Optimus Alive 2014, festival review

 

Lisbon’s Optimus Alive festival is fast becoming the alternative for Brits wanting to travel further afield for a cheap and sunny festival experience. Like Benicassim, a Brit-orientated lineup and cheap tickets allow fans of the UK-chart acts to escape V Festival to enjoy a sun-filled holiday by the sea and a varied festival experience.

The first day kicks of with 50,000 fans coming to enjoy the port-side festival facing a tough choice between The Arctic Monkeys and Kelis. The opening bars of ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ sway it for the Sheffield band who play a 5th album-heavy set.

Frontman Alex Turner, sporting his trademark slicked back hair and leather jacket, keeps interaction with the crowd to a mongrel-faced minimum. Offering only a couple of begrudged “obrigado's” between songs,  he goes on to dedicate 'I Bet That You Look Good On the Dance Floor’ to “the girls”.

While most call out for songs from the first album, only a few are thrown in including  'Dancing Shoes’ and ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ that keeping them in good spirits while ending with 'R U Mine?'

Earlier in the day, Temples drew crowds to the Heineken Tent and delivered a set showcasing their retro-rock splattered debut on the most balmy of summer evenings. An ideal backdrop for the cherubic four-piece, it is the psychedelic twangs of 'Answer is a Question' and 'Shelter song' that are the hypnotic favourites.

The highlight of Thursday came from Interpol though, who delivered a tight set with sharply dressed frontman, Paul Banks in fine voice and playing a perfectly balanced set of old and new including ‘Evil’, the brilliant 'Take You On A Cruise', and 2004's single ‘Slow Hands.’

On Friday it was Sam Smith who played the best show of the night. Aside from the diva belts on “No Money hon My Mind' and ”Lay Me Down“ it was a surprising cover of The Arctic Monkey's  'Do You Wanna Know?' - performed as a gritty R'n'B slow jam - that made for the biggest hit of the set.

There was little enthusiasm for The Black Keys headline set on Friday. Two months after the release of their moody album 'Turn Blue', Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney played their honest Americana rock with expressionless riffs and growls that only “Tighten Up“ and single ”Fever“ could muster up a blues-stomping reaction from the clock-watching crowd.

As Saturday crept in, most of the crowd arrived late to the site after sweating out hangovers on Lisbon's beaches. Healthy-sized crowds formed for SOHN and War on Drugs while Bastille played their hits “Bad Blood” and “Pompeii” on the mainstage with the most gruelling cover of Blur's “Song 2” anyone will ever hear.

Saturday belonged to The Libertines though. Fresh from their Hyde Park show, Pete Doherty and Carl Barât continued the reformation in high spirits.

As the first buzzing guitars and snares of “Vertigo” kicked in, it was clear the band hadn't lost their touch. The frenzied crowd crushed forward on “Time For Heroes” with John Hassall’s basslines and Gary Powell’s punk-rock beats providing a basis for Doherty and Barât's duelling riffs. The loose electric guitar strums and throaty vocals ended the festival in a united singalong to a battery of hits: “Up The Bracket”, “I Get Along” and “The HaHa Wall”.

Still something of a fledging in it's 7th year, Optimus Alive has everything that UK festivals could offer but more- the holidaying location, low cost and an incredible lineup which make the festival unable to ignore for an option for UK festival goers next year.

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