NOS Primavera remains warm and welcoming

NOS Primavera Sound 2017 review

published: Fri 16th Jun 2017

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Thursday 8th to Saturday 10th June 2017
Parque Da Cidade, Porto, Almancil, Portugal MAP
100 euros
daily capacity: 30000
last updated: Thu 13th Apr 2017

Barcelona's sister festival across the border in Portugal has grown significantly in recent years with a notable rise in Brits heading to the coastal city for a festival cum holiday in one of the most friendly and vibrant cities in Europe.
 
This year's line up isn't as diverse as previous years with a definite dancer steer, headliners Justice, Skepta, Aphex Twin drawing in big numbers from across Portugal and beyond. Where previous years have seen the likes of Neutral Milk Hotel and Interpol spreading the musical net, it's slim pickings this year for indie fans - with token gestures in the form of Arab Strap and Teenage Fanclub. Even Bon Iver has upped the synth and vocoder action to completely alter the sound.
 
It doesn't stop everyone enjoying a party though, with port wine, caipirinhas and Super Bock flowing, the weather playing ball and music continuing til 4 or 5am its hard to have anything other than a brilliant time. Queues aside.
 
The beauty about European festivals is that, by design, they follow the working day and allow you to explore the wider location during the day, before heading to the festival in the evening. When it comes to somewhere as beautiful and interesting as Porto, this is a real bonus. 
 
Days spent wandering the cobbled streets marvelling at the terracotta roofed skyscraper, the endless bridges, the 10+ port cellars, trains, planes and automobiles, boats, trams and cable cars are complemented by welcoming cafe bars, record shops, lush beaches and seafood restaurants and that's before you even get to Parque da Cidade for the festival.
 
While us Brits have been hit by a post Brexit exchange rate issue and Porto certainly ain't as cheap as it was a couple of years ago, it remains way better value for money than many of its English counterparts - flights are usually around £100 return, accommodation can be picked up for as little as £50 for the 3 nights and with dinner and drinks pretty cheap, £20-30 a day spending money is doable.
 
Walking into the festival early evening you're greeted with a mackerel sky with hints of pink and purple. It instantly puts you at ease and paves the way for some beautiful gigs in a great setting. Getting to the festival on the local buses proves hit and miss - taking 20 mins one day and over an hour the next. Same is true for cabs. Your best bet is hopping on the Metro to Masthinos, where you can walk to the festival site within 10 mins.
 
As with most festivals, day 1 (Thursday) has fewer bands on the bill than the subsequent days, but it really is quality not quantity as Miguel - described by some as the modern day Prince (as in Mr squiggle not a prince) - struts his stuff on stage; Arab Strap embrace their grumpy Scottish guy persona and punctuate their dry and witty songs with some similar inter song banter; after a brilliant 2015 set at this festival, Run The Jewels are upgraded to the main stage, a very worthy move, powerful hip hop and brilliant humour proves the perfect mix for a banging set of belters. A couple of hours later and Justice up the stakes with a blinding light show and highly-charged set of French-infused electro.
 
The bus thing means that we arrive a little late on day 2, arriving just in time to catch the end of Angel Olsen's set. Olsen puts in a fairly standard performance which falls a little flat, but proves a nice way to start the festival. Over on the smaller stage, US singer songwriter Julien Baker harnesses the stage presence and vocal power of Anna Calvi while relying on that southern style twang of Caitlin Rose.
 
The ATP stage no longer exists (for obvious reasons) but ATP favourites Shellac return to what was previously the ATP stage to play a decent set of classy post-hardcore. The veteran trio have honed their craft perfectly and are a shining example of what years and years of playing live can do for a band - a faultless set.
 
Next up, Sleaford Mods bring a slice of UK punk to proceedings, timely being the day after the General Election. The angsty, in your face lyrics delivered with the wrath of Vinnie Jones, the style of The Streets and some mod undertones a la Paul Weller. Jason Williamson moves from spitting feathers about Theresa May to having a pop at Teenage Fanclub on the other stage. 'Can you 'ere that racket? That's the sound of the past and that's where it should fucking stay', he exclaims to great applause. 
 
Talking of which, Teenage Fanclub, the second Scottish group to walk the boards here, woo the mostly seated crowd on the other stage with their indie pop ballads - firmly rooted in the 90s but somehow timeless.
 
The highlight of the festival comes a few hours after the mods when Death Grips take to the stage. With the angst of rage and energy of Faithless, they draw a big crowd and lots of smiles as well as a modest mosh pit. Unfortunately, there's a bit of a clash with Metronomy so many can't catch the whole set, leaving for a dose of upbeat disco-inspired indie from Devon's (second) finest.
 
Headliners Aphex Twin are undoubtedly the biggest hitters along with Skepta and hopes are high following an epic set at the main Primavera Sound across the border in Spain. For non Aphex Twin fans, it's a fair set with an incredible light show lifting it to one of those unforgettable experiences but for more die hard fans, is a little more uninspiring, the 'hits' peppered scarcely between a wall of unidentifiable noise.
 
This year's NOS Primavera Sound has undoubtedly grown in size, with a bigger British contingent than in previous years, but it's not lost its charm - a warm and welcoming affordable festival in one of the best and friendliest cities in Europe.


review by: Laura Williams

photos by: Laura Williams

Thursday 8th to Saturday 10th June 2017
Parque Da Cidade, Porto, Almancil, Portugal MAP
100 euros
daily capacity: 30000
last updated: Thu 13th Apr 2017


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