Sometimes it’s hard to be objective and unbiased when writing about a festival that is such a big part of your life. Except for two (very) unremarkable lineups that made me stay home, since I was old enough to go to college all my summers involved a trip to Paredes de Coura (and a painful trip back, too). When you’re a kid, they say you’ll eventually get older and boring, in a process they call “becoming an adult”. This usually comes with amazing perks such as ceasing to listen to any new music whatsoever, stopping seeing your (also ageing) friends, having great conversations about changing diapers with your remaining friends (yes, the other couple with kids you always go vacationing with to some shitty beach full of other couples with kids and the odd mother-in-law). Obviously, a multi-day, non-kid friendly, rural music festival such as Festival Paredes de Coura seems like one of those things that are amongst the first to drop from your newfound “adult life”. Except you don’t have to be that person; and is there anything better to remind you of that than going there and finding all your friends in the same place, same month, year after year, all over again? (Well, other than imagining the smell of those diapers.)
Our favorite week of the year is coming up fast, and in less than a week time we shall be praying for rain not to grace the beautiful and green Minho region. If you’ve been following us, you know we rarely miss an edition of Vodafone Paredes de Coura, regardless of the part of Europe we’re living in at the moment.
And, of course, half of the reason why you still care about us is our insistence in creating the famous printable timetables that, inevitably, you’ll lose somewhere in the festival grounds before the third day. Stop saving trees and print some for your friends, too. PDF version / editable XLS version. Scroll down for our special Spotify playlist with our 11 artist picks!
ALEK REIN (Tue 15, 22:30, Main Street stage)
Plenty of people choose Paredes de Coura as their yearly summer holiday destination. Why wouldn’t the organisation put together an extended four day warm up? From Saturday 12 to Tuesday 15, a small stage is set up in the town center, where up and coming Portuguese artists play free entrance concerts from 22:30 to past midnight.
Alek Rein is probably the most interesting of the bunch (but be on the lookout for the Sunflowers [Sat 12, 23:30] and Nice Weather for Ducks [Sun 13, 22:30], too) and could easily be in the main festival programme. The southern psychedelia of his debut LP, Mirror Lane, has been on heavy rotation around here late last year. Having a relaxed, hearty dinner at one of the village’s nice and cheap restaurants would be a good reason to go to Coura earlier, but this year there’s an added value to it.
MÃO MORTA (Wed 16, 21:55, Vodafone stage)
Just like the festival itself, Mutantes S.21, the iconic fourth album by the most interesting Portuguese rock band ever turns 25 this year. They’ve also put out one of the more memorable shows of the festival’s history, in a rainy and muddy night back in 2007 – the first time yours truly, an inexperienced camper, went to the festival and swore to never do it again. Ten years later, they’re back to trigger veterans’ old memories and show the new kids who still keeps the Portuguese rock and roll crown.
(Yes, The Wedding Present and Future Islands will surely be two of the most celebrated gigs of the festival on what’s probably the best Day 1 of the festival history, but we can’t focus on everything…)
KATE TEMPEST (Wed 16, 01:55, Vodafone stage)
Earlier this year we went to South London’s Brixton Academy to witness Kate Tempest’s homecoming concert in her biggest stage so far. The humbleness in Tempest’s words and facial expressions when taking and leaving the stage certainly triggered a shy tear in the local kids who have witnessed her rise from performing in open mics to performing in one of the biggest venues in the city and huge festivals like Glastonbury. If you told me ten years ago that a poet, rapper and spoken-word artist like Kate Tempest would play Paredes de Coura’s – or any other Portuguese summer festival’s – main stage, I would probably laugh at you. If you told me someone like her would be the most interesting artist performing in that festival – or any festival – in 2017, I’d politely ask if you need medical help. I’m so glad you were right. There’s no one like Kate Tempest and you’d be a fool to be somewhere else than right in the front of the stage during her time slot.
