Super Bock Super Rock is something of an elder statesman when it comes to Portuguese music festivals. For over two decades the festival has consistently hosted international superstars and showcased exciting local talent.
From The Cure and David Bowie in the mid-nineties to Kendrick Lamar and The National last summer, there is a proud tradition of incredibly strong lineups. And this year will see Red Hot Chili Peppers and Future add their names to that esteemed list, as well as welcoming back the likes of Deftones and Fatboy Slim.
One of the main people responsible for this is Vanessa Caretta, Head of Booking at the festival. With exactly a month to go until the gates open (for what is shaping up to be another stellar year), she gave us the lowdown on what goes on behind the scenes, and what she's looking forward to the most.
You’re approaching 25 years as a festival, do you have any ideas how you might celebrate your quarter century?
Every year is an important anniversary for us. We're always looking for something new and special. Year after year. Not only in terms of lineup, but also in terms of the overall experience of the festival.
Super Bock Super Rock has always had this feature of moving around along its history. It's moved from being an urban festival that happened not only in Lisbon but also in Oporto, to more of a 'among nature' festival, and for the past two years it returned to Lisbon, in Parque das Nações.
What we're doing now is celebrating this renewed relationship with the city on this beautiful site, its architecture and the closeness to the river and city centre. Also working with different artists outside the music spectrum to show a bit of what is happening in the urban culture in Lisbon. And working the space in a way that replicates the feeling you get while strolling through Lisbon.
From the easy going afternoons drinking a beer on a terrace by the river, to the surprise of having music and other artistic expression in every corner you turn, to the amazement you feel when you catch that light bathing the river, and you bathing in it; it's a celebration every time.
Obviously there’s a lot to choose from, but what would you say are the greatest moments in the history of SBSR?
Yeah... that's not an easy one. One of the greatest might have been the moment, in 2010, when in the midst of an incredibly lit and funky show, Prince brought Ana Moura on stage; she's a Portuguese fado singer. And he turned the spotlight to her and she sang Vou Dar de Beber à Dor while he accompanied her on the guitar. Don't think there was one dry eye in that venue that day.
Last year with Kendrick Lamar was also an amazingly memorable one. There was hardly a phone in sight during his show and everyone was singing/rapping all the words with him as if we had put up some sort of karaoke on the screens. You could feel electricity in the air.
Not many festivals can say they’ve had both David Bowie and Prince headline. Is there anyone in particular you dream of having headline the festival?
Don't think I can answer that one. Everyone we dream of having headlining the festival, we're definitely working on it. So maybe we can announce it in a next edition instead.
Which newer bands or artists do you see as potential headliners in the future?
The way things are happening in music right now, artists can turn from emerging acts to potential headliners in a couple of years. I wouldn't be surprised to see acts that we're just starting to hear raising to that level in no time.
It increasingly seems hip-hop is a key part of the festival; Kendrick Lamar last year, Future this year. Is that something you see continuing?
There are many excellent hip-hop acts that haven't yet played Super Bock Super Rock, or in Portugal at all. And there is a real sense of freshness there, and it is a genre that is definitely strong in Portugal right now. So, yes, we do see this continuing and we're hopeful that we can make some hip-hop heads happy.
There are always a healthy amount of Portuguese acts alongside the international names. For those who might not know the Portuguese scene, who should they look out for?
Portuguese music scene is going through a real rich moment. In terms of quantity of new acts and the quality of the music they are creating. And it is beautiful in its mix of genres. It is not easy to choose just a couple.
There's Língua Franca, this incredible hip-hop super project with Emicida, Rael, Valete and Capicua, gigantic MCs from Portugal and Brasil.
There's Throes + The Shine and Octa Push, two amazing acts that are mixing African rhythms with genres like stoner rock (Throes + The Shine) or electronic music (Octa Push). Both with some success on having their music taken abroad.
Alexander Search, a new project from Salvador Sobral (who just turned Eurovision on its head) and the pianist Júlio Resende. It takes the name of a heteronym of famous poet Fernando Pessoa, and gives some of his poems a new voice.
Capitão Fausto, who are incredible on stage presenting their music live. Their sound can be described as more psychedelic rock, and I can assure you that they're one of the best you've heard in this genre.
And there are some other surprises yet to be announced. I can say you should definitely pass by the Carlsberg Stage for the festival after-party and get a real feel of what is brewing in the Lisbon night scene. And be prepared to move your body.
How long after the festival do preparations begin for the following year?
Well, I can tell you we're already starting to work on the next edition.
How easy do you find it to switch off and enjoy yourself when the festival is taking place, are you worried about everything going to plan?
Sometimes I manage to slip in and catch moments of the shows and I'm definitely captivated by the feeling lived there. The audience in this festival is amazing and you can ride their wave instantly. I can switch off immediately, for a couple of seconds, until the cell phone buzzes again.
Finally, what are you most excited about for this summer’s festival?
For everything I said above, really. The acts, the light in that side of Lisbon, the river, the people soaking in the music or running in between stages. It's going to be an incredible three day celebration.
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