It’s another incredible weekend of music from Primavera Sound and Music Festival Wizard was once again on hand to experience most of it. The double weekend was a first-time experiment for Primavera Sound and for the most part seemed to work well, although we strongly debated skipping the second weekend for Primavera Sound Porto – tough decisions all around!
For a second week in a row, I got the chance to catch the Wednesday show at Poble Espanyol and it’s just an incredible venue to kick off the festival. Primavera Sound can sometimes be a bit overwhelming so it’s a nice change of pace to settle down at a single stage for the evening. This week we were able to stay for the entire show which included The Pom Pom Squad, Magdalena Bay, Ride, Khruangbin, and one of the best performances of the past two weeks…
One of the absolute top shows of both weekends, I had forgotten in the long absence just how great a Phoenix live show can be. The French rockers kept the buzz going into the weekend putting on a wildly popular repeat of their Wednesday night show over at the main stage.
Amyl and the Sniffers
Amy Taylor, the frontwoman for Amyl and the Sniffers, is another top-notch to catch live with her expressive gestures and fist-pumping gyrations. Taking advantage of headliner Dua Lipa’s extended runway, Taylor went on a mini-rampage through the afternoon crowd.
Party in the Parking Garage
The NTS stage is a smoky, underground club in a parking garage that is usually thumping with electronic music, so it was a real delight to stumble through the haze and discover Portuguese artist Erika de Casier performing an intimate set of melodic R&B. Never stop surprising me Primavera Sound.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this newer music festival staple that’s been making the rounds, but what I wasn’t expecting was an extended melody of hip-hop tunes from across the decades that kept us bumping all evening.
A semi-super group, The Smile consists of Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead along with Sons of Kemet drummer Tom Skinner. This low-key progressive rock set really lit up the audience. Thom Yorke just looks like he’s having the time of his life and even Julian Casablancas from The Strokes said it’s the “best show I’ve seen in years.”
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
Even if wasn’t for the kick-ass wizardly related name, King Gizzard were the festival all-stars playing not only both weekends, but a number of club shows throughout the week. Their crowning set had to be this Friday night teardown on the Tous Stage. While everyone was crowded in watching The Strokes, the fans on the other side of the bridge were treated to a blistering hour of psychedelic rock.
Run the Jewels
I didn’t know it at the time (see below), but this would be the last big act that I would catch at Primavera Sound and it was a high note to go out on. The previous evening, I was almost knocked to the ground a couple of times by the combo Gorillaz/Dua Lipa crowd, so it was just pleasant as hell to be surrounded by more respectful festival fans still having a good time.
The Lows of Weekend #2
Surprise Headliner: COVID
The elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about is that we are still in the midst of a major pandemic so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that in crowded performances with no masks, limited hygiene, and no social distancing, that COVID-19 made an appearance. Out of three separate friend groups that I interacted with at the festival, about 85% came down with COVID either during the festival or shortly after. There’s a few threads on Reddit with dozens of cases that would indicate a possible minor outbreak. Personally, I was hit with a massive head cold from the dust at Tous which knocked me out for the rest of the weekend, so no pictures from the final day.
Primavera a la Ciutat
In the past, the club shows usually showcase lesser known acts and take place after the festival has ended, but with the double weekend set-up, Primavera went big on the mid-week club shows. This led to some massive queues that were hours long and angry fans who felt these venues should have been more accessible. I skipped all of the indoor shows, because, you know, we are still in the midst of a major pandemic.
Brunch on the Beach
Although I was too ill to attend, the well advertised Brunch on the Beach looked like a lot of fun – if you could get in. After suggesting this was open to everyone who had a ticket, fans were surprised to discover days before the event, they had to get a reservation to attend.
Overall, Primavera Sound remains one of the best music festivals in the world, and despite the logistical issues from a forced three-year hiatus, I had an amazing time at the festival. I did not care for the double weekend experiment and would prefer that if Primavera Sound wants to grow, then they should add an additional full day on Wednesday along with an increased capacity and artists for Sunday along with an opening night show on Tuesday at Poble Espanya. While I can’t wait to see what 2023 brings, it’s time to look forward as Primavera Sound travels to the Americas with stops in Los Angeles, Sao Paulo, Santiago, and Buenos Aires.