Festival Review: Primavera Sound Porto wraps up with a bang (08.06.24)

The National

Despite it being quite a warm day, there were threatening clouds on the horizon at the start of the third day of Porto’s Primavera Sound festival. On the main Porto stage, Best Youth, Portugal’s indie pop band showed that a little rain was not going to dampen their enthusiasm. They played their infectious music and interacted with the audience as if it were a bright sunny day. Fortunately, most of the audience had plastic ponchos. so the show carried on regardless. Of course, some of the outdoor popup bars didn’t open and the areas that had shelter were full to the brim, but in general, people just made it happen.

Over at the Plenitude stage, another Portuguese act, Expresso Transatlântico were also determined not to let the rain get in the way of having a good time. The music is fun and uplifting, combining contemporary sounds with a range of genres. They featured songs from their debut album Primeira Rotunda, and have an infectious, uplifting style.

With a completely different style, American singer songwriter Joanna Sternberg played a dreamy acoustic performance on the Super Bock stage. Based in New York in Manhattan Plaza, an artist residential community, their songs are reflections of a gender neutral life, and living with autism and ADHD. Standout song was “People Are Toys To You”. Their worthy inclusion in the festival is a demonstration of the range of diversity in the lineup.

Back over on the main Porto stage, American punk power pop band Mannequin Pussy grabbed the audience and shook them hard. This is a band that forces you to take notice.  Lead singer Marisa Dabice exclaimed “When I say pussy, you say pussy,” with the audience chanting along. Featuring songs from their latest album I Got Heaven, the music is brash, abrasive and fun. Think of a cross between Karen O of the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs and Lydia Lunch. Songs of self respect and being true to yourself feature heavily.

Mannequin Pussy

The band Shellac were booked to perform at Primavera before the untimely death of Steve Albini in May 2024. The indie rock icon was the producer of albums by Nirvana, The Pixies and PJ Harvey, amongst many more. Shellac was formed in 1992 and has been described as Noise, hard-core and math-rock. Their latest album in a decade, To All Trains was released just 10 days after Albini’s death.

Albini was never a fan of music festivals, only playing at the now defunct All Tomorrow’s Parties and Primavera Sound, which he saw as exceptions to the general exploitative nature of music festivals. In fact, he played virtually every Primavera Festival since 2006. The slot that was reserved for Shellac became a listening party for the album. At the Vodaphone stage, setup for Pulp’s appearance that evening, instruments covered in cloth to protect from the rain, fans gathered to pay respects and listen to the album. The closing track “I Don’t Fear Hell” is strangely prophetic:

Something something something when this is over
Leap in my grave like the arms of a lover
If there’s a heaven, I hope they’re having fun
Cause if there’s a hell, I’m gonna know everyone

It was an interesting mix of sombre reflection and celebration. The light rain added to the feeling of a funeral. A man strode through the assembled crowd carrying a red flower won at a popup stall, adding to that emotion. As the music came to an end, the clouds parted and the sunshine washed over the event.

The statement from the organisers reads: “Inevitably Primavera Sound has lost a compass, but fortunately Steve Albini has marked the way forward forever”.

Meanwhile, over at the Plenitude stage, Portuguese rapper Soluna was another ray of sunshine. Her name derives from a combination of sun and moon, and is an uplifting mix of Latin American swing and rhythm. She had the crowd dancing along to her catchy tunes.

Soluna

Spanish band Lisabö took to the Super Bock stage with a Palestinian flag projected on the rear of the stage, to a huge cheer from the audience. With four electric guitars backed up with a stack of amplifiers and two drummers, the intensity of the sound was incredible. They are described as having a sound like poetry with thorns, and their post-hardcore sound was electrifying. This was the perfect antidote to blast away any lingering rain clouds.

Lisabo

At the Porto stage, The Legendary Tigerman, who missed playing the day before due to stage issues managed a spot due to another cancellation. The Portuguese singer-songwriter (Paulo Futardo) has been making music since the 80’s. With his larger than life sexy style he attracted the audience’s full attention. Covers such as Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin'” slotted in perfectly with tracks from his latest album Zeitgeist. Standout track “Motorcycle Boy” had a Japanese influenced video projected onto the rear screen. Luckily we got to watch him perform after all.

The Legendary Tigerman

Co-headliners Pulp were next up on the Vodaphone stage, which meant literally standing room only in the amphitheatre. People jostled and crammed for a view of the British band, back for their “This Is What We Do for an Encore” tour. Opening with “I Spy” from the 1995 album Different Class, we first caught sight of lead singer Jarvis Cocker in front of a giant projected moon. Coming to the front of the stage he then encouraged everyone to clap along to “Disco 2000.” Introducing “Joyriders” he explained the title in Portuguese as something much longer. I’m not sure that his Portuguese actually goes much beyond “obrigado”.

Acknowledging the passing of Steve Albini, he mentioned that they were introduced to him by their bass guitarist Steve Mackey, who also sadly passed away last year at 56 years of age.

The lanky Cocker is a captivating performer, freely conversing with the crowd and using the full stage to dance in his own style. At the end of the encore, he teased, “well that’s it. I think we played them all,” before launching into an extended version of “Common People.”

Pulp

Pulp

The National closed off the main Porto stage with an almost 2 hour set of songs from their more than 20 year catalogue. Opening track was “Sea of Love” from the 2013 album Trouble Will Find Me. Lead singer Matt Berninger had the crowd in the palm of his hand, singing at the barricade and even launching into the crowd. “Mr November” was also sung at the barricade and dedicated to US President Joe Biden.

The National

The National

PJ Harvey

In summary, Primavera Sound Porto was a well run event with a diverse and well curated selection of artists. The event started in Barcelona but has grown to other events around the world. Check out all the festivals and tours here

FIVE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

 

PRIMAVERA SOUND PORTO 2024
All photos_ © Hugo Lima | www.hugolima.com | www.instagram.com/hugolimaphoto