There was a time when attending a foreign music festival was a secret kept exclusively by the holders of the knowledge. That time has passed, with the help of several hundred Top Festival lists imploring you to get the hell out of England. But the case remains that a trip across the Channel has the power to excite in a way that even a decent hot dog in a relatively mud-free field fails to do so. And so it is with the Barcelona leg of Primavera Sound 2013.
A weekend highlight thanks to the complementary hazy sounds and dozing sunset, Tame Impala’s set celebrates the band’s first time in Barcelona/gig next to a ferris wheel/in front of a full moon/with guitarist Cam; that’s four cherries popped in a single performance. ‘Elephant’ delivers the thundering sounds that festival performances are made on, while ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ offers a soothing sensation for all involved.
The festival’s indie heavyweights later follow (see: The Postal Service, Grizzly Bear, Phoenix and Animal Collective). Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste says it well when he tells the gushing crowd: “This is just the beginning for you guys… I’m envious”. Their performance boasts tracks from ‘Shields’ primarily, with the dark vocals and faster tempo on songs such as ‘Sleeping Ute’ and ‘Speak In Rounds’ creating a mood in keeping with their midnight slot.
Spread out across nine stages, Primavera Sound also dominates the impressive (read: clean) Auditori Rockdelux for the duration of Friday and Saturday. No food or drink may enter and everyone inside is silent and focused, like a hardcore music lesson at the most well behaved private school, or something. For Christopher Owens’ turn the stage becomes some kind of beautiful party, Owens with a vase of flowers either side, two pretty ladies on backing vocals, a band behind with one suited-up older gentleman on sax. Each and every one of them highlights the confused mind and delicate outcome of Owens' debut, ‘Lysandre’.
“If you don’t have the space, make the space and grind with me one time,” screams Solange, her crowd doing the best they can to follow the order. Dressed in a green jacket and black trousers, she and Dev Hynes deliver dance routines that would make her older sister weep with pride. Though single ‘Losing You’ achieves the biggest roar, the rest of the performance proves she has the stage presence to pull off whatever she intends.
Strolling to the Heineken stage for Blur’s 1.30am slot, fans are bemused by The Wedding Present playing (off schedule) on a balcony to the right, streaming onto the stage. Before long though Damon, Graham, Alex and Dave made their way through an hour-and-a-half set dosed in the sing-along hits that only they can offer, finished off in a true rock 'n’ roll manner with ‘Song 2’.
And then all of a sudden it's Sunday, and there's just enough time for Clash to catch Mac DeMarco playing at Parc de la Ciutadella, surrounded by swarms of sunbathers, guys selling beer and mojitos, and a Wi-Fi poll that lets fans share the experience with friends back home. Simple pleasures, eh?
Words and photo: Zoe Whitfield
Get the best of Clash on your iPhone - download the app here