Vagos Open Air 2015 – 1st day
Within Temptation, Amorphis, Heaven Shall Burn, Vildhjarta, Moonshade, Scar For Life
Quinta do Ega, Vagos (PT)
7th August 2015
Promoted by Prime Artists
There’s a handful of great metal festivals in Portugal, but Vagos Open Air is the one that focus on international acts (without disregarding the local ones) and reaches out to a broader, not always so-extreme audience. This year we even had Within Temptation headlining the first day, while Bloodbath had the honor of doing so on the third. And if you’ve read some of my previous articles, you might know how one of my favorite quotes is “diversity is the spice of life”.
It was precisely due to Within Temptation’s busy schedule that the festival was anticipated one hour. I don’t know why they simply didn’t swap slots with Amorphis – it’s not like they’d lose the headliner status – but in the end I was glad they didn’t. Vagos is a somewhat windy town, but this year one could drop the “somewhat” out of the sentence. And add cold. So that extra hour in the sun was more than welcome, for a change.
Not sure if Scar For Life share my opinion though. But then again, despite their 7-year-old career and 4-album discography, they’re not exactly the most popular alternative/groovy metal band around here – even if they’d got on stage at 5 p.m., as originally announced, I doubt there would be a lot more people attending their show. And then they had some sound problems, which may have (or may have not…) led singer Rob Mancini to go often out of tune, and the crowd eventually got even scarcer. It’s a shame, really.
Moonshade, on the other hand, proved worthy of V.O.A.’s stage. “A small band”, as singer Ricardo Pereira described themselves, when thanking the crowd for coming and seeing them, but with a good live posture and performance. I was at the release party of their latest EP (see here), so I knew what to expect; still, it was a positive surprise to see how well it worked in a less intimate atmosphere and before such a more numerous audience.
I was a little puzzled by Vildhjarta’s presence in this festival. A Meshuggah-like band who hasn’t released anything new in two years nor have near-future plans except for a vinyl edition of their only full-length “Måsstaden”. An experimental metal band who doesn’t even appear to play live that much, Brutal Assault in Czech Republic and Vagos itself apparently being the only dates this year. I guess that “little puzzled” is an understatement after all. But you know what? The crowd loved them! What I and many were skeptical about ended up in a big party, not only for the exquisite music but for the amusing guys who performed it. One of them – not sure if Vilhelm or Mynd – asking if we’d like some tea was kind of priceless.
But it was Heaven Shall Burn who swept Vagos off its feet. Literally. The moshers and crowdsurfers had a field day. And the screamers too, as I believe this was the show with the loudest chorus sing-alongs in songs such as “Forlorn Skies”, the Edge Of Sanity cover of “Black Tears” or “Like Gods Among Mortals”. 15 years had passed since the last (and actually first) time the Germans had played in Portugal but as soon as singer Marcus Bischoff announced “Voice Of The Voiceless”, the fans knew exactly what to do and aligned for a wall of death, with no need for further instructions. Still regarding that first show, it seemed that no one had been there. Well, almost no one. One hand was raised when Marcus asked about it, joking then with the guy in response “oh yeah, you’re old enough”. But they also had the “youngest metal fan”, a 6-year-old kid who they called on stage close to the end. The kid was a bit confused, but headbanged his long hair here and there, marking the cutest moment of the whole festival.
Amorphis‘ show was as brilliant as HSB’s, but on another kind of level – whereas the Germans exceled in adrenaline, the Finns did it in intensity. The main reason is, obviously, the nature of each band, but the fact that Amorphis were celebrating 20 years of the legendary “Tales From The Thousand Lakes” added an unmatched emotional weight. Performed in its entirety in such a flawless, heartfelt way, you even forgot that Tomi Joutsen wasn’t the singer who recorded the album. The setlist was completed by a couple of songs from the very first “The Karelian Isthmus” (“Signs From The North Side” and “Vulgar Necrolatry”) and the most classic tracks from “Elegy”.
Then Within Temptation soothed the moods down. Well, the “most metal” fans’ moods that is. The ones who liked the band were quite hyped by the pop-ish vibrancy of the Dutch. As headliners, they had enough time to promote their latest album, “Hydra”, and still visit all the others (except for the debut “Enter”, which I doubt they’ll ever play again, given the so much different style). One of the old ones was “Memories”, that Sharon den Adel said they hadn’t played in a long while and liked to dedicate to us. Among the newest we could hear “Paradise (What About Us?)”, “Dangerous” and “Covered By Roses”, and the Lana Del Rey cover of “Summertime Sadness”. No, not a metal gig, but that proverbial expression “they rocked!” was brought to life. Plus, Sharon is still able to jump around and sing at the same time without missing a note, not to mention the interaction she engages on with the crowd. So give it up, haters. It was a good show, that ended with the mandatory “Ice Queen”.
Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino
Note: we weren’t granted access to the photopit, so no gallery this year.