Yesterday was the second and last day of Vodafone Mexefest. Before Daughter, I wandered around through concerts of the Portuguese Ciclo Preparatório and The Lazy Faithful. The former sounds a lot like another Portuguese band, Pontos Negros, without their vaguely-reminiscent-of- Strokes punch - which is too say they don’t rock my boat. The latter sound like a rock band from the 70s. I liked the attitude, they just have to find a sound that’s actually their own. They all seem very, very young, so I guess they have time to do that.
Before I went to Daughter’s concert I though the British band sounded like the music equivalent of a narcoleptic. My opinion remains unchanged. The vocalist was all giggly and shy, constantly uttering “thank you” like we were doing her a huge favor and she just wanted to disappear. She said it in a really tiny, fragile voice that was highly hilarious (and sweet in a manner).
Their sound is fine and soothing, but also bland. Let’s just say the gig didn’t suck in my memory, and when recapping the concerts I watched that night, Daughter’s was the only one I didn’t remember immediately.
Next was Erlend Øye. São Jorge was full to receive him. His songs were simple and diverse. He explained he is recording with an Icelandic reggae band (Iceland being probably the country I would rank the least likely to have a reggae band), but they were too expensive and so he just brought Victor, a flautist he met back in Berlin in his The Whitest Boy Alive days.
The crowd took Victor in, and each time he went out or back in, people cheered “Victor, Victor, Victor”. Never heard such enthusiasm for a guy who plays the transverse flute and clarinet before. Erlend is now based in Sicily and brought along Maurizio, a man who Erlend describes as someone who “cannot speak English, but can play the guitar and smile”. When the audience found that Maurizio could speak a little Portuguese (with Brazilian accent), the crowd treated him to the same cheers they had previously reserved for Victor.
Keeping up with the nordic trend, Øh Land was next. Being a little girly pop kind of thing, Øh Land is kind of a guilty pleasure of mine, especially her song Rainbow, which used to come up on one particular radio station I listened to. She was energetic and fun. The venue was the terrace of a train station, with a beautiful view over Lisbon. Her backing vocalist had the most beautiful smile.
The night ended with an assortment of Discotexas projects at the Coliseu. We heard the last two musics of Da Chick (awesome voice and vibe, but if she keeps asking “what’s up bitches?” I swear to God…). Then, Moullinex - I love the energy of his songs - the beat of Take My Pain Away is playing in my head right now. And finally a DJ set by Xinobi which was far from bad, though the night was already fading, and many the crowd was either tired, or drunk, or high, or a combination of the three.
P.S.: Erlend saw Savages and the last chord of the Wavves. He played that last chord in his guitar. It was a very fine chord he thought.
Yesterday I went to the first day of Vodafone Mexefest, a music festival that takes place on several venues along the Avenida da Liberdade in Lisbon. It provides a really remarkable concentration of young hipsters talking excitedly about how they’ve of all those bands before anyone else.
Márcia, a pop-folk Portuguese singer, was the first concert I went to. It felt cozy, with her charming music and voice. Samuel Úria with whom Márcia collaborated, both on her and his albums, made a guest appearance. He stumbled on the lyrics of a song he himself composed for him and Márcia to perform. But then again, his lyrics are always very hurdle prone. And beautiful, if you know Portuguese. I would say he’s one of our best lyricists nowadays.
António Zambujo also showed up for the last couple of songs, while I went to secure my place at the Coliseu to see Savages, the post-punk band that actually convinced me to get the ticket. A Savages concert is quite an experience, as one drowns in the exquisite voice, the drifting guitar and the powerful bass lines. It was powerful and uplifting in a dark weird way.
Next we moved on to Wavves. The vocalist drank straight from a bottle of whisky or something, prompting an audience applause, and retorting: “really, that’s what you’re excited about? my alcoholism? it’s a really depressing thing in my day-to-day life.” He thought Savages was very very good, first time he saw them. Now he was sure, because he wasn’t on mushrooms this second time. Then he asked if street-cocaine was good or mostly fake (“it tasted a little bit real”), and told an anecdote about buying hashish on the streets of Lisbon (“the guy just took a bite out of a ball of hashish and gave us the rest”). So many drug references packed in so little time, but you know, as he later protested, their slot was a short one (“Only ten more minutes? Fuck your ten minutes” or “I’d like to play a little more songs guys, but I can’t”).
The concert was not off to a great start: the room was tiny, with awful acoustics, the guitarist broke a string before the show even started and neither his monitor nor his mike was working. The band leader Nathan Williams didn’t really know the playlist and much less the song titles (“who the fuck cares anyway”), and his teeth hurt. Still plenty of crowd surfing*, a drunken peaceful stage invasion by some guy who wanted to sing with Nathan. The spirit was right, even if the sound was wrong; good careless, fun and fucking cool rock & roll melodies are a dying art.
The last concert of the night was Woodkid. He’s a videoclip director turned musician, and his show is definitely very scenic, with movie projections and long-fetching lights. Two drummers add to a pompous beginning. It’s all a little too much. By then, after a long work day, I start to get tired. The songs are a little tiring themselves. They sound very similar, because they never get down from their grandiloquent pedestal.
The never ending encore was the best part, as people started to get involved and got past that dreamy-mesmerized phase into clapping and jumping. But all in all, I was already dying to go home, get a good night sleep - because today there’s more.
* One guy started to crowdsurf in between songs. “You lost your chance” said Nathan. The audience suddenly felt stupid and dropped him on the floor. He fell quite badly.