Going strong after 11 years, NOS Alive returns to Algés for three more days of music. Between the 6th and the 8th of july, all roads lead to one of the most popular festivals, not only in Portugal, but also in continental Europe. Here's SAPO 24's guide to those who are coming for the first time, and also those who're coming back.
What is NOS Alive?
NOS Alive has taken over the Passeio Marítimo de Algés, a Portuguese village near Lisbon, since 2007. It is Portugal's best known music festival among all those that were “born” here. It attracts the most crowds, the biggest international names, and also wins the most prizes – in May, it won the Marketeer Award in the Events and Entertainment category for the fifth consecutive time. It has also won many other prizes at Portugal's very own Festival Awards. It did not start as “NOS”, though; in the beginning, the festival was called Oeiras Alive!, after the municipality where it takes place, and afterwards it was called Optimus Alive!, the former name of NOS, a Portuguese media holding company. At some point it lost the “!”, but it still manages to provide all those that go there with the strongest of feelings.
It's all in the lineups: in 2007, Alive welcomed The White Stripes, a time where “Seven Nation Army” was still used in rock playlists and football matches, before Jeremy Corbyn's supporters took hold of it. It was their only gig ever in Portugal, alongside the Beastie Boys – both, sadly, are not still active – and Pearl Jam. Fun Fact: the name “Alive” was probably “stolen” from the Pearl Jam song. In 2008, both Bob Dylan and Neil Young, men of rock, folk and literature, played there. And it has also provided a stage for acts such as Faith No More, Metallica, Radiohead (twice!), Green Day, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Arcade Fire...
Where is the Pazeio Meretimoh of Algeirs located?
No, no, let's try that again: Pah-say-oh Mah-rie-tih-moh de All-jazz. Like we said, Algés is a village near Lisbon: it is not part of Lisbon, despite what many artists will say on stage during the festival (and despite what many Portuguese people will also say). The easiest route to get there is by train, boarding at the Cais do Sodré station and exiting when Algés shows up on the train's LED sign. You can also drive there or take a táxi or an Uber, but be warned: it's not easy to park in the vicinities. Just ask the thousands of people who went there to see Guns N' Roses play a month ago, and who got stranded in traffic. You can always go by bike or foot from Alcântara to Algés: after about forty minutes you'll be there, and you'll have a chance to see how beautiful Belém is. Tuk-tuks probably won't go that far, though.
Do you like to rock? No, really, do you like to rock? Because this year's lineup features none other than the Foo Fighters, who are coming back to the festival to play some new songs off their next album, Concrete And Gold. If you like to pop, there's also The Weeknd, the day before, and the oldie but goodie sounds of Depeche Mode, who put out a new album this year. Those are the main headliners, but there'll also be room for The xx, Alt-J, The Cult, Ryan Adams, Warpaint, Savages, Fleet Foxes, Royal Blood and The Avalanches, who're coming to Portugal for the very first time. There will also be a stage specially designed to make you laugh, featuring many well-known Portuguese stand-up comedians. Unfortunately, you will probably not laugh at all unless you understand the language.
Are the tickets costly?
Not at all, but if you don't have one by now you're out of luck: they're all sold out. Both the three-day passes and the daily tickets. And they have been so for a few months already, which probably makes of NOS Alive our very own Glastonbury. There are a few contests available for those who don't yet have a ticket, though. They were not that costly, but time is: if you take the train, be sure to arrive at Cais do Sodré early, to escape the massive lines that'll eventually form, with hundreds of people trying to buy their train tickets. The vending machines are not that hard to operate, but still...
What about food? Any chance I can partake in some delicious Portuguese cuisine?
Sure, if you think hamburgers, pizzas and waffles are Portuguese (they're not). But there will also be bifanas, which is the most Portuguese thing you'll get to eat at the festival. Google translate might help you with what that means, but we'd rather you be surprised. Don't forget the mustard. All of these can be found inside the festival area. If you'd rather drink, have a Heineken on us. They're Dutch, but still taste great when served cold.
Will I come out of it Alive if I don't speak your language?
Of course, because we all speak at least a bit of English. But NOS Alive won't be filled with Portuguese-speakers only; there will also be many people coming over from the Commonwealth nations, especially British and Australians. So, in a way, you'll feel right at home if you hail from one of these countries. If you're coming from a more “exotic” kind of country – like Kiribati, Saint Kitts And Nevis and/or Madagascar – please let us know: we'd love to have a chat with you over a few beers and ask you “did you seriously come this far for music?” together with a “that's awesome!”.
What about the weather?
All signs point to greatness. Meaning, there will be plenty of sun and blue skies for you to enjoy. Along with good temperatures, which for some of you might feel desert-like. Which is why we won't even tell you to bring a coat – you'll probably won't feel as cold as us natives will when night time arrives along with a semi-chill wind. But do apply sunscreen before leaving the house.
Anything else I need to know?
If you're reading this you probably already know where you are sleeping, but if not, there are plenty of good hotels and hostels near the festival – and many more in Lisbon, which is just 10km away. There are also special packages that allow you to camp at Monsanto, with a shuttle that'll take you there from the festival and vice-versa. Prices range from €17 to €29. If you're bringing your dog along, good news: you will be able to leave it in a special camping area which translates roughly as “campindog” (the pun sounds much better in Portuguese) for the entirety of the festival. Just don't bring along any of the following: spiky belts and bracelets, plastic bottles with the lid on, alcoholic drinks, food, professional cameras, recorders, helmets, selfie sticks, glass objects or anything that can be thrown. Not that you would throw them, right?