Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Reverence Festival- Valada, Portugal (Aug 27-29th, 2015)

This was the 2nd edition of the Reverence Festival in Portugal. The festival is held in a small town about 45mins from Lisbon called Valada. There is a really beautiful river park at this location and the festival site is just amazing. The festival site is very similar to last year but they moved the stage that was by the river on the first day into the site and reversed the direction that the stage was last year. It will cause some really crazy noise pollution when the sounds of the Rio stage and the Praia stage merge near where all the food, merch and other wear vendors are.  Actually the had a DJ in this area which only made it even more crazy. No real need for that at all. Anyway, we missed the first band Luna Mirada (UK) but were in time to meet up and hang out with my Spanish friend, Javi and his girlfriend. Such cool people.

Beautify Junkyards
Beautify Junkyards was an interesting band with both male and female vocals, and the musicians all except the drummer and one guy, were all switching instruments around. The bass player also played acoustic guitar and keyboards, the male singer, played keyboards, bass and percussion and the female singer also keyboards and singing. IT was spacey music with some sound samples, cool synths, and guitar looping on one track but all the songs were 3-4 mins so nothing ever developed into anything. That was a bit disappointing. Some of the songs were in English and some in Portuguese.

Another Portuguese band, Galgo was next and we all quite liked this four piece band.  The bass and drums were very repetitive and with the two guitars having that 80’s droney, spacey guitar quality.

Chicos de Narzca from Chile was one of the best on this day. The singer had a very stoned style and the three piece were a bit like early 90s Sundial sometimes.  The guitar took really long solos when not singing. Sue said the singing was like an 80’s UK band called the Only Ones.

Chicos de Narzca
Purple Heart Parade from the UK had some great songs and they started off the show with what seemed like a really cool jam. They had a mix of sort of more mainstream rock songs and ones with a lot of cool guitar and freakouts.

Purple Heart Parade
The Vickers (IT) was quite a strange band. The singer looked a bit like a very tall version of Syd Barrett. Sue did not like them and I had a hard time getting into their strange 60s inspired songs. We were really tired so we missed Keep Razors Sharp (PT pop psych) and Jeff the Brotherhood, an American Duo.
The Vickers

Day 2 (Aug 28th)

Bom Morido
 IT is hotter today and about 30C with a light breeze. Very nice in the shade. We start off with a beer and hear the first band on the Praia stage called Bom Marido. This is a young 4 piece PT band that sang in Portuguese also. They had a female drummer that was quite a contrast in look to the others in the band. The music was sometimes dreamy, other times quite noisy rock. They did not play for many people and were right in the direct sun on that stage. 

Brahma Loka
Now, we walk down to the Rio stage to catch Brahma Loka from the UK. This band was a mixed bag for me. I get a bit tired of this dreamy shoegazer guitar style that too many bands seem to have in this scene but they had a good variety of mainstream rock, dreamy psych and a really killer jammed out track at the end of the show. They said they had a new EP out.

FUZZ, were a young PT band who played quite a mix of styles. Some of was really punky and the singer just did not have the voice for this but then he strapped on the guitar and they really had some cool rocking songs. He seems to be a much better player than the rest of the band who played very basic on their instruments. I spoke to them and they were cool people. They have some small releases on Bandcamp.

Dead Mantra
Now back the RIO for Dead Mantra.  This four piece was from France and played a mostly melodic dreamy guitar riffing psych with lots of guitar effects but riffing, not real rock guitar solos, which I like. They seem to build up during their set and the end was really cool and intense while other times I was a bit bored. IT was nice that bands were given at least 40mins this year, as 30mins was just too short. They were also really on time for nearly every single band, which was great…

Novella was a nearly all female band (4 girls, male drummer) that played pretty uninteresting melodic dreamy rock music. Several of them shared vocals and one had a small keyboard as well but we did not like them much. Stoned Jesus had the largest crowd we had ever seen at the RIO stage, this year or last year. It made me think there must be more people at the festival this year but I think it was less actually. The people at the local café and restaurant said they were sure there were more people and business last year.  

Stoned Jesus
Anyway, Stoned Jesus has a new album out since when ØSC played with them back in 2013 in Copenhagen. They started off with Electric Mistress and then one from the First Communion EP and then I am an Indian, I am the Mountain (people loved this one), a few new songs and the crowd was really into it and they played a great set. Igor had a few problems with one of his pedals that he blamed on the heat, which could have been the issue for sure. They got a great response and we really liked the concert as well.

Set List: Electric Mistress, 1st EP song, Here come the Robots?, Indian, I am the Mountain, Black Church?, ?

