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:
Josh T. Pearson warmed up those who wanted an early gig at the Primavera Sound, with a set of songs and ranged from delicate ballads, to vigorous rock and roll to a reflective combination of country and blues (more bluesy, actually). He’s much more optimistic now, and more grateful with things in general, and that shows in his music.
The Breeders, with their classic line up, were probably the unbeatable band if we talk about a revision of ‘90s indie rock.
Father John Misty structured his appearance in the way he was mixing hits with new songs and then more hits and then more new songs. A clever way to approach a festival, if you’re into his music. If you’re not, then probably the best thing you could have done was to go watch Liminal Soundbath, Sigur Ros’ Jonsi’s new ambient project alongside Alex Summers and Paul Corley. The dark room used by Liminal Soundbath set the mood for a post-apocalyptic set of tunes and noises, walking the fine line between the real and the imaginary. Amid the loud concerts around, this was refreshing, a real sonic balm.
After presenting their current record in a surprise gig, in 2017, Mogwai came back to the Primavera Sound to give a proper concert, mixing new songs and old hits. The additions of Alex Mackay on guitars and keyboards, and Cat Myers on drums, even if only for this tour, revitalised the old numbers of the band and infused them with new energy. “Hunted by a Freak”, “Rano Pano” or “Mogwai Fear Satan” sounded different enough so one had the feeling the band is not just touring for touring sake. Cohesive, concrete, all of them pushing in the same direction, Mogwai are still a great live machine.
Right after Mogwai, Ride played in the so-called hidden stage. They went over new compositions and old numbers, but contrary to what you might expect nostalgia, was not their goal. They sounded better and way more elastic than before.
To cap off the night, U.K.’s Idles were probably the most energetic band in the line-up. It’s not only garage, it’s not only punk, it’s not only grime, it’s not only hard-core. It’s a mix of all that and more. With a touch of Les Savy Fav, they are a fun experience live.
Elsewhere, The National offered a precise if a tad anodyne gig; Shellac played the same once again, and once again it worked; Charlotte Gainsbourg projected elegance and sophistication in some well-crafted recreations of her compositions, with tinges of electronica; Cigarettes After Sex were correct and even a bit livelier than record; and Ty Segall and the Freedom Band surprised by their calm and mature approach to rock, funk and electricity, proving that Segall can you do very well anything he proposes.