Facebook Slider

Primavera Sound, Barcelona, Day 3

  • Published in Live


In 2014, Primavera Sound had quite the case of the falling rain. This year, no such thing. The weather is the best kind you can imagine. It’s not too hot (as in, everyone is fanning their heads off for other reasons than style), but it doesn’t cool down that much in the evening (so why people are still carrying backpacks the size of a medium-sized whale is beyond me as jeans, a shirt, and a jacket will get you through). It’s the kind of thing you expect in Barcelona, though after last year I’m scared to get my hopes up too high.

On the third day, Julian Casablancas & The Voidz start it off at the big Primavera stage with a big bucket of noise. Actually, surprisingly, though there is a lot of sound, and it is rock (sometimes with a dash of gothic, sometimes with a dash of hard), all the different instruments are clearly distinguishable. The multiple guitars have their little riffs and solos going on, the drums drive it foreward, and there is a host of auxiliary sounds to add some variety to the rock on display. Also, it is fun to see all the characters on the stage, they do give you something to look at, and they are playing it up like those '70s bands of yore.

The only downside is that Julian Casablancas is pretty much inaudible. I don’t mind a bit of distortion on the vocals, but the distortion is screwed up as much as the volume on the mic is screwed down, causing the lyrics to be tough to decipher. As I’m not the biggest fan of loud rock, the moment the band slides into a rendition of ‘Little Girl’ I’m well chuffed. That song, that appeared on the Dangermouse & Sparklehorse album with Casablancas on vocals, is well ace, and one that I never had thought to hear live.

After Casablancas, Patti Smith is going to play through her entire Horses album on the Heineken main stage. And my goodness, she’s lighting it up. Her voice is super strong, the band is tight, and the songs on that iconic album are both brilliant as well as totally American. And though the format kind of fits that American counter culture movement of the time, the message still resonates as vibrant as ever. Not in the least because Patti Smith still seems to genuinely stand behind it. There are some absolutely fabulous moments in this set, like the reprise of ‘Gloria’, the epic rant against everyone controlling “us”, and when she, spoken word poetry style, runs through a list of names of talented people dear to her who have died (this song is for them). A brilliant set by someone still full of life and with plenty to say (and meaning it, too).

Now, for something fun, Belle & Sebastian play the ATP stage on the back of their lovely new album Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance. Certainly new songs like ‘Partyline’ and ‘Perfect Couples’ fit in superbly with the older material, including hits like ‘The Boy With The Arab Strap’ and closer ‘Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying’. The band does a great job oozing having a good time, and to highlight that, they even invite people on stage to do some dancing with them. The band is in fine form, the songs are catchy and lovely, and even live they manage to exhume that typical “twee” feel that this band has. The only downside is that on this stage, sometimes the sound cuts out. You know that thing where you are playing, and then part of the sound disappears because there’s a faulty cable there? That, a couple of times. Nothing against the band though, who play new and old material to the point of fun. When later walking the festival site, I hear two girls behind me singing the line "Get me away, I’m dying" on repeat, a sign that it was memorable for the right reasons.

The Church are playing their brand of post-punk/rock on the Ray-Ban stage. They do a great job setting the atmosphere, and frontman Steve Kilbey brings the theater and the emotion to the songs. There’s still a rawness there, which makes you don’t mind the fact that maybe not everything is equally pitch perfect. A performance like on ‘The Disillusionist’, which starts with raging guitars, but which ends with just Kilbey’s vocals, is so emotional and so raw that one cannot help but be mesmerized by it. Ariel Pink on the Pitchfork stage shortly after still doesn’t manage to engage me live. I love some of the album stuff, but live it just sounds like a bucket full of noisy rock where you can’t distinguish a dancing line from a fuzzy ball of hair. Fooled me twice, I’ll skip the third time I think.

On that same stage later The Juan Maclean gear up to tackle their New York city style of house music. Juan Maclean is donning a glittery blue sweater, whereas Nancy Whang looks as cool as ever at center stage. What comes next is dance heaven. Cold sounds are juxtaposed by the characteristics of house music, and they perform that so incredibly tight that there’s no other option than to dance. The sound is so clean, so pristine, and there’s so much tuneage there that the only possible result is an hour long house-a-thon that you just have to dance to. There’s a good mixture between older songs, including ‘Every Little Thing’ from way back when, and the newer tracks, like ‘Runaway’ and the incredibly catchy ‘A Simple Design’.

The band still ends with ‘Happy House’, but if you have a weapon like that in your arsenal it would almost be a crime not to hit the crowd with it. Not to mention that they don’t just play the album versions of the track, but tweak them, make them longer, and make them even more suited for a dancefloor with a live audience. The drums are different than when I last saw them, the beat sounds harsher, though whether that is the set-up, the new drummer, or an executive decision by the band thinking it might enhance the live dance feel I don’t know. As I’m still dancing as hard as the first two times I’ve seen them, quite frankly, I don’t care. About anything, at this point. Perfect dancing escapism, and one of my favorite live acts around, despite the infrequency of their live tours. A must see, must dance, must love act.


The Weekly Froth!

