Wednesday – Albert Hammond Jr.
The Stroke’s guitarist opened up the festival on Wednesday with a free show open to anyone in Barcelona. The festival seemed nearly as packed as it did on the other days when a wristband was required. He debuted some of the tracks off his forthcoming new solo album Momentary Masters like Losing Touch (below) and played old favorites like 101 and St. Justice. The crowd was fairly subdued but it was a solid set nonetheless.
Thursday – Brand New
Brand New is one of the bands that because of 2004 me, I will probably want to see them for all time. Even though Jessie Lacey’s voice isn’t always cooperating and their audience these days is mostly into the new stuff, for me it’s worth attending to just hear a few old favs like Ok I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don’t. Their set wasn’t packed which was great for my viewing situation, but the band seemed genuinely pumped to play their first show in Spain.
Friday – Run The Jewels (yes I know Killer Mike is from Atlanta but El-p is as Brooklyn as it gets)
I was a bit bummed out until this point at the audience’s lack of excitement during the sets I had been to in Barcelona. That all changed when Run The Jewels took the stage. Maybe the Catalans are bigger rap fans than I realized, but Killer Mike and El-p got the crowd jumping like no other act I saw at Primavera. I was particularly impressed with native Spanish speakers yelling out RTJ’s quick hitting lyrics even better than I could manage myself.
Saturday – The Strokes
Full disclosure, The Strokes are one of my favorite bands and I was more excited to see them than any other act. My excitement was only increased by sharing the same Delta flight as them from NYC to BCN. While I was enjoying every song they played, the crowd didn’t fully come alive until song number 9 on the setlist when they played Juicebox live for the first time since 2009. Up until that point I heard people shouting in a Spanish accent “play Last Night you fucks” but soon The Strokes honored that request. They also played Is This It jams like Take It Or Leave It and The Modern Age (also for the first time since 2011) and by the time they closed with New York City Cops the crowd had been sufficiently satiated. The speakers blasted Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t Worry Be Happy and the crowd happily exited as proven by this Instagram video I took. Here’s a video of their full set, but the audio sounded significantly better at the show.
This brings me to my overall thoughts on Primavera Sound. Here’s the top 3 differences from most US festivals I’ve been to:
1. People aren’t taking photos/filming the shows.
This was by far my biggest surprise. While in the rest of Barcelona selfie sticks and cameras were everywhere, rarely did you see an iPhone screen light up the night sky during a set. I even felt bad myself for snapping a few Instagrams during the sets I went to. People were just focused on watching the stage with their actual eyes.
2. No waits for bathrooms/food.
I didn’t wait to use a bathroom once while I was there. I realize maybe in places like NYC life is more crowded in general, but there were bathrooms aplenty and not to get too technical but they had a urinal system for the men like I’d never seen before. Food/drinks lines were also extremely efficient, and even if there appeared to be a long line it would always move quickly.
3. The sets start way later.
The Barcelona late night lifestyle carries over to Primavera Sound. Most acts you’ve heard of don’t start until at least 9pm, with headliners going on at midnight. Plenty of acts play after the headliners each night like RATATAT who played at 3AM Saturday morning. An afternoon siesta is highly recommended. It’s also worth noting the sets always started on time.
Overall I’d highly recommend a planning a trip of Barcelona during Primavera Sound to any New Yorkers looking for a different kind of festival experience. I believe cheap tickets for next year go on sale in just a few weeks.