Well, what a funny little beast you are Nos Primavera Sound (NPS), eh? We had three days of festival fun times to be had in this short weekend of music stretched out over just three days and here we finally have a small review of what it was like and what you can expect if you ever want to go there yourself in the future.
Okay, so it’s not like a festival in the strictest sense of the definition because there’s no camping and we’ll come back to that later, but for now let’s talk about the location and the line-up.
Porto is a wonderful city and the location of NPS next to the sea makes it a must for those organised types who can handle going to the beach all afternoon and then nipping back to the hostel for a quick change, before running in to the fields for the night time entertainment. Obviously, this was too much for us and we spent most of the weekend going between the hostel and the festival site (and also to an England game) in taxis (which at the time were really cheap, but probably not now, thanks to the Brexit turmoil ((you stupid Leave voters))).
The food on offer is varied and you should definitely try something called a Francesinha.
It’s pretty much a layer of bread, sausage, ham, steak cheese and tomato in a tasty beery sauce. Very handy for those late night pangs of hunger.
The line up as you can expect from a small to mid-sized festival (approx. 30,000 attendees) was varied yet dusted with a sprinkling of some top, top stuff. PJ Harvey stole the show and cemented her position as the biggest name there with a beautiful stage show that ebbed and flowed from the poetic to the thunderous to some sing-along classics from her large back catalogue.
Other notable bands were Sigur Ros, Beach House and Air, although the kind of music that they play, a wishy-washy, breathy mix of minimal power didn’t really do the expectations justice and left an empty feeling. One wondered if they could have been put in a tent or somewhere more atmospheric instead of letting their wistful tunes being lost in the open ether. Unfortunately, this seemed to happen far too often and the scheduling had a fair few people scratching their heads.
If you are going to program bands in to a system, then surely your goal is to take the audience on a journey, gently turning the heat up with every performance. If you peak too early, then everything before that seems just a little bit… flat, which is exactly how we felt after some strong shows by people like PJ Harvey and Mudhoney, we were left bored by bands such as Beach House and their dreary take on music.
Luckily on the Sunday the organisers got the balance right and put Air on before Moderat. With their French meanderings in to electro pulp, Air had one or two belters up their sleeve such as Kelly Watches the Stars and Sexy Boy, but it was in the minority, with the rest of their set just a dreamy, spacey cloud of random sounds and whirrings that would have been more suited to a safe zone in a rehab clinic.
Thankfully, by the time Moderat set themselves up, they managed to reach down and pick you up in their deliciously tub-thumping tunes and left you wanting for more. The beats were dancey, the music was loud and they woke the crowd up and carried us to a higher place.
Aside from the mixed bag of program timings and scheduling, the festival was cute enough with plenty of choices to eat, clean toilets, custom shops and sangria galore. But, if you come from a long line of music festivals with camping, you should expect something quite different here.
The energy between the festival-goers themselves was friendly, but it lacked something. You don’t camp at the festival and at times, as English speakers in a majority Portuguese crowd, we felt a little alienated and at a distance to talk or make conversation with others. You come together, stay together and then leave together, seemed to be the order of the day, with most people coming early in the evening and sticking with the friends they already had. We felt it lacked a little camaraderie, a little togetherness. In this respect, it’s more like a series of one day concerts, than a music festival.
Would we come back? Probably…
Th music was good enough and the ticket price is fantastic for what you get on offer. There were some real gems to be found in the early performances and White Haus have certainly got themselves a couple of new fans, but if you come expecting something more akin to the larger festivals of Glastonbury, Latitude and Bestival where the act of meeting people and exploring is just as important as the music, you could leave a little disappointed.
Best Bands of the Weekend – White Haus, Mudhoney, Moderat, and the absolute best being PJ Harvey
Biggest Disappointments – Beach House, Sigur Ros, Air
Best Quote of the Weekend – “Are Beach House still droning on about their toaster or kettle or whatever?”
Do Say – “Obli-fucking-gardo!”
Don’t Say – “Do you know where we can buy something a bit harder?”