Porto, Portugal: It was a cloudy start to day 1 of NOS Primavera Sound, the baby sister of Barcelona’s Primavera Sound. Attracting crowds from around the world, the sixth edition of the festival this year sees a particularly strong R&B and electronic selection, especially on the first day.
One of the first acts on Thursday was Cigarettes after Sex, a soft and steady monochrome ambient pop band. Providing a relaxing entrance to the early crowds already gathered at the festival, the mood picked up (and the sun finally broke out for the evening) with ‘Rodrigo Leão & Scott Mathews’. Leão, an internationally acclaimed Portuguese guitarist and keyboardist, stole the attention of the Porto crowd, and Australian singer Mathews came into his own with a few medley covers including ‘Smile’ by Charlie Chaplin. The band – drums, violin, trombonist and more – is the pinnacle of the act with their instrumental round off, and it’s this energy that gets the crowd up on their feet dancing in the sunshine.
Next up was Miguel, who really stole the stage today. Nominated for 9 Grammies, as well as winning one for Best R&B Song back in 2013 with ‘Adorn’, endless comparisons have been made between him and Prince (how does anyone live up to that?). Miguel has yet to fully catapult into mainstream commercial success with some of his songs calling for more depth, but not a single fault can be made of his performance. He positively prowls up and down the stage, bouncing off of the energy from his talented musicians, and never, ever stops dancing.
Run The Jewels are next to sweep the stage, playing plenty from their latest album and a few mixed in from their first two albums. With DJ Track Star behind the decks, rap duo Killer Mike and El-P admit to having had 3 hours sleep but that doesn’t stop their renowned energy and to their fans’ delight, DJ Shadow’s ‘Nobody Speaks’ gets a feature. They admit to almost referring to the crowd as ‘Barcelona’ – a mistake in this proud Portuguese city! – but the light moshing shows no one minds as long as the music keeps going.
The night is rounded up by two electronic acts. Flying Lotus is up first, playing behind a translucent screen with projected lighting and only stepping out at the end, although he remains interactive throughout the show. His twice nominated Grammy Award record Never Catch Me (ft.Kendrick Lamar) gets a play, and much of the night is spent playing beats – he attributes this to a girl he met backstage who ‘told me she just wanted to listen to the beats, so that’s what we’re going to do’.
Finally, it’s time for Justice, the French electronic duo Xavier de Rosnay and Gaspard Augé, carrying the rest of the night until the clock strikes 2. The kings of eurodance have a deeply impressive lighting team, with panels of lights mechanically lifted, lowered and at one point entirely surrounding them. Xavier is as ever the effortlessly cool face of the act, and their wordless dance set entrances the crowd that, for the relative smallness of the festival compared to Barcelona’s counterpart, stretches up and well across the hillside.
For such a small arena based right inside of Porto’s city park (it unusually doesn’t have its own dedicated camp site for festival goers) Day 1 has been a great start. Queues for drinks and food are more than manageable, amazingly there’s enough night buses ready for the thousands of fans streaming out of the venue, and there’s free ice cream and flowers for all. Bring on day 2!