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MENT Ljubljana 2024

Los Bitchos. Photo by Tina Stariha (MENT)

Don’t get me wrong, I love all the festivals I made a habit of visiting every year, both in my home and my adopted countries. You know the ones: festivals where 90% of the acts either sing in English, and/or come from the Anglosphere. Just like I’m writing these lines in the current lingua franca instead of my own language so you can understand me. But there was something refreshing about my first trip to MENT Ljubljana, and that had to do with the variety of latitudes and, most importantly, languages and regional traditions you get acquainted with on stage, without any pretence of the whole thing being labeled a world music festival.

Because it isn’t – it is a showcase festival, with mainly 30-40min long shows, aimed at discovering new-ish artists from all over Europe, where you’re surrounded by professionals from the music industry – around 700, according to MENT – but also music lovers from all around the region (7000 across 4 days). Except for the odd loud conversation at one of the shows of the opening night, this was probably the nicest and most polite audience I’ve been surrounded by, and that’s something.

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Preview: MENT Ljubljana 2024

Showcase festival MENT Ljubljana‘s tenth edition kicks off next week (21-24 February), and we’re going to be there for the first time. Tipped by industry insiders as one of the best events in Europe to discover new talent, we were drawn to it by the focus on European artists (not exclusively, from all over the Balkans, Central, and Eastern Europe), the iconic venues, and, of course, the charming capital of Slovenia. Labels, collectives and other entities (public radio station Val 202, legendary local label Moonlee, or Belgrade-based tastemakers Hali Gali) curate stages during the two main days of the festival, and are the best way to get a sense of regional scenes. To top it off, this year’s edition boasts an extra segment (and an extra day), CE/MENT, focused on clubbing and electronic music, and features an extensive three-day conference, the largest in the region, with over 120 industry representatives spread by 33 panels.

Our thirteen artists to watch all come from different European countries, and most sing in their native languages. A breath of fresh air from your typical anglocentric festival. (Yes, I’m writing this in English so we can understand each other, I’m aware.) We’ll be posting on our Instagram throughout the festival, so make sure you follow us there, too. MENT Ljubljana 2024 runs from 21 to 24 February, and both day tickets and passes are still available.

We have created a Spotify playlist with our top picks (see below), but the festival was kind enough to put together a playlist with all the artists on your favorite streaming service.

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Vodafone Paredes de Coura 2023

Death, taxes, rain at the Vodafone Paredes de Coura festival. This year, it fell in fewer people than usual, though: the festival reported a 80k attendance figure (an average of 20 thousand people per day), as opposed to the usual 100k. The result was a (even more) pleasant experience for everyone: there were virtually no queues (except, of course, for food at peak hour), most grass stayed green for most of the festival, as it should, and shows didn’t feel crowded. It was a difficult festival to book bands for in 2023, according to the festival director, as the only big headliner capable of drawing thousands by themselves was Lorde. On the bright side, there was only one late cancellation, as The Last Dinner Party could not travel to Portugal; MДQUIИД., who had already performed in the first of five official warm up nights at the town centre, took their place in the lineup.

The next edition of the festival – which already has five “incredible” confirmed bookings, although it will take a few months until they’re announced – will take place from 14-17 August 2024.

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Vodafone Paredes de Coura 2023: our picks

© Hugo Lima | fb.me/hugolimaphotography | hugolima.com

Well, it’s that time of the year again. First things first. Let’s start with what 99% of the people want from us every single summer: our printable blocky timetable, which you can download below, in a variety of formats:

PDF | PDF mobile, wed/thu | PDF mobile, fri/sat | XLS

And, while you dream about the current weather predictions actually happening…

…keep reading to find out about our top 10 picks for this year’s festival, as always mostly focused on the smaller names of the lineup. And scroll to the bottom for a Spotify playlist featuring not only the artists featured below, but also acts like Dry Cleaning, Jessie Ware, THUS LOVE, or Crack Cloud.

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Primavera Sound Porto 2023

PRIMAVERA SOUND PORTO 2023 _ DAY 1 / 7JUN _ © Hugo Lima | hugolima.com | www.fb.me/hugolimaphotography | instagram.com/hugolimaphoto

2023 was a landmark year for Primavera Sound Porto: the tenth coming of the festival was also its first without their lifelong naming sponsor, the first four-day long edition at Porto’s Parque da Cidade, and a new main stage and festival grounds’ layout were tested for the first time. Ditching the gorgeous, secluded meadow where the ATP stage once sounded like sacrilege. But the new layout, including previously fenced off areas of the park that are closer to the sea, undoubtedly makes things smoother in a festival that started to feel too crowded, as per last year’s experience. We could do without the smell near the new main stage, but let’s blame the weather for that.