colossal queues are our introduction to Primavera Sound

Primavera Sound 2011 review

published: Tue 7th Jun 2011

The Flaming Lips

Thursday 26th to Saturday 28th May 2011
Parc del Forum, Barcelona, Spain, Spain
3 day ticket £145
last updated: Tue 29th Mar 2011

The San Miguel Primavera Sound festival is now in its 11th year, and is situated just a few miles north of the city centre of Barcelona in the modern area of the city. A pleasant walk along the beachfront to reach if you're staying centrally, though more daunting when you want to get home at the end of the night (literally speaking, expect to leave around 5-6am). Surprisingly, my first festival experience abroad; I was tempted by what on paper appeared to be the best line-up I'd seen going all the way back to Glastonbury '95.

around the festival site (1)
Wednesday actually started with disappointment; an attempt to see Echo and the Bunnymen and Caribou at the distant Poble Espanyol venue (South of the city centre) foiled by the first colossal queue of the festival; a separate queue to exchange tickets for wristbands appeared to extend to Madrid and back. Still, there was plenty to see and explore in Barcelona itself, and the frustration was soon dispelled.

The queues for wristbands we saw the previous evening prompted us to make an early sojourn to the festival site come Thursday to exchange tickets. This turned out to be a sensible move; returning for the festival-start-proper at 5pm the long lines of people had returned once more. This year a card system had been introduced to pay for drinks/food which ended in sham; huge queues and confusion once more just to put credit on the swipe card that was provided. The organisers only allow one small bottle of water into the site, so long as it is already opened, and 'spirited' entry security enforced the rule (have I mentioned queues yet?). It was not until 3am that I personally realised that cash was now being accepted for drinks; dehydration and festivals obviously don't mix well and the organisers have hopefully taken note and learned from the experience. It turned out there were a few water fountains scattered around the site to be fair though.

Anyway, back to what we were here for and the start of the bands. The Spanish singer-songwriter Marina Gallardo provided a lighter, queue-soothing ice-breaker set on Ray Ban Stage, but it was the excellent heavy rock sound of Toundra on Pitchfork Stage that got my festival off with a bang. My first discovery of the weekend and one I'll be looking out for should they grace these shores. The Psychedelic sounds continued back on San Miguel with the equally excellent Moon Duo, droning organs and heavy guitar from the San Francisco pair in the evening sunshine.

Public Image Ltd (PiL)
John Lydon and Public Image Ltd. (PiL) later performed on Llevant Stage; Lydon was his typical self and on good form, it's good to know you can rely on some people. He gesticulated to the late arrivals uttering "This way poooor people" before launching into Public Image Ltd to kick off the set, a small mosh pit formed at the front. In a later reference to the upcoming European Cup Final he suggested a coming together of forces with his home team in the form of Arselona, one of many banters with the audience that had people smiling. Easily the best set of Thursday for my Alternative tastes anyway. Llevant Stage is almost a carbon copy of The Other Stage @ Glastonbury, but this one has its own beach.

A first visit to the ATP Stage followed; the best stage for me both in terms of line-up and layout. Shade and trees to the left, terrace like seats to the right with a stalls area set on a gentle incline. The overall feel was similar to that of The Park Stage (Glasto) and this proved to be a suitable base camp for the rest of the festival. The conducted, orchestral guitar sounds of Glenn Branca Ensemble provided another intense set there, their style is quite unique to anything that I've seen before.

Ordinarily, Grinderman, Caribou, and Interpol would be strong choices to see at any festival, but the first (of many) major clash of the festival had me headed to watch Suicide perform their self-titled 1977 debut album. A "love it or hate it" solid performance anyway, one of the highest energy sets of the weekend which is impressive for 70-somethings. Their powerful influence on the punk explosion of 1977 is not in doubt, noise sound at its finest in my opinion, and the 2nd best performance of the night.

The Flaming Lips
The Flaming Lips provided the colourful photo ops. on the main San Miguel Stage, the jostling amongst photographers as keen as that in the front of the audience; I took a seat and left them to it. Presumably those that went running from Suicide felt more at home, though quite the opposite on my part. The most impressive, fun stage show of the weekend that I saw no doubt, if razzmatazz and gimmicks are your thing. One big party amongst the audience which was good to see anyway; equal to that of Pulp later in the weekend.

Chris Carter and Factory Floor's dark, post-punk collaboration set on ATP stage saw a welcome return to gloomier sounds for me, another excellent set. It was now 5am, the only thing left to do was to pick up a crepe (there's a large market that serves as a great undercover eating/meeting/chilling place on-site), navigate quickly through the in-your-face dealers outside the site entrance, and head home with a smile.
review by: Jason Wood

photos by: Jason Wood

Thursday 26th to Saturday 28th May 2011
Parc del Forum, Barcelona, Spain, Spain
3 day ticket £145
last updated: Tue 29th Mar 2011


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