Earlier this month, GUM Music Editor Yasmin Ali travelled to Barcelona for PrimaveraSound 2011, one of the most eagerly-anticipated indie music festivals of the summer, if not the year. Held at Barcelona’s Parc del Forum, a sprawling outdoor and indoor concert and conference venue which spans almost an entire urban quarter from the city grid to the sealine. The event boasted over 7 specially-set up stages, and over 275 live bands and DJ sets, with scheduling from 5pm-5am, drawing crowds totalling over 120,000 spectators.. Here are an edited selection of top acts in GUM’s Primavera Picks…
Read on for the top picks…
Pick of…The newbies
Nouvelle Cuisine (***)
Friday 27th May, 5pm, adidas Originals stage (PrimaveraPro)
Nouvelle Cuisine, homegrown talent from Galicia, served up a delectable selection of tasty beats fused with bright, electro-acoustic melodies. It’s not everyday you hear a band able to create music that transcends the boundaries of two such distinct genres – electro and acoustic guitar- as well as language barriers. Spanish-speaking Nouvelle Cuisine’s set went down a treat with the select PrimaveraPro media audience. They delivered a fresh take on guitar synth, without the usual cliches or allusions: definitely ones to look out for on next year’s festival circuit.
Pick of…The comebacks
Saturday 28th May, 1.45am, San Miguel Stage
Three words, acronymised by the letters O, M and G. It’s nigh impossible to verbalise the sheer joy that comes with seeing a Britpop band live that allows you to party like its 1997. Cult classic group Pulp proved one of this year’s festival highlights, making a rare touring appearance at Primavera Sound 2011. Jarvis proved he still has the moves, showing himself as an energetic and impassioned performer, with undeniable stage presence. Shaking his pelvis with more gusto than Shakira, he’s still the same Jarvis we knew and loved from the Brit Awards scandal – just a little older and somewhat wiser. He spoke eloquently of his sympathy with the civic protests, and dedicated ‘Common People’ to the cause, which instantly cemented his rapport with the crowd. Pulp are no strangers to Barcelona, having played many times in the central club (Sala) Razzamatazz, and rounding off this gig with their song of the same name.
Pick of…The fresh young things
James Blake (Live DJ) (***)
Saturday 28th May, 0.00, Pitchfork Stage
James Blake is pretty much flavour of the year in dance music terms. His well-deserved fame is destined to last more than 15 minutes, but let’s hope he doesn’t overwork this summer, seeing as he’s gigging all over the place. The festival circuit is gorging on the young lad’s success, much of it off the back of his hotly-tipped cover of Feist’s ‘Limit to your Love’, which Radio1’s Zane Lowe hailed as ‘The Hottest Record in The World’. The multi-talented musician is also an accomplished DJ, and his set at Primavera did not disappoint. Plenty of R&B repeats, expertly-mixed segues and seamless transitions between tracks.
Pick of…The uber-chilled
Fleet Foxes (****)
Saturday 28th May, 5pm, San Miguel Stage
The great thing about Parc del Forum is there are steps everywhere, so you are pretty much guaranteed to get a decent view no matter where you sit. Oh – and the fact that you can sit if need be, albeit on a hard surface, at least its not muddy marshland as in UK festivals. I was never happier than sat peacefully on the steps on the edge of the pier, within sight and sound of the main stage as Fleet Foxes played their majestic and melodic set. Feel-good music is what summer festivals is all about, and FF delivered with retro-sounds and symphonic harmonies with a bit of falsetto and acapella thrown in. nb. This will make no sense if you haven’t heard their stuff; you really have to listen to this band to realise how chilled and right-on they are!
Pick of…The singer-songwriters
PJ Harvey (***)
Saturday 28th, 9.45pm, San Miguel Stage
Waiting eagerly for just a whiff of her amazing 2001 album ‘Stories from The City…’ was futile, seeing as this prolific singer-songwriter has created several albums since, including this year’s majestic if sombre ‘Let England Shake’. Ethereal in a white dress, and accompanied by a full band, she looked and sounded as fresh as she did at the start of her career fifteen years ago. Later in the set the familiar riffs of modern classic ‘Bad Fortune’ sounded just as fresh as they did ten years ago, but most of her set showcased new material, which, although magnificent material, was a little moody compared to the levity of the festival.
Pick of…The most anticipated
Animal Collective (**)
Saturday 28th, 1145pm, San Miguel Stage
The laws of physics ruled that Animal Collective’s seaside set on a windy summer’s night would be a wash-out. Unbeknown to the band and the crowd on the other side of sound booth, cross-winds meant our vantage point was totally distorted in terms of sound. I’ve not much to report on this, other than (a) basic applied physics in action, and (b)playing near the sea is risky, that (c)soundchecking is so important. Animal Collective also headline Primavera’s follow-up gig ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ on 27th July at Poble Espanyol, for which Primavera pass holders can secure an exclusive discount – http://www.primaverasound.com/ps/?page=flymetothemoon&lang=en
Pick of…The best in new pop
Holy Ghost! (*****)
Saturday 28th/Sunday 29th, 0400, Llevant Stage
Some kind of divine intervention must be in play bringing us such heavenly new music as Holy Ghost! from NYC. Instantly addictive, the funky electronic duo create simple but sublime tracks that induce joy and dancing. Security had to remove a couple of plant pots from some revellers who had chosen them as dance partners in the wee small hours of the morning. Strobe lighting sealed the deal for a blinding last set of the festival.
Photos and Press access courtesy of Primavera Sound Press Department.