It took us a few days to recover from the festival and the whole trip. So if anyone still cares, here’s our report. Oh and sorry for our amateur photos, but after this we really don’t think it’s such a big deal.
DAY ONE: Hunting for Hipsters
After a couple of days of walking around Barcelona and checking out its night life, we came to the festival dead tired. Walked through a couple of shows and sat around watching hipsters. I’ve never seen so many in my life so the first day at the festival was a bit of a culture shock.
Sic Alps were nothing special. Wanted to see The Books but they were rescheduled to play later. It would have been interesting to see how they pull off playing in a festival setting, since their brand of quite electro accompanied with visuals is perfect for a more intimate venue. Saw Surfer Blood for about ten minutes, they were alright. We’re not really fans. The dude has a pretty powerful voice for a fourteen year old though.
We sat at the ATP stage for a while to see a part of the Circulatory System show and we weren’t really blown away. The fact that The Fall were playing on the main stage completely slipped my mind. Note to self: don’t party the night before the big festival. But we had a birthday to celebrate!
So the first band whose show we actually saw in its entirety was The xx. They were really good. There was a slight drizzle throughout their set, but nothing that couldn’t be ignored. It was interesting to see three pretty homely looking kids make such a huge crowd go wild. After that we went to see Superchunk who were great. Had no idea they had so many fans. The show was really intense and energetic. Tim Harrington of Les Savy Fav sang ‘Precision Auto’ with them (and then tweeted about it).
We had some time to kill before the Pavement show, but unlike some people we didn’t feel like sitting in front of the stage for two hours making sure we get the best spot. So we sat at another stage and watched Broken Social Scene in all of their Canadian-can’t-have-less-than-10-people-on-stage glory. Didn’t know they had old people in the band. One member seemingly styled himself after his grandma (?) – we later found out it was the Apostle of Hustle dude. Spiral Stairs came out and did a song with them. And Kevin Drew said things like „This is very unbelievable for us.“ LOL. Yeah, we’re cringing with disbelief. We left before the end of the show as it was almost Pavement time. By the way, congratulations to who ever made the schedule – Pavement and Mission of Burma at the same time. Thanks a lot, dude. Great.
While my colleague went off to find a decent spot for Pavement, I went to see The Big Pink at the Pitchfork stage. Only caught about two songs, but I can say they sounded good enough to make me consider staying there for a little longer. But no no, Pavement was one of the main reasons we even the decided to go the festival so I headed to San Miguel. When my friend texted me her coordinates, all I could reply was „Fuck.“ It was packed. And I was supposed to get through to like the 5th row. After stepping on a lot of toes, both literally and metaphorically, I somehow managed to do it. Pavement were good. Pretty good. Very professional. It was great hearing some of my favorite songs ever live. It’s just that – as fun as it was – they still leave the impression of an old band recently getting together to have a couple of laughs and make a buck or two. Like something is missing. Who knows, maybe they just need a couple of years to really get into it, kinda like the Pixies, who were much more convincing when we saw them at the festival than they were a few years back on their first reformation tour. Or maybe I just expected too much. Some of our friends caught them a couple of days earlier and were quite unimpressed. They even said Malkmus was pretty drunk and uninvolved. But at least they got to hear ‘Summer Babe’. I’m still baffled that they didn’t play it. Don’t get me wrong, the show at Primavera was really good. I just wanted it to be the best. Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew joined them for a song, probably to return the favor.
Right after the Pavement show on the main stage, we went to see Fuck Buttons at the Ray Ban stage. FUCK. BUTTONS. Oh my God. They made me instantly forget about Pavement. It was so loud and just awesome. By far one of the best shows of the festival. Oh, and whoever was directing what was being projected on the large video screens on both sides of the stage appeared to have a thing for Andrew Hung as he got some serious screen time.
Ended the first day with Moderat at the Vice stage, which turned out to be the worst of the stages we attended. To say they had trouble with the sound would be an understatement. It was complete shit at times. My only fear is that people weren’t able to discern that it had nothing to do with the bands. Since I’ve seen them before, I know they can do a lot better. Guess the conditions just weren’t working in their favor.
And then the pushing and shoving to get in the metro, which doesn’t open before five. And drunk hipsters on the metro singing Backstreet Boys medleys and getting confused for Surfer Blood by locals. Priceless.
DAY TWO: Marry Me
The first band we saw on the second day were The New Pornographers on the main stage. They were alright. Wish they played more songs we knew but hey, guess it’s our problem if we haven’t listened to the new album. Low was coming up after that at the Auditori venue, who for some inexplicable reason decided to play The Great Destroyer in its entirety. Whose bright idea was that?? Just don’t get it, they have at least four albums better than that one. And I’m not sure if I’m all that into the whole playing-a-full-album live thing. However, we chose to go and see Best Coast at the Pitchfork stage, which was a fine choice indeed.
