The first thing you need to know about Festival Para Gente Sentada (FPGS) is the
meaning of this long name. It translates quite literally to “Festival For
Seated People” and this should be enough to make you understand how much
this festival values a comfortable and intimate music-listening experience over
the massive-crowd and wild-party experience offered by most live music events. Over
the past decade, this festival has prided itself on its carefully curated
line-up (including names like Bill Callahan, Sufjan Stevens or Low*) that
attracts festivalgoers for the music itself and not for some other gimmick.
This year the festival moved from Santa Maria da Feira
(a small town between Porto and Aveiro) to Braga. This move allowed the
festival to grow and evolve a little into its biggest and most ecletic edition
ever spreading all across Braga’s downtown. The main stage is the jawdropping Theatro
Circo (a century-old theatre in the heart of Braga) and it will accommodate the
biggest and most sounding names from the billboard. But that’s not all there is.
The small downtown stages, spread across the city, will feature a handful of
up-and-coming portuguese acts and the very hip and modern GNRation (an old
military headquarter recently turned into a culture hub) will surely make us
forget all about Theatro Circo’s comfy chairs and make us dance well into the
night in a sort of after-hours party.
Circo, easily one of the most beautiful venues in Portugal
Onto what really matters: looking at this year’s
line-up we can’t help but feel that the festival played it a bit safe – the
change of setting was probably a big enough risk already – and chose to somehow
“recycle” some of the names from NOS Primavera Sound. At first this might sound like a flaw but, when you really
think about it, this might actually be great news because, the truth is, we
can’t get enough of Howe Gelb’s
bohemian-gentleman charm and, in this year’s NOS Primavera Sound, we actually
had to cut Yasmine Hamdan’s set
short to go see Giant Sand’s concert in full. This will be a great chance to see them both again and we’re pretty
sure both acts will benefit from moving into an indoors venue.
Sand’s Howe Gelb covered in kitties and Yasmine Hamdan covered in glittery tulle.
Who looks more adorable?
So there you have it, the first two things we wanted
to highlight for you: Giant Sand’s borderless
country songs and Yasmine’s
hypnotizing middle-eastern pop/folk. Throw in Bruno Pernadas – whose first album was a great critical hit last
year – into the mix and the main stage is set to have an incredible first day. Also,
make sure not to miss Mdou Moctar on
the GNRation stage – his touareg music
is bound to transport everyone into the shifting sands of a scorching desert.
Moving on to the second day’s headliners: have you heard
that Mercury Rev are releasing a new
record? It’s true they haven’t been the most active or relevant band for a
while so we can’t really say we’re hyped for it but we do know they can still
pull off great live shows (Optimus Primavera Sound’12 anyone?) and it’s hard
deny the greatness of songs like “Opus
40”. We’re cautious about our expectations towards their performance
but we’d be lying if we said we weren’t the least bit curious.
Speaking of new releases, FPGS also has some fresh talent worth checking out. We’re talking
about Sun Blossoms, the dreamy lo-fi
bedroom project of young Alexandre
Fernandes that has just released his first LP (check it out).
Also, even if they can’t really be considered new-comers on their own, we have
to mention Rui Carvalho’s (known as Filho da Mãe) new collaboration with Ricardo Martins (drummer from the
now-extinct experimental rock duo Lobster) for a really promising album set to
be released this year. The advance single from their joint-venture is called “Tormenta” and it totally sounds like a
clash of titans, really ominous and sort of distressing but also somewhat
exotic, making us want to hear more as soon as possible – this will be our
Rev’s Donahue and Grasshopper posing with fancy cocktails while Rui Carvalho
and Ricardo Martins toast to their new collaboration
We have absolutely no doubts that DJ Coco will throw one hell of a party, we just don’t really care
about his set or any of the other DJs. We love to party but partying all night
is not why we go to this festival. We go to this festival because of our love
for the singer-songwriters that mean something to us. We go to this festival
because (when we’re not busting dancefloors) we’re just a bunch of sappy fellas
and there’s nothing wrong with that. We understand that it’s nice to have an
after-party to really make the ticket price worth it for the festivalgoers and
we’re sure lots of people will love the chance to party late into the night but,
to us, that’s not really what Festival para Gente Sentada is all about.
Let’s check how everything plays out next weekend. See
* Also, Devendra Banhart. <- this was the mandatory
mention of Devendra Banhart on all pieces about Festival Para Gente Sentada.