The Glass guide to the genre-defying Spanish festival
Fittingly for Primavera Sound’s 15th birthday, true musical royalty is heading to Barcelona this year. Adding more than a sprinkle of iconic status to the bill are the likes of Patti Smith, Tori Amos and Thurston Moore. The Strokes bring their laconic indie charm to a headline slot on Saturday night, Belle and Sebastian return refreshed by a critically acclaimed new album while experimental noise-merchants Swans play not one, or two, but three hours in what’s set to be a statement-making set.
Spain is well represented this year with more than 40 bands from Catalonia alone, spanning folk, electro and feel-good pop. Our top picks: the melancholic dance of late-night local hero Marc Piñol, Spanish punks Mourn, whose spiky riffs are making waves overseas, and veteran Catalan band Mujeres who – in their own words – excel in “old music played in new shoes”.
Although the majority of the festival takes place at Parc del Forum, there’s plenty more happening across the city. Twenty emerging artists will play to a global audience in a series of gigs in some of Barcelona’s best bars, while the Parc de la Ciutadella is the beautiful, palm-lined backdrop for a strong lineup that includes Sean Lennon’s The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger and melody-heavy indie-rockers Ex Hex.
Although many of this year’s headliner’s play guitar there’s plenty present across the musical spectrum. Representing the world of hip hop are game changing duo Run the Jewels – whose vivid live shows are high-octane and reference-laden – and the ever-unpredictable but undeniably gifted Tyler the Creator, whose Thursday slot on the Pitchfork stage is sure to be a festival highlight. Elsewhere the soulful sound of Melbourne’s Chet Faker and introspective electro of James Blake are set to captivate before Parc del Forum’s late-night takeover by some of the world’s most explosive dance acts, including the feel-good floor-filler Caribou.
Not forgetting the city itself…
With the likes of Richie Hawtin, DJ Coco and Roman Flügel keeping things buzzing at Parc del Forum till at least five in the morning, it’ll be easier than ever to disembark at El Prat airport only to return there bleary-eyed a few days later having seen nothing of Barcelona itself. Which – given its Gaudi-rich architecture, Serrano ham-endowed cuisine and stunning Gothic network of alleyways – would be criminal. Take time out to head to Parc Guell, Boqueria food market and the boutique-laden El Born district.
by Ben Olsen