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Primavera Sound 2016, Barcelona - Day 2

  • Published in Live


It’s not only the well-known that get a crack at convincing the Primavera crowds, as the young Moses Sumney plays the Pitchfork stage early on in the second day. And, really, he hadn’t expected over a handful people to be there, let alone the sizeable hand he gets dealt early evening. “Who lied to you?”, he asks, smiling, as in his mind the reason people are there cannot possibly be him and his music. He is certainly enjoying himself, treating the audience on one hand to slow, soul & country inspired tracks, and on the other hand he gets the looping pedals going, doing the claps, vocal lines, and other assorted sounds to provide, in the end, a full fledged track over which he sings with a soulful, velvety voice.

The middle part sees most of the slow songs, dragging the pacing a bit, and some of the loops go wrong a tad. Which one can forgive since he does everything himself. In the second to last song he gets the second rhythm clap just a tad wrong, but after a moment’s hesitation decides to just go with it as, well, festival time is unforgiving with the short set-up times between bands. On the whole though, Sumney is pleasant to listen to and, with the sunglasses and cape and the fact he does everything himself, nice to look at. If the album lives up to this promise, maybe next time he is accustomed to those numbers in front of him today.

Same stage, half an hour later, it’s Nao. Her backing band comes on, all in black, and with the slight electronic tinge that her EP has, one perhaps expects something mysterious or broody or the likes. And there she comes, dancing, beaming, and all smiles in the most summery, colourful dress anyone has probably ever owned. The band adds some oomph and takes away some of the cold from her EP, instead even rocking it a bit with some guitar riffs and the likes. In the mean time, Nao is doing the dancing and the singing, both convincingly and with enthusiasm, so much so that it gets contagious. She ends with her track ‘Zillionaire’, which is basically an ode to loving and being happy (as money don’t mean a thang). That is what she not only sings, but exudes as well, and the message gets across.

As far as headliners go, they just don’t get much bigger than Radiohead. It’s silly to expect anything less than a simply jam packed field full of people, an undoubtedly eclectic mix between the die hard creeps, those that never leave the main stage area anyway, and those curious by the skyscraper like reputation of Thom Yorke and band. Surprisingly, the sound even in the belly of the beast is excellent, the band even at times visible due to the slightly upwards curve of the field, and all those kinds of people (after an initial hush by the fans unable to get further upfront) join in with attentively listening to the band. Unheard of, really, and Radiohead manages to cash in on that and deliver a super set.

The band goes from super small to a bigger sound, to more experimental to the hits that everyone knows. ‘Paranoid Android’ is there, a superb version of ‘Street Spirit (Fade Out)’, and the band connects so much with all them fans that the crowd spontaneously erupts in a chorus of For a minute there, I lost myself. And then, at the end, the gut punch, the heartbreaker, the ode to all the people who are prone to gather at the Primavera festival; "I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo, what the hell am I doing here? I don’t belong here". It takes a second encore to get there, but they get there, and you can see it’s what many people wanted to hear and the lines with which they want to join in and resonate.

Holly Herndon’s album isn’t the easiest listen, but I’ve worked my way through my share of experimental sounds, including hers on tape. Live, though, she goes from experimental and outside of the box to downright inhospitable, making it such a tough listen for me that I’m finding myself moving further and further away until I’m nowhere near the stage anymore. I’m not demanding three chord songs and verse-chorus-verse structures, but these sounds asked for a ticket that I didn’t have on me, excluding me rather quickly from whichever group it is that might enjoy her live show.

On the Adidas stage it is Shura who brings her brand of dreamy electro/synth-pop to a crowd that already includes some definite fans, eagerly awaiting her arrival and giving her the idol treatment. I like her songs, but despite her at one point donning a guitar and moving all over the stage, the band’s sound seems a notch too tame to really win the votes and hearts of those out there. Compared to a Nao earlier that day, and Jessy Lanza the day before, it feels a bit too sleepy-headed, making it a slight dud to end the second day with.


The Weekly Froth!

  • Published in Columns


The Weekly Froth! A weekly take on six tracks, most of which have recently popped up somewhere in the blogosphere. Bit of a mixed bag with a slight leaning towards house, disco, and remixes, but generally just anything that for some reason tickled the writer’s fancy.

Track of the Week: ‘Higher Lovin’ by Rocco Raimundo feat. Stee Downes

No sign of a beat at the start, though after fifteen seconds we get some percussion in to get the rhythm going. At the thirty second mark we get both beat and bass, though the piano and all sorts of auxiliary sounds make sure to keep this one grounded. Stee Downes then comes in with the vocals, and I do always love that voice. It has this nice mix of rhythm and soul, singing about Higher Lovin’’ over lush instrumentals, definitely going for the love side of the House dancefloor instead of the lust. Just before the third minute mark they dial it down a bit, then the first batch of instrumentals comes back in, after which the rhythm side of it all returns. As said, the feel is that of hoping for love whilst doing a little dance, with a nice bassline that, combined with the fairly light set of instrumentals Rocco Raimundo uses, sets the tone and feel for this one. Apparently one of the remixes that is being done for this one is by Yam Who?, who are also quality as well, so not a shabby package to be had here, I reckon.


