Primavera Sound, Barcelona, 31/5/14

With being a somewhat Primavera veteran, at least compared to my contributors attending the festival this year, I decided to let them take the writing and actually cut loose and enjoy myself, well why change what happens every year – the wear and tear of a 7am finish and the seemingly constant drilling around Barcelona fair takes it out of you.

Anyway this year Nick Ramsey took over reviewing duties to give you a newbie’s view on the festival, however we did manage to see a whole plethora of different acts, due to the constant array of clashes the festival throws up (more a nod to the festival’s constant impeccable line up rather than poor organisation), so I decided to input some of my own takes on the festival, those will be the one’s in bold– so here goes:

 

Arriving early again with the sole intention of seeing Aussie wordsmith Courtney Barnett and not to find Macaulay Culkin, The Pizza Underground had pulled out earlier in the day (shame as I’d have loved to have had a wee sing-along to ‘All Tomorrow’s Pizzas’ kazoo or no kazoo), still Barnett is a delight in the sunshine, however her quirky lyrics are lost in the sea air and the vibe isn’t quite enough and she remains on the ‘see in a small venue’ list.

Earl Sweatshirt is arguably one of the more credible members of Odd Future, at least from an artistic perspective.

Doris was an impressive album and the material from that comes across really well, although more juvenile lyrics such as “I’ll fuck the freckles off your face bitch” damage the value of his material, he’ll grow out of it, some impressive freestyling are the pinnacle youngster’s set.

Good Kid m.A.A.d City by Kendrick Lamar was one of the top albums of last year and I was extremely excited for his set; bursting straight into ‘Money Trees’Lamar’s set is relentless and delivered with conviction and passion.

One of my biggest concerns was how the instrumentals from the album would transfer live but the band absolutely nail it songs as songs like ‘Swimming Pools’sound absolutely glorious.

In between my two doses of hip hop for the weekend (Earl and Kendrick too) I catch a spot of Connan Mockasin whose dreamlike lo-fi garage doesn’t quite pack the same punch as when we caught him in Tut’s but does provide the sight of possibly the coolest man at the entire festival dancing on the side of the overhanging bridge seemingly risking death for a wee dance.

I leave Kendrick Lamar early for the one act I had pencilled in this weekend under ‘see all of this set at all costs’, that being prolific writer and performer Dev Hynes’ Blood Orange, and the man formerly known as a member of Test Icicles and Lightspeed Champion delivers one of the highlights of the festival.

Hynes seems to channel Prince at times as he effortlessly churns out funky solos, dances with relentless style and delivers a vocal range that the purple one wouldn’t sniff at; this year’s Cupid Deluxe had been easily the coolest thing we’d heard in a while and as Hynes continues to blaze the trails of urban electronic music we can only hope to see him in an actual venue before he really explodes.

Speaking of highlights of the festival, there’s another one right on the back of that as hyperactive, noisy garage merchant Ty Segall delivers the most riotous set of the weekend; the Spanish security seem to show no regard for the crowd as crowd surfers fly over head and Segall himself flings himself into the mix guitar and all, true high octane entertainment before Cold Cave bring us back down to earth with their dark electronics over at Vice.

Watching Godspeed You! Black Emperor live is one for the bucket list for sure, really impressive, dark, haunting, everything you would come to expect really.

Previously I would probably never have gone to a Nine Inch Nails gig but I probably should have, their live show is impeccable on every detail.

Aside from the awesome light shows and audio production, the performance itself is dark and haunting and closer ‘Hurt’ is still one of the most powerful songs ever written; consider me converted.

Canadian’s Chromeo, the electro pop/funk/whatever duo is a much better live act than anticipated and receive a warm welcome from the Barcelona crowd and are really fun way to sign off the weekend.

There is only one way to end Primavera, and that is with the local legend Dj Coco but before the hugely popular Spaniard delivers a set that everyone, and I mean everyone would enjoy, there’s time for letting loose in a massive conga line on the grass at the back the ATP Stage to the cowbell filled ultra 80s vibes of Cut Copy and the reasonably heavy duty big beats of Daniel Avery.

Still, as the sun rises behind the Ray-Ban stage to the sounds of ‘Fight For Your Right’ and The Magician remix of ‘I Follow Rivers’ the euphoria hits the max and the adrenalin of good times with friends takes hold, even the questionable ending on Journey has to be embraced.

There’s even a party on the tube as some clever chappy brings a boombox on board; totally should have got off at the same stop as that party no doubt continued down on the beach front.

With such an incredible line-up and a beautiful setting, it would have been difficult not to enjoy the festival, however it completely exceeds already high expectations.

The layout and design of the festival is a particular highlight and they really do cater for your every festival need: food, drink, phone chargers, cigarettes, alcohol, ponchos.

The food court in particular is fantastic, boosting a variety of different cuisine, all of which is very affordable and very delicious.

The alcohol isn’t too overpriced (unless like me you accidentally bought the equivalent of two jugs of beer for 22 Euros), and after the first day its super easy to find your way about.

The diversity of the line-up is a real plus point too and all tastes are catered for, what I will say is that as the festival doesn’t really kick off until around 6pm and goes on until the (very) early hours, it really does take it out of you; my advice would be to do some tourist stuff during the day but allow yourself an extensive siesta before venturing out for the festival or just leave the tourist stuff for non festival days.

Barcelona itself is clean, easy-to-navigate and feels super safe, I guess all the usual warnings about pickpockets etc. apply but we didn’t even encounter the slightest bit of trouble.

The city is full of beautiful architecture and culture and has plenty of narrow streets for exploring.

Primavera 2014, you have been the absolute best, you can 100% count me in for 2015.

Other music festivals? You’ve got some catching up to do.

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