Rockstars and conservationists joined forces in the Azores for the Portuguese debut of Atlantis Concert For Earth, a celebration of the planet and a message of hope on how we plan to save it. The headliner of the weekend was the jaw-droppingly gorgeous venue, a three-mile-wide volcanic carter that surrounded the entire festival in a wall of lush green foliage.
Not only was this MFW’s first music festival in the Azores, it was also the first time a fest of this size had ever been held here. The excitement around the island for the event was palpable, made even more so by the fact that Atlantis Concert for Earth was organized by Azores-born Nuno Bettencourt, the lead guitarist for the band Extreme. Bettencourt has been trying to make this festival happen for over a decade and a half and you can tell he has poured his heart into this passion project.
Table Of Contents
Running the Numbers
Dates: July 22-23, 2022
MFW Beer Index: €3.50
Highest/Lowest Temperature: 34C/22C (93F/72F)
Reusable Cups? Yes
Free Water Stations? Yes
The Sete Cidades National Park (aka The Seven Cities) is worth adding to any travel bucket list. It’s a surreal experience to realize every few minutes that you are standing inside a volcano. The Concert For Earth was tucked into a corner on a lake with a single stage and stunning 360° views.
With a single stage, there were no problems seeing the full set of nearly every band on the lineup, a nice change of pace from my summer of only catching bits of shows. Hard rockers like Bush and Stone Temple Pilots mixed it up with crowd favorites including Pitbull and the Black Eyed Peas. Staying in line with the message of Concert For Earth, a couple of the acts like Sting performed via livestream to cut down on the environmental impact of traveling.
I understand what it’s like to come from a rural dairy farming region that bigger musical acts tend to skip, so I was feeling for the 61,000-strong population of Ponte Delgado, especially the youngsters that showed up in force for the event of the year. The whole island was buzzing about the festival, so no surprise that this was a sold-out event. With nothing but sunshine and cool weather along with the music, this was a super friendly crowd, although there were a few grumbles about the length of the beer lines.
Rockstars of Conservation
As part of the environmental mission of the Atlantis Concert For Earth, conservationists from various organizations took to the stage in between acts along with short films playing across the screens of the venue. Having come from a series of fests where the captive audiences are subjected to a never-ending stream of commercials, now I’m wondering why they don’t show these informative videos instead. Featured organizations working with the Concert For Earth included Re:wild, Sea Legacy, Blue Azores, The Ocean Cleanup, Innerspace, Juccce, The White Feather Foundation, Grounded, Earth Uprising, Earth Percent, and more.
Acts I Caught and the Unofficial Order in Which I Enjoyed Them
- Black Eyed Peas
- Stone Temple Pilots
- Mod Sun
- Nicole Scherzinger
Say what you will about Mr. Worldwide, but the Miami legend knows how to fire up a festival. The final headliner had the entire crowd bumping along with his high-energy dancers known as The Most Bad Ones. My personal highlight was him tearing from a G’N’R Sweet Child of Mine drop straight into Hotel Room Service.
I thought I knew only a single Bush song, but through the power of 90s omnipresent college radio, it turns out I’m deeply engaged with at least three-quarters of their catalog. One song, More Than Machines, did sound unfamiliar, but only that’s only because it was being debuted at the festival.
Black Eyed Peas
will.i.am, Taboo, and apl.de.ap of the Black Eyed Peas along with new vocalist J. Rey Soul lit up the stage Friday night, and if possible, seemed to be having more fun than the fired up crowd. I’m almost sure will.i.am invented a couple of songs on the spot along with a few killer dance moves.
A Sweet Story
My driver told me that this mother, a massive Pussycat Dolls fan, was gutted about missing the Nicole Scherzinger show due to work. When Nicole heard this story on her way to the airport, she asked for his phone and recorded a video message for his mom. Now that’s a class act.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Azores
Nearly every artist that took the stage over the weekend claimed they were moving to the Azores. I saw only the smallest section of rolling green hills lined with a nearly endless fence of blooming baby blue rhododendrons with the ocean as a constant backdrop before we dropped inside the deep green of the volcano, and yeah, I’m moving here too.
Super VIP Seating
There are hiking paths along the ridge of the volcano, so some enterprising folks caught the concert from a sky-high perch.
What’s the weather like? The word of the weekend was “microclimate”. Located in the middle of the Atlantic, you are never quite sure what the weather will be like and we saw everything from fog filled mornings to brightly sunny afternoons. A hoodie and/or pants would are needed for the evening.
What are the prime hours for music? The show typically kicked off each afternoon around 5 pm and lasted until 12:30 am.
Where did you sleep? The national park does have one small campground that’s about a 25 minute walk, but most travelers will be staying in nearby Ponte Delgado. I slept two comfortable nights at NEAT Hotel Avenida, just across the street from the marina with loads of restaurants and cafes.
How do you get there? Ponte Delgado is easily reached by flights from either Lisbon or Porto. I took a rideshare over the festival each day and it’s about a twenty-minute hike across the bottom of the volcano to reach the entrance.
What’s the security like? The entry was relaxed, but be aware that police, not security, are the ones searching your bags and doing pat-downs.
Maybe because I’m acutely aware of what can go sideways behind the scenes, it’s always satisfying to see a first year festival pull off a successful debut, especially one that features such a worthy cause. I expect it will make a return next year and we will let you know when they announce the dates. In the meantime, I’m already planning a month-long sojourn to the Azores for later on this year.
Here are some links to featured organizations from Concert For Earth.