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Vagos Open Air, Portugal | FESTIVALPHOTO

Vagos Open Air, Portugal


Vagos Open Air had its first edition on the little town of Calvão, somewhat close to Aveiro, and by a quiet lake. As one arrived on day one, the parking was not too difficult, and already all the tents were up in the camping area, right by the water and full of shade. The stage was set up on the local dirt soccer field, so no shoes were left clean at the end of the day. Almost everybody was happy about the cheap beer and relatively cheap food (the lack of variety on the latter was a negative aspect, though). The facilities need to be improved though, if the festival means to grow over the years: more toilets, more sitting areas, more food stands. Spraying a bit of water over the ground a few hours before the shows would help with the amount of dust in the air as well. The merchandise tent had DJ's playing music all the time, which made it a place for a lot of people to hang out in. Everything seemed to be in the right place for the shows to start.

Day 1, 7th August
Portuguese band F.E.V.E.R opened the festival on time, with a very competent performance, with a very unique sound, and good presence on stage. Another portuguese band followed, Process of Guilt, who delievered their doom/death metal music under the heat of a summer afternoon. This was probably not the ideal setting for such a concert, but they didn't disappoint at all, as it is usual. The sound was perfect, and even though they do not represent the most participative band regarding the public, everybody always gets a thrill watching them. The spanish band Kathaarsys was given about half an hour to show what they were capable of and, not being the most brilliant show of the festival, they handled it well.
As the first headliners prepared the stage, more and more people gathered near the stage. Epica were apparently the band with the largest audience for the day. They entered on stage with good energy, and Simone Simmons had great presence, and her voice was flawless during the entire show. The band started off with Obsessive Devotion and went on with songs like Consign to Oblivion and Menace of Vanity, which caught the public's attention, no doubt. A very concise, competent concert.
Katatonia was undoubtedly the band with most involvement from the public present, and the general opinion is that they were in fact the band of the fest. No introduction is required for the swedish band. Renkse was very communicative with the audience, which was clearly enthusiastic about it. A lot of songs from The Great Cold Distance were played, and from previous albuns the number of songs were fairly balanced, even though tracks previous to Discouraged Ones were neglected. Voices were heard in the crowd during classics such as Teargas, I Am Nothing and Deadhouse. The sound didn't start out properly, Jonas Renkse's voice was a bit too low, but as the show progressed, the sound improved, making it such a wonderful show to watch.
A large number of people awaited The Gathering to go on stage. Nevertheless, it suddenly seemed like a somewhat too soft of a band to be closing the first day of the festival, especially after an energetic Katatonia concert. The band hadn't been in Portugal since Anneke van Giersbergen left, so expectations were high on how Silje Wergerland would do on stage. Not that the audience was unpleased, they just seemed to be lacking the flame felt on other The Gathering concerts. A lot of people actually left during the show, but those who stayed to enjoy it were given a lot of songs from the new The West Pole album, and classics like Leaves, On Most Surfaces, Saturnine, etc. The dismissal seemed a little cold for some people, but that's because the band was intending on doing an encore, but weren't allowed to, due to schedule imposition.

Day 2, 8th August
Immediatly on arrival it was obvious there were a lot more people at the venue. Two more portuguese bands opening on this day, this time starting with Echidna, who gave a well balanced show, as it is already known of the band by the portuguese audience, and a lot of people were already by the stage to see them. Thee Orakle came next, dividing some opinions, but they put on a good show, even if with sound deficiency in the beginning, which improved as the show went by. Dawn of Tears, from Spain, had a great response from the public, showing that on day two “party time” was starting much earlier. The reaction of the crowd watching was actually so enthusiastic that the band seemed surprised, and at the same time pleased, delivering an energy and presence on stage that showed they were really enjoying it.
Cynic were given more time then what they are clearly used to in most festivals, and could almost play their entire two albums. This was actually commented by Paul Masvidal during the show. Cynic is one of those bands that divides an audience. Maybe not the ideal for festivals like this, since they almost seem to have either the fans or those who find their music dull. Noone can deny their musical and concert quality though. Those who enjoy the band absolutely loved it, shivered with it, that technical prog/death with jazzy influences. Those who didn't, went to grab some dinner. Having played almost every song they have recorded, songs like Evolutionary Sleeper, How Could I and Veil of Maya stood out. Given that, there was no question on how the band connected with the public, how honest and giving they seem on stage. Also when they later joined the fans on the merchandising tent, chatting, taking pictures, giving autographs, they proved to be a band very much in touch who those who really appreciate their music.
Swedish band Dark Tranquility was one of the most awaited of the evening. They hadn't been in Portugal in a very long time, and therefore a lot of people came to VOA especially for them. Mikael Stanne was very energetic and charismatic, always speaking to the audience and keeping it on its toes. The crowd responded and the band really seemed to be enjoying the atmosphere. Some of the songs that enthralled the audience were Punish My Heaven, Misery's Crown and Freecard. On the first one though, a song they have been playing live on every show for the past twenty years, they actually made a mistake (it has been speculated whether it was intentional or not), Stanne joked a little about it and they took it from the beginning. Mikael even left the stage on two occasions to greet the audience closely, on My Negation and in the finale, with Terminus. Those who came here on purpose for Dark Tranquility, left feeling it was worth every cent.
With Amon Amarth the number of people at the venue seemed to have reached its peak. Everybody seemed anxious to see the swedish band on stage. Horns and plastic swords were raised to welcome them, as the first notes of Twilight of the Thunder God were heard. The crowd was extactic. Johan Hegg took over the stage and the audience, showing what a frontman is supposed to be. Powerful songs followed, one after another, moshpits and headbanging all around. Hegg was extremely communicative, looking like he was enjoying what he was doing, and even learned how to swear in portuguese. The audience seemed pleased with that. The synchronized windmills by the guitarists and bassist were quite a sight as well! The band played both old and recent themes: old ones such as Victorious March and Death in Fire, and recent ones like Guardians of Asgaard, The Pursuit of Vikings and Twilight of the Thunder God.

Overall, the festival has almost all the means to grow. For a first year, the number of people present was more than satisfactory, the bands played great concerts and everybody was clearly happy about the general atmosphere. Very positive balance on this one, we will be anxiosuly expecting what's to come next year!

Writer: Mariana Sousa Santos
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