Death, taxes, rain at the Vodafone Paredes de Coura festival. This year, it fell in fewer people than usual, though: the festival reported a 80k attendance figure (an average of 20 thousand people per day), as opposed to the usual 100k. The result was a (even more) pleasant experience for everyone: there were virtually no queues (except, of course, for food at peak hour), most grass stayed green for most of the festival, as it should, and shows didn’t feel crowded. It was a difficult festival to book bands for in 2023, according to the festival director, as the only big headliner capable of drawing thousands by themselves was Lorde. On the bright side, there was only one late cancellation, as The Last Dinner Party could not travel to Portugal; MДQUIИД., who had already performed in the first of five official warm up nights at the town centre, took their place in the lineup.
The next edition of the festival – which already has five “incredible” confirmed bookings, although it will take a few months until they’re announced – will take place from 14-17 August 2024.
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 Grote Zaal of De Oosterpoort during the 2018′s TakeRoot festival.
TakeRoot Festival. Saturday, 2 November 2019, at De Oosterpoort, Groningen, The Netherlands. Tickets for sale here.
Coming of age in the era of MySpace meant stumbling into a lot of “A little bit of everything, except country and rap” on your fellow scenester’s profiles. Fast forward some 15 years, and there’s a rapper headlining your favorite indie festival, much to the disgust of a few folks who haven’t grown from their proud everything-except-country-and-rap pedestal. But most young alternative Europeans still look at country music with the same disgusted look that your aunt made the first time she stumbled upon a 50 Cent music video.
99% of the folks who know us have definitely heard us complain about the lack of love most Portuguese promoters, festivals, media and audiences have for Americana music (with some notable exceptions). Fortunately for yours truly, every dream lineup centered around the American roots tradition can be found all year round in Dutch festivals such as the excellent TakeRoot (November, Groningen), Ramblin’ Roots (October, Utrecht) or Down by the River (April, Venlo). Next Saturday (August 25th) sees the first edition of Once in a Blue Moon, an outdoors festival in the marvelous Amsterdamse Bos – a forest that separates the municipalities of Amsterdam and Amstelveen) is the new addition to the Dutch roots festival scene. Nineteen concerts spread over three (covered) stages, a lineup with an astonishing balance between new talent, celebrated, bigger bands, and older legends, a proper food lineup, and Lagunitas beer (thanks you Heineken, I guess), what more could we hope for? Good weather? Check the bottom of your wardrobe, bring your poncho and be there early because there are plenty of reasons to. While you listen to the festival’s official playlist, check out our five main picks (and more) below.
Erin Rae (Blue Moon stage, 12:30 – 13:00)
The Nashville folk songwriter, who has released her sophomore album Putting on Airs last June (a true hidden gem that, fortunately, did not escape OIABM’s radar, and neither did ours) will open the day at the Blue Moon stage for a short 30min set at 12:30. It’s a very unusual but welcomed time slot for me, having just returned from a festival whose first act started playing at 18:00, and it should make sure you will be there early. Margo Price’s buddy will also play End of the Road and a few extra shows in the UK before supporting Iron & Wine on their fall US tour.
Sam Outlaw (Blue Moon stage, 16:35 – 17:30)
Don’t be fooled by the apparently corny stage name – it’s the man’s real name. And it suits him perfectly. Another unmissable showman, whose shows in the tiny Club Nine room of Utrecht’s TivoliVredenburg and in an overcrowded room at the closing of last year’s TakeRoot in Groningen made sure I’ll be glad to follow him every time he’s around. With his latest album, Tenderheart, already out for more than a year, we’re expecting a few new songs to take over his set, and hope they’re as exciting as when he first presented the then-unreleased “She’s Playing Hard to Get (Rid Off)” at that Utrecht show.
Hiss Golden Messenger (Sugar Mountain stage, 14:20 – 15:20)
A band that should need no introduction. Guardians of the Appalachian tradition, honouring gospel and traditional American folk music alike, their packed December 2016 show at Amsterdam’s Bitterzoet still ranks high as one of my top 10 shows I’ve seen in recent times. Believe what both I and my bank account say: I’ve seen a lot. MC Taylor’s outfit hasn’t returned to Europe ever since, and this will be their first show over the pond after the release of Hallelujah Anyhow mid-2017, their second record on Merge.
Yes, I wrote these lines while wearing a Jason Isbell tour tee and hoping they still played some of the songs he wrote while he was with the band (“Danko/Manuel”, “Goddamn Lonely Love”). But those days are long gone, and a rare chance to see one of the most influential American Bands (yes, it’s a play on words with the name of their latest record, and it’s lame and dull as it can be, but please bear with me) live can never not be highlighted.
Courtney Marie Andrews (Sugar Mountain stage, 17:30 – 18:30)
We have extensively promoted her fabulous last two albumsand I was absolutely mesmerised when she presented her fresh-off-the-presses new album May Your Kindness Remain last April (again, at Bitterzoet – how can that small bar that I never visited outside concert nights contain some of my best memories in this country?). When Andrews’ crystal clear, powerful voice sang the chorus of the title track at the end of her set, I finally felt the goosebumps that everyone else failed to provide since that night in 2007 when I first witnessed Joanna Newsom performing “Sawdust & Diamonds” off one of my favourite records of all time. That’s when I made sure I will never miss any of the shows she plays in the country and you shouldn’t either.
