It’s been a couple of years since I have been to a local festival, and I had forgotten how energetic and spectacular they are. Last weekend, in Águas Boas, it was the Festival da Santa Margarida, held over the weekend of the third Sunday in July. Like all local festivals in Portugal, the weekend is an opportunity for church services, dancing, parades, fireworks, and of course the shows from the bands that tour the Portuguese countryside during the summer and autumn months.
This year it was the turn of Grupo Republika to entertain the crowd on the Sunday evening. The bands travel around the country with their own stage, lighting and sound system in the back of an articulated lorry, and the stage for Republika was huge! The bands play a mixture of popular covers and traditional Portuguese ‘pop’ music known as Pimba: energetic songs with a bouncing simple structure, played with accordion, keyboards, guitar and drums, and accompanied by singers and dancers in a variety of flamboyant costumes.
Republika were excellent, fronted by four singers – two male and two female – and backed up by two female dancers. The crowd was a little slow to respond, but as the numbers swelled people began to dance along with the tunes that the band belted out without stopping. As usual most of the music was beyond me, but I was swept up with the uptempo beat and recognised several of the covers of popular Portuguese songs that the band played.
At around 23:30 the band paused while the organisers of the festival held a small celebration and firework display for Santa Margarida and then the music resumed and the band played into the small hours. I had to leave around 00:15 but it was reluctantly and I look forward to see Republika again.