They are saying you are by no means speculated to return to the place you have been completely satisfied. In 2014 I went to NOS Alive for the primary time, a random final minute one-day occasion organized by a buddy as visitors to Unknown Mortal Orchestra throughout what have been undoubtedly extra harmless instances. I used to be additionally nearly to depart Lisbon after having lived there for about 4 years, a comparatively quick time in case you think about the scale of the household I managed to construct and whose connections would show to endure all through my voluntary exile in Paris, my coronary heart perpetually torn between right here and there. However like António Variações sang in his immortal hymn to nervousness ‘Estou Além’, I really feel good the place I’m not as a result of I solely need to go the place I’m not going. And, each time doubtful, I all the time go.
However life is manufactured from cycles, and the ending of 1 all the time marks the start of one other. My return to NOS Alive, this time for the complete three-day expertise, showcased such a transition; the world as we all know it additionally modified in a method we in all probability hadn’t conceived even in our wildest goals, our actuality as soon as once more changing into a projection of what occurs inside us, fears included. We’ve toughened up as a society, a few of us changing into extra engaged with the socio-political context surrounding us, others merely wanting to flee from it altogether. Ideas and conditions that had all the time appeared predictable and steady have been turned the other way up and we merely do not know what or who to depend on anymore.
Festivals, identical to every other cultural manifestation, have accompanied this development. This yr’s version of NOS Alive was an instance of this ever altering tide, with the eclectic line-up mixing unpredictable responses from the general public and a way of imminent shift within the air, protected bets more and more proving to be much less and fewer, effectively, protected. You felt a way of unsettlement in all places, possibly not from the folks instantly however from the entire expertise as a substitute, and undoubtedly not in any method unique to NOS Alive — when the time comes, you simply transfer with the season. And if latest instances serve our reminiscence effectively, there is no method of telling what could come subsequent.
NOS Alive’19 led to a cycle of types in my life as effectively, not solely resulting from my higher talked about presence in 2014 simply earlier than my last goodbyes to Lisbon but in addition as a result of two of its headliners have been taking part in at my first summer season pageant ever, at a time the place model presence was nonetheless a primitive idea and cellphone service scarce. I’ve already written about how a lot of a mark Sudoeste 2002 was to my teenage self (notably relating to my indie-ass ardour for the Beta Band), however surprisingly neither The Treatment nor the Chemical Brothers have been excessive factors for me again then: hyped about seeing Robert Smith & Co. reside for the primary time, my fangirl ass received inevitably upset with a set containing largely materials from the recently-released Bloodflowers; and the Chemical Brothers have been one of many few concert events I truly missed altogether, its late slot after BRMC and Air proving to be an not possible activity to endure after a full day of lounging within the solar. So NOS Alive’19 additionally represented my probability to redeem each exhibits with a vengeance, bringing a few dizzying shitload of reminiscences almost 20 years outdated.
I kicked off my day one schedule with Sharon Van Etten‘s set, a present that undoubtedly deserved a much bigger stage or possibly a later slot. Providing us a flawless efficiency underneath a +35º levels suffocating warmth, SVE was one of many acts my associates stored asking me about probably the most each time they realised I used to be at Alive. Acceptable California vibes from Weezer adopted, delivering hit after hit even if you thought you did not know their catalogue effectively sufficient (“wait, this track’s Weezer?”), plus a justifiable share of covers from their Teal Album together with the Turtles’ ‘Joyful Collectively’, Toto’s ‘Africa’, and A-Ha’s ‘Take On Me’.
Predictably sufficient, Ornatos Violeta was considered one of my absolute highlights of the entire weekend since after I first contemplated the thought of seeing them reside I used to be nonetheless in highschool and hash was nonetheless purchased in escudos — so yeah, the build-up was large. Celebrating the twenty years of their sophomore (and final) album and chef d’oeuvre O Monstro Precisa De Amigos, which they performed in full albeit not in monitor order, Ornatos demonstrated to nonetheless possess an absolute tightness in any case these years, Manel Cruz’s distinguishable voice (and accent, in case you occur to know Portuguese) immediately taking me again to my teenage years. The group sang nearly every part from starting to finish, and I used to be doing a tremendous job holding again my tears up till ‘Capitão Romance’ got here alongside.
One other throwback was The Treatment‘s enormous set, redeeming my in some way disappointing expertise from 2002 by beginning to ship classics method earlier than mid-show. Even non-fans have been hypnotised by the band’s outstanding endurance and Robert Smith’s seemingly unchanged voice: ‘Inbetween Days’, ‘Lullaby’, ‘Friday I am in Love’, or ‘Shut To You’ felt as recent as if they’d been written yesterday. Sizzling Chip closed the primary day in euphoria, the resistant ones gathering at Sagres stage to share a kind of magical moments sponsored by late night time pageant slots and continuous dancing.
