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Vodafone Paredes de Coura ‘17: our highlights

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(At the Drive-In. Photo: Hugo Lima / Vodafone Paredes de Coura)

10. ALEX CAMERON

Pop music for “indie” audiences done right. Co-writing songs with Angel Olsen and Brandon Flowers? Check. Singer-songwriter-performer-dancer Alex Cameron and saxophonist Roy Molloy are two of the funniest guys in the circuit and of course it was physically impossible for us to leave early for Benjamin Clementine.

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(Photo: Hugo Lima / Vodafone Paredes de Coura)

9. FUTURE ISLANDS

You’ve certainly overheard comments about how all their songs sound the same, right? What if their one song is actually great and you’re standing there hungry in the middle of the crowd, waiting for one boring song so you can go eat something, but somehow you cannot leave? Yes, they all sound the same, there’s only so much variety Samuel T. Herring can fit into his dance moves and growls, but guess what? It was one of the most entertaining concerts of the festival and we would totally see it again from start to finish (but probably having eaten something beforehand).

8. BRUNO PERNADAS

The Portuguese composer and guitar player opened the main stage on Friday and, unlike your typical festival opener acts, actually set the bar pretty high for what would be happening next. His ensemble, composed of nine musicians – including one of our favorite national songwriters, Minta – was certainly the biggest discovery of the festival for those who didn’t know his music before. No wonder the people in BadBadNotGood were amazed by the show.

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(Photo: Hugo Lima / Vodafone Paredes de Coura)

7. MÃO MORTA

On Wednesday, the legendary Portuguese rock band revisited their 25 year old record Mutantes S.21 for a few thousand devotees who knew every word to every song. In a corny but sweet moment, near the end, there was still time for them to sing happy birthday to the festival.

6. LIGHTNING BOLT

Lightning Bolt’s only European date this summer and their first in Portugal since 2008 was everything everyone was waiting for: the last adrenalyn discharge of the festival in a huge pit far from the dust-covered main stage that was leaving everyone coughing (still dealing with it a week after it). No Dracula Mountain? No problem.

5. BADBADNOTGOOD

Some skeptics might have thought jazzy vibes wouldn’t fit a territory where big sound indie rock bands usually prevail, but those who watched Bruno Pernadas’ ensemble take over the main stage earlier on Friday quickly forgot about it. The Canadian outfit didn’t take long to win over the audience – although, frankly, judging by people’s reactions on social media when they were announced to the festival, we could have anticipated that this was one of the most celebrated concerts of the festival anyway – and, mid-concert, the crowd cheers were as loud as any headliner could get. The four musicians seemed to be having a blast. BBNG are a band on top of their game.

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(Photo: Hugo Lima / Vodafone Paredes de Coura)

4. TIMBER TIMBRE

Tucked away in the Vodafone.FM stage and starting before the end of Car Seat Headrest’s lukewarm set, the Canadian outfit did not make as big as an impression as they could if the circumstances were different, but they were still one of the highlights of this years’ festival for the Bolachas crew. The dark, brooding melodies of Timber Timbre were good company to the beginning of the night, transforming the stage in a mini-batcave. (Seriously, where did those people around me come from? Did their goth-y clothing just appear from the middle of nowhere and vanished after the gig? I didn’t see them anywhere else during that day. Oh well.)

3. AT THE DRIVE-IN

Omar, Cedric & co would probably haven take the first place in an alternative dimension where 1) we weren’t too old for this shit; 2) their new record didn’t exist. Not that the new songs are particularly bad – they aren’t. They were also useful for the older folks in the audience, some of whom have waited 17+ years to finally see them live, to catch their breath before and after the classics. “Arcarsenal” provided everyone with their first energy bump of the night. Old farts and young kids smiling, shouting and hugging regardless of their past experiences with the band. Such a pretty sight to see. If only you could see anything, as dust was reigning supreme over the crowd. Set closer “One Armed Scissor” unleashed both the last moshpit and a collective sigh of relief brought to you by everyone’s lungs. It was fun, but can we new ask for a The Mars Volta 2018 De-Loused in the Comatorium 15th anniversary tour? 

2. ANDY SHAUF

Everyone who reads us knows we’re all about songwriter music (whatever that is), so it’s no surprise Andy Shauf, the top songwriter music guy in the program is as high as it could be in this list. The surprise, instead, came from the little army of devotees in the first few rows who knew all the brass melodies from Shauf’s latest record, The Party, who seemed to melt the songwriter’s heart midway through the set. The sweetest show of the festival.

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(Photo: Hugo Lima / Vodafone Paredes de Coura)

1. KATE TEMPEST

Come on, you knew this was coming. Kate Tempest is the finest artist of our times and that kid who was trying to take a nap during her set right in front of me will, one day, look back at his life and and tell his very disappointed children that he was lying down while KATE TEMPEST was performing right in front of him. KATE FUCKING TEMPEST

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