Festival Estéreo Picnic: Day 2 – Gorillaz in the hills

By Oli Pritchard March 25, 2018

Gorillaz     Photo: Mattew Valbuena

On day two of Estéreo Picnic, the big guns deliver an exhilarating performance.

Saturday is the superstar day. It has the strongest lineup by a long way and the night is no disappointment. Not everyone delivers, but those that do really deliver. Gorillaz demonstrate yet again why they’re considered one of the finest live acts around and Colombian colleagues provide some great support.

Ondatrópica are exactly what a festival needs as the night falls. The party starts here and everyone’s up for some dancing. They’re a leftfield choice, very traditional, but that’s a perfect booking for this time of day. De La Soul are late, but they’re on fine form. Defying the years, they put in a strong show. They’re all obsessed with the sides of the crowd – demanding that one side then the other cheer ever louder.

Related: Estéreo Picnic: ‘dancers writhe about behind her like charmed snakes’

Kali Uchis is a diva, and she manages to captivate the second stage with a confident and assured show. She’s set for big things, even if the sound is a little off. It’s a good spectacle, but a shame her voice doesn’t fully come through on the microphone.

Mac Demarco is a bit like a soft version of Mogwai. That’s always a real plus. It’s stoner music, and we wouldn’t condone the use of marijuana, would we now? Still, the low-key strums and mini walls of sound really keep the feeling ticking over before the big boys get to the stage. A good filler band for a bit of relaxation.

Bomba Estéreo are one of Colombia’s best ever bands. Before they come on, messages flash up on the big screens urging us to reject presidential candidates that ignore the environment. As the lights come on and the band are laid bare, they rip straight into ‘fuego’. With singer Li Saumet whirling about in a beautiful yellow coat, it seems like this will be a festival highlight. Sadly, it’s downhill from there. Maybe the stage is too big, but there’s something flat about the performance. Sporadic applause rings out, occasional bursts of dancing, but the crowd aren’t in this.

In the smaller tent next door, a smaller band are giving a bigger performance. Dengue fever is lethal, and Dengue Dengue Dengue are absolutely killing it tonight. This is a real Latin party – sensual beats provoking unrestrained dancing. The crowd pulsates and writhes.

With the party rescued, we move expectantly towards the climax. Gorillaz don’t disappoint, either. Damon is 50 today and he’s in the mood to put on a good show. Crisp, clear beats roll out and the entire audience comes together. Fuck. This is it. This is what festivals are all about – 50,000 people all in one mood, all in one feeling, all dancing and screaming and swaying and clapping and shouting and whirling around in ecstatic joy. The feeling is mutual up on the stage, with seemingly everyone coming out to do a turn with Damon, from Kali Uchis to De La Soul.

Gorillaz are a band that stay relevant, and although we get some classics at the end, the first hour is just new stuff, including a brand new song. After that comes a rendition of happy birthday for macy and the sound guy. After that, a kid is dragged out of the crowd to parade his giant glitterball on a stick that has Albarn transfixed. This is a consummate performance from a true headliner. Right now, the ticket has been paid off three times over.

As the fireworks go off and people start the long lonely trudge away from the now-empty stage, there’s still more to come. Bonobo are on the third tent, and they provide a smaller, intimate alternative to their bigger cousins the Gorillaz. It’s perfect. Big walls of sound interspersed with more ambient sounds provide a comedown cushion after the excitement of the main stage. By the time the set is over, we take the long walk to the long bus ride with happy hearts.