My Friday begins where it seems I spent half my weekend, down at the Pitchfork stage EX HEX are lavishing us with their attitude filled, yet truly enthralling pop sound; yeah I missed The Pastels, and I’m gutted but Mary Timony’s addictive vocals and sharp punk melodies more than make up for not seeing our home town darlings.
Next up is the first of two Earth Song treks (see previous days for a kind of explanation) this weekend to the Heineken stage and it’s more than worth it as not only does my trip, via the press arena (also an Earth Song away), mean I bump in to last night’s star of the festival Kelela, but Patti Smith & Band are set to make things a bit more special on stage too.
Night two begins for me with Patti Smith, performing seminal album Horses and the most noticeable thing is the size of the crowd, perhaps the largest for any artist I see across the weekend.
Playing Primavera as the first night of a European tour, Patti and her band tear through an awesome set; her enthusiasm and dialogue with the audience is excellent, encouraging free speech and personal betterment.
Finishing with ‘Gloria’, the crowd is left near euphoric by one of the best sets all weekend.
Making a mad dash to catch the last song of Tobias Jesso Jr. back at Pitchfork, I’m left slightly underwhelmed after Patti’s powerful performance, not that Jesso is bad, just his timid numbers, that are delightful on record, manage to get lost in a mass of sound overflow and chattering audience; maybe one to see in front of his own audience.
After missing The Pastels and knowing it was likely I would miss The Vaselines tomorrow, the need to see a Glasgow band was left to Belle and Sebastian, and while it’s not quite a patch on the full orchestra show they pulled off in Glasgow a few weeks before, it’s still a hell of a lot of fun and chance to let loose and sing-along as Stuart Murdoch prances about in that stupid hat.
The band do well to avoid cramming the set with new songs and keep a nice level mix that is topped off by an airing of ‘Electronic Renaissance’ and a pals questionable dance moves (“this is a good one”).
One of my biggest regrets of 2014 was not catching Perfume Genius when he played the CCA in Glasgow (one of us did).
‘Too Bright’ became one of my most listened albums of last year, so I was thrilled to be able to finally catch him live.
If you’re not familiar, Perfume Genius is the stage name for Mike Hadreas, a Seattle-based musician, whose material tends to go from poignant, dark ballads to all out camp power-pop bangs and tonight is no different.
Songs such as ‘Grid’, ‘Too Bright’ and ‘Fool’ sound particularly excellent and closer ‘Queen’ has the whole audience moving, one way or another.
Based on recent tours and supports, Perfume Genius continues to climb and based on this performance, it’s not hard to see why.
Shabazz Palaces at Nice N Sleazy was probably the best gig I went to the whole of last year, so I was thrilled to be able to see them again.
Playing a considerably shorter set (they played Sleazy’s for over two hours last year!) they don’t waste any time in getting right down to business, and they sound incredible, probably the best I heard across the weekend and their set is as slick and punctuated as I would expect; another stellar performance and a great way to keep the night going.
The stand out performer of Friday night came as a surprise, at least to myself; I had previously only heard Pharmakon on record and while her extreme sounding, multi textured recordings are a true audible experience they prepare you little for how gobsmackingly excellent she is live.
Margaret Chardiet is a real presence, she thrusts around the stage with an array of instruments, the main one appears to be a sheet of metal hooked up to various sound devices, and compels everyone into a state of awe; all the harshness of the records is still there, but the sheer spectacle of it all is enough to let that fade.
Pharmakon could have been as intimidating as Sunn O))) were the night before, instead she allows her immersive sound to totally engage everyone, giving no rest bite and no chance of anyone leaving before she is done, which in all fairness isn’t very long, but any more intensity of this level could push a few over the edge.
The crowd for Run The Jewels on the Pitchfork stage is so large that we have to fight our way through just to get remotely close to the front.
Opening with the massive ‘Oh My Darling Don’t Cry’ after a huge entrance to Queen’s ‘We Are The Champions’, RTJ completely knock it out of the park and the audience, for lack of a better phrase, completely lose their shit.
Playing material from both albums, Killer Mike and El-P look like they’re having the time of their lives, as does the buzzing Barcelona crowd.
My adventures also take me to a full on dance and rap along to RTJ, the duo seem to have caught the world’s attention, finally and rightfully, giving the Barcelona crowd that cherished bit of hip-hop brilliant that no one else quite manages this year.
A peek at the Ray-Ban stage has me seeing Death From Above 1979 for the second time since their reformation, and the duo are just as dull as the first time, so I leave before the end of their set once again, only this time not across the road to Broadcast and How To Dress Well, but round the corner to Pitchfork and Death From Above signed The Juan MacLean, whose edgy disco tinged infectious, yet experimental dance whips up a storm of dancing bodies as we enter the small hours of the morning.
At the age I am now, it’s always nice to be surprised when you check out an artist for the first time and they completely blow you away, which is exactly what happened to me with Jon Hopkins.
On the recommendation of a friend I checked out his set and was completely and utterly hooked, supported by background visuals and on-stage performers, Hopkins’ set is powerful, moving and just straight up genius; the best I saw all weekend and someone I certainly hope to catch again soon.
I manage to hang around til pretty much the end tonight, until the clock is near hitting six, and as the haze draws over my night the sheer throw back fun of RATATAT cannot be ignored, I hadn’t been aware of anything the duo had done in years, but it all sounds fresh and fun, getting the Ray-Ban stage in the party mood with tracks like classic ‘WildCat’.
Everything is a little to far gone and a bit beyond keeping up the dancing for Objekt at the Bowers & Wilkins Sound System stage or indeed Dixon’s deep house back at the Ray-Ban, but for those who may have indulged at little more than myself the night seems to more than end on an infectious high.