This was the first edition of Vagos Open Air I had the pleasure to attend; after chatting with some friends that attended the past edition it was noticeable an evident increase in the number of audience this year, perhaps the cancellation of two other summer metalfests may have contributed in some way. Vagos Open Air is a relatively recent fest (located in a small town 90km south of Porto), being this their second edition which received aproximatedly 9500 people.
We arrived just as the Portuguese thrashers Prayers of Sanity were starting to play, but there was only one queue for both accreditations and buying the tickets so we waited on the outside during their whole performance. The heat was almost unbearable which complicated things as the venue was outdoors on a dusty football field; anyway, the place was incredibly large with enough beer and food stands and a tent for merchandise, autographs, massage and after-party.
Later on came the stoner rock of Miss Lava which goes along just right with the heat being felt and a cold beer in our hands, luckily the place had some benches where people took refuge away from the sun.
Along with the Portuguese band Gwydion came “viking/folk time” Ophiusa style with a little bit of dust, mosh and flying beer; the singer was very communicative with the audience.
Then came the Finnish Ensiferum with their first appearance in Portugal, they had quite a solid performance despite some problems with the amps and Petri’s guitar. Themes such as “Bleed”, "Lai Lai Hei" “Bleed” “Fretless” and “Twilight Tavern” hipnotized the audience, making a grand finale with “Iron”.
Night fell and the place was already filling up for the two main bands of the night: My Dying Bride and Meshuggah.
My Dying Bride
It’s been 8 years since the last time they played in Portugal. Their sound was pretty good and clean; Aaron’s performance was theatrical and passionate as always and as it should be. One surprise was to see Dave Gray (Akercocke’s drummer) playing instead of Dan Mullins. It seems an injury got him substituted during this tour. (Obviously) he did a pretty good job.
They started with some tracks of the new albums, with the new lineup on bass and violin.
The other surprise of the night was to listen to themes such as “Like Gods of the Sun” and “The Dreaful Hours” since they were not on the setlist they have been playing in their last concerts.
- Fall with me
- Bring me Victory
- The wreckage of my flesh
- Turn loose the swans
- The whore the cook and the mother
- Like gods of the sun
- Vast choirs
- She is the dark
- The cry of mankind
- My body a funeral
- The dreadful hours
The Swedish machines played with a delay, but when they entered the stage they unloaded their blasting, brutal, aggressive sound installing a wave of violent mosh, headbang and surfcrowd.
"What's wrong with this fucking world? We play since fucking Jesus was born, and yet we never played in Portugal...what the fuck!?" will be certainly a sentence every Portuguese fan will remember.
They played songs of the last two albums like Stengah, Straws Pulled At Random, Bleed and Pravus. (Some may say their setlist wasn’t enough diversified, somewhat repetitive). Anyway this didn’t stop metal madness among the audience during their time on stage. Some other songs they played were Rational Gaze, Mouth Licking and Future Breed Machine.
The day started with The Firstborn, some technical problems made the band lose some time, but despite this initial inconvenience they gave a good show. They played Illumination of The Five Realms and Flesh to the Crows, from their last album entitled The Noble Search (which I strongly recommend). The lead singer of Process of Guilt joined the band as guest vocals during one of their songs.
Later on, the Finnish Amorphis played at dusk starting with some recent tracks such as Silver Bride, House of sleep, Silent Waters and From the Heaven of my Heart without forgetting old school classics. The new lead singer has a strong and dynamic posture on stage, everyone sang the songs and headbanged to the sound of “Alone” from Am Universum, “The Castaway” from Tales from a Thousand Lakes, “Against Widows” from Elegy; ending with the great “Black Winter Day”.
Some sound problems damaged the beginning of their performance (especially in Khan’s voice); still, excellent interaction with the public, settlist, stage presence and back vocals.
- Rule the world
- Ghost opera
- The great pandemonium
- Center of the universe
- The haunting
- When the lights are down
- The pendulous fall
- The human stain
- March of mephisto
With almost 35 minutes of delay due to problems with the projection in the sound booth and some comic episodes during the sound test thanks to an excellent imitation of cookie monster: “cookies are good, chocolate is better!” by one of the rodies.
"A body is committed to a public mortuary. Any victim of sudden or unexpected death will be brought here for a post-mortem by a pathologist; their job is to establish the cause of death. But sometimes a body is unrecognizable. Then it is vital, especially if murder is suspected, to establish identity..." the Impropagation Intro echoed through the place,and so it began…Carcass finally entered on stage and immediately discharged with “Corporeal Jigsore Quandary” (everyone went nuts!) among others like Buried Dreams, No Love Lost, Reek of Putrefaction, Keep on Rotting in the Free World, This Mortal Coil, Heartwork and closing the festival with Carneous Cacoffiny.
At first the sound wasn’t very promising, we could not hear the guitars well and there was a lot of vibration especially on the bass, but the sound improoved by the 2nd song; meanwhile Jeff reminded the audience the last time they played in Portugal was 16 years ago.
But the most touching moment was when the band paid a tribute to former drummer Ken Owen, whom, many of us know, lost plenty his motor skills when he suffered a stroke in 1999 and has been fighting since then for fully recover. Ken came on stage and presented us with a short drum solo, moments like this make us admire the willpower to never give up for what we really love.
Resuming, this Vagos Edition we could see that there’s still much to be done, the fest is still growing, evidently the organization was concerned with some past aspects and they made a big step improving the quality of the place incorporating more facilities and comodities for the people whom attended; so it seems future editions will be even greater and will gain more notoriety at a national level. Vagos Open Air is now a “mandatory stop” for every festival-goers in Portugal.