The best music festival in Barcelona, Primavera Sound, hits the city next week, not only at the Parc Forum, its main venue, but all across the urban playground that is BCN. Programming starts Monday the 26th, and ends the 4th of July, the main festival occurring Thursday through Saturday. Tickets are still on sale for about EUR190 for the whole thing, and EUR80-90 per day. Not a bad price for a seaside festival in the heart of the Mediterranean.
Over the next week and a half, festival goers will be trying to put together their schedules, trying to fit in their favorite bands while also accommodating their friends’ musical preferences. Below are my recommendations of what not to miss, and a few festival tips.
Wednesday the 28th, The Brian Jonestown Massacre are playing the Sala Apolo, a club in the Poble Sec neighborhood. This is definitely a show to see, as it comes with the festival pass and is a bit of rock and shoe-gaze history. Their show begins at 12:40am, so rest up and know that it’s only the beginning of a long weekend.
Thursday is pretty clear cut for most, the first two bands worth seeing being Real Estate and Girl Band at around the 6-8 pm mark. They’re a good primer for the rest of the evening. War Paint is on an hour after their sets, and it’s a good excuse to catch a glimpse of Flea’s daughter in action. The real debate Thursday is the dual booking of Queens of the Stone Age and CHVRCHES. Both bands are worth seeing, the mitigating factor being the momentary desire for either sublime synth pop or crunchy dessert rock. The Arcade Fire closes out the main part of the evening, the rest more electronic fare that may be worth missing to conserve energy for Friday and Saturday.
Friday is a bit trickier, because it’ll be in your best interest to get there early for Drive-By Truckers at 7ish and then Haim not too long after. Then Slowdive runs right up against the Pixies, who have the perfect spot between 10:50pm-12:10am, not a single other act coming against them. After that, the choice is between The National and Slint, which is only difficult because Slint may be more interesting live than The National, whose records, according to concert goers, are much better than the live show. The next decision, right after these two, is between !!! (chk chk chk) and SBTRKT, both allegedly fantastic live and playing until 3 am, which promises to be a perfect finale for Friday.
Saturday is the biggest night of the three, as Trent Reznor is set to devastate ears and minds alike. There’s nothing too worth rushing over to Forum for early in the night, Spoon being the first great show to occur, at 8:40. After that, there’s a ridiculous pile up between Godspeed You! Black Emperor, The Dismemberment Plan, and Kendrick Lamar. Personally, Godspeed will be the best show of the three, as it’s the most unique and powerful live set of the group, but all three offer excellent performances. At 12:30am, though, Nine Inch Nails blows the whole thing out of the water, but sadly at the same time as Mogwai. NIN is the necessary show to see, and it’s unjust to have the two play at the same time, but in a festival like this there have to be sacrifices. If you can still take it after these two powerhouse spectacles, Foals and Chromeo play parallel shows, meaning there will be a solid choice of two excellently fun acts to cleanse the palate after Reznor demolishes the collective eardrums of the festival. Chromeo should be a far more enjoyable show, but Foals have a distinct style that offers something more interesting than one type of dancing.
Every night features DJ sets by artists such as Jamie xx, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday all ending just before the sun comes up. This means that if you want to call it early, many people will still be there to leave the metro and taxis un-crowded at the 2-3am mark, but be sure to leave during sets, not directly after them. Also, have a meeting point and know the schedules of your friends. Primavera Sound is a massive festival, the main stage the farthest from the center, and farther still from the beachside stages clustered closer together. Cell use is rendered impossible by the sheer number of concert goers, so have your strategies ready. And don’t forget versatile clothing, as walking is a definite and cold winds a possibility. Beyond that, though, this year’s festival promises to be an explosive, memorable, rocking madhouse.