Grave Pleasures
Grave Pleasures features some of the members of the Finnish band Beastmilk, the female guitar player from the short lived band, The Oath and a UK singer. They were all dressed in black and playing in the direct afternoon sun and sweating loads.  They played pretty straightforward Heavy metal rock and roll but no guitar solos despite having two guitar players. We did not like them much; they just had nothing new or interesting to offer for us.
The Warlocks
The Warlocks from Los Angeles were really cool.  They had played in Denmark a few times but I had never seen them. Their songs were fairly long and slow building into these great walls of sound. I don’t really know how else to describe them but it was a good show. These 40mins shows go by really fast though.

Process of Guilt
            We went and got some food so we did not see the Cheetahs. Next band for us was Process of Guilt on the main Reverence stage. Now they did not have any more bands on the RIO stage until 2 in the morning. This was a sort of Industrial metal with two guitars, a noise-sample guy, drums and death metal vocals. They were intense but we were not too into it.

Los Waves
Los Waves was another young PT band, which all their songs sounded like they were ripped off from other bands. Sue said that was a Smith’s song and then they did a song that was nearly the exact music to All along the Watchtower but the guitar solo part was replaced with a cheesy keyboard… They were nothing new at all and seemed like a cover band nearly.
Bizzara Locomotiva
Bizzara Locomotiva was a super cool PT industrial band in the vein of Ministry. Really awesome look to this band, huge powerful sound and vocalist and a great light show. We were really blown away by them. Wow….
Black Rainbows
Next up was a band I was so much looking forward to, Black Rainbows from Italy! I really love their last two records and they did not disappoint! Just think of a more jammed out and psychedelic version of Fu Manchu and you have Black Rainbows..! They played a great set with Hawkdope and the jammed out Black to Comm two of the highlights. Sue said they were the best of the festival.  We loved it. Awesome.  Alcest had already started on the main stage when Black Rainbows were finished. This is a mostly instrumental band from France. Some of the music is a lot like soundtrack music for dark films and other times very prog rock. They were excellent…  
Ufomammut were next on the Priva stage and the only concert we saw with visuals. They had set up a screen behind the drummer and had to project from the back, the logo was reversed on the screen. They had a totally massive sound and the visual were cool but I was disappointed in the set list. I have not heard the new album and the one before I did not like nearly as much as the amazing, xxx LP. Anyway, I am guessing this was mostly new stuff. The crowd was into it and it was still pretty heavy and psychedelic.  
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion was playing on the main stage when we got over there. I had never heard this trio (two guitars and drums). For the first half of the concert, he would say Blues Explosion at the end of every song. A bit cliché after a while. Anyway, what a fucking band. These guys have amazing chemistry and every song was like a loose crazy old 50’s rock and roll blues jam session but somehow it all held together into songs. I really dug them.  
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Next up was DeWolff, a young Dutch band. I reviewed their first 1-2 records but never seen them live. They are a three piece with drums, guitar and Hammond organ. They are having a lot of fun and in their own way, a bit like Jon Spencer, in that they try to interact with the audience a lot and there is great interaction between the three players with lots of solos. They were really fun. In order to not miss any of SLEEP, we had to leave before they finished.

SLEEP was just massive! Wow. Killer sound and just, wow… They totally delivered the goods and blew everyone away. No idea what the set list was. I think they played the new song though. Mike did a few more solos than last time I saw them.  We were too tired to stay which was a real pity as the there were so many awesome bands later this night including, Ancient River, Electric Eye (Norway), Blown Out (a BONG off shoot band), Saturnia, The Blues Drones and the Sunrise Jam Session with Saturnia. I heard that Saturnia and Blown Out were just amazing and people liked Electric Eye also.
Day 3 (Aug 29th)

It was really hot today, much hotter than the day before. Up to 35C. Even in the shade you were sweating today and you have to drink a lot of water along with the beer. They had run out of large cups (3€, 500ml ) so you had to order the 200ml beers for 1.5€. Someone said they just wanted to make more money. I doubt it… Anyway, we showed up a bit later and missed Celica XX and Jennifer.
Jaguwar from Germany were the first band we saw and they were in the direct sun, the singer guitar player dressed in black jeans and black shirt (big mistake). Dave from Electric Moon said they really had problems due to the heat and the female bass player was mentally confused as they were dehydrated. We hung out in the shade and there were not too many people to see them play their version of Sonic Youth. Noisy poppy guitar rock… Very intense drummer.

The Altered Hours
The Altered Hours, were probably from the USA, not sure but they had a female lead singer, two guitars, bass and drums and played mid tempo indie psych rock with a bit of Velvet Underground like feel (especially the first track that the one of the guitar players sang). Neither of us likes the female singers voice. Don’t get me wrong, she was a good singer, just not the kind of singer we like.
Fast Eddie Nelson
Fast Eddie Nelson, was a PT trio playing straight up blues rock with slide guitar on about half the songs. This was a nice change but they never really jammed anything, all the songs were like 3-4mins. A nice change.  Fast Eddie Nelson was not that fast on the guitar. Not sure how he got that name???

