The legendary Primavera Sound in Barcelona returned from the pandemic hiatus stronger than ever with a stacked double weekend lineup and concerts during the week. An incredible marathon of musical mayhem for over twelve straight days, there is something for everyone from tiny club shows to massive outdoor headliners.
The very first festival I ever attended in Europe was Primavera Sound, so it felt right that my first European festival back after the pandemic would be this classic. It didn’t hurt that PS had announced one of the best lineups of the past decade along with a reunited Pavement. As always, it’s almost an overwhelming experience trying to navigate this massive mega-festival so this recap barely scratches the surface. For a more detailed look at each weekend, see the articles and photo galleries below.
Click here to see highlights from Weekend #1
Click here to see artist photos from Weekend #1
Click here to see highlights from Weekend #2
Click here to see artist photos from Weekend #2
Table Of Contents
1. Running the Numbers
2. The Scene
3. Music Highlights
4. Stray Observations
5. Travel Tips
6. Final Thoughts
Running the Numbers
Dates: June 2-12, 2022
MFW Beer Index: €4.50
Highest/Lowest Temperature: 27C/18C (81F/64F)
Reusable Cups? Yes
Free Water Stations? Yes
Lots of changes at the Parc Del Forum this year, the most noticeable one being side by side main stages. This meant less walking through the massive festival grounds, but I didn’t like some of the overlap between crowds, some who were there to see the current acts, others that were just posting up all evening for the headliner. Another big change is the continued expansion of the Primavera Bits area across the bridge, which is now large enough to be considered a small festival on its own. Speaking of the bridge, it was closed this year to the commoners which meant an insane mile-long walk to get around. Basically, once you over in Bits, you were there for the night in most cases.
Primavera Sound has evolved into a mega-festival that still holds on tight to its indie roots. So while the headliners might include festival staples like Megan Thee Stallion and The Strokes, you are also getting incredible acts like The Smile, Pavement, and the legendary Mavis Staples.
At times, the reported 85,000 people that showed up every day very much felt like a massive crowd of that size, especially during the first week. The Dinosaur Jr. set at 6:00 pm on the first Thursday was absolutely packed for a Spanish show.
Acts I Caught and the Unofficial Order in Which I Enjoyed Them
- Dinosaur Jr.
- Les Savy Fav
- Wet Leg
- Run the Jewels
- Mavis Staples
- The Linda Lindas
- Courtney Bartnett
- Mainline Magic Orchestra
- Weyes Blood
- Chet Faker
- Amyl & The Sniffers
- Fontaines D.C.
- Erika de Casier
- Rina Sawayama
- Brittany Howard
- Magdalena Bay
- Yo La Tengo
- The Smile
- The Murder Capital
- Little Simz
- Pom Pom Squad
- Sampa The Great
- Playboy Carti
Festival MVP: Phoenix
“I always forget how good Phoenix is live,” my friend said to me when we caught them at the special Wednesday show. I had to agree. Not only do they have a deep catalog of tunes to pull from, their live show is a ball of energy fronted by…
I Will Make You Cry: Pavement
It’s been a long road for those of us dreaming about a Pavement reunion – and an even longer road since Primavera Sound announced them as headliners back in 2019. All I can say is that it didn’t disappoint and felt to me like the first real moment that live music was back for good.
Most Interactive: Les Savy Fav
There are your favorite sets and then there are those performances that are so much fun, they will be imprinted in your memory forever. Fucked Up did it for me on this stage back in 2015 and right there to keep the good times rolling, Les Savy Fav put on a balls-out barn-burner, made even more happy to see friends I haven’t seen for years bouncing around in the crowd.
Keep Your Eye On: Erika de Casier
So smooth and so good that I forgot at times that I was inside a smoky, underground parking garage. Expect to see more experimental R&B pop from this new solo effort.
Guaranteed Good Time: Run the Jewels
Can you see me in El-P’s sunglasses?
We Are All Abuzz: Wet Leg
How much fun are these two live? Lots.
Worst Performance: COVID-19
From bumping performers off the lineup to infecting nearly everybody I knew at the festival, COVID came in fast and hot during my first full festival back. Luckily, I didn’t catch it, but that’s also because I never went to any of the indoor shows.
