Tag Archives: Shellac

Primavera Sound 2015 (Saturday)

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.

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Friday

Primavera Sound, Barcelona, 29/5/14

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:

For years I had heard people singing the praises of Primavera Sound; a show-stopping line-up, an idyllic location and as much sangria as one can physically consume – I decided to make the trip out and I was not even remotely disappointed.

Probably the most efficiently ran, cleanest and vibrant festival I have ever attended, but more on the general experience of the festival later.

First band I caught of the weekend were The Ex, who I had also seen the night before at the BARTS venue as part of the pre-festival build-up.

A band that pre-dates some of their better-known contemporaries, the Dutch anarchist-punks perform with a raw and intense energy delivering tracks from their copious back catalogue.

I had wandered down a touch earlier than Nick on the Thursday to catch the sun soaked indie rock of Real Estate and while it kind of formed the backdrop of a bit of a Glasgow reunion, along with getting the Cry Parrot guide to Primavera (“it’ll be a LOL” cheers Fielding), it provides a delightful start in the early evening sunshine before the festival hits full flow.

I’ve enjoyed Warpaint on record, although would argue that their releases don’t have huge repeat play value, however as they perform on the ginormous Heineken stage, their material actually comes across incredibly well in such a large and open setting.

Playing mostly material from last year’s self-titled album, their set is polished, although they do close with a pretty poor David Bowie cover.

I caught Neutral Milk Hotel at the Barrowlands a few weeks ago and was pleased to be able to catch them again on what will most likely to be a short-lived reunion tour.

Opening with ‘The King Of Carrot Flowers’, the crowd is electric and hanging on Magnum’s every word, seeing NMH perform to such a joyous, festival type crowd is somewhat surreal but still enjoyable nonetheless.

Despite my best efforts and the insistent recommendation of friends, I’ve just not been able to get into St Vincent.

In an attempt to change my own mind, I decided to watch her set and have to say I was impressed, Annie Clark delivers a slick set, proving herself to be both a talented musician and an excellent performer.

It might not be for me, but judging by the size and reaction of the crowd, it seems St Vincent is on the way to bigger and better things.

After a performance on the Letterman show sent them viral, Future Islands have a pretty huge turnout at the Pitchfork stage.

Playing tracks from new album Singles, the crowd is responsive to Sam Herring’s bizarre vocal style and dad-dancing, personally I find it boring and all of the songs follow the same, repetitive format; more style than substance.

Glasgow’s CHVRCHES follow on the Pitchfork stage and also receive a large turnout, playing popular singles ‘The Mother We Share’ and ‘We Sink’, CHVRCHES are another band on the ascension.

I can’t really see anything difference or any value in their music, although perhaps the positive is that they may pave the way for talented Glaswegian and Scottish bands to receive more coverage.

In a small spell where mine and Nick’s viewing collides I find too many clashes and the heavy trek over to the Sony Stage too much to catch St. Vincent, so I find myself ridiculously overwhelmed my peer pressure and underwhelmed by Jeff Mangum’s whining and wander away to Future Islands in haze of loud mocking.

At the Pitchfork Stage Future Islands don’t quite have the same command as they do when I covered them at the Captain’s Rest some three years ago, but the days of small venues are behind them, I guess I’ll just cling to those memories.

Seeing Arcade Fire live is always a spectacle and a two hour headline slot at a festival in Spain at half midnight seems pretty much the perfect time and location for them.

Playing a blend of both Reflektor and older material, their set is a beautiful, emotional event for all in attendance; truly awesome.

I decide to miss Arcade Fire and Queens of the Stone Age in favour of the one act that you simply have to see at Primavera, the ATP Stage apparent residents Shellac, and Steve Albini and co don’t let down and as a mass of angry white men shout along to ‘Prayer To God’ you get lost the band’s emphatic presence; they play every year and every year they are not to be missed.

Touche Amore might appear somewhat out of the place on the bill to some but it’s a true reflection on how far the band have come.

Tearing through a raucous set, they barely pause for breath between songs, playing a broad mixture of old and new material, tracks such as ‘Honest Sleep’, ‘Just Exist’ and ‘Praise/Love’ are particular highlights.

Frontman Jeremy Bolm and the rest of the band look genuinely humbled by the reaction of the crowd, they may have carved their trade in basements and living rooms across America but Touche Amore look right at home on the festival stage and you get the impression this is just the beginning.

Seeing Disclosure at 2.30am on a warm night in Barcelona is an almost perfect combination, they might have been swamped by hype in the past eighteen months but in all honesty they deserve it.

Playing mostly material from Settle, they send what feels like a million people dancing into the streets of Barcelona, the most exciting thing is that they are still really only in their infancy and I can’t wait to hear what they do next.

After staying on for a wee bit after Disclosure’s ultra fun dance era lessons I head over to the festival’s most impressively set up stage, the Ray-Ban Stage, for a night of dancing with Jamie XX; it’s all hazy memories from there but after being shushed by ultra obedient Metronomy fans at 4am we continue dancing til the tubes are back on, or at least until Jamie finally drops that beat, I reckon it’s still up there – really Jamie drop the beat I’ve been to the toilet and back!