Made The Cut For Sofar Sounds, Porto Style!

Sofar Sounds Porto poster.

By Kieran Ford

My Second Sofar in Portugal

Sofar Sounds in short? Secret shows hosting secret artists in secret locations. Yes, it’s all very cool and exclusive.

You can find further info about this incognito music movement by clicking here to read the intro of my Sofar Sounds Coimbra post, or here to check out their website.

All events are by invite only, so I was chuffed to make the guest list for my second show since September.

Poooorto!

The beautiful city of Porto was chosen as the location this time. It’s the second largest city in Portugal and the hub of the North.   

The differences between Lisbon (South) and Porto (North) very much remind me of the contrast between England’s dominant cities London (South) and Manchester (North).

In my eyes, Porto is the Manchester of Portugal – Smaller and more compact but still with so many things to do, this makes it very easy to get around without long travelling times. The people are said to be a lot warmer, more open and friendly. It’s less touristy, has lower prices and a colder climate.

As I loved living in Manchester, I love Porto too and I was glad to spend the weekend there checking out a top-notch concert. It’s Sofar Sounds Porto style!

“…his voice portrayed emotion so well that I never once felt lost throughout the telling of his tales.”

The Douro River, Porto.
The Douro River, Porto.

An Excellent Choice of Venue

Ever tasted Port wine? It’s not just a coincidence that it has a similar name as this city, no, the popular beverage now consumed worldwide originates from Porto. Many port wine cellars still run alongside the famous Douro River.

One of the most well-known is that of Sandeman. So, Sofar strategically selected The House of Sandeman, a hostel beside the historic wine cellar, to showcase this unique event.

It was the perfect setting for a Sofar Sounds show. Like a large open plan living room and dining room equipped with a well-stocked bar, comfy sofas, trendy posters, Christmas lights and old school décor. It made for a cosy and intimate atmosphere for the artists to take centre stage within. Each positioned as if performing in place of a TV.

I must say, before the Portuguese banish me back to Inglaterra – being on the other end of the iconic Dom Luís bridge, this spot is actually in Vila Nova de Gaia, a city in its own right that lies within the Porto district.

The Artists

Calmness, an artist playing live.
Calmness opens up and sets the bar high.

1) Calmness

First up, arrives quite reserved, he’s young but has heartfelt stories to share. Portuguese, from Lisbon, but sings in perfect English.

Melancholic, finger picked guitar notes that echo out before being overlaid with soft, almost whispering vocals. A synth and loop pedal enter the mix every now and then to pack in even more atmosphere into his dreamy, voice-inside-your-head-like songs.

It’s all very emotional, he invites you in to relive those deepest moments of his past. The words are carefully put across, as if trying to relay to the audience the pictures that each sentence resurfaces in his memory.

🎵 Song of the Set – You Know What you Want Now

De Turquoise performing live.
De Turquoise follows suit, continuing on the journey.

2) De Turquoise

Next, a long haired and bearded journeying looking type. Once again, a Portuguese native but you wouldn’t know it during the songs.

You can tell he’s spent a lot of time hanging out with his guitar, you know, the on the road campfire, by the rivers and in the parks type of guitarist. Skilled finger picking that produced unique and complex tunes. I liked how he improvised by using his tapping foot on a guitar case as a thudding bass drum.

These traveller traits also come across in his songs. They feel like journeys. Progressive riffs and wind-like vocals are looped to create the feeling of flowing through those winding roads and forests he’s ventured, and are reminiscent of what he saw and felt along the way.

🎵 Song of the Set – Sweet Black River

Leo Middea performing live.
Leo Middea tops it all off, ensuring that everyone leaves with a smile.

3) Leo Middea

To conclude the show, a cheerful, afro’d Brazilian dude. I say dude because he had that trait that many Brazilians seem blessed with – oozing cool with their open, happy and free attitudes towards life and the people around them.

Unlike the other two, Leo’s lyrics are in Portuguese. He played and sang with a smile. Some songs went deep into feelings of longing, but soon kicked back into those samba-esque Brazilian rhythms, as if coming out the other side and into the light at the end of the tunnel once again.

I enjoyed the funky guitar riffs and even though I didn’t understand every word (ainda estou a aprender), his voice portrayed emotion so well that I never once felt lost throughout the telling of his tales.

🎵 Song of the Set – Tibethânica

(♫) I Just Can’t get Enough (♫)

All in all, another great show put on by Sofar Sounds. I hope to be lucky enough to attend a show in Lisbon next, so fingers crossed for that!

Also, I’m working toward getting some of my own music posted in the near future, so stay tuned! Who knows, maybe I’ll be fortunate enough to play at a Sofar event myself one of these days.

As always, thanks a lot for reading and get in touch via the comments! Show the artists some love too by checking their Instagrams via the links in my description here, or look them up on Spotify.

Thanks / Obrigado,

Key

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