A late night summary of my second visit to Primavera Sound in Barcelona, Spain!
DAY ONE The festival got off to an unfortunate start due to the new ticket card system crashing. In an effort to create a better festival experience, electronic cards were used instead of paper tickets for drinks, food and ticket reservations. The system relied on wifi which when tens of thousands of people used simultanously gave way. However the lack of information was the most irritating aspect as people were queing to charge their cards with money they couldn't even use. I'm just glad that none of my must-see bands weren't playing on the first day! The first band I saw was Ducktails who surprised me with a more poppy sound than the experimental lo-fi I was expecting. Grinderman aka Nick Caves side-project was powerful with his familiar voice bellowing out dark lyrics over the crowd at the largest stage. Then on to cult-icons Suicide whose tunes were rather haunting played live. I stook around for "Ghostrider" and "Cheree", then peeked into the hut to see Las Robertas before heading back to the little Jägermeister stage where Ty Segall tore the place apart and I got to hear my fave tunes. Flaming Lips ended our evening and we were just in time for the big extravaganza that is their live show; confetti rain, huge balloons, sirens, girls dressed as Dorothy from Wizard of Oz cheerleading, blow up dolls... you name it! Somehow I felt like their songs didn't hold up as well live and perhaps that's why they need a lot of visuals. Coyne kept prompting the crowd to "Come on" as if they weren't giving him as much energy as he was giving them. Perhaps the card disaster had taken it's toll. The singalong to Yoshimi was nice though.
DAY TWO I arrived early to collect my tickets to Sufjan Stevens that I won in the draw (yet another annoying change in routine). My friends had never heard him so I gave the other ticket to a happy fan from Portugal (hi Fernando!) and we managed to get seats in the front row! Sufjan's show was amazing!! Not having listened much to his latest album I was still blown away by the visuals and the band's outfits. In the middle of the show he paused to tell us about the inspiration for "The Age of Adz". It was a tender portrait of a man named Royal and Sufjan shared his own spiritual voyage with the audience which gave me a better understanding of him, both as an artist and as a person. The big finale was "Chicago" when people rushed to the front of the stage to dance and play with big balloons, perhaps borrowed from Flaming Lips?!
After Sufjan I met up with my company and had dinner on the hill at the main stage in the evening sun whilst M. Ward was playing. Add a spectacular view of the ocean to your left and the mountains with Tibidabo in the distance to your right and you've got a setting that's difficult to beat. I was curious to see the Pitchfork stage which had made a come-back from past years where James Blake was playing but you really had to get close to the stage to hear him over M. Ward. Instead I kept trekking to the far off stage Llevant which was partly on the beach where the National were playing. They did several songs from my fave album "Boxer" except for Ada (which Sufjan sometimes plays the piano on live as he arranged it!). Or maybe they did and I had already left...
Caught some songs of Jad Fair and Half Japanese and then wandered to the front of the ATP stage where Low where about to C'mon ;) It felt special to be close to the stage and get a stronger connection to them as their music encapsulated and lulled me into that soft, safe place. I then dashed back to the beach to catch a bit of Deerhunter whom I'm sorry to say, must be one of the world's most boring bands in my opinion. When they're good they're great but otherwise just meh. I felt the urge to shout "Micromix 13!" instead of one of their own songs...
Then I headed to Ray Ban to catch the last of Explosions in the sky which seemed atmospheric live but I probably had to be closer to the stage to really get into them. This year I chose quality over quantity of shows mainly because the distances between stages seemed vastly longer than before and there were people everywhere. One of my highlights of this year's festival is a band who hadn't played a show in 15 years; PULP! Jarvis was like a new born foal in spring, running all over the stage and showing off is dance moves. It was a great big happy disco and a perfect end to a spectacular day!
DAY THREE Always seems strange how fast the days fly past. Kicked it off with yet another dinner on the hill with the soundtrack provided by Fleet Foxes. Due to a mile-long que for the loo (those times you wish you were a guy) I missed a spot at the front of Kurt Vile & the Violators but wow, it was so great! My only complaint and others with me, is that the set was too short. However, they're coming by Stockholm in August! I was stunned that he wasn't booked for a bigger stage but glad he played Jäger which was probably my favourite stage of the festival. The rock 'n' roll party continued with Costa Ricans Dávila 666 (thanks for the tip Kelsi!) who I couldn't stop dancing to! They're coming over on Midsummer to rock the boat on Söder Mälarstrand - weehoo!
Amazingly I was just in time to see the end of Dean Wareham's set in which he played the two songs I wanted to hear the most; "Tugboat" and "Ceremony". He held up the big ATP stage very well and the sound was great. Was curious to see what Swans were all about but a craving for food won my attention mid-set. I was pretty geared up for Animal Collective having had "My Girls" on my brain radio the past month but their slot on the main stage at prime time was not well suited to their show. It never really picked up and felt introverted and just plain boring. On I strolled to Pitchfork were a happy surprise awaited; The Black Angels with a Brian Jonestownsy sound. This year was definitely in the key of rock for me.
As I waved goodbye to the festival site after another edition of fantastic music it felt good to know that I had one more show the next day before it was time to go home... Mercury Rev at the Poble Espanyol! Magical show in a fairytale setting. Just wished I'd arrived earlier on the Wednesday so I'd been able to see Comet Gain and Echo and the Bunnymen (why scheduled outside the main venue??).
Still, Primavera remains one of the best festivals in the world!