Warpaint by Rebecca Elves
The first band I aim to see today is Warpaint. Breathing salty seabreeze and sipping the first flat beer of the day I make my way to the stage where they’re playing, doctor that is already packed. I’ve been into this band since the times of Billie Holiday, pill and today they confirm the first impression I had of them. They play and sing perfectly, build up intricate layers of harmonies, and they look so cool on stage – having fun between themselves and engaging with the audience – that’s a pleasure to watch their show. With this performance I’m officially sold to their magic. They’re my new favourite girls band. Better, they’re my new favourite band, and the fact that they’re girls makes me empathise with them even more. “Love is the only way out”, Theresa Wayman sings with grave voice during their stunning performance of ‘Beetles’ (from their first EP Exquisite Corpse). And for a moment I believe her. What I learn from seeing this gig is that the future of music seem to be pink. Or better, it wears laddered stockings and smeared make up. And slides the guitar like a proper guitar hero(ine).
At the end of the gig the marathon starts. Gotta reach the other end of the festival site to catch tUnE-yArDs, the noise-pop princess that recently gained popularity with the release of W H O K I L L . The sweetness of her whimsical style, reminiscent of Coco Rosie, and her flashy attire gain my sympathies. However, the festival stage is not exactly what gives justice to her music. Plus, the sound here on the Pitchfork stage is just awful. We later decide to enjoy Fleet Foxes lying on the green knoll that surrounds the main stage. Given the heath and the tiredness accumulated in these days, this is a far better way to enjoy their lulling harmonies than sweating it out under the stage. Fleet Foxes’ bold sound suits very well the festival main stage and easily wins the challenge. We let ourselves be caressed by their arias and transported into pastoral landscapes and dreamy soundscapes, enjoying the sun setting on the festival site and doing some people watching (which is always an interesting activity especially in these circumstances).
tUnE-yArDs by Laura Lotti
On my way to restore my thirsty limbs, I pass by the ATP stage and I’m totally hypnotized by an supernatural sound of violins juxtaposed to throbbing drumbeats. Who is this, I wonder. I find out this is non the less than The Album Leaf, that, despite starting as a solo project by Californian artist Jimmy LaValle, tonight plays as a whole band – a small orchestra, I should say – formed by violins, keys, drums, guitar, trumpet and bass. Their set is simply beautiful. I must admit I didn’t know much about them before, but the conquer me with a key. If you’ve got the chance, go see them live. It’ll probably be the best concert of your life. And you will never regret it.
Einstürzende Neubauten by Rebecca Elves
Time has come to go to see Einstürzende Neubauten, the historic German band among the propulsors for the Neue Deutsche Welle movement, that revolutionised the idea of electronic music mixing industrial sounds with punk attitude in the divided Germany of the Cold War period. Equipped with various percussion kits and noise machines made out of different post-industrial paraphernalia, the stage looks more like a steam punk set than a 21st century festival stage. Blixa Bargeld sings and shrieks with his monotone charming voice, and is still as crazy and charismatic as he was 30 years ago. He’s The Gentleman of industrial music. The deep bass and tribal drum beat make it impossible to stand still. With references to Italian Futurists Marinetti and Russolo, they play a wild concert, experimenting with instruments made out of the most improbable machineries. Iron and steel are not only cold lifeless “things”. Technology (either new or old) has got a primitive, lively side. And Einstürzende Neubauten take it all out.
PJ Harvey by Elliott Quince
Rhetoric review for PJ Harvey. She’s amazing as expected. Dressed as an otherworldly fairy, her voice sounds as strong as her pixie figure looks frail. After the first track, taken from her last success ‘Let England Shake’, though, doubts arise in my mind: is this PJ Harvey? Comparisons are too easy with another ageless pixie fairy gifted with otherworldly voice: Björk. There’s nothing wrong with PJ’s performance, but she’s just not the heroine from ‘Rid Of Me’ or ‘Down By The Water’. And with this in mind, and some misfeelings towards her, I make my way away from the crowd in a quest for new and original sounds. Anyway, it’s easy to know what to expect next from this concert – an array of awesomely performed songs by one of the greatest artists alive and active now (description that could fit both PJ Harvey and Bjork, by the way).
