The indie festival Primavera Sound opened up its great lineup on 1st June for the 16th time with Britpop legend Suede who gave a free concert to the Barcelona citizens and the international crowd that was already in the city for five days of bliss. The first two festival days coincided - or not - with a metro strike. The trains were packed but people relaxed even though they were sandwiched and the concert about to start - and the metro not moving.
Finally at the Parc del Forum first-time visitors and returners could soak up the vibe with great weather, lots of versatile food stalls, the breathtaking venue located at the Mediterranean coast with its futuristic constructions, 15 stages, a beach club and perfectly organized facilities.
Brett Anderson, matured but still sexy like in the 90'ies, sang his songs with a lot of pathos and enjoyed how people celebrated his music after him being away from the stage for years. Suede started their show with Outsiders and ended it with their catchy song Beautiful Ones (before coming up with two encores) - the highlight of their show. During this first night Brett Anderson gave everything, his shirt was soaked in sweat and torn; he interacted with the audience and in return his fans sang along enthusiastically.
Suede had another show the day after at the Heineken Hidden Stage where people had to get free tickets beforehand as there was only limited space. There Suede performed their 7th studio album Night Thoughts.
Perfectionist Kevin Parker had to face technical difficulties
The next day the English indie folk band Daughter started the evening on the main stages with its elegiac music; Daughter´s music hints to Florence in the Machine but without the pathos and danceability that make it such a success. Singer North London was bullied at school and the way she sings, her shyness and fragility make you happy for her that she found music to help expressing her thoughts and feelings and thus compensate the negative experience. Daughter is perfect to listen to at bright daylight in the glistening sun and at the same time dreaming of rainy, melancholic London.
Melancholic Singer North London
Daughter was followed by the French duo Air completely dressed in white, the stage in a retro spaceship appearance perfectly adding up to that out-of-the-world feeling accumulating in their song Kelly watch the Stars with sounds, lights and fog that reminded of being beamed away in outer space. Their dirty-washed-out, vintage-sex-party-sound was perfect to start the beautiful music night at the Parc del Forum, the sunset and surrounding skyscrapers magically reflecting in Air´s stage set up. They played all their big songs, nothing left to ask for, two geniuses, stoically standing at their instruments.
How Does It Make You Feel? Great! Down-tempo music at sunset hour
Band of the season Tame Impala started their frenetically expected set at 11.30 pm with front man Kevin Parker singing his good mood songs accompanied by psychedelic flower visuals. Their overly-perfect pop with stark influence from the Beatles and Pink Floyd came to an abrupt halt in the middle of Eventually. The technicians in white scientists' overalls tried to do their best and find the fault which took them long ten minutes in which the fans didn´t lose their optimism and kept singing a looped Eventually. The live Tame Impala sound is as perfect and non-edgy as their studio sound and thus it must have been hard for those perfectionists to be confronted with such technical difficulties. When they were back on stage they had displayed Love on the screens and thanked their fans by fulfilling their set with New Person, Same Old Mistakes and a huge shower of confetti!
Tame Impala with their perfect feel-good show
Brooklyn-based band LCD Soundsystem, which reunited in December 2015 after nearly five years of separation, rocked the night with their disco-funk-dance-punk. People who mobilized their remaining energy danced to James Murphy´s energizing sound. They played a great set with hits like Daft Punk is playing at my House, I can change, Someone Great and Dance Yrself Clean.
At the smaller Primavera Stage at about the same time the Californian noise-rock band Thee Oh Sees gave their appearance. Their wide range of rock genres from garage rock, psychedelic and punk rock to art punk and their way of doing things as they like to do them is part of their self-conception. Changing their band´s name, the band members or how often and in which way they release records is part of it. Their dirty rock sound with two (!!!) drum sets backfired and was a perfect end for the tired and happy festival visitor.
In church with Radiohead - God loves his children
June 3rd was THE day for a lot of people for whom headliner Radiohead was a major reason to buy the Primavera tickets.