Plus: Of course it is immoral to not see at least half an hour of the legendary David Crosby’s show (Blue Moon, 18:15) after CMA’s concert. I’m With Her (Blue Moon, 15:05) and Bombino’s (Sugar Mountain, 15:55) sets partly clash with Hiss Golden Messenger and Sam Outlaw, but we won’t say no to a few minutes of their shows. While the “super-band” composed of Sara Watkins, Aoife O’Donovan and Sarah Jarosz looks like it was tailor-made for such a festival, the Nigerien singer-songwriter might look a bit out of place in an almost all-North American lineup, but his music is as rootsy as it can be. Tim Knol is a local staple that this immigrant has yet to listen to, and this sounds like the perfect opportunity, both solo (Sugar Mountain, 13:00) and with the Bluegrass Boogiemen (Honky Tonk stage, 21:00). Seasick Steve’s show at Paredes de Coura 2014 was one of the most surprising festival sets of recent times and I’ll be glad to revisit it here (Blue Moon, 20:00); and, if more rock and roll is needed at this point, we know we can rely on Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires (Honky Tonk, 19:15) who have the potential to be the loudest guys on stage this coming Saturday.
You and everyone you know already know you shouldn’t miss LCD Soundsystem, The Tallest Man on Earth, Sleaford Mods, and Thee Oh Sees, so we’ll skip the obvious parts of the programme and go straight to the fine print.
MINOR VICTORIES (Wednesday 17): Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell and Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite – two old favorites of the Paredes de Coura crowd (Slowdive has played the festival last year; Mogwai were there in 1999 and 2011) are half of this so-called superband, along with the Lockey brothers (you might recognize Justin as Editors’ guitar player). Minor Victories’ self-titled debut album sounds exactly like you think it does: dark pop rock passing through a post-rock filter.
RYLEY WALKER (Thursday 18): Walker’s concert at Paredes de Coura is the last before Golden Sings That Have Been Sung, his third LP, finally sees the light of day. Playing his first Portugal show ever, the American guitarist closely follows the footsteps of Steve Gunn, who debuted in the country exactly in the second day of the last year’s edition of the festival. Here’s to hoping the weather will be great while he plays – his “contemplative” guitar work is an ode to the sun.
WHITNEY (Thursday 18): Rising from the ashes of late-00s indie darlings Smith Westerns, Whitney has just released their debut album, Light Upon the Lake, on Secretly Canadian, to almost universal acclaim. Right place at the right time for someone who fancies the record, something that’s not so usual for Portuguese fans.
JOANA SERRAT (Thursday 18): The Catalan singer-songwriter signed to Primavera Sound’s record label finally crosses the border to Portugal. Her newest album, Cross the Verge, was recorded at the mighty Hotel2Tango in Montréal, a name that instantly tickles the brain of any Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Vic Chesnutt, Basia Bulat, or Arcade Fire fan.
SUUNS (Thursday 18): It’s SUUNS’ fourth time in Portugal, after a delightful tour with Battles some five years ago, a clubshow alongside Jerusalem in My Heart in Lisbon and a more recent trip to the Azores islands at the Tremor festival this year. The synthy, psychedelic outfit will certainly have a blast where they seem to fit better: the after-hours stage, as that post-LCD Soundsystem balm not everyone wants because they still don’t know they need it.
KEVIN MORBY (Friday 19): The absolute champion of the Now everybody likes it label returns to Portugal for the third time, less than two years after his debut at a Bolachas-organized concert in Aveiro. Now playing for way more than the seventy lucky people who witnessed his first concert in the country, the LA-based singer-songwriter who was once half of The Babies and the bass player for Woods will present the songs off his third LP, Singing Saw, released earlier this week.
JACCO GARDNER (Friday 19): As a Portuguese living in the Netherlands, it’s not hard to understand why the Dutch songwriter (and master melody crafter) can usually be found enjoying the Portuguese summer every year. I don’t know who’s the luckiest, the ones who are able to witness his live shows or Jacco himself. Be sure to bring a sweater for the cold nights of Coura, though. It can be as cold as your typical summer day in Terschelling.
PSYCHIC ILLS (Friday 19): Their transformation from being a duo playing exploratory trippy niche music for 20 people in old basements ten years ago to a full grown six piece band that draws big crowds in festivals is one to behold. Carrying their latest album, Inner Journey Out, all around Europe since the beginning of this summer, this is the opportunity to see Psychic Ills in their prime.
SEAN RILEY & THE SLOWRIDERS (Friday 19): This summer was supposed to be one to celebrate for the Coimbra-based indie rock band, playing two of the biggest festivals in the country (NOS Alive and Vodafone Paredes de Coura) after the release of their third album in the beginning of April. But since tragedy struck the band with the disappearance of bassist Bruno Simões last June, it’s his life and legacy that will be celebrated instead.
LUST FOR YOUTH (Saturday 20): The last band in the last night of the festival. Hannes Norrvide and his pals created some waves with International a couple of years ago, and they’re back in the country with a new album released in the spring. If you’re into Scandinavian danceable (but not euphoric) electronica, this is what you want to finish your Paredes de Coura experience.