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

The festival concert is an interesting beast. They beguile you with their attractive band list (which look oh-so-impressive on the back of a t-shirt), their free-spirited collective nature between music lovers (slash, mass gathering of musical hippies/hipsters), and the promise of an excellent juxtaposition of genres. Although, there’s always another side. Between ferocious heat, growling crowds, and overpriced couscous, the three-day festivals bite back with a vengeance. Perhaps after a few different festivals, one acquires a sense of what they want over the course of the musical extravaganza, and not all of these expectations can be met. A few quick notes about Primavera Sound:

The setting: Fórum, by the Mediterranean Sea in Barcelona, Spain. The gusts of salty breeze were refreshing, but didn’t compensate for the lack of luscious grass as at Coachella or the abundant shade at Chicago’s Lollapalooza. Pavement ground covered with empty beer cups and cigarette butts just isn’t the same. Although the side program held in Parc Joan Miró – in an oasis of palm trees and a more personal feel with the band – was a different story.

The timing: Aside from the side-program, the shows didn’t start until the late afternoon/early evening. Likely, this is to avoid the stifling heat of the midday. That, and the Spaniards do things late (DJ Medhi’s set started at 4:30am!). I have mixed feelings about this. While I prefer the nighthawk approach, I think it leads to a tighter schedule with very unfortunate show overlap. On that note…

The scheduling: Oh God, why? Why were The Pains of Being Pure of Heart playing the same time as Carsick Cars, who were cut short by My Bloody Valentine? Gang Gang Dance with Sonic Youth? (Sarah’s personal nightmare). Andrew Bird and Phoenix? Deerhunter with my only opportunity to eat during the night? Sigh. It happens every time.

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— , June 8, 2009    10 Comments

Primavera es está en el aire, spring is in the air.  In Spain, anyway. (Thanks for Marc for the correction… clearly, my Spanish still has a ways to go!) Considering the pilgrimage to Coachella was a bit unmanageable this year, my summer concert festival will be Barcelona’s Primavera Sound 2009. The three-day tunesfest takes place may 28 to 30 (next week) and features a indie-packed international crew that will make your head spin. There are few names on the playbill that we haven’t yet spun here at Ca Va Cool, (as well as some old classics) so I thought I would do the honours and throw the records in the jukebox for all to hear. And, there’s a selection of favourites for good measure.

Download | Primavera Sound Festival 2009 Preview

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01 | Girls – Lust for Life / Lust for Life EP / 2009

Talk about an ingenious way to prevent pirating: Band name = Girls. EP name = Lust for Life. Search results = sketchy. I’m not even sure how to buy this EP, owing to my fear of opening any of the Google hits. But this track holds a lot of promise for the San Francisco group; irony, clarity, and levity. If anyone discovers the proper way to buy this album, comment away.

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02 | A Certain Ratio – Teri / Mind Made Up / 2008
03 | A Certain Ratio – Do the Du / Do the Du 12” / 1981

One of the original Factory Records post-punk bands, A Certain Ratio were featured in one of the best music movies ever, 24 Hour Party People. While maybe not explicitly named as one of the forerunners in the Madchester scene, they followed the wave by making the move into house music. Their most recent releases have been more-or-less modernized versions of their original sound, with some exceptions (like the dreamy ‘Teri’ included here).

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— , May 23, 2009    5 Comments