Festival Review: Aussies dominate on first day of Primavera Porto (06.06.24)

PJ Harvey

Primavera Sound Porto celebrates ten years of music festivals with an amazing lineup. Created in Barcelona, the Porto, Portugal leg is held in the Parque da Cidade, a large park right on Porto’s shore. With four stages and numerous pop-up installations, there’s plenty to keep everyone entertained.

The atmospheric pop and futuristic Portugese R&B artist, Silly  could be heard on the main Porto stage as festival goers headed towards the gates. Her music washes over the event with dreamy melodies and personal lyrics. It’s a beautiful way to start the festival. She has an album out, Miguella, that would be worth a listen.

Heading to the other side of the event, in a natural amphitheatre is Ana Lua Caiano, also from Portugal.  She is a one-woman band, with an array of home-made instruments that she loops and distorts to create a vibrant and captivating sound. Her personality shines through with an open and honest refreshing style that wins the audience over. There are sing-alongs that has everybody swaying and dancing.

Ana Lua Caiano           Ana Lua Caiano

Shortly after the end of Ana Lua Caiano’s set, the adjacent Vodaphone stage sprang into life with Aussie pop rockers Royel Otis. Founders off the band, Royel Maddell and Otis Pavlovic, seemed to need no introduction to the Porto crowd, as they filled the amphitheatre with an appreciative audience. Opening with “I Wanna Dance With You” they tore through songs from the Sofa King album, with a massive reception for the title track. Their Triple J “Like a Version” cover of Sophie Baxter-Ellis’ “Murder on the Dancefloor” was another highlight.

Royel Otis

Over at the main Porto Stage, US Rockers, Militarie Gun struggled to grab the crowd’s attention. Many were there to stake a claim for PJ Harvey’s set following and were sitting on the grass not engaging at all. The music itself was pure old school alternative rock, punk and would be killer in a smaller club setting. Lead singer, Ian Shelton did his best to make light of the situation, telling the crowd they had only 300 songs to go. Laughingly, he said it was actually three songs, but they would play “Song 2” (Blur cover) first. Sometimes lineups don’t always get it right.

Militarie Gun

Over at the Super Bock stage, another US alternative band Blonde Redhead had no such resistance from the crowd. Hailing from New York and consisting of twin brothers Simone and Amedeo Pace with Kazu Makino, the band has been performing since 1993. Opening with “Falling Man” from their 2004 album Misery is a Butterfly, the sound was clear, tight and moving. They also featured tracks from their latest release, Sit Down For Dinner. An enlightening and uplifting set.

Blonde Redhead Blonde Redhead

Another US band, Water from My Eyes are a completely different alternative band that drew a small but attentive audience at the Primavera Stage. In the press info, Rachel Brown and Nate Amos were described as picking up pop melodies as if they were solving mathematical riddles. To my ears there was an influence of The Pixies, but almost indescribable. Their album Everyone’s Crushed is worth giving a listen if you like your music slightly left of centre.

Water From Your Eyes

By the time I made it back to the Vodaphone Stage, Aussie rockers, Amyl and the Sniffers had the audience captivated. Dressed in black string with fur patches, lead singer, Amy Taylor took no prisoners as she pranced and danced around the stage. Professing a note of solidarity with the people of Palestine caused a massive show of support. As Amy Taylor proclaims in Security, “I’m not looking for trouble, I’m looking for love”. Defiantly she said that anyone who looked or acted differently are still human beings, which drew a massive cheer from the diverse crowd.

Amyl and the Sniffers

It was PJ Harvey who was the headliner and drew audiences from all over the park, like drawn to a magnet. Opening with “Prayer at the Gate” from her 2023 album I Inside the Old Year Dying, she cut a commanding stage presence. Dressed in a large white coat, covered in painted symbols, the set built up in a measured way. She played two more songs from that album before returning to older material, such as “The Glorious Land” from Let England Shake. With some 75 minutes there were enough past hits to keep the fans happy, with several newer songs. A small guitar hiccup did nothing to phase her calm and collected demeanour, and she was enjoying playing as much as the fans enjoyed watching. The highlight was finishing the set with “Dress”, “Down by the Water” and “To Bring You My Love”.

PJ Harvey

Fans were then left flocking to Mitski‘s set, with SZA, Obongjayer and American Football still to come. A massive day of music for the first of three days of Primavera Sound.


Primavera Porto runs from 6th to 8th June at Parque da Cicade

Photos © Hugo Lima