After a lengthy list of location changes throughout its 21 years, this year has Lisbon’s Super Bock Super Rock moving from the sandy beaches of Sesimbra to Parque das Nações, closer to the city itself.
As the new site’s four stages begin to alight in parallel to the dimming sunset, the crowds edge into the impressive surroundings originally built for the 1998 World Exposition. The EDP stage is first christened by the psychedelic scuzz of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and then treated to Perfume Genius’ seductive serenity. In black fishnets and rouged lips, his set embraces theatrical and emotive elements reaffirming the resounding success that is 2014’s ‘Too Bright’.
As the illuminated funk of Little Dragon and SBTRKT lift the EDP stage into the night, crowds fall and stumble into the MEO Arena for The Vaccines and Noel Gallagher and The High Flying Birds. One of Europe’s largest indoor arenas, this year the MEO holds Super Bock’s main stage. It’s a brave choice - The Vaccines begin their set playing to a half full arena - but pays off by the time Noel Gallagher and band begin. Their set features both High Flying Birds material and Oasis classics (‘Champagne Supernova’, ‘Live Forever’) - plus banners pleading for a reunion.
Throughout Friday, a surge of Fred Perry polo shirts, bomber jackets and imagery from ‘The Magic Whip’ swarms into Parque das Nações awaiting headliners Blur. Earlier on the EDP stage, Savages are suffocating. Removing her heels to tip toe along the railings between crowd and stage, frontwoman Jehnny Beth is all presence, screaming and jeering while launching herself into the crowd. It’s one of the stand out sets of the weekend.
As Bombay Bicycle Club indulge in a career-spanning set drenched in summery indie, crowds begin to walk across the marina in anticipation for Blur. As the crowd’s chanting of ‘Tender' resonates around the arena, Damon Albarn bounces onto the stage like a hyperactive toddler. He leaps into the crowd during ‘Lonesome Street’, sweat dripping through his green flight jacket. To his right, bassist Alex James stands perfectly posing with cigarette in mouth throughout ‘Beetlebum’ while Graham Coxon can barely look away from his shoe laces during ‘Coffee and TV’. Hit after hit, it’s an outstanding headline performance.
Thrashing their guitars whilst wearing unopened, sweat-drenched white shirts and revealing fresh sunburn, Palma Violets sit on the stage serenading the crowd to ‘We Found Love’, easing their way in to the final night. Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s soulful sound then balances out the boisterous as Ruban Nielson’s jittery dancing endears. FFS (Franz Ferdinand and Sparks) fill their set with hits from both bands, an introduction to their record released last month and even a dance routine by 69 year old Ron Mael.
Fresh from her headlining set at Glastonbury, the atmosphere building in the MEO arena for Florence + The Machine is contagious. Opening with ‘What The Water Gave Me’ amid a showering backdrop of topaz glitter, Florence Welch runs manically across the stage throughout material from ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful’, concluding with the ceremonial swapping of flower garlands with two highly emotional fans in the crowd. Encouraging bodies on shoulders during ‘Rabbit Hole (Raise It Up)’, Florence’s energy is cataclysmic as she dances frantically.
Super Bock Super Rock: now with over two decades worth of brag-worthy acts that couldn’t possibly disappoint.
Photos: Sarah Doone