The Hike of Shame
Primavera Bits ends all of sudden at 6:00 am when the music cuts off and the security guards herd you from your cozy beachside seats. And then you realize the sun is up, your mouth is dry, and there is still a mile-long walk just to get back to the entrance. The first train of the morning is grim, unfun affair.
Fashion Watch: All In White
Pantsuits. Body suits. Regular suits. Suits you rip off mid-show. White was the hottest color of the festival.
The first venue where Primavera Sound was ever held stood in for the “Opening Day” show on Wednesday preceding each weekend, and I got to say it might have been my favorite part of the festival. Great lineup, a smaller crowd, and no clashes gave a quick six-hour shot of great tunes each time.
What’s the weather like? As always in June, weather can be quite pleasant, but also, as always, this festival takes place next to the sea and it gets chilly at night when that sea mist rolls on in.
What’s the prime hours for music? Let’s go night owls! Primavera doesn’t even get rolling until six at night with most of the headliners capping off the major acts around three in the morning. There’s still plenty happening until dawn though if you are the type of person that likes to go hard all night…or if you are the type of person that is just waiting for your 5:40 am train to get back home.
Where did you sleep? A double weekend of Primavera plus the first the week of summer in the busiest city in Europe after a pandemic? It was crazy for lodging. I saw hostel beds going for $100 a night. I spent most of my time up the coast where a $5/35-minute train ride had me finding seaside hotels for $60!
How do you get there? There’s not shortage of ways to get to Primavera Sound. Now getting home? That’s another matter.
I’m exhausted just writing about this festival. It was almost too much music to cram into ten days. As an experimental year after the pandemic, it was a wild ride, but I’m very happy to see Primavera Sound returning next year to just a single day. But don’t worry, in an effort to keep us on our toes, next year promises a brand new edition the following weekend in Madrid! And Los Angeles. And South America.
Here’s a quick rundown of what Primavera has happening in 2023.
Primavera Sound Barcelona 2023
June 1-3, 2023
This Barcelona institution is a beacon for the entire spectrum of indie rock along with a smattering of entries from just about every other genre of music. Hundreds of bands fill the Parc El Forum along with one-of-a-kind intimate performances throughout the city. Add this music festival mecca to your bucket list immediately.
Featured Artists: Alex G, Baby Keem, Bad Religion, Black Midi, Bleachers, Blur, Built To Spill, Calvin Harris, Christine And The Queens, Death Grips, Depeche Mode, Ezra Furman, FKA Twigs, Four Tet, Halsey, Japanese Breakfast, Kendrick Lamar, My Morning Jacket, Pet Shop Boys, Pusha T, Rosalía, Skrillex, St. Vincent, Swans, The Comet is Coming, The Voidz, The War on Drugs, Turnstile, Yung Lean, Yves Tumor
Vito Valentinetti/Primavera Sound
Primavera Sound Porto 2023
June 7-10, 2023
The little sibling to Barcelona's mega-festival Primavera Sound, this Portuguese edition takes place the following weekend in the charming city of Porto. The recipe remains the same, with a staggering roster of indie rock talent. The grassy hillsides of Parque Central means that every seat is a prime location to watch the show.
Featured Artists: Bad Religion, Bleachers, Blur, Built To Spill, FKA Twigs, Japanese Breakfast, Kendrick Lamar, My Morning Jacket, Pet Shop Boys, Pusha T, St. Vincent, The Comet is Coming
Photo Credit: Vito Valentinetti
Primavera Sound Madrid 2023
June 8-10, 2023
Arganda del Rey, Spain
Primavera Sound launches a new edition in the capital of Spain! Festies will travel the City of Rock near Madrid for this latest iteration of the legendary festival.
Featured Artists: Bad Religion, Black Midi, Bleachers, Blur, Built To Spill, Christine And The Queens, Death Grips, Depeche Mode, FKA Twigs, Four Tet, Halsey, Japanese Breakfast, Kendrick Lamar, My Morning Jacket, New Order, Pet Shop Boys, Pusha T, St. Vincent, The Voidz, The War on Drugs, Turnstile