Last weekend next to the Côa River in Portugal, Nomad Embassy Sound System and Uprising Forward curated an original and humble festival in a beautiful setting.
From the 1st of September to the 4th, inside a startling valley, with trees all around, people camped on the hills, none of the strict governance you may experience at other festivals, all the bad vibes far removed from HIM DUB Festival. From the set go, you could feel the crowds that gathered from around Europe already had a respect for the space and organisation. This wasn’t a festival which needed to impress on wild manufactured concepts. The environment, the music, and the sound system were capable of doing that job itself.
Music played from half past ten in the morning to the next day spread across two stages. Mystic Fyah and Mindel Reggae provided the sound systems at the River Station til the end of the afternoon each day, both of which looked majestic to the backdrop of the Côa River. Whilst festival organisers Nomad Embassy provided the weight at the Dub Temple from evening to early hours of the morning.
The festival started strong on Thursday evening with Dub Judah's live show, Suns of Dub with Earl 16, Moa Anbessa, and organisers Nomad Embassy closing the session. The next night it was Ashanti Selah and Junior Roy who shared the mic which raised the game. Ital Soup provided a great set with Danman on the mic, whilst Friday was closed off with an Aba Shanti 90s set.
Indica brought heavy styles on Saturday with Joseph Lallibela, whilst Kibir Amlak brought a spiritual performance with much reasoning on the mic earlier that day. Agobun was also a stand-out performance on Saturday night. Sunday lineup was a selection of Portugal's best producers, selectors and sound system practitioners. Medi Sound Station, Gwari Music, and one of Portugal's original selectors Toy Kool were some of these. Wood Harmony from France also played on Sunday and was one of the most impressive performances of the weekend, providing an eye-opening experience along with Ital Soups Friday performance. Jah Version provided a lot of new styles the last night with their own studio productions and was joined by Ashanti Selah on the mic. Mystic Fyah closed the weekend off til 5 in the morning, ending a perfect weekend.
An amazing combination of music styles on the stages, with dedicated healing areas, places for reasoning, variety of strictly veggie food, keeping in line with their ethos of protecting the environment. The people loved it, there were no visible issues all weekend, and there was a visible understanding that everyone wanted to come back for more. The organisers provided for the people and worked proactively. When the nights got cold, the festival organised heaters, and that mutual respect was reciprocated with the people's commitment to enjoying the festival.