After a two-year hiatus that seemed to stretch on endlessly like “The Neverending Story,” the long-awaited return of the Lisbon-based festival, NOS Alive, finally came to fruition. Oh meu deus! With its 14th edition taking place from July 6th to 9th, NOS Alive once again solidified its position as one of the world’s premier festivals, boasting a lineup of over 60 bands, including an array of major headliners, and even introducing a brand new clubbing stage. And, of course, Curated by GIRLS was in attendance (duh), joining the ranks of the 200,000 ecstatic music aficionados, melomaniacs, and revelers who flocked together for this four-day musical extravaganza. As they say in Portugal, INCRÍVEL!
To commemorate its 14th edition, NOS Alive returned after a pandemic-induced hiatus with a thrilling four-day extravaganza. As an ardent music lover, I eagerly anticipated the opportunity to witness nearly every artist on the lineup, fully aware of the intensity that such an endeavor would entail. The festival organizers did not disappoint, as they curated an impressive array of headliners spanning multiple genres, which got me excited – and made me curious about budgetary considerations too – but mostly got me excited…. Among the acts that occupied the top spots on my must-see list were Haim, M.I.A, St. Vincent, Stromae,Phoebe Bridgers, and Metallica. Additionally, I was eager to explore the various stages, with particular anticipation for the unveiling of the brand new WTF Clubbing stage, where globally renowned DJ talents would ignite the crowd with infectious beats.
Naturally, a festival as esteemed as NOS Alive wouldn’t be complete without paying homage to Portugal’s most significant musical genre and cultural tradition, FADO. The EDP Fado Café, a hidden gem meticulously designed to resemble a Lisbon street, served as a haven for those seeking to immerse themselves in the captivating sounds of FADO. It featured performances by some of the finest, heartrending voices from the fado scene, allowing festival-goers to experience the essence of Lisbon’s melancholic allure.
Equipped with an insatiable curiosity and a desire for exploration, I embarked on my inaugural NOS Alive journey, eager to uncover all that awaited me. Join me as I recount my captivating experience at this extraordinary festival.
Upon arriving at the picturesque Algés river, I was immediately filled with overwhelming joy. The scenery was absolutely beautiful! Everywhere we looked, the festival’s motto, “the dream is alive,” reminded us that we were among fellow dreamers, living the dream ourselves 🙂 Additionally, the enticing aroma of Lisbon’s delicious cuisine, including Bacalhau, Pasteis de Nata, Croquetas, and Bifanas, put me in a delightful mood right away. It was reminiscent of being a kid on the first day of vacation.
As I stepped onto the expansive astroturf at Passeio Marítimo de Oeiras, I was greeted by the Lisbon heatwave. The temperature soared to a scorching 40 degrees in the shade, but fortunately, the cool ocean breeze and a refreshing glass of vinho verde made it bearable. Moreover, the stages were conveniently close to each other, and the bands performed extended sets, allowing us to relax, grab some snacks and drinks, and fully enjoy the experience without feeling rushed. It was a breeze, both literally and figuratively!
So, there we were, 45k music lovers, eagerly anticipating the first day of the festival on a late afternoon. The main stage kicked off with a captivating performance by Brazilian artist Mallu Magalhães, leaving us all delighted. Throughout the day, we were treated to a plethora of talented artists that I highly recommend you check out and follow. One standout was the charismatic Leonor Andrade, the lead singer of the pop rock quartet Lefty, who took the stage at the Heineken tent with an incredible burst of energy. They are definitely ones-to-watch! As the evening progressed, I couldn’t help but groove to the infectious funky beats of Teresa de Sousa, better known as Da Chick, at the WTF stage. Muito bom !
But on that first night, I was particularly thrilled to witness STROMAE‘s performance at NOS Alive. The Belgian artist showcased his unique creative world, and it was evident that he was genuinely delighted to be there, which was truly refreshing, especially after The Strokes, who seemed somewhat disengaged. They omitted their popular hits from their setlist, and there was no enthusiastic sing-along to ‘Last Niiiight’… not a trace. Julian Casablancas did make an effort with a few jokes, but they didn’t quite land… Nevertheless, I did get to see The Strokes! Oh well. Now, back to Stromae and his exceptional performance; he fearlessly delivered some of his massive hits like ‘Papaoutai’ and ‘Formidable,’ culminating with ‘Alors on Danse,’ which ignited a climax as the Portuguese crowd flawlessly sang along to every word in perfect French. Oh la la, what a magical first day at NOS Alive!”
