Sun, stencils and music’s biggest stars: MEO Kalorama 2023 review

The likes of Blur, Florence + The Machine and Pabllo Vittar all took to the stage in this year's iteration of the Lisbon festival.

In the already vibrant city of Lisbon, MEO Kalorama Festival added another splash of colour to the landscape’s canvas. It’s a big departure from the muddied fields and rowdy lads we’ve come accustomed to back in the UK, with not only the music, but art and sustainability taking centre stage. 

The venue itself, with its amphitheatre-like shape provided unobstructed views of the main stage – a welcome sight for anyone blocked by 6ft+ giants at previous festivals this summer. The wide open space allowed for a crisp listening experience, mustering up an energy that delighted both eyes and ears. And most importantly, earth shattering bass could be felt in your chest throughout the festival grounds.


The festival commenced on Friday evening, with the iconic Yeah Yeah Yeahs,  Karen O left it all on the stage as she ran through a cascade of hits including ‘Spitting off the Edge of the World’ and ‘Heads Will Roll’. Meanwhile, Metronomy anthem ‘The Look,’ sent the crowd into a giddy frenzy. As if that wasn’t enough, the legendary Blur offered a welcome hit of nostalgia, performing timeless classics like ‘Country House’, ‘Park life’ and ‘Beetlebum’. There’s something about Britpop abroad that feels like it shouldn’t work, but it really does.


Saturday night was an emotional but uplifting experience with Florence + The Machine, the star implored fans to savour the moment by putting away their phones as she serenaded with ‘You’ve Got the Love’ – making everyone there feel like she was singing to them alone, despite the hefty crowd she had drawn in. 

Lisbon’s local talent also shone, with Pongo’s contagious energy almost hypnotising the crowd into replicating her dance moves (it’s safe to say all our dancing shoes must’ve been left back at home). As the festival reached its climax, anticipation filled the air for Pabllo Vittar’s performance – and she didn’t disappoint, closing out the weekend with her infectious confidence.

Mariana Rocha

But it wasn’t just about the music: the festival embraced the spirit of art, partnering with Lisbon-based arts and culture platform Underdogs. While wandering through the festival grounds, vibrant murals brought Lisbon’s rich artistic heritage to life. These creations, crafted by local artists working with Underdogs, transformed the venue into a contemporary art gallery. 

Unidigrazz, a collective of artists from the Mem Martins region in Sintra, were one of the artists featured. The group draw inspiration from their life experiences of communities on the outskirts of Lisbon, where social inequalities are still rife and their artwork pulsates with the raw essence of these often-overlooked suburbs. Diogopotes, a visionary Portuguese graphic artist and designer, brought the Samsung stage to life with a display of his psychedelic designs, featuring beloved characters and heroes from his childhood. Meanwhile, Portuguese visual artist and illustrator, Kreulla D’Enfer, graced the main stage with artwork that paid homage to The Prodigy, a band that held a special place in her heart during her formative years. 

Beatriz Cardoso

Still, there was a chance for the general public to get their hands dirty. Most of the time, festival attendees are too smashed to partake in anything other than terribly screaming lyrics needlessly close to your ear. But at MEO Kalorama, activities like stencil workshops added a wholesome and communal element, with festival-goers coming together to contribute to a mural, highlighting the sense of togetherness felt throughout the event’s duration. 

Overall, MEO Kalorama stands as a love letter to Lisbon’s art and music scene, where each note, brushstroke, and moment of unity resonates on a deep level. The combination of iconic acts, rising talent and sense of community make for a uniquely pure festival experience. Although, We’d be lying if I said the sun didn’t help.

WriterCherelle Chambers
Banner Image Credit@Eduardfilh