[ edition 2018 ]
Originally called Antipop, this amazing festival has been running since 2006, although only in its current form a.k.a. NEOPOP Festival since 2009. Hearing about the self-proclaimed Capital of techno in Portugal during a conference in Ibiza at IMS’18, I got excited so I decided to explore myself and discover more about it.
– Location: Forte Santiago da Barra, Viana do Castelo, Portugal.
– Timeline: Wed, 8 Aug 2018 – Sun, 12 Aug 2018 (4 nights, 5 days) | 4PM – 12AM.
– Spaces: 2 Stages + food-truck area + NeoCamping + AfterHours Roof + NeoTheatre.
– Capacity: 10.000+
– Stages: NEOSTAGE; ANTISTAGE; NEOCAMPING;
+ TEATRO SÁ DE MIRANDA; ROOF-AFTERHOURS.
– Entrance fee: 60-200 €
– Pictures: Allowed, not suggested (they have so many great photographers).
– Rating: Strongly suggested.
Arriving in Viana Do Castelo (north-west Portugal almost at the border with Spain, 1h by bus from Porto) on Thursday afternoon, I was happy to see how much this town embraces the festival — billboards and posters in all the bars and cafes, a street fair with typical products all along the riverside, a theme park right before the entrance and there was even an exhibition in the town museum.
Taxi drivers are friendly; food is amazing; drinks are cheap; the sun is shining: overall, good first impressions.
We check-in and settle our tent in the NeoCamping: an enclosed masted area by the riverside.
Toilets where provided, charging stations and water points every 30m. Chill food&drinks area, showers are inside a sport center by the side of the “Glamping” area, 80/100m from the camping.
The situation is super chill, people gathering together spontaneously, sharing drinks, spliffs and/or stories, all there for the same reason: ALL FOR TECHNO as the merchandise is claiming this year.
We joined a group of Portuguese people and we installed our tents all together around a table. Already feeling the vibe, we proceded to the drizzling half-crowded dance floor of the first night: a pre-party from 4PM till 3AM. I had the pleasure to attend the freaking-live performance of the french band St Germain, as well as the amazing sets of local Djs like Magazino and Tiago Fragateiro.
I gladly noticed the attention NEOPOP is having on recycling/reusing (branded plastic glasses were managed with a 0,50€ refund if returned; trash bins with plastic/paper/general waste separated), against sexual harassment and on awareness about drugs (with a stand dedicated to drug testing and dealing with these issues).
The second day runs with a growing climax of great energy and positive vibes:
an escalation of unique performances with Solomun, Apollonia, Recondite live, Adriatique, Agents of Time live, the beautiful Nastia and closing with chef Ben Klock cooking breakfast from 7AM till 10AM.
Day 3 and 4 passed so fast, there were actually loads more people on the dance floor (summer weekend’s occasional clubbers?).
The line-up was screaming BangBang, especially the sets of Gusta-Vo (creator of Neopop) and the magical one of the dream team Paula Temple b2b Rebekah left me really impressed.
Fortunately Capriati was able to follow in the proper way, because after that awesome b2b I was really doubting anyone could go on without being eclipsed.
Jeff Mills couldn’t be more overwhelming with his perfect set: THE ALIEN, as expected, gave lessons to everyone.
But there is more for the last day: beautiful, pure energy, I fell in love with that acid-hardcore Nina Kraviz, once again. And I discovered 3 guys from Berlin, smoking weed like we do in Amsterdam, who were able to create a super-sick atmosphere in the AntiStage: FJAAK need to be added on your playlist, guys!
The closing set of Marco Carola didn’t even start until 9.00AM: felt like being gladiators in a roman arena.
After this amazing experience we left Viana do Castelo already making plans for the next year.
What did I learn at the end of this story?
NEOPOP Festival is a reference for the fast-growing portuguese rave scene, a must for real passionate people, who are the only ones able to keep it real. The festival has great vision and even more importantly… a great execution.
Sure thing I’m going to visit again the portuguese Capital of Techno.
See you next year guys!