But let´s start with the post-punk-sound of Savages, who were opener on the huge Heineken stage that evening. Their riot girl-power appeals to some and to others not so much. To people who don´t know Savages and their line-up too well there are few obvious hits. Thus the set rocked but after a while it all sounded more or less like one mash. But French singer Jehnny Beth with her demanding sexiness probably has some new fans. She delivered and visibly enjoyed being transported to the first wave-breaker to continue the concert there. She plays with her image as a wild lady, fist-punches in the air and head bangs a lot.
Riot girl Jehnny Beth singing amid people at the 3rd festival day
Beirut, indie rock and world music band, followed on the H&M stage, vis-à-vis. They had the least sought spot to perform that night as the whole festival tried to get the best places for the Radiohead show scheduled afterwards. That was the reason why Savages probably played in front of the biggest audience they ever had played before. Beirut still did their show good-moodedly, front man Santa Fe who was influenced by Mexican mariachi music, Fellini arias and Balkan music, played the trumpet and the ukulele that night. Due to wind unfortunately the sound didn´t arrive at the Heineken stage where the Beirut concert was displayed on screens.
Then the much awaited stars of the festival were due to play in front of estimated 100,000 people - an inconceivable number. The beautiful and weird thing was that it was quiet; no cheering, no jumping, not too much talking. At times, the concert seemed like devotions, the audience was devoted, devotional. Radiohead played the first half of their newly released album A moon shaped Pool in consecutive order, followed by quiet and fragile songs like Lotus Flower, No Surprises and Karma Police. Genius Johnny Greenwood played his guitar with violin bow. Then song by song the show intensified and accelerated. Thom Yorke´s longing voice, the beautiful evening, the Instagram-suitable jigsaw visuals... You can´t deny that this was a special evening but still it was not yet goose bumps until the encore; there it was what the worshippers were waiting for: Radiohead´s unique songs with their special breaks where they go wild before returning to sweetest melodies like in Paranoid Android and 2+2=5. People were in ecstasy and in trance; Radiohead had their fans at any time under perfect control and moved them to tears. Some people even shared this exclusive experience with their friends via FaceTime. Radiohead ended with their epic song Creep which they hadn´t played during the past ten years. Thereafter there was nothing left to say.
Thome Yorke´s contagious pathos
Veterans and fairies on stage
The last of the main Primavera days could be said to be the most interesting one in regards to headliners: Brian Wilson, PJ Harvey, Moderat, Sigur Rós.
Brian Wilson performed with eleven veteran musicians the 1966 released iconic Beach Boys´album Pet Sounds which is considered one of the most influential albums in music history and always is mentioned alongside Nirvana´s Nevermind, Michael Jackson´s Thriller and The Beatles´ Abbey Road. Before they started a few older men were greeting each other on stage like old friends. Having seen that it supported the feeling you got during their performance. From the beginning Brian Wilson seemed to be really touched to play in this combo in front of so many young people; from time to time he had to wipe his eyes. And also the audience was touched - hipsters, rockers, indies and fans from back then were united in appreciation of these highly musical people on stage who were visibly living for their music. Singers Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin each had their very own voice and it was simply beautiful to listen to them playing Pet Sounds which after 50 years still is relevant. The album´s performance was followed by very well known Beach Boy anthems like Good Vibrations, I Get Around and Surfin USA.
Another highlight was PJ Harvey entering the stage in a procession with her musicians, herself playing the saxophone. All of them dressed in black suits and PJ herself in a black dress and headdress like a dark fairy, the scenery came as reminiscence of a dance theater or film noir. As the concert was filmed in black and white and displayed on the screens it was hard to decide where to look at - either the stage or the screens where you watched a kind of Jim Jarmusch movie of a staged burial. The band of ten musicians worked with marching band bass drums and capitalism-criticizing lyrics.
What I´ve seen
Yes, it´s changed how
I see humankind
I used to think progress was made
We could get something right
This tiny fairy did a really big show that is absolutely memorable!
Saxophone fairy PJ Harvey in her film noir
We asked ourselves which gig we liked best, but we honestly couldn´t answer as each of them was so different from each other and unforgettable in its own. PJ Harvey though had all components to win this competition.
Nina Bayne, Gerhard M. Vogl
All photograph credits Eric Pamies