Most of us are familiar with the mournful lyrics and melancholic melodies of Fado; the folk music which evolved amongst the sailors of Lisbon in the early 19th Century. But like any 21st Century European country, Portugal has a thriving and exciting contemporary music scene – and heading to a festival is the best way to dip your toe into what’s happening.
NOS Alive Festival – Lisbon, Portugal
NOS Alive is the biggie on mainland Portugal – it’s also the most accessible, with a line-up of big international names: the Arctic Monkeys, Pearl Jam, Queens of the Stone Age, NIN, CHVRCHES, Eels, At the Drive In, and MGMT (if you like a nice bit of synth-pop, their new album Little Dark Age is excellent). This year’s festival runs from 12th to 14th July 2018:
But for me, the big events like NOS tend to overshadow the more interesting smaller stuff – the events that try to showcase the music that’s being created in Portugal right now.
Tremor Festival – Sao Miguel, Azores
March sees the fifth Tremor Festival on the Azores island of Sao Miguel, running from 20th to 24th March. Launched in 2014 by Antonio Pedro Lopes as a one day event based in Ponta Delgada, Tremor as grown into a three day eclectic mix of indie, electronica and psych:
It’s a really strong line-up this year with over thirty performances across the island – including sets from Dead Combo, Mykki Blanco (careful with Mykki- he’s NSFW) and Bleid:
OUT.FEST – Barreiro, Portugal
Bleid was also on the bill at last year’s OUT.FEST in the industrial city of Barreiro; south over the Tagus river from Lisbon. The long-hand title for the festival is the ‘International Barreiro Exploratory Music Festival’ – an annual event which began in 2004 as a showcase for experimental, improvised music.
The dates for 2018 haven’t been confirmed as yet. In the meantime, here’s an interesting short film by Gael Segalen and Eric Porter; collecting the field recordings that eventually became their set during the 2016 festival:
Madeiradig Festival, Madeira
The year ends with one of the smallest events in Portugal’s music calendar – the Madeiradig Festival on Madeira (in the first week in December). The Casa da Mudas Arts Centre in Calheta plays host to some of the best experimental electronic music, film and multimedia installations created by artists from all around the world:
If you’re thinking of attending a festival in Portugal this coming year, call our specialist team for a chat on 01768 721020 and we’ll put together your tailor-made package.
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