Primavera Sound has become something like a summer Christmas, and we are like those children waiting for the gifts. This year there was more kids than ever before… Primavera beater his record of assistance with more than 130,000 people.
Waiting to get in and talking with other press media, we agreed that is maybe the best line-up ever, but we just remember saying that the year before, so the history continues. But this fact is not something to take for granted, Primavera organization is working hard on this and this fact have become the difference between this festival and all the other ones at least in Spain. The quality is a characteristic of Primavera and this is why is similar to christmas where you write the letter to Santa Claus and wait to see them under the tree.
This year it was a powerful mix between the music legends and pioneers and the cutting edge rising new proposals. Also something that it seems impossible: Primavera got bigger and longer with almost a whole week of shows with showcases around the city, down the metro stations, parks and clubs, a explosion of music.
Starting in a symbolic place for Primavera, El Poble Espanyol celebrated the warm out day at Wednesday with the presentation of the powerful all girl trio from Japan, Nisennenmondai bringing the noise early to continues with the young band Las Robertas from San José (Costa Rica) and his mix of punk and indie rock.
The warm up just ended when two headliners jumped on stage. First, the magic pop rock from British big band Comet Gain. Leads by David Feck this show make people forgot is was just a dip from a intense 3 days of festival coming ahead… “If you´re looking for me, I´ll be down there on the beach”.
Echo & The Bunnymen
The first big show of this Primavera came with the band from Manchester, Echo & The Bunnymen perfuming their first and second album (Heaven up here and Crocodile) as a great flashback of 70´s psychedelic post-punk.
The night was filled with the show from the Canadians electro rockers Caribou, who came to make people dance with songs from their celebrate “Swim”. El Poble Espanyol was a perfect scenario for start the Primavera 2011. That night just when i got out to return home I saw a line of moire than 300 people waiting outside because the venue was already full capacity.
One more year, straight to the Forum, with comfortable shoes to run from one stage to the other and starting in good shape with the band from Cleveland (U.S), Emeralds and their landscapes of sound at the Pitchfork stage.
The big Ray-Ban stage hosted the California hypnotic loop and acid psychedelia from Moon Duo. The band is a spiral of Kraut-stoner, drone atmosphere made of guitar and keyboard.
At the ATP the first show I´ve catch was the band from New York, Cults with a great presentation of soul-pop and a warm voice from his front woman.
We have being at the Primavera for a few hours and already the people started to run to see the presentation of the super exaggerate band Of Montreal. The American band is like a picnic with friends with colour drinks and a Pinata. The show was bright, exciting and the perfect moment to start the party early on.
Big Boi (Antwan Patton)
The next two stops are the ones that makes this event unbelievable, the presence of the New York avant-garde in the hands of Glenn Branca and his Emsemble. Mr. Branca directed the symphony performance of 4 guitars, bass and drums with pieces that blow your mind like the last one dedicated to the great composer Steve Reich. Delightful!
And for me, my Christmas gift (one I have being waiting for so long) the presence of American primers and super cult band SUICIDE, the duo from Alan Vega and Martin Rev. I cannot be objective with this show cause I watch the whole show with my mouth open and somewhere in heaven. But at the first 5min after they started to play, maybe the half of the audience just run away cause it was too loud and trashy sound (that what I´ve heard)… for me it was the highlight of this year festival and some people said that they sounded better before and I think “thats not true” they never sounded good at all, they have always being like this, raw, in your face, suffocating, oppressive and Brilliant. All my respect!
After Suicide I decided to skip all the other shows like the one from The Flaming Lips and go to dance but before I steep into the ATP stage and watch the foggy atmosphere from Salem with their mix of drones, electro and rap. Salem created a strong ambient with some dubstep and weird pop and it was a great show.
I must say that is fantastic that Barcelona host one of the best Music Festivals in the world and this event keep Barcelona as a cultural capital of Europe, but at the same time, some others important histories are happening in the city. Since the past 15 May the movement !Democracia Real Ya! or real Democracy Now! have make thousand of Spanish citizens out to the street to ask for a real change in Spain.
Lead by the young people all around the country, the pacifist movement have take the squares of all spanish cities to camp and share ideas.
At the same time Primavera Sound was on-going the people who was camp in central square Plaza Catalunya has been BRUTALLY beaten by the Catalan Police (Mossos d´ Escuadra) SHAME !!!
Early and sunny on Friday we started at the ATP with the incredible presentation from Lichens the solo project from the American, Robert Lowe, a fantastic presentation.
Then a doses of punk, garage and attitude from the British band Male Bonding. The band have played several times in Barcelona in the last year, but its always a great fun to watch.
At the big San Miguel stage the country rock from Portland star M.Ward melted the heart of the audience with his deep voice.
One of the most expected shows of the Festival was the first live from the young British hero of elegant dubstep with soul touches James Blake. And Blake did not disappointed the audience with a crystal voice and intimate sound.
It was great! to see the furious David Thomas stand on the Ray-Ban stage and shave your head with a powerful show by cult band Pere Ubu performing “The Annotated Modern Dance” record that was release 33 years ago but still fresh and sharp.
