Primavera Sound Porto ’23: our top picks

After a year’s hiatus (three, actually – thank you covid) to attend the shitshow that was last year’s first weekend in Barcelona, we’re now back to regular programming. A lot has changed since last time we were at Primavera Sound Porto, including the name: there’s no naming sponsor anymore, which will probably confuse people who, for some reason unknown to us, used to call this festival by its sponsor’s name.

The festival grounds are also changing for the 10th edition: capacity has increased to 45k, there’s a new main stage (Porto stage), the old main stage is now called Vodafone (still side-by-side with the Super Bock stage, with alternating shows), and the good old ATP stage (known as Binance last year) is gone, replaced by the Plenitude stage somewhere else. There are also more bands than before (up to 5 bands per stage per day), and, exceptionally, there’s an extra festival day on Wednesday, just so Kendrick Lamar can pay us a visit.

Be sure to download our printable timetables (PDF and XLS). Make sure you keep them on your phone for easy and offline access, too. Below you can find our picks for this year – there’s a lot of guitars there, sorry about that.

The Comet is Coming (Wed 7, 22:55, Vodafone stage)

Depending on where you live, you might have had about a dozen chances to see the Comet is Coming, as they’ve been festival favorites all over Europe for quite a while now. But this is probably your last chance in a long while to see Shabaka Hutchings’ cosmic free jazz musings live on stage, as they have recently announced they will stop for a while.

Shellac (Thu 8, 18:40, Vodafone stage)

It’s Shellac, what do you want me to do? Tell you to go see something else? The annual Shellac Primavera show is basically Christmas.

The Beths (Thu 8, 17:45, Super Bock stage)

The Auckland-based band is one of the most interesting indie rock acts of the past five years – not a single mid album since their 2018 debut, and last year’s Expert in a Dying Field was our indie rock album of the year – and we can’t wait to finally see them live.

Jockstrap (Thu 8, 02:20, Plenitude stage)

At the other edge of a very packed Thursday schedule we’ll have the exquisite avant-garde pop of Jockstrap, the duo of Black Country, New Road’s Georgia Ellery and producer Taylor Skye.

The Mars Volta (Thu 8, 22:00, Porto stage)

One of the most anticipated shows this year. The prog giants are back after a ten year hiatus, and judging from videos from last year’s US tour, Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s vocals sound like they were born again. Long gone are the times where the band was a 7+ member affair devoted to sometimes absurdly long jams – they go straight to the point, now. Expect a setlist packed with old favorites from the first couple of albums.

My Morning Jacket (Fri 9, 19:40, Porto stage)

Here’s another rarity. American rock institution My Morning Jacket, notorious for their live shows, hasn’t played any EU shows since their 2015 The Waterfall tour, and the last time they played Portugal they were supporting Pearl Jam in 2006. It’s safe to say a non-negligible part of the audience didn’t even know how to read the last time they were in the country, let alone been at one of their shows. It’s a bit of a waste to only give them one hour of stage time, but beggars can’t be choosers. We’ll take as much as MMJ as we can get.

Wednesday (Fri 9, 18:40, Vodafone stage)

Rat Saw God is our favorite album of the year so far. Their grungy Americana sound reminds us of some sort of Magnolia Electric Co/Drive-By Truckers mélange infused with punk energy and updated for the 2020s. These are all good things, by the way. We’ve seen their show last week in Amsterdam – they’re ripe for the stage, too – and it doesn’t matter if they play the same exact set: there’s only one place to be, really. (To be honest, we’ve also seen Blondshell a couple of weeks ago – if Wednesday aren’t your jam, you’re in good hands.)

PUP (Sat 10, 17:00, Plenitude stage)

A straight up punk rock band might sound a bit out of place at Primavera Sound, especially this early in the afternoon. But so did Turnstile at last year’s Vodafone Paredes de Coura festival, and that didn’t stop people from having fun (even though that festival’s public is much rowdier than your average Primavera enjoyer). Last year’s THE UNRAVELING OF PUPTHEBAND is one of the most fun albums we’ve listened to in a while and every other song calls for singalongs.

Karate (Sat 10, 20:50, Vodafone stage)

Now, this is one of the reasons why people have always loved Primavera: their ability of bringing cult bands back from long hiatuses. Indie rock veterans Karate disbanded in 2005 after over a decade of constant touring and recording. Songwriter Geoff Farina built a respectable solo career after that (including a couple of excellent records with Come and Codeine’s Chris Brokaw), but it’s time to bring it all home. Hopefully with new music soon, too.

Unwound (Sat 10, 02:05, Vodafone stage)

Similarly, Unwound called it quits in 2002 and are currently playing their first shows in twenty years. After an extensive reissue of their entire discography (via, of course, Numero Group), the post-hardcore legends – without the recently deceased and founding member Vern Rumsey – are hopping to Europe for three exclusive Primavera shows. Yes, it’s too late at night, and after – hopefully not – four days of rain. But whoever waited up to 20 years for this can endure another mild annoyance. There’s also these well known British institutions called “New Order” and “Blur” playing before them, not sure if you’ve heard of them. Have a good night.