  • Published in Columns

So, normally The Weekly Froth! is a collection of six house/disco/electronic tracks that are kind of new (including edits, remixes, singles, etc.). This week though, with Barcelona’s Primavera Sound Festival coming up, and yours truly going there, it is a quick burst of six acts in those genres (or thereabouts) that you might want to catch if you’re going as well, or you might want to listen to anyway because they’ll spice up your… whatever-hour-you-need-to-spice-up.

The Juan MacLean [Pitchfork Stage – Friday, 01:40]

Last year The Juan MacLean released their second album, In a Dream, which happened to be my favourite album of the year. It’s the urban cold mixed with the emotional warmth (and hotness) of house music, which is a mixture that works perfectly. And if you think this second album doesn’t feature enough hits to keep you dancing all night long, they still have super-duper tunes like ‘Feel So Good’, ‘Feel Like Moving’, ‘Give Me Every Little Thing’, and the impeccable ‘Happy House’ to keep that party going until the morning light. I saw them twice when they were touring their first album, and both gigs were amazing, not in the least because of these 23-minute versions of ‘Happy House’ they pulled out of their hats. There’s no doubt in my mind they’ll be equally as good when playing Barcelona in two weeks.


Mike Simonetti [Pitchfork Stage – Saturday, 04:00]

To be honest, I’ve got no idea what this guy is going to do. Is he going to DJ? Is he going to do some stuff from his Pale Blue side project? Is he going to play his Capricorn Rising EP? Or is it going to be like his Albuterol tape he did with Johnny Jewel? Whatever it is going to be (and truth be told, the kind of music does vary pretty wildly, so watch out), this guy knows music, so it’s going to be an interesting adventure with undoubtedly some excellent synthesizer action. Sure, I wouldn’t complain if he’d bust out that ‘Million Dollar Bill’ edit he did and went disco crazy, but if I’m even alive at that point (last day, last band), I’ll be happy with anything that will take my last legs from under me. Do check that ‘Disconet Dilemma’ one (starts at about the 45 minute mark), it’s gold. Pure GOLD!


Rebeka [H&M Pro – Thursday, 23:00]

I like telling this story. When I was visiting Porto with friends, we happened to chance upon a club where, later that night, Moullinex would be playing. Me, being pretty big on that album, stayed even after my friends headed for the hotel, and so I witnessed Rebeka warming the place up with their melancholia and synth-pop action. Their debut album, Hellada, is definitely worth a spin if you have never heard that one yet, and it has some ace tracks on it. A bit more recently they’ve released a new single called ‘Breath’, which does give a good indication of what they do well. Nice, haunting atmosphere, but still danceable with the drum as its base and all the synths. The only thing that they’ve got going against them is that they’re playing at the same time as Antony & the Johnsons, who will have a whole orchestra behind them. I’ve seen them both live already (even Antony WITH an orchestra), so might let the company decide where we’ll go. But if Antony isn’t your thing and dancing and a bit of melancholia is, you can’t go wrong here. I am fond of a small stage, though.


Caribou [Ray-Ban – Saturday, 03:00]

Now, miraculously enough, I have never seen Caribou live, so there you go. Even despite feverishly loving that opening track of his new album. I did see a live stream online once of this lad, though, and that looked pretty good, so definitely looking forward to finally seeing this act live if all goes well. Our Love was released last year, but perhaps even better known is his 2010 release Swim, which I remember real well because it got all this amazing praise. In between he also was Daphni for a while, but now back under his animal moniker he’ll hopefully be giving the crowd that jolt of energy that we will all probably need at 03:00 on the last day of the event.


Tuff City Kids [Bowers & Wilkins Sound System – Thursday, 04:00]

Now, there is actually some real DJing going on at Primavera! For the second time straight Primavera comes with a DJ stage, with the people at Resident Advisor curating the whole thing on Thursday. The closers are Tuff City Kids, who will try to get some of that club vibe into the Barcelona festival. Tuff City Kids are Gerd Janson and Lauer, who know how to handle the dancing department on their own as well, so let alone what they can do in unison. Now, last year, I wanted to get into the dome like structure that was the DJ stage, but I couldn’t because there were just that many people dancing their socks off. So no promises that I can actually tell you all about my experiences from a good night out about town dancing to these fellas. But if you do find a spot on the dancefloor that’s not occupied yet, I’m sure you and your dancing shoes might just have a bit of fun on these beats and all.


OMD [ATP Stage – Wednesday, 22:25]

What?! There’s a Wednesday?! Erm, yes, almost every week actually, but also as part of the Primavera Sound Festival. Not only that, it’s free to enter! Yoinks! So yeah, there’s only one stage, and last year there was quite a delay before kick-off because, you know, showers and rainfall and all that jazz, but attending is a fun way to kick off a good bit of festival weekend. Last year I was able to see Stromae and was dancing furiously to a tight Holy Ghost! performance, and this year I’ll probably be enjoying myself quite a bit with OMD. Because, it is OMD. And it is free of charge. And who doesn’t like a good slice of that ‘80s pop?

Subscribe to this RSS feed