Barcelona’s Primavera Sound has become a behemoth of a festival. It’s consistently sprawling and diverse line-up along with its unique Parc del Forum setting create a perfect reflection of its glorious host city. It’s huge, beautiful, cultured, fun and completely exhausting. This year’s edition, more than any previous years, felt like two different festivals. The massive arena that homes the two enormous main stages was crammed with fans for the entire weekend, swarming from one stage to the other and back again as performers came and went. The sheer volume of people was hugely impressive. The other end of the festival with its smaller (but by no means small) stages felt both more manageable and more intimate. The beauty of such a huge and diverse line-up is that no two reviews will ever be the same, the experience of one festival goer is likely to be completely different to another. Here’s Overblown’s pick of our favourite moments:
DAUGHTER – 2nd June – Heineken Stage – 8pm
I had my concerns that the songs of Daughter could get lost on such a massive stage and even more massive crowd. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The mournful beauty of their songs is captivating in the twilight. Elena’s vocals are perfect and she appears completely dumbstruck by the size and reaction from the crowd who lap up every last manicured note. Her bewildered smile beams across the huge screens and captures the moment perfectly. Wonderful.
DTSQ – 2nd June – NightPro Stage – 11pm
Entirely new to us are DTSQ, the Korean techno punks make quite the impact on the Nightpro stage with a set full of power and fury. As the set goes on more and more people are showing up, attracted by the energy and power of their racket. Well worth further investigation.
PROTOMARTYR – 2nd June – Pitchfork Stage – 11:45pm
It’s midnight as Protomartyr bring a dose of gloom to the Pitchfork stage with a set mainly made up of songs from their excellent The Angent Intellect album. It’s as bleak as you might imagine but it’s gloriously bleak and the highlight is the wonderfully inventive guitar parts and song structures. Joe Casey’s deadpan vocals are full of character and understated charisma. There’s an unusual moment of gratitude when he tells the crowd how grateful they are to be at Primavera, in his own unique way of course.
BEACH SLANG – 2nd June – Pitchfork Stage – 1:15am
Charisma is not something Beach Slang’s James Alex is short of. He can’t stop telling the audience how beautiful it is that they’re here in Spain for the first time. They’re a dazzling shambles, it takes three attempts to get their first song up and running but with this lot it simply doesn’t matter. This is their ‘drunken set’ explains Alex, the band had played an earlier set on a smaller stage providing ample boozing time before this 1am slot. They’re a pure and simple punk band with a lot of heart, grateful for all the opportunities coming their way and making the most of them. Shambolic can be brilliant too.
ALIMENT – 3rd June – Pitchfork Stage – 5:30pm
It’s a win for the local punks. They’re on early in the day on the Pitchfork stage but a healthy crowd shows up to watch. Aliment’s punk is that of aggression mixed with simply great songwriting, both powerful and catchy. As an added bonus we get a second set from them in the Ray Ban Unplugged stage (unplugged? Don’t think so) which is more intimate and even more fun than the original. If hard edged punk is your thing Aliment are the best around.
LUSH – 3rd June – Heineken Hidden Stage – 7:30pm
There’s a downside to this one. Lush playing on the Hidden Stage means a separate ticket is required. The main gates open and there’s a stampede to get to the ticket queue. It’s badly organised and one girl gets knocked over and trampled on. Hey indie kids of the 90s, you should know better. That aside the gig itself is sensational. The sounds is pretty much perfect and Lush are masterful as they mix between their shoegaze and rock moments. It’s thrilling to see a band like this back and sounding as fresh as ever and despite the queue dramas it’s impressive to see such devoted fans.
DINOSAUR JR – 3rd June – Ray Ban Stage – 10:15pm
Radiohead are on the main stage and seem to be dominating the entire night. Not that Dinosaur seem to care as they fizz and thrash through a brilliant set of old and new in front of a healthy crowd which would undoubtedly would’ve been bigger had there not been such a clash. Predictably set highlights are the better known tracks, ‘Feel the Pain’, ‘Freak Scene’ etc. sound startlingly good. Seeing a classic band sound so great on what must be the most beautiful stage setting in the world of Festivals was extremely special indeed.
ROYAL HEADACHE – 3rd June – Pitchfork Stage – 11:35pm
I’ve been loving their 2015 album High for a while now but frankly knew very little about these Australians. What I did see was a lead singer who performed as though his life depended on it. He twisted, shouted, snarled and moaned his way through a terrific set. The guy looks like seriously hard work but you can’t take your eyes off him. Their music is a curious mix of garage rock and pretty sweet sounding rock ballads. Once ‘Carolina’ gets into your brain you’ll never get it back out. A slightly bemusing band but brilliant all the same.
SHEER MAG – 3rd June – Adidas Originals Stage – 3:50am
It’s 3:50am and I’m on my last legs but determined to catch Sheer Mag. Seems I don’t need the energy as the band bring enough for everyone. Their 70s fuzz infused garage rock is full of power and melody all backed up by a startlingly strong vocal performance from Tina Halladay. I don’t think there are many more exciting bands around on the planet than this lot right now. Right, 5am, let’s get to bed.
PARQUET COURTS – 4th June – Pitchfork Stage – 1:00am
Well this was fun. Parquet Courts are up for a bit of fun and kick of with the crowd pleasing punk of the opening two songs from their Light Up Gold Album. The mix of songs from their three key albums is a hoot and the crowd enthusiastically laps it up. The raw punk of ‘Sunbathing Animal’, the flow of ‘Stoned and Starving’ and the tuneful quirkiness of pretty much any song from their latest Human Performance album all work seamlessly together. For a band that can often be awkward and frustrating to listen to this was good old straightforward fun.
TY SEGAL AND THE MUGGERS – 4th June – Primavera Stage – 1:50am
Another huge crowd and the band seem ready to party as they almost crunch their way through the Primavera stage. This is how to put on a rock show, incessant party punk tunes and Ty in full hyper energy mode. He manages to sing an entire song while crowd surfing much to the delight of the fans he’s no doubt kicking in the face. Bizarrely the highlight comes when Ty swaps places in the audience with a fan and hands the mic over to him. No chance of said fan freezing in the spotlight, he goes ballistic and screams all sorts of random nonsense as well as declaring his undying love to his favourite band. Hugely entertaining and the night of someone’s life.
HO99O9 (Horror) – 4th June – Adidas Originals Stage – 2:15am
Never heard these guys but being described as a cross between Death Grips and Bad Brains was enough to make me take a look. That description turns out to be perfect. I’ve no idea what they’re screaming about. I don’t know any of the songs but we’re treated to all sorts of hip hop mixed with brutal hardcore riffs and a frankly ridiculous amount of energy on stage. They remind me of the Death Set which can only be a good thing. Sometimes I can’t understand how such a band exists but has been missing from my life. Well, they’re missing no more.