Let’s not be under any false pretences, I’ve spent much of the week utterly fucked. Selfish I know, how dare I sacrifice a professional outlook on a glorious festival in order to celebrate the end of university and my 22nd birthday? Despite some memory loss and a pair of really sore feet, Primavera has planted itself firmly in my yearning heart as a festival of true beauty, magnificent execution and, most importantly of all, bangin’ music. This being my third consecutive year at the festival, I felt like a well travelled drunken Nigel Thornberry, heartily storming (stumbling) across the wilderness of the vast Parc Del Forum in search of some aural niceties.
On Wednesday night we had the traditional opening party. In previous editions, this has been held at a club-like venue in the Poble Sec area of Barcelona, however this year the organisers have moved it to the festival site. This allowed for one hell of a big crowd to gather at the Ray Ban stage to take in Guards, The Vaccines and Delorean. Uninterested the first two of those performances, I made it down for Delorean’s set and was swiftly rewarded. A hometown show for the band, they soon geared the crowd into a euphoric frenzy, powering out their blend of Balearic-tinged pop with eyes firmly on the dance floor. A particular highlight was Real Love, an absolutely stomping stand out from their last album Subiza. Whether this was the band’s conscious decision or not, the vocals were extremely low in the mix. It improved with greater distance, but for me marred an otherwise stellar showing from a band who will be making steps towards a new record in the near future.
Onto Thursday and arguably the strongest day. Arriving early (18:25 is early for this festival) in time for Wild Nothing, I couldn’t help but feel a little let down, not necessarily by the band, but perhaps their placing on the the largest stage. Whilst enjoyable, their set seemed to walk past me like an old classmate whose name I’d completely forgotten. Had they been on the ATP, Pitchfork or Vice stages, my opinion might be completely different. Sticking with the Heineken stage however, it was Tame Impala’s turn to get everyone feeling all psychedelic. I’ve always been on the fringes a bit with Tame Impala, a casual fan of a few tunes but no real desire to get my teeth into their output. After their set, it’s safe to say that’s no longer the case. Aided by some pretty on-key (if slightly iTunes visualiser) visuals, the band tore through a combination of tracks from Innserspeaker and Lonerism respectively. It seems almost effortless and losing their bassist has clearly had little to no effect. This was the new bassist’s first show, but if we weren’t informed of that, I doubt anyone could have heard the difference for how tight they band were. This is a group of young men who take great pride in their sound and influences and this fully translates in the live arena, with the enjoyment emanating from band and audience on exactly the same level, Tame’s raw enthusiasm resonating with crowds thousands of miles away from their native Australia.
The Postal Service were the next act to hit the stage and presumably reduce to my angst-ridden teenage self. A 10 year silence since the release of their only album Give Up manifested some doubts as to whether this could even work as a live performance, however those doubts were quickly thrown out. Taking to the stage in a manner that belied their lengthy hiatus, the four-piece soon reminded the swelling crowd of the significance and sheer quality of their music. Highlights such as Clark Gable and The District Sleeps Alone Tonight were met with rapturous adoration, but it was the seminal Such Great Heights, the penultimate song of the set, which rendered the vast majority of the Barcelona crowd awestruck in a haze of nostalgia. The Postal Service, early pioneers of ‘bedroom pop’, really showed here that every ounce of sentiment and longing present in their music is as relevant as it is enjoyable. If I could recommend anything to the band, however, it would be to stop Ben Gibbard dancing at any cost.
I was able to take in a little bit of Grizzly Bear on my subsequent travels. Their material from latest album Shields really shines in live performances, but my experience was cut short by having to make the trek back over to the Heineken stage for Phoenix, who I’d been wanting to see for a long long time. Opening with Entertainment, the lead single from recent LP Bankrupt!, it was clear from the off that they were going to match any act at the festival for raw energy. It looked like the drummer was playing most of his stuff not even on his seat, such was his excessive bouncing. Perhaps he didn’t have time for his pre-show squats. With Love Like A Sunset there arrived an absolute showering of what initially looked like confetti, but turned out to be fake money. The relevance of fake money I’m not so sure of, but it was certainly quite a spectacle to go along with some glorious sounds from the French group.
Animal Collective over on the Primavera stage followed, but after getting a good spot, my decision making let me down. After heading to the bar it was virtually impossible to get anywhere near back to a decent vantage point (being a shorter chap, it’s harder than you’d think), so I took it upon myself to take a walk in the hope of catching some Fuck Buttons or Four Tet. I caught none of the former, and the closing track of the latter, which was admittedly a belter (Love Cry). I had filled my quota of who I’d wanted to see though, so I can’t complain much.
Part 2 of the write up will be online in the next few days, whilst I gather my memory and intersperse my writing with my A.C Milan career on FIFA.