The second day of the festival showcased an exceptional display of vocal prowess. Three incredible singers took the main stage, leaving me in awe. The American-British singer-songwriter Celeste captivated the audience with her poised performance. She even ventured down from the stage at one point to create an intimate atmosphere and treated us to two exclusive new songs. Truly enchanting!
As golden hour approached, Jorja Smith took the stage, despite encountering a few technical issues. Nevertheless, her voice shone through like that of a true goddess. Perfect setting to enjoy a refreshing glass of wine – for hydratation purpose bien sûr ;p
The headliner of the night was none other than Florence and the Machine, who stormed Nos Alive with her breathtaking vocal power and infectious songs. Florence, dancing barefoot in a mesmerizing red lace dress, added an ethereal touch to the performance.
Friday was one of those “tell me Metallica is playing tonight without telling me” situations. I seemed to have missed the dress code memo, but it was clear that everyone else got it! To the delight of their hardcore fans, the pioneers of thrash metal graced the main stage for not just one, but two very (very very) generous hours. While I was excited to see these legendary performers, my attention was often captivated by the spectacular fireworks and pyrotechnics because, well, nothing else matter‘ed to me… (hahah)
To be honest, I spent most of the night at the Tent, which had an absolutely electrifying lineup. Annie Clark, widely known as St. Vincent, delivered a mesmerizing performance as part of her Daddy’s Home Tour, accompanied by her band and backup singers who seemed to have stepped straight out of the 70s. She skillfully utilized the wah-wah pedals and held notes with majestic precision, all while passionately speaking out about the “basic fucking human rights” that every individual deserves. Louder Annie, for the people in the back!
The perfect ending to my night came with an explosive show by the divine M.I.A! Each beat, each hit, along with a hypnotizing visual display and an exceptional pair of dancers, turned Nos Alive into a full-blown party. M.I.A truly reigned like a queen on that stage.
The final day was filled with emotions and intensity, featuring an incredible lineup including Imagine Dragons, Two Door Cinema Club, Caribou, Parcels, Phoebe Bridgers…
Despite the scorching heat in Lisbon, Canadian indie-rock band Mother Mother delivered a joyful performance on the main stage. Their setlist included catchy tunes, dancey beats, and tight vocal harmonies. After replenishing myself with much-needed H2O, I was ready for the “Women in Music” segment, headlined by the talented trio, HAIM. The sisters brought bold energy to the stage, where they had hung big-sized chorizos, showcasing their girl power. Lead vocalist Danielle effortlessly transitioned from guitar to drums, while Este entertained the audience with her wild facial expressions. Este even called her previous (Tinder) date on the phone and humorously searched for a potential next date in the crowd. Amidst the jokes, the sisters rocked the stage, and watching the charismatic youngest sister Alana felt reminiscent of watching ‘Licorice Pizza‘ again!
Saturday was marked by the highly anticipated reunion of the Portuguese music scene with the hip hop/rock band from Almada, DA Weasel. They made their comeback performance at NOS Alive, 12 years after officially disbanding. The local “estreias” generated immense excitement among the multi-generational audience. It was evident that their music had resonated with Portuguese homes for a long time, and that evening, they brought fans of all ages together. In these troubled times, it is heartwarming to witness people from diverse backgrounds celebrating together. Music has this magical power over our souls.
Afterward, we followed the crowd to witness the phenomenon that is Phoebe Bridgers. Her fans eagerly awaited her, screaming her name incessantly, even an hour before she took the stage. And as she appeared, the intensity only grew. Picture this: an intimate moment under the tent, with Phoebe’s emotional voice filling the air, echoed by her passionate fans singing along to every word and reacting to her every move. Impressive.
We concluded our NOS Alive journey in the best way possible with the Australian band, Parcels. Surprisingly, they transformed their cute pop songs into an electrifying electronic set, setting the Heineken stage ablaze. They couldn’t stop playing, and we couldn’t get enough! Their incredible musicianship and beautiful energy showcased the essence of music—giving.
Thank you, NOS Alive, for an unforgettable experience! You provided us with thrills, chills, and everything we needed during these four intense days. When it was all over, we wished it didn’t have to end.