The Flaming Lips explode with sensational showmanship at Optimus Primavera Sound

Optimus Primavera Sound 2012 review

published: Mon 18th Jun 2012

The Flaming Lips

Thursday 7th to Sunday 10th June 2012
Parque Da Cidade, Porto, Portugal, Portugal
75 euros
daily capacity: 30000
last updated: Wed 9th May 2012

Another sunny day, and another festival appearance for Yo La Tengo. They look a bit bored, and don't really seem to take off, despite opening with 'Cherry Chapstick' and having a die-hard and surprisingly youthful fanbase at the front. Today brings the first sighting of the Palco 4 stage, a smaller stage that is housed in what looks very much like a car park. This area has zero personality, and the sound here is also less than charming.

The War on Drugs
The War on Drugs assist the techs by playing through a couple of numbers while the sound channels are clipping madly. Their material is excellent, Pettyesque in patches, and it seems a shame that they should have to play to a crowd who seem a touch too cool for school to actually enjoy them. But they do, in this shed of a stage, and when they finish, a few people go to the bar, but no-one flinches. Polite applause and little more. As I said, a shame.

On the main stage, Rufus Wainwright and his team of crack musical mercenaries run through old and new, with Rufus quipping that he won't get any action from the surfers on the beach. They aren't nocturnal, he says with a sigh. Porto loves him though, and he thanks them by running through Hallelujah.

The Flaming Lips
The Flaming Lips make Rufus look staggeringly bland inside thirty seconds of their arrival. They've picked girls from around the site and dressed them up like milkmaid cheerleaders. They have confetti cannons, streamers, lashings of smoke and lights, bam and thwok, and Wayne gets into his little inflatable hamster ball and rolls around the crowd in it. We aren't even four songs in, but the sensational showmanship remains unmatched for the next two days.

Black Lips are a much more rock and roll proposition, a real gang who love what they do and who play their songs with the joy and vigour that only the real rebels can muster. They are Rock and Roll, in this here car-park-shed-stage.

We're fortunate to catch the last two songs of the Codeine set. Codeine do what their name says they'll do. They make reality as we know it vanish for a few moments with bass heavy slowcore rumblings, and are beautiful and menacing at once. Their lead singer looks like the sort of man who has a secret graveyard in his back garden, but would help an old lady cross the street.

Wilco
Our last band of the night is Wilco, and they are almost unrecognisable from the band I saw seven years ago. They've taken on the modern Neil Young vibe very seriously, and physically Jeff Tweedy has become a little more portly as middle age approaches. They lean heavily on their most recent album early on in the set, which is no bad thing, but at times it feels like we're watching a band taken out of hibernation too soon. They almost throw the right shapes, and sound terrific, but there's a bolt loose somewhere in their live dynamic. They're a very different Wilco now, and whether they are good or bad almost seems a moot point.

They're fascinating to watch, because something is faintly amiss outside of the music, and every action hints at reparation. No-one is carrying another member musically, but watching them is like riding in a car with a worrying rattle. Unless you can get under the hood, you'll never know what the problem is.
review by: Thomas Perry

photos by: Thomas Perry

Thursday 7th to Sunday 10th June 2012
Parque Da Cidade, Porto, Portugal, Portugal
75 euros
daily capacity: 30000
last updated: Wed 9th May 2012


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