All Photographs by Jan Kucic-Riker

Primavera Sound is an overwhelming and vastly stimulating music pilgrimage made each year to Barcelona, Spain. Over two hundred bands across eleven stages and timetables that schedule sets well past five in the morning make the musical mecca a monstrous undertaking. Fortunately, 140,000 music lovers joined me over the course of the three main days and two satellite events to dance, sing, and even swim at the Parc del Fòrum and Poble Espanyol. The eclectic line-up saw everything from unabashed hip-hop to captivating folk ballads and electronic DJ sets. Though the scheduling and sheer volume of music can make it difficult, somehow we found time to sleep amid the madness.

Getting any rest was a predicament owing to the tension of anti-government protests consuming Barcelona’s Plaça de Catalunya over the course of the week. Demonstrators voiced their concerns over the political and economic situation in Spain emphasizing the growing problem of unemployment amongst youth in the country. Primavera Sound also overlapped with the UEFA Cup Champions League final between FC Barcelona and Manchester United. As a result, the Saturday night schedule saw a two-hour gap in music as fans flooded the Llevant stage to watch the match on enormous screens. Whether or not you were a football fan, Barcelona’s victory was instantly apparent as celebrations ripped through the streets and onto La Rambla well past the closing sets at Primavera that night.

Outside its musical aspects, Primavera held an array of meanings. The festival had its transformative qualities, for instance, the colour and amount of wristbands one donned was the founding rule of social hierarchies over the duration of the week. Wrist apparel, stickers, and swipe cards, clung, stuck, and hung off fans as they hustled across the festival grounds. The photo areas provided amusement by way of disgruntled Spanish photographers who complained of poor lighting throughout various sets. Ultimately, the true meaning dawned as I watched a communal dance break out during ‘Summertime Clothes’ by Animal Collective as they closed out the festival at 2AM on the San Miguel Stage. It is my hope that the following images, sounds, and commentary will help convey the innumerable untellable sentiments of Primavera Sound 2011 with you.

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— , June 20, 2011    Comments Off on Primavera Sound Festival 2011

Photograph by Brian DeRan

Eye Contact wakes with an utterance, “I can hear everything. It’s everything time.” The Manhattan five-piece Gang Gang Dance then proceed unabashedly into their impressive eleven-minute opener ‘Glass Jar’. If “everything time” has an associated sound, Gang Gang Dance have captured it on Eye Contact, the record emerges fully formed combining ten tracks into a single panoptic composition. Eye Contact is tribal without turning primitive, exotic without growing unfamiliar, grandiose without becoming pastiche. The blend of tracks is striking and constantly kept in check with a myriad of unifying elements ranging from a taught rhythm section and meticulously orchestrated instrumentals to sonic overloads and percussive bombasts. Eye Contact comes nearly three years after the bands previous release Saint Dympha and offers Gang Gang’s most infectious, confident, and memorable experimental freak-out yet. Where Saint Dympha felt inaccessible and disjoint Eye Contact improves with cohesion, clarity, and conviction.  Slated for release this week on 4AD, Eye Contact is ambitiously rewarding, thematically dense, and brazenly hi-fi.

Gang Gang Dance continue to drive African rhythms and Middle Eastern melodies through analogue keyboards and droning organs. Eye Contact is no exception to the bands emblematic style as the record is awash in fidgety arrangements, restless glitch, and innumerable combinations of delays and distort. Liz Burgatsos’ piercing wails tear through ever-present drums and clattering cymbals to provoke relaxed harmonies into maelstroms of chaotic crescendos. Gang Gang weave a mesh of reverb and thumping bass on ‘Adult Goth’ to keep pace with Burgatsos’ thundering growls and shattering cries. The production on Eye Contact is unapologetically polished, manically cheerful, and ardently unwavering. This is nowhere more evident than on the celestial psych trips of ‘MindKilla’. The track is dripping with dub-aesthetics driven to collapse by wrenching snares, leaving things to devolve into an intoxicating Bollywood meets Star Trek stereo assault.

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— , May 17, 2011    Comments Off on Gang Gang Dance: Eye Contact