LX Factory and Village Underground, Lisbon, Portugal
13 - 16 September
Lisbon is fast becoming Europe’s new go-to holiday destination. Like Barcelona before it, the Portuguese capital’s combination of historic beauty, proximity to the beach and relative cheapness have attracted growing hordes of tourists.
Housed in two hipster-capitalist developments on the outskirts of the city, co-working space/bar Village Underground – no, not that one – and former industrial site turned restaurant-gallery-venue complex, LX Factory, much of the festival’s talent had flown in from England as well. Four Tet, Ben UFO, Midland, Jon Hopkins, Special Request and more; many of the top acts across the festival’s bill fit a type.The audience at Nova Batida, one of the city’s newest festival offerings too, spoke far more English than Portuguese.
On paper it flows perfectly, the above are all DJs belonging to a particular school of British dance music and in Lisbon each one of them delivered sets as thrilling as their reputations would have you expect. However, in combination with the majority English audience, Nova Batida felt a little like it had been imported to Lisbon as a tourist attraction.
Of course, sunny locations for what are essentially English festivals are nothing new, as the entire nation of Croatia can attest. Truth be told there are few things better than Ben UFO followed by Four Tet in 30-degree heat and it’s hard to blame the promoters for cashing in on the growing numbers of tourists in the city already. Far away from many houses or points of historical significance, Nova Batida certainly isn’t causing the city or its residents any distress.
Viewed as a festival made for young travellers, out of towners and roving heads, Nova Batida more or less delivered on its promise. In addition to the big-name DJs, live appearances from Talib Kweli, Ibibio Sound Machine, Akala, Nubya Garcia and more opened the festival’s scope, entertaining daytime crowds looking to escape the heat in LX Factory’s warehouse-come-chapel venue. Boat parties, beach parties, surfing and yoga rounded out the festival’s offerings.
For those interested in discovering a little more about Lisbon’s scene, Village Underground after 11pm was the place to be. Local legend DJ Marfox delivered a masterclass in batida, while Lisbon record shop Amor Records teamed up with Cake to provide some much-needed house and disco reprieve. Strangely, however, Radio Quantica’s takeover on Sunday night either finished much earlier than the advertised 4am close or failed to materialise at all. This left festival-goers looking for an alternative to Midland’s set at LX with nowhere to go but home and meant that without Violet’s set, only one woman, Jayda G, performed in a headline slot at Nova Batida.
Similarly, sets from Friendly Fires and Octavian, two of the biggest live acts on the bill, were cancelled last minute due to technical issues and illness respectively. While it’s worth noting that the festival made Monday’s beach party – which wasn’t included in the original ticket price – free to attend for all weekend ticket holders, the damage had been done.
Throughout the weekend though, there were hints of the festival Nova Batida could become with tweaks in attitude and organisation. LX Factory is an undeniably great venue for dance music, and despite being relegated to the festival’s second stage, sets from the few Portuguese acts on offer were some of the weekend’s best. The festival still has some work to do, but with a more diverse line-up on display at LX Factory, and with less focus on catering to tourists, Nova Batida has the potential to become an exciting addition to the end of the festival season.