Wednesday, November 11th 2009
Shows: Maquinária Festival 2009
Ever since Faith No More reunited for a European tour earlier this year, fans around the world have been anxiously waiting for Mike Patton’s most beloved project to come around. We were especially rabid here in Brazil where I live, given Patton’s affection for the Country, and fluency in Portugese.
As other South American tour dates were popping up, keyboardist Roddy Bottum promised via Twitter that he would eat a plate of his own feces if our “beautiful land was skipped on the tour.” And sure enough, the news finally came that the 2009 edition of the Maquinária Festival would be headlined by Faith No More, alongside Jane’s Addiction, Deftones, and the Brazilian bands Nação Zumbi and Sepultura.
Another festival was scheduled for the same day: Planeta Terra, which would feature Sonic Youth, Primal Scream, Maximo Park, The Ting Tings, and Iggy Pop & The Stooges. While I would like to see Iggy live some day, the overall line-up of Maquinária seemed far more attractive. Though I did not attend the second day of the festival, which is hardly worth mentioning (Dir En Grey, Panic! At The Disco and Evanescence? No thanks).
Taking place at a huge grange in the city of São Paulo, the gigs started early: at 3PM, under a very hot sun, Nação Zumbi took the stage, before barely 200 people had even entered the grassy field of the festival. A bit too early, some might say, but the few people attending were enjoying in Nação’s very energetic and groovy performance, with full-blown drums that made the tents nearby shake. The set was solid, with a nice mixture of songs that spanned their entire career. Lead singer Jorge Du Peixe dedicated the song Inferno to the hellish heat that was taking place, and ultimately the set was a great start to the festival.
After a short break for an independent band to play the MySpace Stage across the field for 30 minutes (this happened between all the gigs, but none of the performances at that stage were particularly noteworthy), Sepultura took the stage with an array of new songs from their A Clockwork Orange-themed album A-Lex, opening with the appropriately titled Moloko Mesto. While the tour is commemorating the band’s 25th anniversary with a kick drum skin that said “1/4 of a Century,” it was hard not to remember that the band onstage was in fact 1/4 of the original lineup, with the only remaining founding member being bassist Paulo Jr. Regardless, Sepultura, while a different band, was still extremely competent, able to pull all the stops with both the new and old material.
When the sun was finally making its way down, this time pointing directly at the stage and burning everyone’s backs, it was time for the Deftones to play. I’ll be honest with you: I had absolutely no expectations for their set. For all I cared, Deftones were just another nü-metal band in the vein of Korn, Limp Bizkit and Papa Roach. I cared so little that when I met lead singer Chino Moreno backstage before their set, the only thing I could be be bothered asking him was about the 2002 “nü-metal intervention” attempt to reunite Faith No More that we had to get to the bottom of. A few friends of mine (including our very own Johnny Firecloud) insisted that I should pay attention, and so I did. Boy was I happy to be wrong about the Deftones. The band was in perfect shape, with Chino Moreno providing breathtaking vocals throughout the entire concert, while the rest of the group grabbed the audience by the balls and didn’t let go until the very end. The set opened with the new track Rocket Skates, and included such highlights as Passenger (which, in its original version, had vocals by Maynard James Keenan, but Chino pulled it off barely breaking a sweat), and Hexagram, performed with Chino in the crowd for its entirety.
After another short break, after night fell, Jane’s Addiction took the stage in front of a crowd that for the most part didn’t seem quite prepared for what was coming. Sure, the fans up front were singing (or yelling) every single word of songs like Whores and Mountain Song. However, the band’s energetic performance embraced the crowd in a way no other act had. Semi-nude dancers came out onstage during Three Days to partially reproduce the cover of Ritual De Lo Habitual with Perry Farrell, and later on to do an absolutely show-stealing dance recreating the cover of Nothing’s Shocking during Ted, Just Admit It. While bassist Eric Avery didn’t really smile at all during the gig, the other three member were extremely captivating, and I have to quote some of Perry Farrell’s jokes here. Early on the show, he realized that some people on the crowd were slightly confused by his flamboyant, slightly feminine dancing (sometimes simulating he was slapping Dave Navarro’s ass), and commented “The true macho is not afraid of the gay! The macho embraces the gay. The macho fucks the gay!” The charismatic play between Perry and Dave reached a soft spot when Perry started a speech about how tough life can be: “You see, we all suffer. Even Dave suffers! You may think that because he has a perfect stomach, a perfect chest and perfect arms he does not suffer, but no, even he has trouble with love!” Dave nodded, with a sad face, while a lot of men in the crowd wished they could be forced to “suffer” the pain of doing Carmen Electra. Jane’s closed the set with an epic rendition of Chip Away, with several people playing different kinds of drums, and it was obvious that the crowd had been captivated by the fantastic set.
Of course, no matter how charismatic Mr. Farrell’s performance was, nothing could prepare us for whatever insane shenanigans Mike Patton had lined up for the crowd. After a 20-minute delay due to a strong rain aimed directly at the stage (roadies hurried to cover Roddy Bottum’s keyboard and MacBook). When the rain finally stopped, the band walked onto the stage to open with the Peaches & Herb cover Reunited. As usual, Mike Patton came in last, with a very sweet gesture to show his concerns: he was holding an umbrella.
Ironically enough, as soon as Mike let down the umbrella for the band to play From Out of Nowhere, it started pouring again, and it stayed that way throughout the entire concert- not just raining on the crowd but on the stage itself, and on the band members up front. You could see Roddy desperately drying his keyboard every once in a while with a towel (occasionally drying his head too). Honestly, I was afraid someone would die electrocuted at any second. However, the band didn’t seem even the least bit bothered by the rain, and the crowd responded accordingly throughout the entire performance, making it a point to prove to Mr. Patton that the Brazilian audiences are some of the most responsive in the world. Out of the many moments that captivated the thousands of people present (such as every time Mike talked to us… in Portuguese), one stands out the most: at the end of Just A Man, he came down from the stage and invited several people at the bar to yell “Porra! Caralho!” into his microphone. These two words can be “gently” translated into English as “Sperm! Penis!,” but their Portuguese counterparts are much more shocking. Of course, everyone laughed. While it’s moments like these that usually stand out in our memory, one can’t ignore the fact that Faith No More’s performance was absolutely flawless, and they were doing their absolute best to make their classic hits sound fresh and stronger than ever, and at the same time incorporating surprising cover songs throughout; the aforementioned Reunited, Burt Bacharach’s This Guy Is In Love With You, Tom Jobim’s Brazilian classic Ela É Carioca, and even the Olympics theme Chariots Of Fire.
Overall, it was a fantastic festival, arguably one of the best festivals of the decade in Brazil. The solid line-up of bands, with no filler whatsoever on the main stage, brought together different genres of rock music, but proved that the point of the festival wasn’t to aim at a particular niche (like many indie or metal festivals seem to do these days), but instead to just bring 5 excellent bands together. If there’s a niche for Maquinária, it’s good music.
Photos courtesy of Fabiane Fatima