Oporto. Or as we say correctly in Portuguese, just Porto; if we started adding random “O”‘ to the names of cities let’s start with New YorkO. A city filled with traditions that we all appreciate when coming, from the “Francesinha” that recently saw the death of its birthplace the restaurant “Regaleira” to the traditional Portuguese accent from this part of the country. Both are attempted in Lisbon but only in Oporto you can find the good and original one! However we are here to discuss NOS Primavera Sound which happens not only here as it does in Barcelona. However the pride goes all to the Spaniards, that although not liking it, still are so, even if the festival spreads “Created in Barcelona” and not “Spain” everywhere around it, something that was just confusing for the Portuguese audience.
Picking up the culinary topic above, we can go straight to what matters, who gave the best gastronomic concert? Well, inevitably Casa Guedes with their Pernil (special part of the leg of the pig) with Queijo da Serra (special cheese from the interior North of Portugal) makes obviously a very special food that you can buy for only five euros! Big emphasis for the word “only” since the beer was costing 5euros per almost half a liter, a murderous scandal that almost prohibits the consumption of alcohol by Portuguese people. So if one drinks and eats normally for a seven-nine hours a day festival, it’s impossible to leave without a 40 euro bill spent. Moreover, the cost of the ticket and accommodation makes what one would expect to be a “cheap” festival ends up costing more than 100 euros a day, which still, due to the low ticket price of the festival is still very affordable (when compared with festivals with the same kind of lineups); not for the pockets of the Portuguese youth though.
We were not blessed by the Festival with a Photopass and so the use of the camera was limited to what I could see with the naked eye, while taking mental notes and trying to enjoy at the same time. One thing is for sure, “Press people” forget often that enjoying is part of the festival, even if working, and this is why we practically only have here pictures of two concerts, Father John Misty and Yellow Days. Why these two specifically? Well We are big fans of both that’s for sure, but they did not have the best performances of the whole festival, that’s for sure. However they were lucky enough to play during the daylight and without rain, perfect conditions for photo-taking!
So now that You know Porto’s traditions, gastronomic guides and working conditions we can start talking about music and what is this Festival bringing to the table differentiating from the competing others. First of all one has to recognise that is always tough to be the first mainly when speaking about Summer Festivals. Unpredictable situations have more tendency to happen and the weather usually does not help as much and those two factors can lead to a lot of mud and less opportunities to enjoy the nature as it should be. The venue, Parque da Cidade, is definitely one of the best Iberian locations to host a festival, independently of the weather conditions. Half grass, half concrete, many hidding places that turn bathrooms useless for man, open spaces where smokes don’t mix and great panoramic views to the river when the sun is setting.
The lineup this year was very interesting to say the least. Many names that were coming for the first time to this corner of Europe with many hopes of conquering our hearts as only the good ones do, as well as some returning names already favourited by our audience. Great highlights of the three days other than rain, Casa Guedes and the whole environment of the festival that led for a peaceful event along the three days with the 30k people always hanging out just fine, even if the age gap was sometimes bigger than a couple of generations, were obviously the concerts.
The two main attractions for us the first day were the Portuguese squad with Fogo Fogo opening the doors of the festival at 5pm, after having some beers with me at 3.30pm and discussing the relationship of trees between each other and legends about wild mushroom picking. At the time they promised me that the rain would stop as soon as the festival would start with their perfomance and that surely happened. A Party-Concert that made everybody feel very welcome in the festivity of life! After them, the other Portuguese assurance we had was Moullinex. I also had the honor of getting to talk with him for a while before his show: his confidence, humbleness and constant strive for learning motivated me to follow this project of sharing with you this kind of people that more than musicians actually have a cultural and societal mission of being good people! His promise: “My concert is going to be THE party. I’m not afraid of Tyler The Creator, more than having a different audience I believe many will remain loyal to Disco!”. To be completely honest, after two Tyler songs I could not hold anymore and ran to enjoy almost fully his concert even though if I am going to see him many more times, because he is the Portuguese Disco God and we should aaaaalll praise him! And because it was much more fun!
Other than the National product, FJM did not WOW us nor surprise us, keeps being depressive and beautiful although repetitive; Lorde should have only sang “Tennis Court” since all she released after that is just shouting-commercial-shit-pop and finally Jamie XX gave us the perfect closure for the stages before Drum Motor City Ensemble killed us all at 3am in Primavera Bits.
The second day however was filled of high expectations. Yellow Days opened the best Stage of the Festival (Pitchfork) in a very intimate show where he performed his first (and adored by everyone) EP “Harmless Melodies”. However it was Thundercat that completely broke this stage with his 6-string bass and his 6 fingers hand (there is no way his hand has not 6 fingers to play like that). A complete demonstration on “How to Master an Instrument” by this crazy soul that keeps doing just very Funky/Jazzy Acid music. Unknown Mortal Orchestra gave what all the hipsters thought was the best concert however they were playing at the same time that A.$.A.P Rocky and so this time I had to go. There will be many other opportunities to see this band love but not to see one of the G.O.A.T. Rapper. I wasn’t to sober and that is exactly how I wanted to be in a concert with a power to take over your body and soul and transform it. The stage presence, the passion, the whole directing act behind it and of course his music made of his concert one of the best I have ever seen putting him just below King Kunta.
The last day had very specific bands that touch our heart. For example the Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever that I won’t extend much what they did nor what they have released recently because it’s all HERE. Two other names that we really wanted to absorb live were Public Service Broadcasting that just give you the perfect soundtrack for a full-on cinematic experience. Their show ended perfectly with a good amount of rain pouring on top of “Everest” while the crowd embraced it as never before. Before them we were warmed up by Meta-Meta a Brazilian Acid Jazz group that has just one of the most curious sonorities even for the ones that are used to this type of jive from the South American sides. However after PSB we went to the main stage really not ready for what was about to happen. I know that many of the people that read the article thus far now perfectly who Nick Cave is and what his Bad Seeds can do when he is leading them towards immortality. However seeing this live is just one of those “Once in a lifetime” things that MUST be done. Mainly if you are actually a music fan because what he is doing there is not only the exercise of it perfectly aligned with literature as well an organic creation that ends up being just “Living Poetry”. That is what I considered that concert. Honest “living poetry” done by a man that has too many stories to tell. The proof that he was not only Human but a representative of God (whatever that is) happened when he started to control the rain level according to the intensity needed for each song. Yes, this happened.
However, and already in a conclusion note, the best was actually still to come. The rain intensified and prepared us for a War On Drugs. I was in the first row of this concert turning backwards to the stage and someone thought I was just too fucked to be there at the point. However this concert struck me right in the feels and I just answered to that provocation with “There are concerts, rare ones, that You don’t even need to see to experience the “live” part of it”. I was just looking at everyone’s face in the crown not believing that they could be seeing something even greater than God. The songs were played perfectly, the emotion was always there and he almost never spoke with us and finally, he did not even play “Thinking of a Place” the most wanted hit, proving that he does not need to play what we want to gives us more than that! Almost unanimously the best concert of the Festival. As well unanimous, Best Festival of This Summer so far!