The Spectors
Specters were another quite noisy four piece rock band with two strumming guitars (no leads to speak of) with loads of effects. We neither liked nor disliked them really but their songs really did not take us anywhere or excite us.  The sun has been quite brutal the last few hours so it was time for Ice Cream. Not sure why but we missed Miranda Lee Richards and the next band we saw was Samsara Blues Experiment. I went up to the stage and said hello to Christian and thanked him for send me his latest solo record, which I had just reviewed. Really good stuff. Anyway, Christian was just in the “zone” today and played amazing guitar solos. What inspiration he had. They played few old songs and a few new songs and it all went down really well. They were for sure the best band of the day so far. The PT crowd really loves the stoner rock. I think Nick should try to get a few more of these bands down like Colour Haze would be a great headline band for next year. Gas Giant has reformed again in Denmark, Black Moon Circle from Norway, etc.…
Samsara Blues Experiment
We went and had some Bacalhau (traditional dried cod fish dinner) with red wine and potatoes at one of the local restaurants.  We could hear The Jack Shits playing on the Praia stage. They sounded like high energy rock and roll. They even played the old Them song, Gloria! We also missed 10000 Russos and the Act Ups, so I don’t know what they were like.  

Joel Gion
Joel Gion and Guests was a huge surprise. I talked with the keyboard player-guitarist later and found out this was a sort of Brian Jonestown Massacre side band. Joel was a funny guy and this was apparently his songs played but the big band of 7 people. A lot of acoustic guitars, some female vocals at times. A very diverse set from country, to west coast 60s stuff to hard jamming psych rock. The mellotron instead of organ was a very interesting twist as well. Really cool…
One Unique Signal
One Unique Signal, were a young band with three guitar players and this was pretty damn cool even though there were no real guitar solos (just some noisy freakouts). This band had a huge wall of sound that was like Spaceman 3 and a less noisy version of the Heads. The singer sang just like the Heads at times and Sue said it reminded her of Joy Division.  Very powerful stuff. The 2nd to last song was totally hypnotic and like 15-20mins long. Great stuff.
Sean Riley and the Slowriders
Sean Riley and the Slowriders played an eclectic set of music from country to blues to psychedelic rock. He spoke Portuguese to the audience, which surprised me as he looked American and sang in perfect English. The crowds at the main stage were all quite small today with rarely even 1000 people I would say. Less people today than yesterday. Echo Lake cancelled and were replaced by Chicos de Narzca from Chile, that played the first day. They were a young three piece that played some cool stuff. The lead singer, guitarist did a lot of long solos and sometimes they sounded like Sundial, the more melodic tracks, not the harder psych stuff.  Pretty good…
Echo Lake
On the way over to Amon Duul II, I ran into my friends Dave, Lulu and Marcus from Electric Moon. They had set up a merch table and were just hanging out. They were here a bit last yesterday Dave said but we never saw them.  Amon Duul II I had seen twice before and I have always liked their concerts even when people did not at Sweden Rock and Roadburn. To me, they still play this really spaced out psychedelic rock and channel that 70s vibe. They have weird, strange songs and a very special female singer but if you like their records, I think they still really pull it off. Just great players and awesome chemistry. A very good crowd and they seem to really like it. The band was having a great time as well. The heat had really worn us down and we were not going to make it for more bands today. They played an excellent set of their classic songs, Arch Angel, Surrounded by Stars, a killer jamming version of Eye Shaking King and others. One of my favorite concerts of the festival…. Great choice to bring this band to Portugal for the first time.

Amon Düül II
Anyway, that was it for us. The headliner on this night was a band I have never heard of called the Horrors. Later were Electric Moon, Magic Castles, Dead Ghosts, Ghost Hunt, Sunrise Jam and something called Acid Acid at 5 in the morning! Congrats to Nick for pulling off another great festival. Amazing festival site, great sound on all stages, some better food places (Especially the vegan food stand, where a lot of English people seem to hang out), cheap good beer, lots of shade, etc.…   My fave bands were Black Rainbows, Amon Düül II, One Unique Signal, Samsara Blues Experiment, Bizzara Locomotiva…… lots of great performances though..


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  2. hi scott! we met in reverence valada festival in the altered hours show if im not mistaken and we talked for a bit and then you gave me a card with the name of your bands and blog. so i checked it out and i most say i was blown away especially by oresund space collective, it remind me a bit of ozric tentacles, really cool stuff. it was nice to know man cheers and congrats for your work. i hope to see you next time on upcoming reverence edition