The ATP presented another fantastic show of one of the bands you thought never gonna see live, but they got together and delight us with their magic. Half Japanese the band created by Jad Fair some while ago (mid 70´s), played on of the best sets in Primavera.
Belle & Sebastian
A band who has a big romance with Barcelona since very long ago and have built the soundtrack of our teenage years took the San Miguel stage, the Scottish band Belle & Sebastian lead by Stuart Murdoch, gave the audience songs to close their eyes, hug a friend and sing.
We stayed at the ATP and just after Half Japanese a fist of sound came by the hand of Low. It was intense and deep, the band dedicated “Nothing But Heart” song to the people camp in Plaça Catalunya, fantastic!
Explosions In The Sky
The robust, intense and continued and became like a wall of sound with the presence of the Texans, Explosions In The Sky, with real jewels of post-rock performed by the loudest guitars virtuosos.
And it was about time, yeah! last year were the Pixies and this Edition, everyone, a wave of people, packed the big San Miguel stage to see the British hero Jarvis Cocker together with the seminal band and flagship of Brit pop Pulp.
Yes, after Ten years, with their original members and the indie anthems rised the people to ecstasy like “Disco 2000” and “Common People” which Jarvis dedicated to the people camp in Plaça Catalunya that was beaten by the police the night before.
The concert ended with Razzmatazz that is kind of a song to Barcelona. The band was big, the show was big, Jarvis Cocker and the audience too!
After Pulp, the party was set and the crowd started to move to different stages to dance with Simian Mobile Disco at the Levante stage, Battles at the Ray-Ban, Lindstrom at the Pitchfork.
I started saturday with a show in a very small place, the Ray-ban Unplugged with capacity for maybe 50 people to watch the Puerto Ricans punk energy of Davila 666. The band is killer and its like a shot of good vibe and fun.
At the Pay-Ban stage, the exquisite and delicate indie pop from Papas Fritas was also like a gentle breeze and perfect for rise up on the last day.
At the ATP the US band Phosphorescent leaded by Matthew Houck performed a mix of country, blues and rock with a very good shape.
Another really executed show at the San Miguel stage was the one from the Seattle band Fleet Foxes. The band have built a strong identity of hippie folk with some melancholic touch and romantic lines from people who lives in the forrest.
A great and weird presentation was the one by Gonjasufi at the Pitchfork. Something like Shamanic, Raga, Hip hop, some rock and fast beats… very eclectic and very enjoyable.
Then another gift came with the show by German industrial pioneers Einstürzende Neubauten, The band lead by Blixa Bargeld are so strong and almost military that works like a machine, to provide you a intense experience of free, experimental and radical sound.
Gang Gang Dance
Its difficult to go see a band playing after watching the German Panzer, but Pitchfork stage was hosting one of the most interesting band nowadays, the New York avant-art-rock and experimental band Gang Gang Dance.
After the release of their new album “Eye Contact” is Gang Gang Dance´s moment. The avant-garde band from New York with the subtle voice from Lizzy Bougatsos have switch their sound with a mix of African, Indian beats… incredible harmonies and strong percussion on their live show. Probably the best show of Primavera. I think Gang Gang Dance is just fantastic!
Right after the San Miguel stage was crowded again to see the delicate British Muse, Polly Jean, PJ Harvey, who came to stage like a fairy dressed in a celestial white with feathers and playing the Harp, to present the songs from his marvelous new album “Let England Shake”. The atmosphere that Polly Jean created was subtle and a moment of sweet calm on a crazy day of emotions.
Talking about emotions, it was a pleasure to go see together the band from cult leader MIchael Gira, the American, Swans. Surrounded by guitar amps there was a thick and sharp storm performance with tons of intensity and a surrendered crowd.
The magical trivial sound by the duo of angels Prince Rama delighted a ecstatic audience at Jägermeister Vice stage. Choral voices from the deep of a cathedral and organic sound with primitive percussion filed the night like a tender breeze.
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Back on track we found The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion bombing the ATP stage with a packed crowd. The band bring their experience and punk rock energy to the festival and it was both contagious and exciting.
It was time for another band that have become a classical and essential piece to understand the present and future of contemporary music is Animal Collective who came once again to the Festival to inspire us with their show at San Miguel stage. I think Animal Collective is a band that you have to keep on track to get updated with the development of new sounds and music experience.
With the festival already as a hughe dance floor the Pitchfork stage was taken by the audience to dance together with the experimental approach to hip hop by the US rappers Odd Future.
After 3 days (at least) of intense musical experience, concerts that would be remembered for a life time and the confirmation that Barcelona can be proud of hosting maybe the best Festival of contemporary music in the world. It was time to go home with a big smile and the kind of funny anecdotes that you can share with your friends.
Thats why it is like Christmas, and there are as much and diverse gift as the incredible 130,000 people who attended the Festival.
Congratulations to the Festival organizers for this wonderful edition. I know that the romance they have built with local and worldwide audience trough the years will remain strong and growing.
Just while I´m writing the article I got a mail from the Primavera Sound press announcing a new born event called Fly Me To The Moon festival that will take place on 27th and 28th July at El Poble Espanyol… unstoppable!
San Miguel Primavera Sound 2011
Date: 25th – 29th May 2011
Place: Parc del Fòrum, Poble Espanyol, Barcelona