The weather was kind of fickle since the festival began, cloudy with a bit of rain occasionally. But the sun came out for Best Coast‘s show. They played a couple of new songs from the upcoming album and pretty much all those old gems that made us fall in love with them. Absoloutely love how Bobb Bruno comes off as a total metalhead while playing light beach pop. They ended their set with a cover of Wavves’ ‘So Bored’ to sort of commemorate the one-year anniversary of Nathan’s much publicized and, in my opinion, seriously blown out of proportion meltdown. Don’t worry, it’s already on Pitchfork.
We chilled out on the grass for a bit at San Miguel during Spoon, who were kinda slow and dull. Then went to see Condo Fucks for a while. They looked like they were really having a blast. I’d still rather see Yo La Tengo though. And then! Two of the best shows we saw at Primavera, both at the ATP stage, one right after the other. And two singers who got the most marriage proposals.
Beach House were absolutely gorgeous. They played mostly new stuff, but they know how to push the audience’s buttons with all the right ‘oldies’ – ‘Master of None’ and ‘Heart of Chambers’, and ‘Gila’, which I guess is a must. Still crushed we’ve never heard them play ‘Saltwater’ live. Victoria is a mean headbanger, waving her long luscious curles all over the place – at one point her necklace flew right of her neck. Also, there was the occasional marriage proposal shoutout directed at Victoria. Understandable. Who wouldn’t wanna marry her? Also, as a hardcore fan of Beach House and Devotion, I must say that after this show I’m finally enjoying Teen Dream as much as the first two records.
Les Savy Fav – a perfect follow up to the Beach House show, certainly. Tim Harrington came out in a weird furry suit, covered head to toe, but of course, got it off by the second song. Catching a position in the front row turned out not to be such a good idea. When Harrington stepped over us to get into the crowd, the crowd went wild and we almost got crushed. After a couple of songs, I gave up and moved a couple of feet to the right only to end up right next to a woman with a banner saying something like „Do you wanna marry me?“, trying to catch Harrington’s attention. She finally made it with a little help from friends when they started shouting „Oi! Oi! Oi!“ in a break between two songs. And then we all had to shout something about her wanting him to marry her. Sweet. We heard that Les Savy Fav shows were wild. But actually experiencing one is a whole different thing. At one point Harrington got out this black ink and poured it all over himself, came up to the crowd and started smearing it and rubbing himself against the people in the front row. My friend was at the rail, probably cursing the moment she decided to wear anything more than a plain tee.
I caught exactly one song from Panda Bear‘s set and assured myself that I’ll probably have another chance to see him as one’s not exactly in the chilled out dreamy mood after all that Les Savy Fav madness. The party had to go on – that’s where Cold Cave came in. It was really loud and noisy (Dominick Fernow <3). A pretty good show all in all, although we weren’t sure if the sound was supposed to be that way. Most songs sort of melted together until the chorus part. Also, did they play ‘The Trees Grew Emotions and Died’? We can’t agree on the matter, which is silly I know.
We thought we’d chill for a while on the grass at the main stage while the Pixies play. Didn’t think it’d be especially fun since we’ve seen them several times already and haven’t listened to them in ages. But damn, we never even reached the meadow. When we got there, it was like being propelled back to our teens – we had to stay and enjoy the show for a little longer than we had planned. At some point we finally managed to tear ourselves away from that mind frame, back to impersonating hip twenty-something altbros who’d rather go see Major Lazer than the good old Pixies. But oh my. What a party. The dancers, the dude dressed as a sailor who occasionally came out and threw inflatable crocodiles into the audience, the crowd that was completely wild and into it… Awesome. And the set went from ‘Rude Boy’ to Weezer’s ‘Say it Ain’t So’. Say it ain’t the end of the party.
Next stop: the Vice stage (or the shit stage), Yeasayer show. Not bad. Tho frontman Chris Keating seemed to try too hard at times and went on a litany about how the new Ray Ban ads (which happened to be adorning the stage) were shit and how they need to get a new designer, but don’t get him wrong, he loves the glasses, yadda, yadda… Shut up and play. Also, interesting observation, even though he’s the main vocals, all the songs guitarist Anand Wilder sings on are the ones that become hits. You think there might be some resentment there?
On our way back we passed by the Pitchfork stage where Joker feat. Nomad were playing. It sounded good, but we were just too tired. And wanted to catch the night bus. And failed. Queuing for the metro once more.