TIMBER TIMBRE (Thu 17, 20:30, Vodafone.FM stage)
The Canadian quartet has been releasing stellar records on Arts & Crafts since 2009, but it wasn’t until sometime during the wait between 2014′s proper breakthrough Hot Dreams and this years’ Sincerely, Future Pollution that I’ve seen more and more people join us in our devotion through enthusiastic Facebook posts. Better late than never, and their announcement for this year’s edition was one of the most celebrated between the festival’s fans. The small stage will be packed for Timber Timbre’s debut concert in the country and they will surely come back soon.
CAR SEAT HEADREST (Thu 17, 19:40, Vodafone stage)
Sometime during Primavera Sound 2016, around dinner time. This weird kid called Will Toledo had jumped to the “indie” spotlight a couple of weeks ago when his second “proper” album – after a shitton of Bandcamp-released bunch of records that sounded like Pavement demos – Teens of Denial, was released on Matador. Maybe a couple of hundred kids would be curious to see them at Pitchfork’s stage at 9pm with something else going on in the main stages, so we thought. Well, a couple of hundred kids _were shouting the lyrics to the newly released songs _and hundreds more flocked to witness the start of yet another love story between an indie rock band and the enthusiastic Portuguese sub-25 public. Toledo and his band have so far matured their live show, as we were fortunate to witness in a sold out show in Brussels’ L’Orangerie du Botanique last March. Can’t wait to see them again.
AT THE DRIVE-IN (Thu 17, 23:15, Vodafone stage)
Well, you don’t really need an introduction, right? This is maybe the laziest way of introducing a band, but of course you know who they are. At the Drive-In are the band you want to see because you probably never did, either because you were too young to know who they were back in 2000 or too young/too poor to travel elsewhere to see them back then. Their two most famous “spin off” bands, Sparta (2007) and The Mars Volta (2008) have played in the festival before (no one really cared about Sparta, though) but the original band was yet to play in Portugal. Founding member (and Sparta’s frontman) Jim Ward is not with the band anymore, but Cedric, Omar et al. have just released their first post-break-up record, in•ter a•li•a and seem to be enjoying themselves in this new reincarnation of the band so far. Don’t forget to not mosh.
JAMBINAI (Thu 17, 02:00, after hours stage)
What’s a South Korean band who play post-rock music with traditional Korean instruments doing in an after hours time slot? Well, it’s waiting for you to go see them. Because you need to. If this description and the two tracks on our playlist didn’t make you feel like you should, chances are there’s something wrong with you.
ANDY SHAUF (Fri 18, 19:00, Vodafone.FM stage)
The Bearer of Bad News is coming to Coura and he’s already the winner of the “Artist Who Sounds Like Something You’d Listen To in a bolachas.org Playlist, No Shit They’re Promoting Their Concert” award of 2017. The Party was one of our favorite albums of 2016 and we’re glad we can see Andy Shauf still promoting that amazing record before venturing on new endeavours. Catchy, sophisticated but simple pop tunes, too perfect for those Coura lazy late afternoons (too bad he’s not playing the main stage for “sitting in the grass” purposes).
BEACH HOUSE (Fri 18, 00:45, Vodafone stage)
List of bands everyone else has seen live except for me: Beach House. That’s right, even though they play Portugal (and, frankly, everywhere) all the time, this will be the first time I’ll get to see the most important dream pop duo of the past decade, so shut the hell up if you happen to be nearby and help me pray for a good career-spanning setlist (like this one, please).
ALEX CAMERON (Sat 19, 20:30, Vodafone.FM stage)
Fresh off a hot new track from his forthcoming album (a duet with Angel Olsen), the Australian exquisite (fancy word for ‘weirdo’) songwriter will still be presenting songs from his critically acclaimed debut album, Jumping the Shark, released exactly a year ago.
LIGHTNING BOLT (Sat 19, 22:20, Vodafone.FM stage)
We’re all gonna die. Wouldn’t it be fun if they didn’t play on top of the stage, like in the good ol’ days? Bring your balaclava (or buy one – why would you already own one, you filthy hooligan?) because you’re healthy and want to keep your lungs intact, unlike all those fools (read: me) who decided to join the dusty pit at last year’s Thee Oh Sees gig.