‘Big Black Coat’ by Junior Boys

A while ago Junior Boys released a cover, indicating that the synth-pop band was doing a Rip van Winkle and returning to the fray. The rhythm of this one indicates that they are not just returning where they’ve left off, putting on an almost dub-like beat and a dark, brooding atmosphere to go with the light vocals. Even those vocals have a sense of desperation to them, underscored by the jittery synth and the more deeper sounds. Just before the three minute mark they do get in some catchy club vibes though, and at the 3:40 mark the atmospheric synth is accompanied by a proper beat. More synth layers are added as the narration is put on the backburner for a while, as the pace and the franticness is dialled up and up, with the last four minutes definitely giving people a chance to dance a bit, even if the overlying feel is one of dark and deep minds more than of festivities. It is as if the almost romantic, yearning-for-love feel that an album like Begone Dull Care had has been experienced and turned bitter, leaving the question out there that if love is not the answer, what is? A question that might throw any mind into a frenzy every now and then. The lads are also going to be touring Europe in 2016, so loads to look forward to I reckon.


‘Darkstar’ by Morgan Geist

Morgan Geist is back making music under his own name, veering from the emotive house music of Storm Queen to a more tech heavy dance approach with ‘Darkstar’, part of a new EP called Megaprojects One. Geist always knows how to add some flavor even to a more minimal beat and percussion combo, like with the sound that comes in around the minute mark. From there on he keeps building, a floating synth, extra percussion, and just after the two minute mark he takes on the actual beat sound as well, adding some oomph to it. Thirty seconds later he slides that sound into a new feel altogether, and he mixes it up so nicely. At some points there’s the more minimal tech approach, which he then infuses with some extra sounds for more warmth and feel.  In the mean time, obviously, he makes sure that everything aids (definitely not detracts) from the dancefloor experience, putting this in the Berlin clubs after midnight. Just look at that bass note he puts in there in the last minute, for instance. Small touches like that, eh? Geist is one of those experienced guys out there knowing how to deliver, showing that with this one yet again.

‘Loud Places’ by Jamie XX (Mike Simonetti’s Dark Places Remix)

Obviously mister Jamie XX is a popular brand nowadays, and add to that the vocals of Romy and you already have a combo that will especially appease the popular dance public. Add Mike Simonetti though, and you get a boy like me excited as well. Simonetti is one of those guys of the Italians Do It Better label, doing everything from moody instrumentals to Whitney Houston edits. I love how that beat is in the mix, it  just takes care of that momentum. Add to that the juxtaposition of the almost military step percussion and Romy’s dreamy vocals, and you’ve got an ace first part of the track. After a short moment of just Romy’s vocals, Simonetti dives into the darker realms of the dance scene, keeping the percussion, but adding some of those deep, wobbly sounds in there to keep it all well below surface levels. Dark places indeed, Mr. Simonetti. So here, definitely, his qualities on the moody side of the spectrum come to the fore. Free download, by the way, for those not minding sliding in some of that deep house hypnosis.


‘Victim’ by Dinamo Azari

Dinamo Azari was one part of the producing duo calling themselves Azari & III. That project has died, but that hasn’t stopped Azari from teaming up with the two vocalists they enlisted back then to help out on this track off of his debut album. Those vocalists complement each other so well, the higher, soul pitched vocals of Starving-Yet-Full and the rhythmic, deep sounds of Fritz Helder, not to mention how fun they were when doing that stage thing they do. The Azari & III album was a mixture between some darker cuts and more all-out House live-it-up fests, and this is definitely more towards the darker side of the line. The percussion provides the rhythm, and there’s a nice bass there to help out. First we hear SYF sing, but the growling Helder soon comes in as well, talking us through the fact he isn’t our bitch. Just before the two minute mark he dials it all down for a short while, and I love the restraint with which he comes back, putting the atmosphere first there. Loved the live shows that Azari & III always put up, thought that album was a mixed bag (some of those songs though!), so curious to see what this album is going to end up like.

‘Bad Blood’ by Nao

Nao definitely has the vocals to make one dream away whilst walking the midnight city. Here, it is put on display in superb manner early on, with just some simmering synths to accompany them. They provide a nice background, and are never in the way of them. At the 45 second mark you get the electronical percussion sounds, getting that dubby beat going, and Nao turns it up a notch to make sure she is audible and that the emotion is put in there as well. She sings that you choose not to remember, making her believe that it is the bad, bad blood. at the 2:50 mark some of the instrumentals are stripped away, leaving only the drums and the vocals, though soon some of them return and she turns it up a notch for one last time. First single off of the debut album, and with people like Nao and Kelela out there representing, this kind of sparse, electronic music with that urban, midnight vibe is in good hands. Both of their vocals, in any case, are a delight.


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