PJ Harvey by Rebecca Elves
I feel adventurous and go for Davila 666, a Puertorican rock band that’s meant to give us some rock and roll fun time. Indeed, Davila 666 rock-fucking-roll!! And, quite surprisingly, they’ve got their wee following of PJHarveydontgiveafuckers. Their rock á la Beach Boys with a grunge touch is infectious. I can’t stop jumping. Their strength is that…they are FUN! They play totally unpretentious, wholesome rockabilly tracks, with a hint of sexiness (well, rock and roll IS sexy after all, as Elvis teaches). It is that kind of music made with the spirit of having a good time and making people have a good time too – genuine, spontaneous. During their set, all the worries fade away in the sweat and the laughter. There’s a life to worry about things anyway, but it’s going to start tomorrow. Now there’s only music. And though not knowing the lyrics (that, by the way, are sung in Spanish) I find myself singing along. With a smile on my face.
Davila 666 by Laura Lotti
And after Davila 666, total change of atmospheres with Scottish post-rock stars Mogwai. Mogwai’s melodies lull my mind into faraway places and untouchable lands. I want to get closer and melt with the sound, that is so thick and heavy I feel I’m drowning in it. But I’m soon back to Planet Earth, Barcelona and Parc del Forum, when The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion kicks off. Their sound, a contemporary version of what rockabilly might have been interpreted into in the 1990s, has been labelled anything from garage rock to punk blues and blues-rock. Whatever. To me they sound just brilliant! The stage is packed. Everybody jumps, waves to the band and even thank them for this great gift of pure energy. The atmosphere is wired, I’m lost in the crowd, it will be difficult to find my friends, but I don’t really care now that I’m securely wrapped into this literal Explosion of rock. It’s a never ending groove. It makes even difficult to stand still and take pictures (in a very positive way, I mean). This is definitely the rock ‘n roll night of Primavera Sound for me. I haven’t had so much fun like tonight!
Animal Collective by Rebecca Elves
Then it’s time for the band I was mostly striving to see since the beginning of the festival: might sound banal, but it’s Animal Collective.
I must start by saying that I’ve got a huge amount of respect for Animal Collective. They are The Band of the Noughties, blending noise and pop in a lysergic swirl to create a distinctive sound of their own that’s given birth to a whole new genre, universally recognised and still difficult to label. And for Primavera Sound they deliver an outstanding performance, completed by trippy visuals and an awesome quality of the sound. Though, it lacks of intimacy and it feels almost stuck up. There’s no interaction with the adoring audience whatsoever, and, to the greatest disappointment of the public, they leave the stage after an overwhelming performance of Summertime Clothes without a word, without an encore. It was too perfect to be totally real.
Animal Collective’s psychedelic visuals by Laura Lotti
With my heart half broken, I head to see The Black Angels. With the Austin band, you can’t really go wrong. In fact, they are as good as I remember them from their last gig in London in February. The sound is pounding and the beer is flowing. Dancing to the notes of ‘Telephone’ and ‘Haunting at 1300 McKinley’, the night flows towards the end of this couldn’t-be-any-better festival. While technicians and operators start to dismount the stages, the few venturers still remained within the gates of the Parc del Forum gathered by the Pitchfork stage for the dark set by brainy dubstep mastermind Kode9. Most of them, no wonder, are British. I don’t last too long, though. It’s already 7am by the time that I make it to La Rambla. I’m literally OD’d in live music, my ears fizzle, my feet hurt, my back aches (what a wreck) and my bank account is overdrawn. But I’ve never been so happy. It’s time to sleep and metabolise all the inputs received in these 3 days of music marathon.
The Black Angels by Laura Lotti
All in all, the balance of this festival has been extremely positive. I’ve got two new favourite girls bands: Warpaint and No Joy.
Two acts to be excited about as soon as they come to play in London: James Blake and Tennis. Some contemporaries to invest into for the future: Deerhunter (as if we didn’t know). Some oldies that confirm their credibility in time and that I might not have the chance to see again: Pere Ubu, Einstürzende Neubauten and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Plus, I made peace with one of my idols: Johnny Lydon. And I had extreme fun with Davila 666. Yes, this is like old story. We all knew these acts were amazing. PR companies tell us every day through features on magazines, blogs, billboards. But the truth is, no matter how many CDs we buy, album and tracks we download (legally and non), music blogs and magazines we follow… It’s only through live music that one can experience fully what a band has to offer and potentially put her/his trust in them. Fact. Music festivals are for this, after all.
And finally, the main message I got from this festival is that music is ALIVE, in its past, present and future forms. You only have to be open to it. And let yourself be overwhelmed by it.
Leaving the Festival Site for the last time by Laura Lotti
- Primavera Sound 2011 Review: Moon Duo, PiL, The Glenn Branca Ensemble, Suicide and more… (Day 1)
- Primavera Sound 2011 Review: Tennis, Pere Ubu, Deerhunter, Pulp and more! (Day 2)
- Toy Toy!
- Music Listings
- Barringtone w/Lord Skywave and Wet Paint – This Is Music Launch Party