Dashing down at the relatively early 6.30pm and predictably missing tickets for The Vaselines set at the Hidden Stage, I more than happily make do with the wonderous dreamy waves of DIIV, who create a delighting melodic lull in the early evening sunshine and sea air.
Fucked Up play early on the Saturday evening on the fairly large ATP stage; they’re competing with some big hitters (and also a Barcelona Coppa del Rey final), but still manage to draw a solid crowd.
The band experience some audio difficulties and to be honest the sound quality across the set is pretty terrible; having so many musicians on stage really does them more damage than good.
I would suggest the setting just simply doesn’t suit them, as any time I’ve caught them in smaller venues it’s always been great.
I also catch the rays at the ATP stage with Fucked Up and while Damien Abraham still cuts one of the most engaging frontmen you’ll see in Barcelona this year, the set does seem to lose some of its edge when removed from a sweaty basement.
The last Earth Song trek of the weekend sees me back at the Heineken stage for what will go down as another in a long line of truly entertaining Mac DeMarco shows, the last time we caught the set capitulated into Metallica covers, as we arrive this time he’s broke a string and Lord Flashheart come Keith Lemon looking guitarist is Andrew Charles White is teasing the crowd with banter about how good Moby is before breaking into a surfed out, occasionally screamed cover of Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’; an entertaining start to say the least.
As the set continues we’re treated to some of Mac’s fun filled, lo-fi stoner indie, which ends with him throwing himself into the crowd-surfing for an extended period of time and the massive crowd just lap everything up; this guy is getting huge and he’s having fun doing it.
Moving back down to the food court to catch some of the football, which has the city filled with as many Bilbao fans as it does festival goers, we find Barcelona ahead and set on course to win the second trophy of what will be a treble, however back with the music and Sleaford Mods are on at the adidas Originals.
The Nottingham duo is sharp and sneery and vocalist Jason Williamson produces the kind of snarly social commentary that Mark E. Smith would be proud of, while banter like “this song’s for all the wankers” pushes it out even further.
All of this comes on top of Andrew Fearn’s, who seems to only lean over to press the occasional form time to time, electro-punk blasts; it’s unsettling, explosive, truly engaging and Steve Albini will later call anyone who doesn’t believe they’re “the best band ever” wrong – praise from high places indeed.
Following the Mods are New Zealand psychedelic and experimental pop merchants Unknown Mortal Orchestra, but their set seems to drift too much and doesn’t quite catch the same charms as their innovative new record, II.
So, ditching UMO early to catch the whole of MOURN at the Pitchfork stage, I’m unsure of what to expect; I’d listened to a couple of their songs and enjoyed the powerful echoing sound of what I’d heard, but little did I know they are all in their teens and fronted by a couple of Spanish sisters, but regardless of youth, these guys pull off their performance with effortless ease, and although I am pretty distracted for the majority of their set, what I do take in is enough to make me keen to hear more.
The last time I saw The Strokes it was Gig on The Green 2003, at the height of their Is This It power and arguably the peak of their career.
Seeing them now is a whole different story; the sound is awful, singer Julian Casablancas has a really horrendous effect on his mic (and a very bizarre haircut/outfit) and the band look completely disinterested in a) being there or b) how they actually sound; by far the biggest disappointment of the weekend.
Choosing not to make the trek over for The Strokes, which in hindsight seems a good decision, I hung back for the enlightening estranged pop of tUnE-yArDs, whose wistful and exuberant genre subverting pop is enough to inject a movement into anyone, what movement is generally anybody’s guess, but Merril Garbus is as commanding a focal point as ever and her afro tinged tunes definitely plasters a smile on your face before Albini and co. hit you with a full on anger tirade.
If you’ve never heard or seen footage of Dan Deacon playing I strongly recommend you check it out.
Even if his brand of weird hyper-pop isn’t for you, his live shows are always something to behold, usually due to the mass participation of his audience; with ‘dance pits’, crowd surfers and inflatable objects is all part of his normal set-up; the audience always absolutely love it.
Shellac are playing the adidas Originals stage; yes they play every year and this year I even considered not seeing them in favour of Dan Deacon and Thee Oh Sees, but the fact they are playing the smallest stage they could possibly have been put on has me eager enough to scrap these plans and let the trio overwhelm me once more.
They never fail, they’re sharp on point and effortless in their clinical execution; they’re also engaging outside of their songs too, Bob Weston doesn’t try his Q+A on the potentially Spanish speaking audience, but there’s enough amusement in their banter and power in their performance that I’m sure I’ll be seeing them here again.
Following Shellac’s onslaught I venture up onto the grass of the ATP stage for what remains of Thee Oh Sees, however they don’t seem to pack all the punches I remember them having a few years back and while their set seems as trippy as ever, it doesn’t seem to contain the same punk eruption that the band possessed a few years prior.
I venture to the Bowers & Wilkins Soundsystem area where John Talabot plays a surprise set, for which there is a queue that looks a mile long outside (and some chancing their arm by jumping over the wall to get in!).
Again, Talbot is fairly unfamiliar to me but his hour-and-a-half long set of disco/dance material is a wonderful way to sign out for the last evening.
Did I mention it turned my birthday at midnight? At that point MOURN had just came off stage, but it wasn’t until around 3am before the start of Caribou’s set at the wonderful Ray-Ban stage that I finally encounter the people I came here with; so before Caribou entrances us with some electronic gems they indulge in a little birthday sing-along, which in turn prompts a bunch of Spanish people to do the same for their pal, before we all get lost in a mass of bodies for Caribou’s wonderous liquid pop, while swigging straight gin (absolutely rotten) as the bar’s ran out of mixer.
This isn’t the end though, we all know how Primavera ends; it ends with DJ Coco!
And yes Coco, delivers all the fun expected with a set packed with sing-along favourites, that range from this year’s charts to 70s punk to 90s hip-hop to well… the ever questionable decision to always close on Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’; still it’s non stop fun and as we continue the party outside and then to the beach it’s yet another memorable year at Primavera.