We can officially declare the recovery period over now… We went to one of Europe’s best festivals at the end of May: the Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona. For its fifteenth aniversary, the festival had a tempting and eclectic lineup that mixed up genres as only the best festivals know how. Like every year, the performances took place at the Parc del Forum for the three days of the festival, but also in the city centre for the opening and closing shows, as well as the free concerts in the park of la Ciutadella.
Primavera is colossal: ten stages with both strong headliners and lesser-known Spanish bands. There was something for all tastes. So many stages, so many names, so many styles…so we had to make some heartbreaking choice as to whom to write about.
We arrived on the Thursday (May 28) at the Parc del Forum. After getting our bracelets and programs, we headed to the Auditori Rockdelux, a concert hall at the entrance of the park, where Peter Gordon and Arthur Russel‘s instrumentals played. The set start was a little obscure for the novices we were, but got shaken up by the two last tracks with catching disco notes that woke up the audience who were comfortably sitting in their seats. It was a fun introduction that fanned the party’s fire. We walked around to enjoy the sun and discover the pop-rock sounds of the Spanish Perro and the psyche-pop of the Catalan band Ocellot. There was augmented reality at the Adidas stand, tote-bags given out by Ray-Ban and a Martini glass to enjoy the view!
We didn’t stand in line to get the precious tickets for Panda Bear at the Auditori, which ended up being a good thing as there were later reports of a stampede, so we went to the Pitchfork stage by the sea to dance to the sunny pop from Twerps. Baxter Dury and Yasmine Hamdan’s sets followed one other at the far edges of the festival, we stayed though in front of the Pitchfork stage to listen to the noisy but somewhat disappointing set by Viet Cong. Following a large bunch of people wearing Sonic Youth tee-shirts, we ended up hearing Thurston Moore, sitting on the grass, shaking our head to the indie and snarling guitar sound. We saw the end of Ought‘s set on our way to the Adidas stage to move our booty on Kelela ‘s R’n’B vibes and her bewitching voice. We then chose to save our energy and not walk across the whole festival to see Antony and the Jonhsons and this turned out to be a good decision. The following hour was hectic: the emo band Brand New, that opened the pogo season, and Tyler, the Creator played side by side, the rapper delivering a show that lived up to his reputation. After a few bruises and a good beer to refresh ourselves, we renounced to run to see the Black Keys and went to listen to Chet Faker on the steps of the Ray-Ban stage and enjoy his tracks that mix electro, soul and jazz to tank up some energy. Indeed, we were about to attend a big part: Sunn O))), a strange drone-metal band. After twenty minutes of deafening guitars and intense noise, the band started to sing songs closer to satanic invocation. We got scared and left. The late electronic team took over and spent the night with James Blake, Jungle and Gui Boratto as we were going to sleep.
The second day started a bit late as we chose to go to the beach, we arrived on time though to listen to Julian Casablancas + The Voidz massacre the main stage, a horror set with very distorted vocals. Patti Smith fortunately was here to up the standard and show what real rock’n’roll is, and played her legendary album Horses. We let ourselves carried away by Damien Rice‘s voice, the time of a few songs before running to see the end of Perfume Genius‘s set and get back to the Adidas stage to mosh with The Hotelier (whom we talked to you about here (in French, but you can still listen to some tunes). After all that emotion, there is nothing like listening to a set of Garden City Movement (who you can read about here) on the micro stage set up by Ray-Ban Unplugged. Rather than Ride we prefered the sharp Hip-Hop of Run The Jewels. Without making a detour by Ariel Pink‘s concert, we went to see the very impressive set of Death From Above 1979 and his drummer-singer in dungarees. Alt-J took over on the big Heineken stage before giving way to the night electro team: Jon Hopkins, Ratatat and The Soft Moon. The third day began under the sun at the park of the Citadel with the free gigs by The Hotelier (yes, we saw them twice) and Ex Hex we missed the day before. A supercharged cocktail to get us started. Back to the park of the Forum, we hurried to stand in line to see Patti Smith once again, at the Auditori this time for a spoken word/acoustic set. Not at all! The lady arrived and the band played ‘Dancing Barefoot’ then ‘Pissing in a River’. The tone was set and the public didn’t stay seated for a long time at the sound of hits such as ‘Because the Night’ and ‘People Have the Power’. After all that emotion, we headed to the ice-cream truck and went to see the Kevin Morby‘s American folk set. Then, we had a nap in the sun near the sea at the sound of DIIV and the local band Neleonard. We felt boosted to attend the show of the dads of post-rock emo, American Football. Though, the band, a bit drunk and messy, delivered a rather disappointing set. Mac DeMarco then started playing on the big stage at the other side of the festival. Exhausted, we said hi to Tori Amos on the Ray-Ban stage, and experienced a strange phenomenon as we arrived at the Ray-Ban Unplugged stage. Their name is Single Mothers, the guitarist with his flip-flops and the singer, with one of his front teeth missing, started playing. The bassist was spitting on the public as the singer screamed, we ran away!
We were too exhausted to go and see Foxygen so we took a seat and enjoyed industrial and experimental cold wave in the form of Einstürzende Neubauten (try saying it five times in a row). We then crossed the whole festival to attend the masterly set by Interpol on the Heineken stage. The lights turned off, as the band exceeded the time limit, but it was without counting on the fans that all raised their phones to illuminate the band symbolically. After two extra songs, the lights management decided to turn the lights back on for a ending on a high note.
The Strokes arrived on the Primavera stage opposite. Twenty minutes late… Casablancas messed up again big time and forgot his words to boot. Fortunately, the band can rely upon its more faithful fans who sang along with full lungs. Those who didn’t hold the carnage sought refuge with Dan Deacon and John Talabot; we chose to tee the tumultuous Tune-Yards and dance on its music made with odds and ends, at the sound of Merill Garbus’s afro-pop voice.
Shellac then gave us a glimse of his talent before we went on with the amazing Health of which one of its band members is a sexy and possessed beast of a long-haired bassist. We jumped around everywhere, dancing, flirting. Because after this there was the long-awaited and hotly tipped set by Caribou on the Ray-Ban stage. The teasing opening was a bit drawn-out for our taste, but then he gave us ‘Odessa‘, ‘Can’t Do Without You‘ and ‘Sun‘ in one stream and the audience, who was already entranced, went into ecstacy here. The bravest, which counted us obviously, stayed for DJ Coco‘s traditional and mythical set who sent our remixes by David Bowie, Arcade Fire, Stone Roses, and Robyn, accompanied by fireworks which we watched as the sun rose over Primavera. It was time for bed.
We wish we had seen SOAK, My Brightest Diamond and Torres during the closing shows. However, most of the performances were filmed and you can watch them here. If our little tale has given you the idea to go to Primavera, the dates for 2016 are already out – it’s gonna be from the 1st-4th June 2016. Tickets are already available. If you think it might be too massive, head to the NOS Primavera Sound, its little brother, which happends in Porto in Portugal with a line-up that’s just as tantalising.