Festival Paredes de Coura 2012, day 2

© Hugo Lima

Willis Earl Beal © Hugo Lima

So the first official day (Main Stage was finally ready to welcome the festival goers) started with former homeless Willis Earl Beal. When I saw that black dude coming to the stage my mind couldn’t stop thinking of Motown. At the moment he started singing I saw James Carr (a little bit more caustic) and Tom Waits. Although he was stage-alone and the instruments were recorded and played live, Willis Earl Bell conquered the small audience with his peculiar way of tale-telling.

© Hugo Lima

Kitty, Daisy & Lewis © Hugo Lima

Time to peek into the main stage. I’ve missed you, dude. And what a way to open the main stage! One of my favorites, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis never seem to amaze me. Family Durham play a irresistible mix of 50’s rock n’ roll/ska/everybody dancing that can’t be forgotten. Totally a debut in Portugal and probably one of the most underrated bands in all the lineup. I saw them in Spain back in 2010, but I have to point that in Paredes they looked more motivated. And I was in better company.

Midlake reminded me of the Appalachian Mountains and I’ve never been there. In a crowded stage full of different instruments (e.g. flutes, keyboards, and the customary folk acoustic guitar), Tim Smith and his beardy bandmates conquered the mainstage with their  folk, reminded me of the Fleet Foxes, even though they’ve been in the music scene way before them. Probably one of the most adequate shows considering the sunset.

© Hugo Lima

Patrick Watson © Hugo Lima

Patrick Watson sure is a welcomed guy here in Portugal. Countless are the times he’s been in Portugal, with full concerts almost all over the country.  Wasn’t different  this time. Dozens of fans were already queuing at the secondary stage,  trying to get close to him as possible. Shifting in between the piano and the microphone and getting lauded song after song, Patrick sure was a happy man. With an intimist set (as expected) Watson took a hold of all the lonely hearts and ended solo on the stage: just him, his piano and a dim light.

Sleigh Bells © Hugo Lima

Back to the main stage Alexis Krauss told Derek: lover I am still here breaking chairs. If Patrick Watson was more like a delicate bird, Sleigh Bells just bombed the stage. You read it right, bombed. WWII B-17 Flying Fortresses were nothing compared to what was just happening. Totally overwhelming Krauss kept dancing and singing in front of blasting amps in a peculiar fashion. Crossing pop with hardcore punk, Sleigh Bells were probably one of the best shows that the festival ever had. Not suitable for epileptics.

© Hugo Lima

dEUS © Hugo Lima

For the third time in Paredes de Coura, dEUS are always a favorite. With seven records and a handful of great songs, dEUS were welcomed by a huge crowd. The once grassy floor was completely covered by the feet of more than 20,000 persons.  Starting with “The Architect”, followed by “Constant Now” the claps and screaming made me realize how popular they actually are here. Crowd favorites like “Instant Street” and “Suds & Soda” delighted the audience and there was still time for a new song in French. A little bit short show but Tom Barman still does it right.

© Hugo Lima

Digitalism © Hugo Lima

Digitalism was the chosen band to close the main stage. And it was a challenging task. Electro-rock, pure fun, catchy sounds and a visually appealing show conquered the crowd who didn’t wanted to leave the stage. Just two dudes standing still on stage with their keyboards. The crowd was going along with their music, waiting for the big electro rock pumps which turned out a huge dancing scene. Pogo, probably one of their most known songs closed their concert and eventually the stage, making time for an unusual thing in a show like this: moshing. Oh, the drugs.

After hours was handed to Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs (catchy electronic) and Kavinsky (Ed Banger’s hangout, probably most known for his song “Nightcall”), made probably one of the most crowded afterhours set in the whole festival. 



Paredes de Coura Festival 2012 – the preview

My personal favorite festival Paredes de Coura is just ahead and we’re here to welcome it. Almost a landmark in Portugal, Paredes de Coura is turning twenty this year. And what a big boy it has become. From the likes of Sonic Youth, Arcade Fire, Dinosaur Jr., Queens of the Stone Age, Yo La Tengo, Mogwai, PJ Harvey, Pixies, Death from Above 1979, Morrissey, Bauhaus, The Cramps (and we could keep going), the shores of river Tabuão (that sets the perfect idyllic scenery) have seen it all. More than you probably will in your whole life.


Willis Earl Beal, “Acousmatic Sorcery” (Hot Charity, 2012)

I’ve been hearing quite a bit about Willis Earl Beal lately. About his former homelessness and his relationship with his grandmother. About how he used to leave CDs in random public places and give out flyers that said “I like oatmeal, train stations, night-time and chamomile tea. Call me.”. About his “years of toiling in obscurity” (though he’s only 27), making music while working the night shift as a hotel porter. And among the few things white hipsters can totally get behind, a formely-homeless black guy who wears Bukowski T-shirts and makes music using discarded instruments found at flea markets is definitely one of them. These biograpic details are the stuff legends are made of. And his lo-fi sound, reminiscent of 90s indie rock bands but, unlike those bands, definitely un-middleclass, only reinforces his “authenticity”. 

What’s surprising is that, regardless of the hype, his songs are actually good. While listening to the whole album (Acousmatic Sorcery) might tire a little – variety is not one of Beal’s strengths and the songs are not exactly what you’d call catchy – there are enough interesting things going on to make it worth your time. Sambo Joe From the Rainbow and Monotony are highlights. And if you have a thing for album closers, as I do, bonus track Masquerade is as good as they come.The song’s strongest asset, apart from Beal’s skin-crawling voice, is the monotonous catchy-yet-subtly-unnerving whistling that never quite lets you become comfortable with the song – a warning to always be on your guard*. Have a listen.

*I may not be the only one finding myself wanting to yell “Yo, Omar’s coming, YO!”