Down in Lagoa de Albufeira, Sesimbra, Portugal there is a festival that ruptures the landscape and scars it for 3-4 days courtesy of screaming guitars, bifanas and thousands of followers of Rawk! Yes, I went to SBSR this year, and it was a triumph musically. There wasn't a lot of out-and-out rock at the festival, but the atmosphere was perfect even if the organisation of the event seemed to have been done by a 5 year old. For example: The dust factor, sanitation, space and ticketing still need reviewing, massively...But now onto the music (excuse the quality):
The legendary Slash played with his "pub-band" of old-rockstars, and cranked out some favourites but also brought us some new licks. The audience from 15 year-olds to 50 year-olds were all pleased.
Lykke Li surprised me. Her graceful, poppy but darkly tinged songs sent most audience members into a deep trance as the night swayed onwards into morning.
Elbow were also a very-well placed addition to the festival, providing the happy calm before the storm (SLASH!). It was the bassist's birthday, which seemed to bring a more jovial tone to even the darkest of songs (Grounds For Divorce, anyone?) Guy Garvey was so sincere, and according to my friend Saskia: "Fat and ugly but [someone she'd] shag". He actually waved to her, so she might be in luck! Oh, and Portugal, please love this band they actually ARE amazing, and highly regarded. Portugal, please learn their songs for the next time they arrive on your shores.
The Artic Monkeys swaggered with as much confidence that was bearable, a great band, but why oh why do they not improvise live? Nevertheless, these guys rock. It's strange how the shy boys from Sheffield have transformed so much. They've sold more records than Rihanna so hopefully they can save the world from her.
Portishead showed us their back catalogue of happy nightmares. There was a wonderful fusion of hard-industrial percussion, against and melodic yet jarring vocal. They ended in tearful thanks-you's. Clearly their songs have a huge impact on them and their fans after all these eventful years. One day trip-hop will re-emerge and blow dubstep out of the water!
Beirut brought us all back to the "old-country" with his fusion of crooning and bolshevik tales of yore. Fantastically simple, Beirut and his band managed to get the Portuguese crowd swaying and dancing (an achievement in itself), but deservedly so. The fact that their is an accordion and a trumpet in every song just doesn't get old, really! However what is annoying is if a guy plays "Elephant Gun" at 6.30am near your tent (you know who you are!!!)
I've always felt The Strokes were fixated with the 80's! The light installations of "Pong", "Tetris" and "Space Invaders" cemented their intentions: they want the 80's back! They performed brilliantly, and Casablancas charmed the crowed with his seemingly-drunken wit "I can't remember the damn lines, their signs are distracting me!" To top this they even jammed, a rarity, definitely. Their guitars were tight and deserved to finish the festival. Better still, they didn't pander to whining and pleas for an encore. How "rock n roll" can you get?
Ok, so Arcade Fire aren't exactly rock, but they rocked! It's hard for me to define their work, (which is actually good and shows the potential of the band musically). Undoubtedly, Arcade Fire's performance was EVERYONE's favourite. They have approximately 100 members onstage at one time, so it was clear to me that they enjoy feel-good family environments. This is what they created at a festival where post-pubescent, yet still strangely teenage tourists and locals vainly attempted to mosh to "Ready to Start". It just wasn't going to happen (not with a drummer holding a teddy bear and dancing with sashes) and I'm glad, the music was heard, the crowd appreciated them and the feeling was mutual and their performance was unashamedly epic. That is what rock music is about, not hitting each other because your dad didn't buy you a Playstation or because your girlfriend broke your heart.
2011 Superbock Superrock. Done. Thanks for all those who rocked. Now let's go and bump n grind down at TMN Sudoeste, no?