Primavera Sound 2012 Recap

<div> <a href="features/primavera_sound_2012_recap/"><img src="https://www.qromag.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/primaverasound12.jpg" alt="Primavera Sound 2012 Recap" /></a> </div> <p> The massive Primavera Sound Festival returned to Barcelona, Spain.  It stretched along the Catalan seaside, Thursday to Saturday,...
Primavera Sound 2012 Recap
Primavera Sound 2012 Recap

The massive Primavera Sound Festival returned to Barcelona, Spain.  It stretched along the Catalan seaside, Thursday to Saturday, May 31st to June 2nd, with additional club shows before & after.

 

WEDNESDAY, MAY 30TH

Jeremy Jay

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The Wedding Present plays Seamonsters

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The Walkmen

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The Black Lips

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THURSDAY, MAY 31ST

Purity Ring

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The first pangs of festival excitement are saved for actually wandering around the Primavera Sound 2012 seaside site because, as main stage openings go, Baxter Dury was predominantly low key; he may well have gathered some respect as a separate artist of merit, but neither we nor he are kicking up the flames here.  Similarly and meanwhile, Purity Ring shook their thing and tried to get things rolling on Pitchfork Stage, doing everything adequately enough to just about muster up enthusiasm for next month’s debut album Shrines.  A shame then that the effort in assembling costumes and instruments did not match the effort in performance.  However, Friends showed that openings don`t have to be nervous and tepid.  Singer Samantha Urbani was determined to drag the audience along.  In spite of her injured ankle, she danced to the lovable disco racket of her band, eventually clambering down into the pit for the penultimate song.  Finally, it is full steam ahead for Primavera.

 

Iceage

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The Afghan Whigs

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Greg DulliAfghan Whigs‘ absence has made hearts grow a great deal fonder.  Since their hiatus in 2001 – briefly punctuated in 2006 – they have been thrust into legendary status.  Their latest reformation brought them to the San Miguel Stage, but the soulful Americans are now slap-bang in the middle of a musical landscape dominated by testosterone-fuelled emotion.  Efforts to round those rock edges with occasional strings fell short of the crowd.  A haze enveloped Afghan Whigs, which is nigh on impenetrable for anyone without a prior vested interest. 

 

Grimes

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Fortunately a little light relief from the ernst was available in the form of Grimes, who bounced around on the Pitchfork Stage to a packed crowd.  Three progressively improving albums in the last two years have waylaid the initial scenester suspicions.  The strangely refreshing nativity of her performance gave much to wonder, as did her combination of disco, electronica, and – dare one say it? – goth.  It’s better than it sounds.  Honest. 

 

Hot Panda

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Forevery band that finds their musical comfort zone at festivals, there is another who finds their sounds lost in the swirl.  The not nearly as psychedelic as claimed White Denim struggledto make their intricate guitar work and cut an awkward shape, lost in their narcissistic guitar love-in, proving they belong in the homes of keen-eared musicians, not around the coastal winds of Barcelona. 

 

Death Cab for Cutie

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Wilco

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Grunge, and so much more, survivors ­Mudhoney managed one of those iconic and ironic moments as for a few minutes the whole festival stops.  Both the broken and the beautiful sang along to “Touch Me I`m Sick”.  The mid-set crowd pleaser aw the Seattle band battle back to break the middle-aged malaise, reinvigorating the ATP Stage with much needed energy. 

 

Beirut

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Thee Oh Sees mayhail from California and have a name that conjures images of depressed teenagers on sandy beaches, but there is no surf pop – nor is there a dodgy TV theme cover (thank God).  Instead, John Dwyer stomped and jumped his band through 45 minutes of edgy indie with occasional experiment elements. 

 

Refused

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The xx may have been having a slumber party over on the Mini Stage, but the source of tense excitement that took over Primavera is the Ray Ban Arena, awaiting Refused‘s much sought after comeback.  Surely, with the capitalist crash still washing over Europe – with Spain next on the list to flood – this was the ideal time for the Swedish band to rip back into existence.  The opening notes of “Worms of the Senses” confirmed their arrival, dispel fears and secure the belief that Refused are as defiant and vital as ever.  Empiricism tells us that bands never change the world, but that doesn`t mean we want them to stop trying.  Singer Dennis Lyxzén’s posturing and screaming reminded the world that Refused may have quit, but they never gave up.

 

The xx

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Spiritualized

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With half of The xx’s audience tiring of the non performance and disappearing, Spiritualized stepped up to show the Scottish band how to enthral a crowd whilst maintaining a cool as fuck attitude.  Jason Pierce sprinkled a few newbies from Sweet Heart Sweet Light into the set.  Still it was Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space and Come Together that continued to sparkle some fifteen years after inception.  It’s space rock that sent us gloriously spinning off into the night. 

 

Japandroids

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FRIDAY, JUNE 1ST

The Chameleons

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Dirty Beaches

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Orthodox

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Rufus Wainwright

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Sorry, Rufus Wainwright, as endearing as you are, and as good as the new stuff is sounding (QRO review), you had the misfortune to be with clashing with the new darlings…

 

Girls

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Girls continue to draw comparisons with The Beach Boys and other summery American guitar pop, but they offer something darker and more brooding; perhaps even a bit My Bloody Valentine.  The addition of the gospel singers brought an altogether warmer sound that flowed through the afternoon air.  Unlike Spiritualized’s gospel singers of last night, these three were allowed autonomy to excitedly shout, sing and cheer during the set, ­adding much needed dynamism to the live show.  When one of them stepped forward and took over during “Vomit”‘s concluding spiral, the ol’ human condition came bursting right out of your chest.  Even when Christopher Owens’ languid delivery cracked, it managed to be at optimal emotional point.  Girls can do no wrong. 

