By Kieran Ford
It’s July… Music Festival?
Music has always been a huge passion of mine. I’ve played the guitar for over ten years, dabbled in other instruments, and performed in both bands and solo since my late teens. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that I LOVE to witness live music, especially festivals.
Over the years, growing up in London, I’ve been to Reading many times, Benicassim in Spain a few times, plus a lot of colossal band hosted one-day, sort-of festivals, and smaller ones around England.
Now it was time to see what Portugal had to offer. Since its launch in the summer of 2007, NOS Alive (Previously Oereis Alive and Optimus Alive) has rapidly become one of, arguably the, most famous music festival in Portugal.
A catalogue of legendary acts have graced its stages since the first edition including Radiohead, Metallica, The Cure, Pearl Jam, Rage Against The Machine, Bob Dylan, Arcade Fire, The Libertines, Muse, Foo Fighters and this year, my personal favourites Arctic Monkeys! …Apologies to anyone still reading in hope that there were real monkeys involved here. Just the band, I’m afraid.
“As admittedly, in classic ‘Brit’ fashion, we each sank a few too many cervejas to maintain any sort of well-regarded dance coordination.”
Full Festival Immersion. We’re Camping!
Despite my good friend Nick, who came over from London to join me, claiming that we were too old now to be camping in an oven (a sunbathed tent), I insisted on it. There’s no other way to experience a festival in all of its glory than camping amongst the damage from the nights before. In my humble opinion.
I managed to win him over with the ‘convenience card’ – save all that faffing about with transport at stupid o’clock. Though it wasn’t until I was on the bus down to Lisbon that I realised NOS Alive simply rent out the ‘local’ Lisboa Camping & Bungalows site. It’s approximately one hour and ten minutes walk from all of the action. Oh, lovely!
To fend off the moans of inconvenience, a free shuttle bus is offered, supposedly leaving every twenty minutes until the early hours. This did come in handy on the way to the festival stages but as expected, the outrageous queues prevented its usefulness when heading back to the tents. So we combined walking with frantic taxi hailing each night in order to get ‘home’.
To be fair, we couldn’t complain and it did turn out to be the best option. Being official campgrounds, the bathroom facilities were almost spotless, which as many of you will know is pretty much unheard of when it comes to festivals… ‘Doing your business’ through one of many circles cut into a giant sheet of plywood, which each fall into a shared swimming pool of toilet cleaner below comes to mind. Yes, Reading festival, I’m talking about you.
Anyway, cast that last image from your mind and replace it with one of a grand swimming pool with DJ’s, bar and grass areas surrounding. Now we’re talking! This large, open-air pool was part of the campsite and an absolute godsend for those nasty hangovers.
Looking Good On The Dancefloor?
No. I’m 99% sure we weren’t. As admittedly, in classic ‘Brit’ fashion, we each sank a few too many cervejas to maintain any sort of well-regarded dance coordination. Though, in our heads we were ‘nailing it’, and who knows, maybe we were. But I highly doubt it.
Anyway, the Arctic Monkeys. Now, they definitely did, living up to the overwhelming hype and expectation. Contrary to that well-known first line uttered by Alex Turner many moons ago now ‘Don’t believe the hype’. Showing off their long-awaited sixth album on this tour, they made sure to throw in many of the old classics as well. Making for a well-rounded set performed with style and vigour, sure to please fans of any of their incredible catalogue of work. You can see the complete setlist here.
I think I’ll stop myself there, before I get too carried away. I’ve been known to praise Arctic Monkeys ‘until the cows come home’ in the past, so I’ll save you from that for now. Though do feel free to get in touch if you share this obsession, we can have a good old chinwag!
I’m not going to go into too much detail about the specifics of each act I saw, I’m sure you can find more accurate reviews from people that were in more sober states of mind in NME or something. To round off my top three acts of the weekend though, I’d say Future Islands, then Queens of the Stone Age.
The music and setup of the festival arena, as a whole, was of a top quality standard. The stages sounded good and were close enough together to go from one to the other to follow the act agenda you’d planned for the night. Popular DJs kept the place happening into the sunrise, and there’s all of the usual overpriced but tasty food trucks, bars and entertainment along with VIP areas that we inevitably tried to sneak into.
(♫) Four Stars Out Of Five? (♫)
Yes, absolutely, I highly recommend it. You may be thinking, ‘why not five stars then?’ Well, in a recent interview Alex Turner remarked how this line, taken from a track on the new album, is a joke about how no matter how good something is these days, critics will never give it a full five stars.
Just can’t help myself can I… Back to the festival, some people complain about it being too commercialised, but if you want to see some of the biggest acts in the world then this is to be expected. It’s very well organised, entertaining and although it was festival prices, being in Portugal they weren’t half as bad as some of the ludicrous charges I’ve seen at other events across Europe. Also, you can take as much food and drink into the campsite as you please. There’s a Jumbo supermarket a ten minute ride or twenty minute walk away.
Situated in Oeiras, a municipality within Greater Lisbon that’s close to the coast, beautiful Costa Azul beaches and even Sintra are within twenty-five minutes drive. This is an ideal festival to turn into a short trip away. It’s a beautiful setting with a lot to explore and a festival hosting excellent entertainment to top it all off!
Being classed as Lisbon, Portugal has now shown me how they do festivals in the capital and more Southern part of the country. In August I’m heading to the very North, to one with a slightly less-commercialised vibe called Paredes De Coura. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you on that one.
For now, many thanks if you’ve taken the time to read this post. Just getting started on this whole blogging thing, so I really do appreciate it.
Tell me, were you there too? Been to or going to any festivals this year? Or anything you’d like to ask me? Let me know in the comments, I’d be happy to hear from you.
For now, ♫ See you later innovator! ♫ (…Arctic Monkeys lyric)
Thanks! / Obrigado!