After spending a week driving across Spain and Portugal seeking out record shops of the various cities in that part of the world, I'm now back in Barcelona to hit up the Primavera Sound down by the waterfront. Opening night is a reduced version of the festival but still features a decent array of artists. I made an attempt to get there to watch Spiritualized but a combination of slow bus trips and having to pick up accreditation meant I arrived pretty much as their last song rang out.
Next up over on a stage that faces across a nice grass amphitheater, Wolf Parade are on stage. A number of years back, actually more like over a decade ago, I really like their record 'Apologies to Queen Mary' but had lost touch with what they are doing since. It appears a lot of the crowd that had gathered were the same as any songs off that record were met with rousing receptions, while the response to the rest was pretty lukewarm. Belle & Sebastian, a band who I have loved for ages but never seen before follow them and totally bring the vibe straight away. The sound is amazing and they shred through an hour long set littered with hits from their lengthy back catalogue, 'Boy With The Arab Strap' and 'Another Sunny Day' are probably the highlights of the Scottish collectives set. It is first night and nothing else essential I need to see, knowing the next few days will be huge, I retire back to my hotel room.
Belle & Sebastian
Thursday kicks off with a journey into the middle of the day for the Primavera Pro Aussie BBQ. Free drinks, hanging out with a bunch of great crew and lots of afternoon beers with Link from The Meanies who now lives in this part of the world means the day is already big well before sunset. Music wise I witness solid sets from Alex The Astronaut, Didirri, Client Liaison and Confidence Man. Didirri does incredibly well to hold a slightly noisy crowd with just him and his guitar, while Client Liaison struggle a little with less of a show than we've got used to back in Australia. Confidence Man totally bring the party though, leaving the people that don't know them equally entertained and confused.
Next up it is back down to the waterfront for the first night of the Primavera Sound program proper. I arrive just in time to catch The War On Drugs, a lot of people have already gathered early and I have a spot with a pretty nice view across to the stage and great sound. The War On Drugs deliver a pretty great set as has become pretty that I'm sure anyone who has seen them in recent years will be well aware they do.
The War On Drugs
As I arrive at the Apple Music stage Unknown Mortal Orchestra are kicking off, I've had a long affinity with this band. I remember a lot of years ago, my friend Aaron from Spunk Records was running a little record/surf shop in Stanwell Park, I dropped in to visit and he played me a new artist he was releasing soon in Australia, it sounded amazing and it turned out it was a few songs off what was the first UMO album. A year or two later Aaron and myself put on New Years day show at Anita's Theatre in Thirroul the UMO headlined, since then they have continually grown around the world. While not being totally across their new album yet, they run through a solid set featuring tracks from previous efforts as well as some new material.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Next up is Fever Ray, while I'm a big fan of The Knife I've never listened to much of Fever Ray's solo output, aside from odd songs that have popped up here and there. Sounding amazing and delivering a pretty spectacular set, it quickly becomes my Primavera highlight so far. Back to the main two stages and Bjork has started her set by the time I get there, I'm not even going to try and describe a Bjork show in any detail, it's a beautiful experience that everyone should experience at least once in their life.
Up the other end of the main stage complex, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds kicks in. After seeing a really special performance last time they were in Australia, I'm unsure how it will translate on a festival stage but quickly realise not matter what stage Nick Cave is on he'll command the crowd. And the sets highlight involves the crowd as Nick invites a bunch of front row fans up on stage while they rip into 'Stagger Lee'. They play an epic set and it is well into the am, as I head towards the entrance, Client Liaison are playing a set on the Night Pro stage right beside the ocean and they look way more at home in the dark of the am than they were a bunch of hours earlier in the sunlight. They plough through the favourites from 'Diplomatic Immunity' and smash out their new single 'Survival In The City'.
That's two days down, two more epic days to follow.