DAY THREE: A Sunny Day in Barcelona
We had to get up really early the last day of the festival (ie. around 1pm) to catch A Sunny Day in Glasgow at Parc Joan Miró. Kudos to whoever thought of having free shows at the park, it was beautiful. And the weather finally calmed down, it was a sunny day in Barcelona – it all came together perfectly. A Sunny Day in Glasgow played The Breeders’ ‘Divine Hammer’ on their soundcheck, that was sweet. It was great seeing them in that setting. After that we went to the park’s other stage to catch Ganglians. I was really into them when they first turned up, but hadn’t listened to them for a long time. Was kinda surprised I didn’t recognize most of the songs, and they played only a couple of old favorites. They had a lot of problems setting up, so we couldn’t catch the whole set – it was time to head to the Forum.
On my way to the festival I saw Noah Lennox in front of the hotel. I thought I’d go shake his hand and take a fan photo, but I was in the middle of eating a sandwich so I just walked past him. Sandwich > Panda Bear.
The first band we saw at Parc del Fòrum that day were Real Estate. That show was totally sweet and mellow. After them Atlas Sound came on, also on the Pitchfork stage, and that was even sweeter. Call me crazy, but I found his live version of ‘Walkabout’ way better than the album one featuring Noax Lennox. At some point Cox asked whether the sea he could see from the stage was the sea or the ocean. Not that good at geography, are we, Atlas sound? But who could hold anything against him – he’s the cuddliest thing alive. Though, this seems to be a problem for many bands, I think Vivian Girls were puzzled by the very same body of water last year.
Saw a bit of The Slits show. The show itself was decent, but I’m not sure what to make of their stage performance – Ari Up is pretty much completely mad. It was fun, I guess. Taught by last year’s experience of seeing Little Boots at the Pukkelpop festival, we thought it might be fun to catch one of the more mainstream acts. Since Primavera Sound is one überindie festival, we didn’t have much to choose from. Unfortunately, Florence + The Machine weren’t nearly as fun as Little Boots. We split up to see Polvo and Grizzly Bear who played at the same time. Polvo were great, really tight. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a really good math rock show. Grizzly Bear were decent enough, but were insisting pretty hard on Veckatimest, which is understandable seeing how it’s the latest record, but there are some songs off of Horn of Plenty that really deserve to be permanent fixtures on the setlist.
There were a bunch of really interesting bands playing on Saturday. With only one teeny problem – they all played at the same time! First we had to choose between Built to Spill and No Age. We love the former, but hadn’t seen the latter yet so we went with No Age. Bad choice. No Age left us quite unimpressed – started of noisy enough, but a couple of songs in, we simultaneously came to the realization we’d rather be watching Built to Spill. We rushed to ATP barely wading through the immense crowd to catch them deliver a beautiful one-hour set. Doug <3 (off-topic – Can’t believe we hung out with them once in their tour van! How awesome are we?)
While my friend went to see Dum Dum Girls and was disappointed, I enjoyed the Liquid Liquid show very much. Most people looked like they had no idea who Liquid Liquid were but pretty soon it didn’t matter anyway, as the concert was amazing, a total party, and the frontman lovely. Probably the only concert where it was easier to get to the front rows at the beginning than getting out at the end. I think I saw Tim Harrington standing on the side. We saw him every day of the festival.
Caught a bit of Gary Numan, it was pretty intense, total r’n'r. And a lot of old people. Pet Shop Boys more like Pet Shop Box – chicks dancing with boxes on their heads and people throwing boxes at each other. WTF? All in all, pretty entertaining. Unless they make your skin crawl, which they do in my colleague’s case. She went off to see anything else really and ended up catching Ben Frost at ATP. What we had written off as just some DJ, turned out to be this awesome Australian noise musician based in Iceland. So there were some new finds at the festival as well.
There were three shows we wanted to see at 3 am – HEALTH, The Field and Orbital. Having seen HEALTH several times, I chose The Field. Don’t know how good the other two shows were, but I’d say this was a damn good choice. Why didn’t anyone tell me that The Field had a full live band?! They were fucking awesome. Apparently HEALTH were great too. They had the misfortune of getting the Vice stage and for a minute there it looked like guitarist Jake Duzsik was gonna have a meltdown doing the impossible task of setting up the sound on that stage. He tried greeting the crowd in perfect Spanish, which was really sweet, but even that was derailed by his shit mic. After much delay and finally on top of things, they managed to deliver the tight pulverizing set we’ve come to expect from them.
Fake Blood were a good way to close the last day, but we were tired as hell.Very satisfied all in all. Just really bummed we missed The Antlers! Hah. More bad photos of shows should be up on our Facebook profile tomorrow so check it out if you’re interested.