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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

Categories
live

Festival para Gente Sentada – the review (1/2)

Time stops for no one and the Bolachas crew is
now growing old

and
can barely handle the intensity of the big summer events. That’s just one of
the reasons we embrace Festival para
Gente Sentada
(FpGS) dearly. What’s the other? The chance to see some of
our favorite singer-songwriters in a semi-intimate setting while comfortably
seated, of course. Despite what we just said, don’t think that FpGS is a
festival for “old people” (whatever that is). The wide range of generations we
saw in the audience should be proof enough of that.

Officially, the festival opened on Friday afternoon
with performances by Serushio, Benjamim and Box 2 Box on tiny outdoor stages across the city. Unfortunately other
responsibilities prevented us from being there from the get-go so our festival
started at 21h30 when we stepped into the majestic Theatro Circo to see Bruno Pernadas.


With a remarkable line-up of nine musicians (including
members from You Can’t Win, Charlie Brown, Tape Junk, Minta and a three element
brass section) this show was a real treat. Even if you don’t really like Pernadas’ music it’s hard to look at
this group of talented musicians and not admire the way they work together complementing
each other and creating this organic free-flowing style somewhere between the
soundtrack of a space-opera and some exotic old-time big band while still
sounding fresh and maintaining a pop-like charm. From the brass section to the
choirs, to the synths and the drums everything fits perfectly together sounding
as complex and exquisite as in a studio recording. Truly impressive!

Starting the show off with “Ahhhhh”, which
is also the album opener, Pernadas
and his band seamlessly played the songs from his critically-acclaimed work and
immersed the audience in his imaginary outer-space fantasy in such a way that
it was really disappointing when, after announcing a new song to close the set,
the production didn’t let him play it due to schedule restrictions. It was a rude
awakening back to a reality where (unfortunately) there are no pink ponies
flying on Jupiter.


The next artist to grace the stage with her presence was
Yasmine Hamdan, the alluring bare-footed
beauty from Lebanon. With songs ranging from love and heartbreak (like the
lovely “Hal” from the Jim Jarmusch film “Only Lovers Left Alive”) to traditional
fisherman songs from the gulf of Persia or theatrical representations of
stereotypes in old Egyptian films, Yasmine
and her band took the everyone for a smooth ride across the Middle-East.

Even if the audience can’t really distinguish any
words (apart from the occasional habibi),
the truth is that music doesn’t always need words to get through to the
audience. This was a prime example of that because, even if Yasmine did put some effort into
briefly explaining the stories behind most of the songs, her sensual dance
moves and emotionally charged voice would be more than enough to enthrall
everyone. It was almost magical, like she was some kind of enchantress from an
old One Thousand and One Nights fairy-tale. Shakira must’ve been onto something
when she claimed that the hips don’t lie.


It was time for Giant
Sand
to blow us away with, not only one of the most musically fulfilling
shows of the festival, but also the most entertaining one. Presenting
themselves to Braga with a classic rock-band formation (guitars, drums and
bass), the new moniker they have adopted (Giant3
Sand
) works both as a way for them to keep making new songs (their new
album Heartbreak Pass proves that) and also to celebrate their 3 decades of
history.

Between toasts, cell-phone pictures, crazy
pedal-effect guitars and other funny antics, Gelb was acting even goofier than his usual self so it was kind of hard
to take even the most heartfelt ballads (like the beautiful cover of Leonard
Cohen’s “A Thousand Kisses Deep”) too seriously. There’s no doubt that Howe Gelb is the star of the show and
heart and soul of Giant Sand but,
despite his intense presence, it was humbling to see that he doesn’t selfishly
hog the attention for himself and is able to disappear into the shadows and let
the spotlight shine on his bandmates Brian
Lopez
and Gabriel Sullivan as
each of them each perform a song of their own authorship.

We won’t deny that, for a few minutes, we were taken
aback by the heavy focus on their most rock’n’roll-tinged songs (their concert at
NOS Primavera Festival, earlier this year, was mostly country-based and we
expected something along those lines) but, as we settled into the noisy storm Gelb had prepared for us, the surprise turned
into pleasure quite naturally. “It’s ok to leave a little early.” Howe said “You’ll hear the last one
from the street.” he warned before throwing “Tumble & Tear” (from Giant Sand’s first album) at the
audience and ending this terrific concert with a very loud ‘bang’.


Not everyone decided to take the short walk between
Theatro Circo and GNRation to see Mdou
Moctar
and his band (if you are
one of those persons: too bad for you) but, as the trio stepped onto the stage
of the adequately named “black-box”, the room was still comfortably crowded. Moctar and his bandmates took the tribal
rythms and the arabesque finger-picking from their homelands and evolved them into
a sweet psychedelic desert-blues that was the perfect excuse for us to stretch
our legs and loosen our muscles a bit after all that time in Theatro Circo’s
chairs.

There were only two downsides to this show. The fact
that the encore had to be cut short (and we mean really short… that was the
shortest encore ever) for the band to make it to Barcelona on time and the many
technical difficulties that made the technician look like the fourth member of
the band – always on stage checking the cables and the amps. Fortunately, none
of those managed to disrupt the communion between band and audience or stop the
band from bringing the Saharan heat to Braga and ending the first night of the
festival on a very high note.

JR

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Bolachas Now Playing live

#20 & #21: NOS Primavera Sound 2015 ++ timetables

© Hugo Lima, NOS Primavera Sound

NOS Primavera Sound 2015 starts tomorrow! Before you go, be sure to print our printable timetables: XLS editable version or the beautiful PDF version made by the fine pals at fiasco. As we’ll be busy there, there is no weekly playlist this week: Bolachas Now Playing 2021 is a NOS Primavera Sound ‘15 special! Includes songs by Mikal Cronin, the Replacements, Viet Cong, Ought, Shellac, Spiritualized, Kevin Morby, The New Pornographers, Xylouris White, Giant Sand, Sun Kil Moon and Bruno Pernadas. And here it is. See you tomorrow!

Categories
live

10 reasons not to miss NOS Primavera Sound 2015 (pt1)

And by reasons we mean concerts. Only shitty festivals need attractions besides music itself. Here are 10 of the concerts not to miss in this year’s edition of NOS Primavera Sound that most people probably aren’t going to see, but they should. Antony & the Johnsons is, of course, absent from this list, because you already know you have to see him. Or flee from the festival grounds if you don’t like him at all.