In partnership with MEO Kalorama
As well as boasting a dazzling array of headliners, MEO Kalorama is fast gaining an impressive reputation for showcasing a vital and vibrant blend of cutting-edge local talent.
Taking place in the beating heart of Lisbon in the Bela Vista park, the festival sits just a stone’s throw from the city’s bustling streets and postcard-like beaches, making it the perfect setting to deliver the European festival season’s swansong this summer.
Alongside seasoned indie veterans of the game like Blur, Florence + The Machine and Foals, the festival will also see giants of the electronic world perform, with notable sets from the likes of Ben UFO, The Prodigy, Aphex Twin and Shygirl. Like with any good festival though, the element of surprise is imperative when it comes to making it one for the history books.
With a solid amount of emerging names on the line-up to be found away from the mainstages, hidden gems are scattered everywhere you look across the line-up. Smaller stages across the site will see a variety of Lisbon locals perform across the three day event. From the very doorstep of the festival itself, the stages will see everything from buzzy beatmakers rapping in Portuguese through to heartfelt acoustic troubadours.
Something that sets the festival apart from many others on the European scene is that community underpins just about everything MEO Kalorama does – from investing in a local workforce through to delivering impressive sustainability initiatives. 2023’s event double’s down on such vital values, building on an impressive platform set last year which saw over 100 local artists perform across the weekend.
Here are NME’s tips for acts to catch on the Neighbourhood stage at MEO Kalorama 2023.
Who: Portuguese dream pop to trigger a multitude of senses
Key track: ‘Hazy’
What you can expect: Originally intended as an outlet for frontman Guilherme Machado Correia to release his lo-fi bedroom songs, Lisbon’s Hause Plants have quietly become a valued force on the global dream-pop scene. Upping sticks to Brooklyn in 2022 has only propelled the buzz behind the band as they’ve quickly left their stamp on NYC’s bustling guitar scene, even branching out to releasing their 2022 EP via the LA label Spirit Goth.
In the live setting you can expect a fast-paced genre-blending dream-pop show that brings to mind the likes of DIIV or Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever. Saturated with catchy melodies, their sound effortlessly captures all the colour of New York’s fast-paced lifestyle. One to highlight on this year’s lineup, the band are well-versed in winning over crowds from dive bars to festival stages across the world.
Who: Slick Portuguese rap over reclined piano-led hip-hop
Key track: ‘Não Vale A Pena Negar’
What you can expect: Translating to ‘It’s not worth denying’, the recent single from Lisbon local Rato-Chinês proves exactly why the Portuguese hip-hop movement is worth getting excited about right now. Rapidly becoming renowned locally for his effortless flow and laid-back Latin-tinged beats, Chinês will deliver a set full of feel-good energy to compliment the sunshine.
From the Chelas area of the neighbourhood, more specifically Bairro Chinês, which marks the origin of his stage name, you can also expect the home turf show to be one coursing with sentiment. Speaking on what it means to see his name on lineup on posters around the city, he voiced his excitement before saying, “thank you for believing in my journey.”
Who: Soaring coustic ballads delivered straight from the heart
Key track: ‘Crush Me Down’
What you can expect: It’s not hard to see why Gui Aly has gone from strength to strength since dropping his disarming debut album ‘White Walls’ last year. Overflowing with a heady sense of coming of age turmoil, the lovelorn singer-songwriter effortlessly elevates his fresh acoustic anthems with heavy-hitting production that brings to mind the likes of Ben Howard or Hozier.
Often performing as a solitary figure on his acoustic guitar, Aly’s raw finger-picking style is capable of cutting straight to the heartstrings, echoing the romantic escapism of José González (who will also be performing over the weekend). Announcing the performance via social media, the 22-year old singer-songwriter said: “I can’t believe I’m going to play at MEO Kalorama in my own neighbourhood.” Needless to say, his anthems of love and growing up are sure to feel all the more powerful in their hometown setting.
Who: Lisbon rapper channeling influence from his early love of American hip-hop
Key track: ‘Iqra’
What you can expect: Yet another versatile and forward thinking force from the Lisbon rap scene, Snake Gr was originally inspired by icons of the US hip-hop world before turning his attention closer to home with his heroes of the Portugal rap world like Sam the Kid, Chullage and NGA. Having originally dropped his first mixtape a decade ago, the local started out through self-production before rapidly expanding both his collaborator pool.
Evolving and scaling up his sound with just about every release, Gr’s sonic palette is interspersed with playful production and an intense flow which makes for a thrilling and rewarding listen. In the live arena, the bucket hat wearing riser’s energetic and intense flow will certainly make for nothing short of a lively affair.
Who: Playful personality bringing cutting-edge Latin sounds into clubs around the world
Key track: ‘mwah :3’
What you can expect: It’s often felt like Cristian Dinamarca can turn his hand to just about everything within Latin electronica. From airy reggaeton to euphoric trance, the Swedish-Chilean producer has built a dedicated community around his versatile dance-heavy sound. Having honed his craft in the biggest clubs of Stockholm, he’s since taken his set to far-flung corners of the world and grown a dedicated global following.
Considering his mantra is one fuelled by joy and freedom, it’s not hard to see why the sound often feels unconfined by barriers or expectation. In a recent interview, he explained that progression is central to his journey. “I always want to advance in life, I just always want to be happier. Listening to myself was a huge step.” Having notched up millions of streams across his catalogue and with the wind in his sails following the recent single ‘Fight’, this isn’t a set to miss.
Who: Angolan-Portuguese artist known for her high-energy live shows and defiant spirit
Key track: ‘Kuzola’
What you can expect: Hard work and patience might have defined her career to date, but Pongo reached a whole new audience when she ended up in living rooms across the world on the FIFA 23 soundtrack last year. The milestone career moment saw the heavy-hitting and immersive bop of ‘Kuzola’ amass millions of streams and take on a life of its very own.
Known for proudly leaning into her African, Langan and Zairian roots, Pongo’s live shows have become just as thrilling as the palette of sounds she dives into musically. With empowering undertones dealing with matters of feminism and positivity, the sky feels like the limit for Pongo right now. Expect a carnival like atmosphere and a high energy performance, over a powerful blend of techno, EDM, bass, dancehall and alt-pop.
Who: Lisbon local flying the flag for the city’s thriving afro-electronic scene
Key track: ‘Esquinas’
What you can expect: There’s joy to be found just about everywhere you turn with Dino D’Santiago’s output to date. Yet another artist proudly weaving his West African roots into his broad and versatile sound, the Portuguese singer of Cape Verdean descent has become a leader of the pack with his timeless yet incredibly refreshing brand of afro-electronica.
Fusing traditional African rhythms with a vast sonic playground of contemporary R&B, electronica and hip-hop, D’Santiago’s 2021 album ‘Badiu’ came as a raw and empowering airing that sought to give a voice back to the next generations of Cape Verde, encouraging them to embrace and lean into their heritage in much the same way he has.
MEO Kalorama takes place between August 31 – September 2. Tickets are on sale now