By Kieran Ford
My Third Sofar in Portugal!
Yes! My wish from the previous article was granted sooner than I expected. Less than a fortnight ago I attended an exclusive Sofar Sounds show in Porto, and this weekend I found myself on the guest list at another one. This time it was in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon.
In short, they’re secret shows hosting secret artists in secret locations.
In classic ‘Brit abroad’ fashion, I originally thought this was simply a nickname for Portugal’s capital city – Lisbon, but cleverly transformed to include ‘boa’ as well, which many of you will know means ‘good’. So, Lis-good… Lisbon is good!
Anyway… I was wrong. ‘Lisboa’ is just Lisbon in Portuguese. Just thought I’d share that little story with you there.
Though incorrect in one sense it’s not wrong in another, it is good! It’s better than good actually, it’s incredible, fantastic, amazing… it’s Lis-crível! …no, doesn’t work does it?
In all seriousness, Lisbon is one of the best cities I’ve ever visited. It’s no surprise that the amount of foreigners choosing to move there, especially digital nomads, seems to be increasing at a somewhat alarming rate for those little lettuces (a rather odd but affectionate nickname for Lisbon natives).
I won’t go into the details of what this great city has to offer just yet, as I intend to do another article that’s all about it soon.
“…it reminded me of one of those romantic movies you see where a man’s trying to win over that ‘one in a million’ woman.”
The Secret Location?
With so many unique places around I was intrigued as to where Sofar would host this one.
Surf Office was chosen and it was an excellent choice too. Located close to the trendy neighbourhood of Intendente, the setting felt perfectly fitting for an intimate Sofar show – a small but wide open room with quirky décor and low lighting. The stage was set.
Having hosted so well, it’s only fair I give them a quick mention – Surf Office offer companies unique retreat opportunities to re-energise their employees. You can find out further info here.
Bring on the Music – The Artists
1) Inês Pimenta
First up, a sweet sounding, rather elegant lady fronts four musicians – Guitar, bass, keyboard and drums, the whole package.
She sang in Portuguese, but most lyrics were slow and prolonged, which not only highlighted her extensive vocal range but also helped me to understand more words than I usually would.
There were a lot of instrumental parts, well crafted keyboard and guitar solos that often felt symbolic of an event in a story or along a journey. I liked this aspect. Emotions were portrayed through the instruments that at times built up and up to a point where they seemed to be battling against each other, like fierce waves crashing against rocky cliffs before her angelic voice would enter to surf along the top of the chaos and proceed to gently calm it down into an eventual conclusion.
Sometimes jazzy, sometimes orchestral, sometimes simply interesting, it was an entertaining performance.
🎵 Song of the set – Sem Pressa
Next up, a casually styled youngster enters the stage solo, picks up his guitar and takes a seat before the mic. A typical practice space setup and stance, as if these songs have come straight from his bedroom and now onto the stage, very personal.
He wins the room over with his first song. Softly played, simple but effective guitar overlaid with a well-thought out voice. It’s gentle and soothing and fitting for the lyrics, “come home to me“, it’s welcoming but with a hint of despair. He’s lost someone.
Speaks in Portuguese, sings in perfect English. He seemed to be naturally funny. He’d have the audience laughing with his stories between songs almost unintentionally. I liked how he went into the writing of the songs, where they came from. This gave them a deeper meaning and invited the audience in to really connect with the stories he was sharing with us.
The sense of having longed for someone continued throughout the set. Packed with emotion and delicately spoken. They felt like tales of a youth coming to the realisation that adulthood emotions can deliver some real heavy blows.
🎵 Song of the set – Honey
3) Sardinhas com Bigodes
A real treat to cap off the show, they had the audience smiling straight away. Firstly, their name translates to ‘Sardines with Moustaches’. Secondly, there was nine of them!
So, a frontman with guitar took centre stage accompanied by a bassist, a keyboardist, a ukulele-ist, a saxophonist, a trumpeter, a trombonist and two drummers!
Then the madness ensued… No, far from it, it was carefully composed and each instrument worked really well. I was amazed by the intricate little parts that some players had just springing up here and there, like the second ‘drummer’ who’d pop up every now and then with a shimmer along a wind chime or a rattle of a shaker. Also, I wasn’t expecting so much involvement from the ukulele, it was played through pedals and everything! Nicely done.
Everyone played their part. The singer strummed along and sang well, often backed up by his many amigos. At one point it reminded me of one of those romantic movies you see where a man’s trying to win over that ‘one in a million’ woman. You know, when he turns up and yells at her to come to her apartment window, yes, well there I pictured this singer stood down in the front garden backed up by all of his comrades, each equipped with their different instruments to put on a real show, which blows her away and wins her heart.
They certainly won the audience over anyway, it made for a fun and captivating end to the evening.
🎵 Song of the set – Troca o Par
(♫) We’ll Meet Again, Don’t Know Where, Don’t Know When (♫)
So, there you have it. The final Sofar in Portugal of 2018 completed a hat-trick of attendances across the country for me – Porto, Coimbra and Lisbon.
Another great show, I love how consistent these Sofar Sounds events are. I’m ready to try my chances at receiving invites to more unique locations in the New Year to witness more up and coming musical talent!
As always, thanks a lot for reading and I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Show the featured artists some love too by checking their Instagrams via the links in my description here.
Thanks / Obrigado,