 

I Break Horses

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The Cure

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Flipping ‘eck, it seems everybody had come to see The Cure as the San Miguel Stage was rammed and easily surpassed the crowd that watched Pulp last year (QRO photos).  Whilst later material continued to disappoint, the audience embrace classics like “In Between Days” with love and enthusiasm.  The Cure may be some twenty years past their cultural nadir, but this show only underlined their importance as commercial post-punk pioneers.  Even after two hours the band left the stage to disappointed cries, came back and quelled the upset with “Boys Don`t Cry”. 

 

Codeine

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The Drums

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It wasn`t meant to be like this.  Sleigh Bells, the duo that could do no wrong – releasing the nigh-on-perfect Treats in 2010, have had a tougher 2012 with an underwhelming album (Reign of TerrorQRO review).  Even live, the new material was so dense and claustrophobic, not even singer Alexis’s enthusiastic shouts, twists and dives could inject the required vitality.  “Infinity Guitars”, “Tell ‘Em” and second album highlight “Comeback Kid” deserved to be in a set of so much more – even more disappointingly, the excellent “Rill Rill” was dropped altogether. 

 

Trash Talk

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A trip to Primavera wouldn`t be the same without a walk on the heavier side – there are a plethora of metal and hardcore bands on the bill, but Trash Talk stole the attention by politely throbbing and crashing away.  Veteran Norwegian black metallers Mayhem seemed more focused on costumes, candles and dangling ham to bother to even try to entertain.  By all means set up an atmosphere, but not at the cost of the music. 

 

SBTRKT

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After musical punches to the face from Trash Talk and Mayhem, it was time to kick back to SBTRKT – and maybe, just maybe, do a bit dancing into the early hours of Saturday morning.  As the ceremonial mask bobbled and bounced behind the mixing desk, thoughts that this is less live performance and more recreation the 2011 album disappeared.  This was not about them and us; it was a celebration of the simple things; the here and the now; of a festival in full flow. 

 

The Men

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The Rapture

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SATURDAY, JUNE 2ND

Odio Paris

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Michael Gira (of Swans)

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Sharon Van Etten

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Milagres

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James Ferraro

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Bjork’s unfortunate withdrawal has left the Saturday sparse on genuine big hitters and, with most of the festivalgoers out into the small hours the prior night, there was a feeling of a final day comedown.  Forest Swords specialise in gloomy atmospheres, but they eased though the muggy fog by adding layers of dub and dance.  As a hypnotic drone hazes over us, we lazed into the afternoon of the party before.

 

King of the Opera

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Girls Names

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Atlas Sound

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Inborn!

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Yesterday, during Girls’ “Lust for Life”, we sang, “Oh, I wish I had a beach house” and today we got one.    “Lazuli” and “Myth” were pure subconscious perfection; the accumulation of the Beach House ethereal dream, but the laidback sound betrayed the real effort.  Legrand and Scally writhed and wriggled the songs from their instruments. 

 

Beach House

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OFF!

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Now for something completely different as Steve Albini, Bob Weston and Todd Trainer – a.k.a. Shellac – don`t do subtle, they just rock.  ATP’s house band gave us the full experience with Albini shouting “Prayer To God”, Weston became a human metronome – a lesser bass plays would get bored and go home during “The End of Radio” – and Trainer bashed primally at his drums.  Sure songs like “Squirrel Song” and “Steady As She Goes” were good, but it was the strong presence of the trio that brought them to life.  This was perhaps where Primavera Sound 2012 should have come to a full stop, the ultimate end for any festival.  However, with Yo La Tengo, Justice and others left to play, there was an extended epilogue still to come. 

 

Chromatics

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Hype Williams

Hype Williams

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The Weeknd

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A chaotic start, Yo La Tengo hovered and threw their guitars to wave sonic vistas and reverbs over and between the crowd.  Most bands save their freak out moments until the final act, but YLT aren`t other bands and this is what they do.  Underneath the more traditional songs structures, there was always room for a sign of menace: a scratched guitar, a crying violin or a crunched beat. 

 

Wild Beasts

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Washed Out

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Jamie xx

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French duo Justice struggled to reignite a festival wilting in the dark; their determination was admirable as they enthusiastically punch the air throughout their memorial to five years ago.  Some dance, but most just swayed as the night ebbs away.

 

Justice

Justice

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SUNDAY, JUNE 3RD

Yann Tiersen

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Richard Hawley

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Barcelona

Eventually these stages will become just skeletons before being dismantled completely as the three days of Primavera Sound were put away for another year.  The Barcelona setting continued to reflect the feel of the festival: a Gaudi masterpiece is never far away in this city; a stunning performance always close by on the concrete zigzags of the forum dock; things pop up in strange places as a Primavera fansPicasso museum is hidden in the tight streets of historic city centre and the modern art of Miró sits in an old hospital in the hills of Montjuic; a thick wall of doom metal can be found when all others are dancing away to classics from twenty years ago and atmospheric post-rock will drift through crowds, searching for the next hip-hop superstar.  Primavera mixes it up like other festivals can only imagine. 

words: Mike Reynolds
photos: Jayne Yong 
Primavera Sound

 

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