Milhões de Festa, now in its eleventh year, retains a certain intimacy. Held during a clutch of golden afternoons, the overall atmosphere on the grounds feels somewhat familiar and comforting, which stands in contrast to its adventurous line-up; ranging from psychedelic jazz to techno, spoken word to metal, and brassy pop.
The Portuguese festival makes good use of its waning summers, with music and light working in tandem. Hometowners Indignu deliver a show of sweeping instrumental arcs and tender melodies, complemented by pink and blue flares. Phantom Chips begins her set – during a warm ebbing evening – with squalling chirps and scattering clicks. “Don’t worry if you break them,” she says, as she hands out electronic tentacles to a cheerfully bewildered audience, “I can just fix them again.” Manchester-based Afrodeutsche, performing on Milhões’ poolside stage, is a standout under a muggy sky, with the smell of chlorine mingling perfectly with her underworld beats and casual command of the decks.
At night Milhões is in full swing. Portuguese powerhouse Lena d’Água joins Primeira Dama and the Xita Records collective for a warm-hearted, joyous burst of pop on the aptly-named Lovers Stage. The following night sees Gazelle Twin showcase tracks off her upcoming dystopian album; her voice shaping into a sonic storm that keeps the dancefloor moving. Later, jazz pioneer Nubuya Garcia sets up a warm set of gleaming, jangly improvisations.
But the real highlight is when WWWater takes the main stage in the evening for a minimal set of electronics interweaved with Charlotte Adigéry’s incredible voice that revels in its own power. Even fuck-ups are celebrated: “Something’s gone wrong, something’s gone wrong, this is what happens when you work with computers,” Adigéry chants, over a crumpling beat. Computers restored, WWWater grins out at the crowd: “And now we party.”
There are missteps on the programme, with the line-up leaning far too heavily on metal for the festival’s audience. The Fat Out event with GSY!PA, Marilyn Misandry and the Queen Bee Supergroup faded into smug self-assurance that wasn’t as progressive as it claimed. A better choice for the final evening turned out to be Johnny Hooker. The provocative Brazilian performer arrived dressed in a slinky black jumpsuit and golden feathers to the festival’s most enthusiastic crowd. And it’s easy to see why: his infectious pop, propped up by a phenomenal brass section and Hooker’s rich, confident vocals, was a standout performance against a Portuguese sunset.