Day two was in all probability the weakest of all of them public-wise, although it did have a great deal of stuff I used to be inquisitive about. I used to be very hyped for Pip Blom however the sound wasn’t tip-top, which made me lower her set quick and head off for a fourth espresso earlier than becoming a member of the gang at NOS stage for Primal Scream. A chillier afternoon appeared to have caught folks abruptly, the distinction to the scorching sizzling climate of the day prior to this changing into the pretext for infrequent conversations in regards to the delights of world warming. In case you have been seeing them reside for the primary time like I used to be, you have been in all probability too in awe to even discover the insistent wind, however a good share of the viewers did appear to be a veteran so hoodies began to pop up like mushrooms right here and there; Bobby’s pink swimsuit was a factor of magnificence as effectively, I for as soon as couldn’t take my eyes off it and critically thought-about infiltrating backstage to be able to steal it.
Not a fan of Greta Van Fleet‘s uninventive Led Zeppelin pastiche (I am not even vastly into of the unique factor as Plant’s voice usually will get on my nerves each time I enterprise into listening to a full album greater than annually), my plan was to get one thing to eat and head over to Tash Sultana, considered one of my favorite discoveries of 2018 and one more act that undoubtedly deserved foremost stage honours. I had no concept how massive she was in Portugal so I used to be pleasantly stunned to see folks piling up to be able to catch a glimpse of her present. Or possibly by that point they’d simply had sufficient of Greta Van Fleet.
I do not even know learn how to describe Grace Jones‘ present, so frankly I am not going to attempt. Standing proper there within the entrance row — which allowed for some upclose delights corresponding to having the Girl herself reaching out to the touch our hand and a bathe of tiny glittery golden papers —, I gasped in admiration from the very begin of ‘Nightclubbing’ proper till she hula-hooped the final be aware of ‘Slave to the Rhythm’: citing Montell Jordan, that is how we do it. And sure, I did handle to catch a little bit of Gossip‘s set as effectively, however I used to be nonetheless making an attempt to digest what I had simply seen so my public apologies to Beth Ditto for not having paid extra consideration.
Saturday proved to be a later begin but a a lot busier one. First on my listing have been Idles, and all of the hype surrounding their reside performances proved to be greater than well-deserved. Simply one of the anticipated exhibits of the pageant, they crammed the Sagres stage to the brim whereas a loyal viewers chanted alongside to the likes of ‘By no means Battle A Man With a Perm’, ‘I am Scum’, and the impromptu love songs medley that includes samples from Adele, Sinead O’Connor, and Joe Cocker. Though they’re clearly in very completely different leagues, Idles in some way eclipsed Bon Iver‘s much-awaited present on the foremost stage that adopted, a excessive share of the viewers preferring to have dinner as a substitute — I later bumped into a few associates, each Bon Iver followers, who confessed they’d reasonably see him in a closed venue. And whereas Marina was lighting up the Sagres stage, the Smashing Pumpkins warmed up what would show to be a really agitated night, with folks dashing round making an attempt to catch a little bit of every part that was occurring.
Thom Yorke was in all probability Saturday’s greatest shock, and never solely to me — I quickly realised that my considerably blasé self that had been mumbling “eh may head over to Sagres to verify Thom Yorke’s set” each time requested what I used to be hyped for on day three was not an exception, a considerable amount of his viewers being dragged extra out of curiosity than precise devotion. However the intense present he delivered paralised most of us philistines making us not possible to go verify the rest, and triggered precise non secular ecstasy in true followers who realised he was basing his efficiency in way more than the lately launched Anima. When the spell wore off a bit I started my night time jogging between two native acts I had vowed to not miss: one was the tribute to the late António Variações, which despite occurring day-after-day of the pageant I used to be solely in a position to catch on Saturday. EDF Jazz Café was packed and the band fashioned by actor/singer Sérgio Praia (who performs the person himself within the forthcoming João Maia movie) was joined by a skillful group of musicians together with soundtrack supervisor Armando Teixeira. However one other impromptu act awaited me on the comedy stage: Ena Pá 2000, whose frontman Manuel João Vieira ran for the Portuguese presidency greater than as soon as (in 2019 he in all probability would have gained), had been on my listing since I first began placing my pageant schedule collectively resulting from it being a legendary band I in some way managed to overlook all of my life — a bizarre reality in case you be mindful they have been taking part in because the late 80s and are a frequent presence on college students’ occasions. From there all roads led to the Chemical Brothers, 2002 redemption happening in waves as I step by step made my method to the entrance: in the beginning of their present I used to be nonetheless watching them from the press balcony, then I made a decision to go all the way down to have a correct dance, and in the direction of the top I in some way discovered myself within the crowd standing on somebody’s shoulders — a primary for me as an grownup, I have to (sadly) confess.
In case you think about that what finally issues in a music pageant are the reminiscences it triggers in you and the brand new ones you create to be able to be triggered sooner or later, you simply perceive the way it works as a micro ecosystem in its personal proper, a perpetual cycle of endings and new beginnings inhabiting an odd, parallel dimension through which each particular person and scenario exists there and there alone. Festivals turn into the proper projected metaphor for our relationship with ourselves and what surrounds us, as they spotlight what makes us human (sure, it is the collective response we give to an emotional expertise, no plot twist right here) and permit us to understand social interactions at a unique degree, as if a tiny nation had all of the sudden been created. NOS Alive is aware of this all too effectively, because it has managed to grasp the cause-and-consequence system to perfection — proof of that being it nearly all the time sells out. And although the pageant format will inevitably be reinvented anytime quickly, it is solely truthful to foretell NOS Alive to be among the many first to take action.