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.