Notes from: NOS Primavera Sound 2017
As a politically punch drunk England returns to her feet, Porto is in altogether different spirits on Saturday evening. "Take out your ear plugs" deadpans Shellac's Bob Weston as the sun dips for cover. A playfight breaking out between two ageing millennials as the trio's heavy minimalism takes hold.
Ladless and litterless, NOS Primavera hits you like a polite National Trust park on entry. Ariel drones return blissful beach scenes to dotted screens and the stages sit amidst rising hills, offering great views from pretty much everywhere. Picture Green Man's size mixed with Lattitude's encircling greenery. And with acts generally alternating between the two main stages, sound bleed isn't an issue here.
Compared to many UK festivals, the pace is slower, the queues are smaller and the beer is cheaper.
Earlier, we catch a rapturous set of mesmerising distorted samba from Brazilian icon and activist, Elza Soares, who at 79, manages to traverse electronica, jazz and art-rock with ease. A brief leap to the NOS stage sees us take in The Growlers whose cover of Leon Payne's murder ballad 'Psycho' is sent to space via swirling synths and Brooks Nielsen's aptly creepy vocals. The highlight of Saturday evening comes in the form of Japandroids and their set closer 'The House That Heaven Built'. Standing on drummer David Prowse’s kick drum, singer Brian King whips the crowd into a motivational fury; “If they try to slow you down / Tell ‘em all to go to hell” he screams with pained intent.
Such is the strength of the lineup that on Friday we witness sets from Whitney, Angel Olsen, Swans, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Bon Iver and Skepta in one evening of sonic splendour. But it's Teenage Fanclub who steal the show - their post-Byrds harmonies propelled beautifully into the Porto breeze. Whitney come close however with a perfect run of something old ('Follow'), something new ('Rolling Blackout'), something borrowed (NRBQ's 'Magnet') and something blue ('No Woman').
With close to 90,000 people attending the sixth edition of NOS Primavera Sound, the festival's allure speaks for itself. In 2018, the festival returns to the Parque da Cidade in Porto on 7, 8 and 9 June. We'll be there.
All images - Hugo Lima.