We arrived in Lisbon after fifty six hours of travel and whilst we intended to see as much as Lisbon as possible, the main reason for choosing to come here was so that we could attend the Optimus Alive festival.
I have never been to a festival before and following a rather bad experience involving a near riot with Dexys Midnight Runners (who remembers them?) when I was about sixteen at the Top Rank night club in Cardiff, I do have to confess to being very wary around crowds and I have actively avoided concerts or gigs for most of my life. I should add here that I was not involved in the fracas but was an innocent teenager caught up in the middle of a large mob who were out to cause trouble. The police were called and my hazy recollection is that it was like something out of the Wild West – I just wanted to escape from the cave like venue but was trapped with hell breaking out all around me.
Anyhow, I digress.
The Optimus Alive Festival had some great names playing, the weather was almost guaranteed to be good and I have never been to Portugal before so those were good reasons to attend.
Queuing in the sun was good-natured with people from across Europe rolling up. It was good fun trying to work out the language and the nationality of people but it was even more fun eavesdropping on the young things trying to chat each other up, with English as their second but their common language.
BF had attended Glastonbury just the week before and could provide some useful comparisons. I won’t bore you with a long post about the festival but will bullet point the main events and performances . But in a future post be prepared for more intricate details about the main events and attractions of Lisbon.
Greenday – these were beyond awesome
Of Monsters and Men – these did not have one of the headline slots and were in the Heineken tent but attracted a good audience at the beginning of their set. We had places quite near the stage – by the end of their set the tent was rammed and they were fifty deep outside right back to the food stalls. Judging by the camera shots I think that their popularity took everybody by surprise but that was not surprising as their performance has so much energy it attracted everybody to it
Biffy Clyro – was it so very wrong to drool over young men who give such a physical performance on stage with no tops on, dripping with sweat and covered in tattoos and artwork (move on quickly here cos I feel another of my hot flushes coming on)
Brass Wires Orchestra – not sure how to describe this band but they were fantastic and Portuguese with the large crowd behind them they performed a loud, exciting set – BF described them as sort of like ELO with a bigger brass section
Wild Belle – The female lead of this band had a touch of Amy Winehouse about her voice and I will certainly try to download some of her music when I get chance
Two Door Cinema Club, Sterophonics, Jurassic Five, Phoenix – all quite enjoyable
There was not so much choice of food as at Glastonbury but there was a large, communal area with tables and benches and they served a rather good line in a Portuguese dish called tachadinha porco – spicy pork pieces served with onions, sauce and rather bizarrely tiny sticks of crisps in a bun. They also cooked and served farturas – giant churros, piping hot and rolled in cinnamon and sugar. For just one euro and eaten hot they provided the perfect energy rush.
Heineken were one of the sponsors which was a pity as both me and BF far preferred the local beers – Sagres and Super Bock which were not present inside the venue, but luckily for us, a LARGE tumbler of very decent red wine could be purchased instead for just two euros. Maybe it is not cool to drink wine at festivals but hey, when in Europe…! never once saw any trouble or even any voices raised in argument, the weather was hot and dry and therefore there was not the mud that seems to be inevitable at UK festivals.
Our accommodation in an apartment was just ten minutes walk from the venue and Guida our host could see the stage from her bedroom window. She provided us with food for breakfast everyday, helped us book our onward tickets to Lagos (the website was in Portuguese), took us on a quick guided tour of her neighbour hood and got us cheap bus passes, printed out the tickets at her local library and even drove us to the bus station at 7.45am on her day off. There was just one funny incident – when she first showed us around she asked us to ensure that we kept the bathroom door closed as her cat would get in – we assumed to drink from the toilet. Guida was very vague about what the cat might do but we found out when I accidentally left the door ajar in the middle of the night. I was first up – it seems that the cat prefers to use the bidet rather than her litter tray and there curled up in the bowl was the very smelly, very large poo! Oops!!