Primavera Sound 2011 : Day Four Recap

The final day at Parc del Forum saw some great acts - scheduled up against each other. ...
Primavera Sound 2011 : Day Four Recap
Primavera Sound 2011 : Day Four Recap

After the 2010 edition, arguably not at the same level as preceding years – despite counting with bands such as Pavement, Pixies, Pet Shop Boys, and Florence & The Machine – that the Primavera Sound Festival (PS) has returned to form in 2011 has been utterly undeniable.  Once again, the festival has achieved the rich and exact mix of big solid names with smaller but also interesting new bands from all styles, letting the Spanish and the ever-increasing foreign audience know about new and exciting movements and sounds.  In addition to this, this year’s PS has had more square meters to build stages and its programme outside the Fòrum of Barcelona has been bigger than ever before with legs in Galicia (north-west of Spain), a string of bars in Barcelona and the recovery of its original venue of 2001-2004, the Pueblo Español of the Montjuic Park, that hosted the gigs of the day prior and after the festival.

Man doesn’t live by gigs alone, so as usual in the Parc del Fòrum, the core of the festival, gathered the traditional and classic music fair of the PS with tents of official merchandise, independent Spanish and foreign labels, art, posters, clothes, and even two radios, the local ScannerFM internet station and the legendary WFMU from New Jersey that, like previous years, recorded many of the gigs to be enjoyed later in streaming.  This is just the point of the iceberg of the festival offers to the people.  But after this intro, let’s talk about its soul: The Music.

 

 

 

SATURDAY, 29TH MAY, PARC DEL FÒRUM

Parc del Forum

Mike Hadreas is the alma mater of Perfume Genius.  A sort of an honest but yet delicate troubadour, Hadreas softly reveals the brutality of his lyrics in piano melodies like “Mr Petersen”, about a homosexual teacher who loves Joy Division and has suicidal tendencies.  A musician that is worth following.

YuckYuck were one of the disappointments of the festival.  Not that they don’t have any quality but live their music really reveals their debts on Pavement (QRO live review) and other ‘90s bands of that kind, a thing that make them loose their identity.  Meanwhile, in the Twilight Zone Llevant stage, Warpaint was the opposite pole to Yuck.  They were so comfortable onstage and playing around with their repertoire that it looked like their record could’ve gone much further than it actually did.

tUnE-yArDs

Merrill Garbus has a contagious smile.  And she has a contagious attitude.  And she plays contagious music.  She’s the one behind tUnE-yArDs, a mix of folk, tUnE-yArDstribal sounds, a DIY philosophy and an attitude onstage like the world was ending tomorrow and the best choice for us would be to enjoy ourselves.  With a bass player and a small brass section, Garbus achieved a connection with the audience that was hard to beat in this PS.

Fleet Foxes

Fleet Foxes, while not being excellent on record, proved they are something else onstage, giving their songs a much better treatment and solidity.  Their vocal harmonies also The Album Leaf helped and so did the PA, allowing their traditional folk to sound bright and clean.  Right after the folkie foxes, The Album Leaf dared to approach their PS debut with a minimalist line-up, with only leader Jimmy Lavalle and violinist/keyboardist Matthew Resovich representing the band, who were joined by a local string quartet.  The gig sounded well, but their set was based on their most ambient tracks so it hardly took off, so to speak.  They would’ve been a great band for the auditorium.

Money Mark Money Mark was one of the worst hit artists by the 2011 PS schedule, as they played almost at the same time as PJ Harvey and a bit later than Einstürzende Neubauten.  But the keyboardist, well-known for his work alongside Beastie Boys (QRO album review) and his contributions to the music of Yoko Ono or Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (QRO photos) never lost his temper and offered a solid and really fun set of funk, rhythm and blues, jazz and other herbs that was noisily received by that part of the audience who didn’t want to watch Polly Jean 100 yards away nor wanted to be overwhelmed by the industrial rhetoric of the aforementioned Germans.

PJ Harvey

PJ Harvey : The sexiest woman in rock, one of the most restless artist of her generation and, for once, daring to walk a sort of political path wanting a change for the current situation of her home country.  The songs from Let England Shake (QRO review) sounded clean and tense for the most part thanks to the contribution of Mick Harvey and old fellow John Parish.  Older tracks such as “Big Exit”, “C’mon Billy”, “The Sky Lit Up”, or “Meet Ze Monsta” with which she ended her gig were really well chosen to suit her latest tunes but the overall feeling is that her music still works far better in smaller places.  The main PS stage with an average capacity of over 20,000 people may be good for people like Neil Young, Pulp, Sonic Youth or Flaming Lips, but for PJ Harvey’s current music is far too big as it’s kind of hard to feel the complexity she displays on record, even though it was a good concert.

Mogwai

Mogwai and Swans started their gigs at the same time.  The latter set the old amphitheatre stage (officially the Ray-Ban one) on fire, with a sort of post-metal repertoire (in contrast with their industrial past) that was raw, strong and forceful.  Michael Gira faced the audience and even threatened them and insulted them for their apathy.  Only for that, it was one memorable gig.  On the other hand, Mogwai played in the Twilight Zone Llevant stage and the point of their gig was to prove they still have the nerve to stir the audience’s feelings.  Old tunes like “Mogwai Fear Satan”, “Helicon 1” or “Hunted By a Freak” still sound fresh and new songs like “Rano Pano” or “San Pedro” never sounded out of place.  Also, a good thing from Mogwai is that they have been able to prove they have grown up and know how to develop the sound of their songs.  A good example for this is the 2006 single “Travel Is Dangerous”.  Much probably written about the sinking of Russian submarine Kursk in 2000, the band played the song not with the usual anger displayed on record but with much more tenderness and sadness, like focusing more on the pain of the families of the deceased than the impotence of those who passed away inside the old and rotten machine.  All in all a splendid work of electric live music.

DJ Shadow

And finally DJ Shadow ended the Fòrum stint of the 2011 PS with a very visual concert plagued by his trademark beats.  Even though he tested some of the new tunes of his forthcoming new record,  “The Less You Know The Better”, due to be released in early September, Shadow’s set-list fluctuated from classics like “Organ Donor” to some of the new tracks like “Def Surround Us”.  Most may think that Shadow has lost it since his last album, The Outsider, but onstage he’s still a reference of, to make it brief, the modern hip-hop and DJing.

 

More photo galleries from Day Four:

Gang Gang Dance

Gang Gang Dance

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Dean Wareham plays Galaxie 500

Dean Wareham

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Animal Collective

Animal Collective

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Holy Ghost!

Holy Ghost!

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Concert Reviews
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