Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Unifant Festival, Travanchinia, Portugal Aug 2-4th, 2019

Unifant Festival, Travanchinia, Portugal Aug 2-4th, 2019

            Unifant is a small family festival in Central Portugal near Seia. This is the 3rd time they have held the festival.  Sadly, the infrastructure from the 2nd festival was all burned down in the fires of Oct 2017, so no festival was held last year.  One bummer was that the police were sitting about 300meters away from the festival and stopping everybody arriving on the friday and searching their cars and confiscating their pot. If you have more than 5 gms (they have a scale!), which is the legal limit for personal use, then you are put on a list and you will get a letter that you have to go talk to someone. Anyway, a lot of people were caught but there was still enough around if people wanted to get high..  All pretty pointless, really but it gives the police something to do. 

            It is a great site, with decent places for people to camp, a decent number of trees survived the fire and the mamosa’s have grown back fast in other parts.  They have a great outdoor kitchen eating area with benches, a pizza oven kitchen area, a very cool bar area, the main stage dome area and quite a few other hidden gems on the land.

            I was there until nearly midnight on the Friday, only a short time on Saturday and for half the day on Sunday.  So many nice people, primarily from Belguim, Holland and the UK. Very few Portuguese people were attending outside of the folks from the band Kumpania (means Company of Travellers in Portuguese), which was the first band on Friday after the opening ceremony.  

Kumpania had quite a few really good songs with a great world music vibe and energy. Lots of different instruments and drums, percussion but sadly, they suffered from a poor sound. Sadly, their sound guy was not doing a good job.  Singers microphones were over gained and distorted often when they sang close to the mic, their lead guitar player João was way too loud compared to the rest. Sad.. It is a cool band.

Next up was DISM, a very funky DJ who sampled classic afrobeat and funk and mixed in strange stuff for a fun and uptempo set. Big kudos to him for starting off his set with Water no get Enemy by Fela Kuti. I enjoyed his set a lot.

Inner Space audience
A local reggae-ska band, Inner Space, who asked me to join them, were next and there were a lot of technical issues with the electricity and I got shocked on the case of my modular and had to turn off everything until we got this sorted. The stage is metal and somehow it was also being electrified. I was quite terrified but Mike and Tobias sorted a way to ground the stage. It turns out later that it was probably the bass players amp was connecting to the stage somehow.

Anyway.. This was the first act that really had a crowd and the lights were great, people were dancing and they had a great sound man. Everyone loved them and they (we) played for about 75mins.  I played on about half the songs and had a lot of compliments. Giles, the bass player and I really enjoyed ourselves and he was very happy with my contributions. Not sure what the others felt as I did not really get a chance to ask them, before they left.

Drusus was a DJ that was next up followed by Dyslectic then DC and finally Captain Calippo in the bar DJ set (See the car) from 3 in the morning until sun up….  I only caught Drusus and this was like break beat techno, with some wild rhythms. There were about 30 people really into it. Larry had some nice projections going on..
Car DJ Booth for the late night sessions
Day 2

I have to say that the food was really good this year. Excellent lunch, nice pizzas.  Super nice people around every where. I arrived at 9:30 to set up for the Electronic Jam Session that my friend Nick (DJ Organick) had asked me to join.  Anyway, I unloaded my synths and set up on the stage and then went around to see who was up. It was pretty quiet so I suspect they had a hell of a party the night before.  Nick emerged and looked pretty hung over.. 

  I went and had some breakfast and around 10:30, the guys from The Hoffman, DC, and Nick started to set up. It was well after 11 before we started to make some crazy stuff. They were all midi-synced on the table and I was on the stage doing my thing. I had a great sound via a monitor on the stage but it turned out I was not in the PA at all. They made some changes and then I was into their mixer but now I had no monitor feed and had to hear my sounds only from the PA. They also would turn me down or off and then I could hear or do nothing. It was not ideal. I think we made a few really cool pieces of music though.  There was virtually no one watching though. A few people came by for a few minutes and left. We pretty much played for ourselves. I enjoyed it but was it worth all the effort to play for only ourselves?? I felt the Hoffman guys could have cared less if I was there or not? There was no response or feedback from them at all about my contributions. Nick liked what I did though.

Garyn, a local UK singer songwriter guy was next. A really nice guy. He played 50% originals and 50% cover songs.  All of his songs are sounding quite a like as he uses a quite limited number of chords and the same strumming style for nearly all the songs.  He did covers of Dylan, Rolling Stones, Jethro Tull, Chuck Berry, Bon Jovi, Bob Marley.  He does them in his own way. Sadly, he played for about 5 people. I saw half the set as I was busy taking down my gear, getting some food, etc… 

Collina (DJ Set) was up next and this was just getting going when I left for the day. I needed to rest for tomorrow’s gig and also for the Sonic Blast festival starting soon, where I will also play.  The rest of the day was mostly DJs, except Rusty Don (who I heard was an excellent Blues rock trio) and this was going to go late into the night. The Hoffman, Dektro, Jeff Klock, Carlos Geometri Gonzales and another set by DC were all happening on the Saturday night.  I would have loved to see my friends Carlos and Nick do their set in the bar car at 4:30 in the morning. I am sure that was madness…

Day 3

Nick and Carlos looked very tired when we arrived as they did not get to bed before 7-8 in the morning after their crazy set, which they had a lot of fun, it would seem.  Even fewer people about today, maybe 60??

A local Belgium guitarist, Rudy, played at 11:15 to a handful of people under the name Melancour.  He and his wife are super nice. Sad we did not get there to hear him play.  I talked with them a lot. 

Captain Goof and the Sailors was something very strange!  Captain Goof manned the laptop and his sailers, did strange things. Just watch the video. I got all but the very end of the show… Goofy stuff to 70s-80s disco and pop music. People were having fun but I did not like the music at all.

Doctors of Space was next. This was me and my friend Martin, a duo project, where I play the synths and Martin programs drums, plays bass, and lots of guitar loops and solos. Spaced out but great fun. We had prepared 8 sketches with African drums, rock drums, a reggae track, a Latin track and some just space outs. We had about 30 people watching and listening and the response was mindblowing. So many people came up afterwards, people that were lying down somewhere or in a hammock, in the bar, etc.. and they said they just tripped out and were transported away. Both organizers, Tobias and Will also came up and said how much they liked it. Wow..  Thank you guys. I guess we are doing something cool.

Pot & Pan were a 4 piece, sort of indie rock band but a bit darker, edgy, with a female singer, female bass player, both of which did some vocals and guitar and drums. They had a decent crowd of 30 or so and played a range of stuff. Some of it was pretty good. Interesting band.

O Fundo do Posso is a crazy band.  This is punky, nasty, a bit psychedelica and then they thrown a trumpet.  They played way louder than all the other bands and acts.  One guitar player was loud and distorted and the other a more spacey sound. I know Luis, the spacey guitar player a bit. Very cool stuff he does with field recordings and solo works. Super creative guy. Anyway, this was pretty strange and unique compared to all the other rock bands.  I liked some of it.

Next up was the 2hr Rock Jam Session.  Nick and some of the other guys really wanted me and Martin to play but we really did not feel like it We had some dinner at the festival (Indian food) and then we headed home.  Later this evening was Jazz DRT, a duo from down south in Portugual. They should be quite good I read.  Lots more DJ sets as well until 3am…

I had a really good time but I feel like because I did not stay out there I did not really get the full fesetival experience and vibe. Lovely festival. I would for sure come again even if I did not play.  There were so few people I fear they lost a lot of money even though I think everyone except the kitchen were volunteers.

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