Primavera Sound 2018 was again a really effective showcase of talent and new music, but also of the problems of what happens when a festival this important gets really big, with more that 215,000 attendees. But let’s focus on the music, better, Monday-to-Saturday, May 28th-to-June 2nd, in Barcelona, Spain:
Vulk, from the Basque country (north of Spain), opened the last day of Sound 2018. Their take on Gang of Four, Wire and the most obscure post-punk worked better in an open space, in relation to the Primavera Club concert they offered in late 2017. Even though they had some problems with the bass guitar, the enthusiasm and energy of this combo is worth a listen. One of the few Spanish bands that doesn’t sound like a Spanish band.
Then, a special return: Lift To Experience were reunited almost 15 years after the release of their acclaimed record, Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads, 90 minutes of conceptual post-rock mixed with Western roots. In an incredible concert that encompassed almost the whole of their record, Josh T. Pearson and co. gave us a unique glimpse – and possibly the only one we will ever get to witness – of a set of songs rarely played, a jewel on their own.
Jane Birkin was the epitome of elegance and sophistication, though on stage presence could’ve been better suited for the Auditorium, bearing in mind she was playing with a full orchestra.
How can you surprise your audience when, after your return, some fours years ago, everybody is fixated about you and your craft? Basically, by exploiting your virtues to the limit. And that’s what Slowdive did in a ten-song set, exhibiting the brightest and most luminescent side of the quintet. “Catch the Breeze”, “Start Rolling”, “When the Sun Hits” or “Golden Hair” were incredible gems that put them right in the rostrum of the best concerts of the festival.
After that, Grizzly Bear and Deerhunter were simply correct. The former lacked energy in their set, not really pushing to the maximum of their skills; the latter, doing very homogeneous gig that at moments left you wanting it to end.
Elsewhere, Car Seat Headrest were a bit disappointing with a very short concert of only seven songs; Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever were interesting but probably lacked the punch they have on record; Lorde was arguable the most revered headliner in the festival, apart from Nick Cave; and Arctic Monkeys couldn’t do anything to prevent a certain boredom either with their slowed-down classics, or their current tunes from Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino, a work that may only be acceptable on record but not live.