The last time I spent two summers in a row without making the yearly pilgrimage to Paredes de Coura was 2009–2010. This broke uni student had spent all his yearly savings by traveling to Barcelona for Primavera, looked very deep into the lineup, and couldn’t find any reason to do it. Fast forward to 2020. “It’s been 10 years since my last trip to Barcelona, I’m coming back”. For reasons, nobody did; for the same reasons, the little town of Paredes de Coura stood unusually empty during the summers of 2020 and 2021. And even though I ended up returning to Barcelona in 2022, there was no way I’d skip Vodafone Paredes de Coura ever again like in the previous decades. Better yet, the absolute chaos we endured in Primavera Sound ’22 only made me long for peaceful Coura even more. Even if there’s a (very likely) painful airport experience ahead of me.
Most top European festivals are all about choice, to the point where deciding what to see and how long it takes from one point to the other really starts looking like a chore. Vodafone Paredes de Coura has a deliberately slower pace, with a maximum of two stages operating simultaneously (with a very small overlap). Instead of cramming more bands in the four days of the festival, this year’s program includes one extra full day of shows (Tuesday), extending the main programme to five days – 16 to 20 August 2022.
But that’s not all – as usual, we will have four extra days of free shows and DJ sets throughout town that serve as a warm up to the festival proper: two nights in the indoors Caixa da Música (Friday, 12 and Saturday, 13) and two nights in an outdoors stage, Palco Super Bock, right next to it in the main town square (Sunday, 14 and Monday, 15). And, yes, it’s late, and the entire town is fine with late night partying. Alto Minho people are just built different. Make sure you spend some time (and some money) in town during the day – two years without a festival that brings thousands of visitors to a small town of roughly 2000 people has surely been devastating for countless small businesses. And the food is great.
If it’s not the first time you’re reading these articles, you already know this post is absolutely meaningless without our traditional printable timetables; just go ahead and grab the Excel file, feel free to use it to highlight your favourites. If you prefer a ready-to-print PDF file, you can download it here; if you’re looking for mobile-friendly files, check these: Warm-up/Tuesday; Wednesday/Thursday; Friday/Saturday. Please note acts and set times are subject to change; set durations are approximate.
If you’re taking the time to read this, it’s likely Portuguese is not your first language and you have no idea about the Portuguese music scene. Good thing is, from the 12th to the 16th, it’s all about the locals. These are some of our favorites.
BALEIA BALEIA BALEIA, Saturday, 13 (23:30, Caixa da Música)
Here’s a band that looks and sounds like they’re in a perpetual tour. The bass/drums duo might be based in Porto, but their home is the stage. They’ve released their second album earlier this year, and although there are no songs about downloading apps in this one, the entire thing is a banger fest. Somebody please move their show to one of the main days of the festival.
JOSÉ PINHAL POST-MORTEM EXPERIENCE, Sunday, 14 (00:00, Palco Super Bock)
What if the first big party of the festival involves a bunch of indie musicians from the Porto underground celebrating the life and times of popular singer José Pinhal? Pinhal had three tapes released sometime in the mid-80s and was promptly forgotten, until those tapes re-surfaced and were turned into a cult classic by a group of enthusiasts. Even though the Portuguese Rodriguez has tragically died – way too young – in a car crash, his legacy lives on through José Pinhal Post-Mortem Experience, who have been playing his songs live since 2016.
EVOLS, Monday, 15 (23:30, Palco Super Bock)
Evols have been one of the most consistent bands in the Portuguese underground for the entire 2010s. Infamously known by exposing predatory tactics by the biggest promoter in the country, the psychedelic rock outfit from Vila do Conde will be presenting III, their third album, released in pandemic times.
CLUB MAKUMBA, Tuesday, 16 (15:00, Vodafone stage)
From the ashes of Dead Combo – RIP Pedro Gonçalves – rises Club Makumba. Tó Trips’ new partnership with Wraygunn’s drummer João Doce, Gonçalo Prazeres (saxophone) and Gonçalo Leonardo (bass guitar/double bass) is one of the highlights of the first ‘proper’ day of the festival. If The Comet is Coming is one of your favourite bands on the lineup, Club Makumba’s instrumental music with Mediterranean/African vibes is your pick of the day.
RITA VIAN, Tuesday, 16 (19:45, Vodafone.FM stage)
It’s hard to talk about Rita Vian and not compare her with Rosalía – what the latter did with flamenco, Vian is doing with fado. Fusing traditional fado with contemporary electronica, last year’s debut EP CAOS’A was one of the most exciting releases of the year in Portuguese music.
10,000 RUSSOS, Tuesday, 16 (21:15, Vodafone.FM stage)
Fuzz Club signees 10,000 Russos are probably the Portuguese rock band with the most mileage on the road since northern European people decided they liked Moonspell. A constant presence in the best European psych festivals, the repetition-heavy – but never boring – Porto trio had long deserved a prime time show in a big festival at home.
BRUNO PERNADAS, Tuesday, 16 (22:45, Vodafone.FM stage)
Composer, arranger, producer and musician Bruno Pernadas is the main character in Portuguese contemporary music (absolutely no exaggeration here). Fresh off two festival appearances in Japan, Pernadas (and his eight-piece band) will be presenting his fantastic fourth album, “Private Reasons”.
HOMEM EM CATARSE, Wednesday, 17 (16:00, Jazz na Relva stage)
Jack of all trades Afonso Dorido usually spends his time playing with post-rock outfit indignu. This year, he’s bringing his solo guitar compositions – as Homem em Catarse – to the chillest stage in the festival, Jazz na Relva. If you’re only gonna spend one lazy afternoon near the river, make sure you pick Wednesday.
… and now, our international picks:
PORRIDGE RADIO, Wednesday, 17 (19:15, Vodafone.FM stage)
Dana Margolin’s indie rock outfit is one of the hottest names in the festival circuit right now, and for a good reason. Nobody who’s been paying attention will be surprised to see Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder to the Sky topping indie publications’ lists come December.
DONNY BENÉT, Thursday, 18 (19:05, Vodafone.FM stage)
Anyone who’s seen Benét live – most recently, for the Portuguese crowd, at the excellent Vira Pop – knows that no matter what they’re doing before the show, they should save their feet for an hour of extreme dancing. There’s a bunch of keyboards, there’s the bass, of course there’s a freaking sax – it’s the eighties all over again, and disco is king.
ARP FRIQUE & FAMILY, Friday, 19 (22:30, Vodafone.FM stage)
Born out of Rotterdam’s melting pot, Arp Frique takes the dance torch from Donny and raises it up high. Cabo Verdean funaná, Caribbean sounds, Brazilian funk and NYC disco, all in one package – we can tell they’re going to be a regular fixture all over the country after this one.
YVES TUMOR, Saturday, 20 (22:00, Vodafone.FM stage)
Every time I read about or listen to Yves Tumor, it’s impossible to not instantly remember their late night show at NOS Primavera Sound 2019’s last day. Presenting songs from their (at the time) forthcoming Heaven to a Tortured Mind, it felt like they had been hired to bulldoze us all, waking us up from our tired state after three days of festival. We’ll probably need that again after so many days of partying, so thanks for this.