How to condense a weekend of the best artists in the world at one of the top festivals? You don’t. We were at Barcelona’s famous Primavera Sound Festival this past weekend and our list of what we missed is almost as long as we did manage to see over four long nights. Our whirlwind tour of today’s musical landscape starts here with our favorite moments from the past four nights.
For a photographic recap of the fest check out our Primavera Sound photo gallery here.
The Highs of Weekend #1
The Return Of Live
After such a long absence, it was a thrill to be reunited in Barcelona with Primavera Sound. The festival kicked things off right with a special Wednesday night show at Poble Espanyol. Highlights included The Linda Lindas, a quartet of punk rock teens that went viral after blowing the doors off the LA Public Library along with Wet Leg, a duo of folk rockers that plugged in their instruments and released one of the buzziest albums of the year.
Les Savy Fav Goes Bonkers
I was told that that Tim Harrington, the lead singer of Rhode Island’s Les Savy Fav, likes to go into the crowd, but what I wasn’t told is that he lives in the crowd. In a raucous set that included scaling the stage, hugging strangers, climbing over the fence into VIP, and shredding his white suit, it’s hard to pick a favorite moment so I’m going to go with the finale where he tosses a chunk of stage into the crowd, strips down to his underwear, and has the crowd surf him around like a red-beared god.
Primavera Bits Comes Into Its Own
When it debuted in 2017, Primavera Bits was billed as a mini-electronic festival within Primavera Sound. “I predict this will be a separate fest in a few years,” a fan from Ireland proclaimed to me. With three full stages, no lines for beer, a beach lounge, and the best vibe of the weekend, I found it hard to disagree that Bits feels like a completely different fest that its parent. Whenever the main festival grounds became too overwhelming, our crew came hear to find solace and watch the sun come up over the sea.
A lot of fans (and by fans, I mean me) thought they would never see this infamous alt-rock band in their lifetimes until Primavera surprised us with the 2020 lineup. And then we waited. And waited. It would be two long years until the indie rockers took the stage and (I may be biased here), it was incredible. They ran through classics like Summer Babe (Winter Version), Shady Lane, Cut Your Hair, Two States, and my pandemic theme song, I Could Spit on a Stranger.
WTF with MMO
It’s two in the morning and you are ready to vibe gently to a new band. The Mainline Magic Orchestra had other ideas. Decked out in some futuristic Handmaid’s Tale outfits, I wasn’t sure to what to expect, but what I got was partial nudity, muscle suits, a Paul Abdul tribute, fireballs, and finale that included a rousing rendition of Last Christmas.
K-Pop Comes to Primavera
Dreamcatcher was the first K-Pop group welcomed to the Primavera stage ever, and based on the high-pitched screams, they won’t be the last. Apparently (and I may have all this completely wrong), the members of Dreamcatcher are caught in a nightmare and each member has their own specific fear like being trapped in a small space or being chased by a stranger or what am I getting into here… Mainly, what I saw was high energy pop backed by an overly exuberant fan base.
Beck is Where’s It At
One of the best sets of the weekend, the underrated Beck showed up in a dapper all-white leisure suit and took the crowd on a sonic dance journey of his eclectic catalog.
Morning with Mavis
Technically the Mavis Staples show was at seven in the evening, but welcome to waking up at Primavera Sound. On the final day, the absolute legend Mavis Staples jarred us out of weekend stupor with a rousing set of inspiration and soul.
I Feel the Pain
Coming from Vermont, it’s always nice to see a familiar face on stage like New England’s Dinosaur Jr. As one of the first major acts of the festival, it was also surprising to see the smaller Cupra stage packed like it was midnight and not six in the morning. Low Barlow was raging so hard he cut his forehead open at one point.
The Lows of Weekend #1
It’s been a tough couple years for our industry and the first weekend back at Primavera Sound had some serious growing pains – at times I felt like I was at a first year fest, not one of Europe’s premier festival experiences. Fans have been extremely vocal in their displeasure with an army of memes and complaints across social media.
Primavera Goes Dry
Pro-tip to festival organizers. If you’re going to hold a fest, make sure that the beer is flowing. Primavera started off Thursday with a sea of closed beer tents which eventually opened to massive lines and lots of angry festies. Things improved over the weekend, but Primavera needs a better drink system.
Welcome to Spain – it’s super f’ing hot here and Parc El Forum doesn’t boast a lot of shade. For such a massive event, Primavera only has two water stations, an oversight they attempted to rectify with the environmentally unfriendly choice of handing out thousands of free plastic water bottles. Sigh.
In a post-COVID world, this should have been a no-brainer, but almost every time I went to wash my hands, there was no soap.
Overcrowding at the Stages
Primavera tried out a new system for the main stage this year with a side-by-side setup and I didn’t meet a single person that liked it. It just becomes overcrowded with one-half of the crowd usually there waiting for the next artist to start playing.
Georgia, Bleachers, and Girl in Red were just a few of the names that had be dropped last minute because of COVID infections, but the biggest gut punch was Friday night headliner, The Strokes, stepped out at the last minute. They are still on for weekend two, so here’s to still hoping we have a shot at screaming Last Night at the top of our lungs. As a consolation, Tame Impala took care of that on Thursday night.