This years NOS Alive boasted one of if not THE BEST line-ups this summer and in the glorious Lisbon sun it was given quite the setting. Buoyed by football related euphoria, Portugal certainly seemed ready to shrug off any worldly worries and party.
Settled in their temporary home in Lisbon’s Bairro Alto Amazing Afternoons made the train journey to Algés, the picturesque setting for 2016’s NOS Alive. We kicked things off on the Thursday at the Palco NOS main stage with an Amazing favourite, The 1975. The London based band were accompanied with a backdrop of blue sky and the blazing sun. Matty spent the duration of the set playing their top tracks Chocolate, The Sound and Girls with not much chat inbetween. He apologised for this and explained to the crowd that he just wanted everyone to have a good time. The bands dream-like 80s pop sound encouraged the crowd to dance around in the 28 degree heat, opening up the festival with a blissful and energetic vibe to welcome the international crowd into the weekend.
Liverpool producer SG Lewis graced the NOS Clubbing Stage at 10.30pm with keen crowd members at the barriers awaiting his arrival. He created a seamless set of slow-burning tracks, drawing in passers by until the tent was packed out. Highlights include recent releases Holding Back, All Night and Yours, not forgetting Shivers and finishing with his most popular track Warm. Even when his laptop died halfway through the last track, the crowd continued to cheer until this technical glitch was set straight. As he thanked everyone for watching his set, he bowed out, replaying Warm from the beginning. SG Lewis provided a moment of escapism, one of those feelings that you can only reach dancing around in a tent whilst sharing a brief period of time with complete and utter strangers.
Thursday presented the biggest dilemma for our team at NOS. On the Palco NOS main stage, Pixies were the penultimate act and the band on the tip of everyone’s tongue. With an unrivalled back catalogue and a setlist full of classics etched into your musical pyche, they would be hard to turn down. However, over on the second Heineken stage, arguably one of Amazing Radio’s all time favourites and biggest success stories, Wolf Alice, were about to embark on another performance in what must seem like a never ending world tour. No contest, right?
We watched north London’s finest treat the packed out tent to a near perfect performance, full of tracks from their debut album, old favourites from earlier EPs and a few new tracks thrown in from (presumably) their next record. This was the first time the Amazing Afternoons team had seen Wolf Alice on a massive stage and it made perfect sense. The quartet have never sounded tighter and Ellie’s vocals were spot on, having seamlessly made the transition to big festival band over the past few years. After a day of missed trains and self sabotage that started at 6.30am, it was exactly what we needed.
Bringing the Palco NOS main stage to a close on the first day were The Chemical Brothers. Armed with an impressive arsenal of visual effects the duo ripped through a set list of absolute bangers. The huge crowd responded to every beat and strobe as their crowd pleasing back catalogue was brought to a close with Galvanise and Block Rockin’ Beats.
As we woke to another cloudless blue sky in the capital city of Portugal we dusted off a spectacular first day of live music with a traditional Portuguese custard tart (something Greg Porter would soon become addicted to) and a coffee. We had a show to prepare for! Listen again to Friday’s show live from Lisbon below.
The line-up for this years festival was pretty special but it was the Friday triple threat of Foals, Tame Impala and Radiohead that we were most looking forward to. The jewel in NOS Alive’s crown that no other festival this summer could compete with! However, before it was time to find a spot and camp in front of the main stage there was still time to grab a beer, soak up some sun and make our way to the Palco Heineken Stage for Amazing favourites Jagwar Ma.
It was a packed, sweaty tent for the Aussie outfit’s early-evening set with frontman Gabriel Winterfield yelping his way through their tight set. As well as crowd pleaser Come Save Me which had the tent moving as one, the band introduced the willing audience to some new material. From first impressions, it seems we might see Jagwar Ma steadily move towards electronic beats with their future releases.
Having officially had the party started by Jagwar Ma it was time to venture towards the main stage as anticipation was building for Foals. The Oxford quintet are no strangers to being high up a festival bill and there sunset set seemed to fit perfectly.
The band mixed up their set with old and new tracks from current album What Went Down with the crowd lapping up every word Yannis Philippakis had to offer. This evening, however, Yannis is seemingly subdued and not as fevered as you might expect. Only to jump into character with last track What Went Down as he dived into the delighted crowd. A definite highlight.
There wasn’t much time to move before Tame Impala took to the stage. Currents was one of our albums of 2015 so were pretty excited of what was to come when they opened their set with Nangs and Let It Happen (cue the first load of confetti).
One of THE festival moments belonged to the Australian five-piece as midset they launched into Elephant which caused an explosion of excitement in the crowd. A combination of the bands blistering set and the Lisbon humidity seemed to cause an outbreak of nudity with revellers discarding their clothes. Only to be given a nod of approval by frontman Kevin Parker “I see you Portugal… Taking off your clothes.” It was official, we were all having fun, it’s festival time! Tame Impala ended their set on the brilliant New Person, Same Old Mistakes which proved to be a crowd favourite and certainly left the audience wanting more.
NOS didn’t pull any punches when they booked Foals, Tame Impala and Radiohead as their main stage Saturday night entertainment. There was, however, the concern that with the first two bands bringing the hits and all their crowd pleasing nous, that Radiohead might seem a little at odds with the mood so far. Anyone that has seen Tom Yorke and pals before will know that this was a ridiculous worry to have.
After a fairly slow 40 minutes that exclusively featured tracks from their recent release, A Moon Shaped Pool, the band (and you could say the crowd) got into full swing for the next 90 minutes and further enhanced their reputation for being the best live band in the world. My Iron Lung, Exit Music (For a Film), Reckoner, Street Spirit (Fade Out), Paranoid Android, Creep and Karma Police all featured during a performance that included TWO encores. People were fainting around us, some were crying and there were even those rare and precious moments at a gig when there was almost complete and utter silence. Something off the bucket list and day two done.
We once again woke up to blue cloudless skies and had one more day of great music. We certainly weren’t complaining and what a way to finish a festival. Hats off to the people that made this happen. The line-up had been so brilliantly perfect until the Saturday night that it had been easy to forget we were about to behold one of THE indie bands of the 21st Century.
There’s a theory that at an open air gig, the less you have going on the better – Kraftwerk being a good example of an incredible festival band. If though, there’s one thing that was noticeably excellent about NOS, apart from the stellar line-up and general lack of stupid flags – it was the sound. If you got far enough down the front you were treated to near arena quality acoustics and this was great news for anyone who had waited all weekend for the multi-talented ensemble that is Arcade Fire. With M83 due to headline that evening, it wasn’t a set full of interlude’s and stories (hi Adele), and no time for an encore either – but this only served to maintain the energy and pace throughout, with the crowd joining in with the chorus on set favourites We Used To Wait and Neighbourhood #1. It would have been the best end to the festival, but NOS doesn’t sleep until after 4am.
Finishing our first NOS Alive was the irrepressible Grimes and we can’t think of a better way to sign off from the festival. It had energy, excitement choreographed backing dancers and of course the songs. Did we mention there was choreographed backing dancers?! Seeing Grimes live is a must – her latest album Art Angels came to life before our very eyes. She finished her punchy, energetic set with Kill V. Maim at which point the whole tent was bouncing and seemingly at a whim of her every command. Grimes truly is a force of nature and the perfect way to end a wonderful three days of brilliant music.
This was our first visit to NOS Alive and indeed Lisbon and it’s fair to say, we fell in love with both. So many festivals try to get things right but NOS Alive managed to combine all the elements to make, well, the perfect festival. Our tans may fade but the memories will stay and we may have found our festival of choice.
NOS Alive and Lisbon, obrigado!