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The pop music world hasn’t always been able to tell stories as inspiring as those of the Portuguese band The Gift, an indie psych-pop group that was created in 1994 by childhood friends Sónia Tavares (vocals), John Gonçalves (keyboards and bass), Miguel Ribeiro (electric guitar and bass), and the eponymous Nuno Gonçalves (keyboards), who are coming back to Brazil for the third time to play two shows at SESC Pompeia in early May 2013.
The tight-knit quartet has released five albums as of early 2013 – all under their own independent label, La Folie – and has continued to grow organically thanks in large part to the band’s main composer, Nuno Gonçalves, not to mention a couple of big breaks along the way.
Their first break came in 2005 when they went on tour with The Flaming Lips. The band won over a new wave of fans – and MTV Europe’s award for Best Portuguese Act, to boot – but despite the surge in popularity abroad, they were still relative unknowns back home.
Their second break wouldn’t come until 2009, when Sónia and Nuno took part in a tribute album for Amália Rodrigues – queen of the melancholic Portuguese musical genre, fado – finally making a name for the band in its native Portugal. Capitalising on newfound momentum yet again, they released albums in two successive years.
The first of the two, Explode (2011), rocketed all the way to the top of the charts in its first week, serving as a culmination of sorts to the band’s long journey. Less than a year later, the band released Primavera (2012), a 12-song album recorded over a mere ten days. The former has dominated their recent shows, which fill the stage with orchestral and choral arrangements accompanied by string instruments, resonant of the work of Danish band Efterklang, Canada’s Arcade Fire and even Rufus Wainwright.
‘Since 1999, we have worked on The Gift with special care, and for that reason, our music sells, and we’ve managed to survive the great fall of multinationals. Nowadays only those who survive can be considered victorious,’ said Nuno Gonçalves. Having wowed the crowds in Rock in Rio 2011, victory is well within reach for them in Brazil.