Firestarters to set the south-west alight.jpg

Firestarters to set the south-west alight

EVERY YEAR, on the first weekend in August, thousands flock to the small beach village of Zambujeira do Mar, in the Alentejo, for Festival Sudoeste, an event which is quickly becoming one of the best annual music events in Portugal. This year sees the 10th anniversary of the festival, and organisers are promising a special edition of the event to celebrate.

Artists that have appeared at the festival over the years include Jamiroquai, Oasis, Blur, Ben Harper, The Chemical Brothers, Basement Jaxx, Korn, Alanis Morissette and Marilyn Manson. The festival’s proximity to the stunning beaches on the south-west coast, combined with free woodland camping, is making this festival more and more popular each year.

As ever, the line-up this year mixes together various styles of music, including dance, rock, hip-hop, reggae and pop. The music is spread over three stages; the main stage, Palco TMN, a stage dedicated to new and local music, Palco Planeta Sudoeste, and the reggae orientated Palco Positive Vibes.

The music kicks off on Thursday, August 3, when new bands get a chance to take to the stage and provide a ‘warm-up’, while fans begin to set up camp. This year’s highlights include: the Animal Liberation Orchestra, a California band gaining success from their recent touring in support of Jack Johnson, and The Kooks, who have been labelled as one of the best new indie bands in the UK.

The second day (Friday 4) is headlined by The Prodigy and Goldfrapp. These two dance bands are tipped to be the best acts of the weekend. The Prodigy was one of the biggest international acts throughout the late 90s and are fresh off the back of a greatest hits tour. They will, no doubt, be performing all their famous tracks, including Firestarter and Breathe. Alison Goldfrapp is well-known for her outrageous stage presence, and is bound to entertain the crowds with hits like Strict Machine and Ooh La La.

Goldfrapp will be joined on stage by reggae influenced punk band, Long Beach Shortbus and David Fonseca, lead singer of former Portuguese band Silence 4. On Palco Positive Vibes, the reggae sounds of Max Romeo are definitely worth a listen; this musician has been entertaining beach goers since the 70s!

Saturday night displays a stylistically eclectic line-up, mixing together the electronic music of Daft Punk, British ska legends, Madness and the powerful rock anthems of former Skunk Anansie’s lead singer, Skin. On the reggae stage, Jimmy Cliff, a pioneer of the reggae movement, is also sure to attract the crowds.

In my opinion, the final night unfortunately boasts the weakest line-up of the weekend. Headliners are Portuguese favourites Xutos & Pontapés, who are supported by New York rock band, Morning Wood, who are likely to be unknown to the majority of the audience. Zero 7 should provide the best quality act of the day on the main stage. Their electronic music is the perfect chill out soundtrack for a Sunday afternoon in the sunshine. The inclusion of Xutos as the final band of the weekend has been arranged especially for the 10th anniversary celebrations, due to the band’s popularity among the Portuguese.

Finally, make sure you don’t miss José Gonzalez on Palco Planeta Sudoeste. The Swedish singer songwriter released his debut album, Veneer, in 2005 and his trademark sound of classical guitar and vocals featured in a recent Sony advertising campaign. He has also recently collaborated with Zero 7 and is likely to make a guest appearance during their main stage set on the same day.

Festival Sudoeste takes place from August 3-6. Tickets, available at or by calling 707 234 234, are 40 euros each for one day and 70 euros for the weekend.

by Ruth Sharpe