I’ve always been vaguely aware of Primavera Sound’s pretentious reputation, a bit -dare I say it- hipster?
Come on. Stereotype with me. You’ve got Download: metal heads in a field, FIB Benicàssim: guiris camping on the surface of the sun, T in the Park: Scots on mandy jibbing at other Scots on coke, Primavera Sound: a big ball of bohemian yah.
So I can’t really complain… I knew what I getting myself into. But when a group of Glaswegians invited me on a lairy weekend in, possibly, one of my favourite cities on the planet, how could I refuse?
I hastily packed all the denim I could muster together with other essential items (read: wayfarers and SLR camera) and boarded the 13:09 train to Barcelona.
After drying off from a very unseasonal downpour, we and our freshly rebranded wrists mosied over to the Apolo to catch The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Despite Wednesday the 28th being the eve of the actual festival, many extra gigs took place in 3 city centre venues: Barts, Apolo and Apolo . And all of them were a tope. There was no discussion – getting into Barts to see Shellac was impossible. The Brits, queuing round the corner of the building; the Spaniards, trying to barge their way to the front. Luckily, however, there were a fair few bands who played twice – once in the clubs and once in the festival ground.
Parc del Forum is huge. Located on the northern-most edge of Barcelona city, the sprawling, multi-level arena is home to 9 different stages, with half of them overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Quite idyllic, don’t you think? Well, yes, especially when the sun was often just setting behind the city highrises as you entered the arena.
First on the agenda were Warpaint. And we nearly missed them. Remember when I said that the festival ground was huge? You had to factor in an extra 15 minutes if you wanted to make it to the Heineken stage.
But, hey, at least the gigantesque festival ground made it easier to play the new game that all the cool kids are playing: New Balance Punch. Plays to the tune of Mini Punch, or Mini Nip, if you’re from Rotherham. Apparently New Balance are the new Vans in the moderno stakes. But I digress… From what we saw, California girls Warpaint put on a great set full of lovely, dreamy vocals.
Queens of The Stone Age – Clash alert! The rock giants unfortunately played at the same time as Glaswegian newcomers Chvrches – who also put on an fantastic performance, I hear. A firm festival favourite, QoTSA roared through a powerful set combining hits with newer tunes from …Like Clockwork . Excellent.
Pixies – Despite playing without Kim Deal, Pixies powered through a long set peppered with classics. It was all made infinitely more enjoyable thanks to the red wine we managed to smuggle in. Cheers, Mercadona.
Caetano Veloso – A very enjoyable set by the long-time Brasilian artist who got the whole Ray-Ban stage dancing. All in all a very hipshaking affair.
Disclosure – This is really not my thing – but isn’t that the beauty of music festivals? I soon turned my frown upside down and was dancing alongside pill popping twenty-somethings and a Louis Theroux lookalike. He really should have entered the competition they’ve been running on Louis’s Facebook page.
Superchunk – Now this is more up my street: happy guitars and singy choruses. North Carolina indie rock band Superchunk got people on the ATP stage dancing, singing and crowdsurfing. The highlight? Detroit Has a Skyline, of course!
BCore Showcase – It seems somewhat silly to admit that, after paying nearly €200 for my weekend ticket, my most anticipated band to watch at Primavera Sound were up and coming Valencian rock trio, Cuello. Incidentally, they’d played in Valencian alt-rock gig hotspot Magazine just a few weeks ago for only €7. This time, though, they were joined on stage by Catalan hardcore legends No More Lies and Barcelona garage rock band Fuckin’ Bollocks. And I won’t lie, the BCore Showcase was my favourite performance of the weekend. Storming through tunes from Mi Brazo Que Te Sobre  and Modo Eterno , Cuello really made the festival for me. We’d stepped away from the big ball of bohemian yah. And No More Lies? It was great to finally hear songs from new album In The Shade of Expectation  played live. And I’m sure others would have said so too if they weren’t stuck in the queue for the Apolo instead of being shown to the queue for Apolo . Apparently there were some issues with the queuing system due to the sheer amount of people who were trying to get into the Apolo for Cloud Nothings at around the same time. Again, not the best organized festival.
Lowlight– Body/Head. Yeah, yeah, I get it! Sonic Youth…iconic…talent… However the hell you want to spin it, when you’re listening to guitar distortion for a whole ten minutes while someone stomps and writhes around the stage, it really does take the magic out of it. Nice auditorium, though.
Beer prices. They were asking €3.50 for a small beer. Come on.
Entrance cards. Am I missing something? Why did we need a wristband and a plastic card to get in? They explicitly said that if you lost one or the other you would not be allowed into the festival. But isn’t having a little card defeating the whole point of the wristband? It’s hard to lose a wristband, and having your expensive ticket strapped around your wrist eliminates a lot of the worry. I feel for the people who lost their card and therefore could not access Parc del Forum. If anyone wants to explain this one to me I’m all ears.
The Apolo organization. Obviously they greatly underestimated how many people would try to get into the venues. This goes hand in hand with the fact that only VIP and Primavera Pack ticket holders were allowed to reserve their place to enter in the clubs, leaving the rest of us mere mortals (€160+ weekend ticket holders) scrabbling over each other to get in.
As soon as you exchange your wristband (and card…) you get given a free programme, something that puts you back €7 in the FIB and a fair few quid in many other festivals. Nice job.
Despite initial issues of getting lost and missing parts of sets, the seaside festival ground is excellent. The Boiler Room was particularly interesting.
All in all, though, a good festival and a great weekend. Primavera – I’ll be back.
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