quality of the bands and of the surrounding area.
As in the Barcelona counterpart (QRO recap), regarding its main audience, the Porto festival welcomed mainly Brits, Italians, French and, of course, Portuguese, making this year a bit less effective in ticket selling than in previous years.
Troika effect, or maybe not.
The headliners weren’t that popular? They hadn’t put out a brand new record in a while? The last minute change and corporate fusion of the main sponsor’s name?
Come on! Pixies? Ok, brand new album, great rock comeback and trip down the nineties memory lane, but nothing new there, really.
The National have been touring for almost two years now and Caetano Veloso had already shown Abraçaço at the Lisboa Coliseu earlier this year.
Newcomers like Courtney Barnett and HAIM saw their efforts pay off with huge crowds and positive reactions, strongly underlined at the local media.
Also local acts like Os Da Cidade and You Can’t Win Charlie Brown made their way through rock legends like Television, Pixies, Lee Ranaldo, and soul giant Charles Bradley quite grandly.
We started the second day at NOS Primavera Sound at the ATP Stage, to take a look at the atmospheric psychedelics of Follakzoid, just long enough to approve their rising tunes, before heading off to Midlake.
As in Rodrigo Amarante the previous day, choosing Midlake showed perfect to watch the sunset as the rain threat finally ended up not happening at all, and everyone could stand attentively and warm wide open towards a great band and a great set list for a perfect day ending.
The crowd was still lazy as the multi-instrumentalist Jesse Chandler also pointed out how lucky we were the skies weren’t pouring over our heads. Married to a Portuguese lady and speaking fluently in our mother tongue, he introduced the band and the lead singer Eric Pulido made jokes about not being fluent as his band mate.
“We Gathered In Spring” (as in the festival) played as the crowd celebrated the happy coincidence in the song and the moments passed on to great memories to come.
Next to ATP, where we would witness the legendary Television perform. The main reason of this Television tour is the integral performance of the classic and revisited album Marquee Moon. The band members grow old, but the guitar riffs are eternally young, conquering the crowd, although some breaks between the songs would cut the vibe for some, who eventually headed up to Warpaint, at the main stage.
The LA girls Warpaint had a quite cold performance. Only “Undertown” brought some warmness to a quite lethargic performance, probably due to playing in daylight on such a big stage and not so many people.
The Bowie cover “Ashes to Ashes” sent some chorus up in the air, but a too long and not fortunate version of “Elephants” ending the performance lost us and we decided they weren’t very inspired on that particular day.
Slowdive at the Super Bock Stage had a very consistent performance. Sonic atmosphere, much similar to Mogwai and their disciples, Explosions in The Sky.
Great timing to check out the also newcomer Courtney Barnett, at Pitchfork stage. The Aussie young rock star presents herself with a Bruce Springsteen attitude, surrounded by a natural charm and simplicity that only a natural could exhale.
Making time to Godspeed You! Black Emperor (GY! BE), we headed out to ATP stage where the band took some time to step up front.
Minimalist at first, the violin player opened the set and led the way to the rest of the Canadian band, for the next hour of sonic post-rock instrumental melodies, long and enduring, sometimes tense, other times longing and intimate.
The crowd easily got into a trance, and the performance was one of the most intense and epic of the festival.
We had planned to only stay for one song, but realizing that just one song lasted for 40 minutes, when we left, the Pixies were already high and charging full speed on hits, back from the golden days of punk and surf rock in the nineties.
The importance of being the Pixies led Frank Black and friends into a too much relaxed performance, in a way that you could feel that he was more on an agenda than giving out his best to really charge the audience with great energy and make them have the time of their lives.
A very positive remark to the mythical drummer David Lovering, who made the honors in speeding up the rhythm and sending us memories of how the Pixies sounded like back then.
The new album Indy Cindy (QRO review) convinced but not exactly blew our minds.
The importance, weight and quality of the Pixies’ songs saved the show from being boring, as the tunes everyone knows and talks about leaded to a small party among the most enthusiastic fans.
The Pixies were still on and still 40 minutes or so left for Trentemøller to start at Super Bock stage and the fans were already gathering at the front.
The Danish musician and multi-instrumentalist brought his inspired electronic to Porto to an exhilarating performance. From the smooth hit “Miss You” to the Pulp Fiction-inspired “Silver Surfer”, he still presented the audience with a great show from his band members and set, covering The Talking Heads and The Cure’s samples.
Great set, super strong tunes and the energy flowing all over the Super Bock for an hour, was all it took to get everyone ready for Mogwai, next at the main stage.
The Glasgow-born post-rock band came back to Portugal for a very inspired performance. Explosive tunes for an hour and ten minutes of pure bliss, as they met the crowd in a single experience of beautiful songs and total devotion to what was happening on stage.
Probably for the second time (only predeceased by GY! BE) at this Primavera Edition, the crowd wasn’t lingering in conversation or distant from the performance. Instead, the band and the audience formed a unique force of communion, gathered around the sonic adventures of these veterans, who are always more than welcome at an indie rock festival like Primavera.
You get to fly high in space, in a storm of sounds and images that keep following you for days after the show has ended.
“Take Me Somewhere Nice” summed it up.
And that closed the second day for us.
-words: Carla Ferraz
-photos: Jayne Yong