Monday, June 08, 2009

Primavera Sound ’09: Day Three Review (May 30, 2009)

The third day of the Primavera Sound ’09 festival was the day of Youth & Young - Sonic Youth and Neil Young, that is - who gathered the largest crowd of the three days at the main stage.

We started the day by attending parts of the performances of Chad Vangaalen (he was well suited to this day as there are influences by both Neil Young and Sonic Youth to his electric folk), Shearwater, Jesu and the promising Plants And Animals. But the best performance of the afternoon, in my opinion, was that of the reunited Th’ Faith Healers, the early ’90s cult British band who, in their heyday, went against the grain of fashionable Brit-pop to deliver some of the most inspirational noisy krautrock of that era. Tom Cullinan’s guitar playing remains explosive, while Roxanne Stephen was in fine voice, enjoying herself and even taking some photos of the audience. They played "This time" early on and then proceeded to remind us why we loved them in the first place, with "Reptile smile" being one of my highlights of the entire festival.

Th' Faith Healers live@Primavera Sound '09 (May 30, 2009)

And then it was time for Neil Young at the main stage. As I was informed, Young hadn’t played Barcelona in more than two decades and so, in honor of his return, all other stages of the festival closed down for the duration of most of his performance. Since I had never seen him live before I didn’t particularly mind this decision, although I thought it was a bit unusual not to have any alternative choices. As you can understand, the crowd at the main stage was the largest of the three days and the Godfather of Grunge proceeded with a rocking (in the free world) set including classics like "Hey hey, my my (into the black)", "Cinnamon girl", "Cortez the killer", "Heart of gold". I’ve learned that he closed with a cover of The Beatles "A day in the life" but by that time I was checking out Oneida who had started their set with a long, noisy and repetitive jam. After seeing them play the same track for 15 minutes without changing their tune, I decided it was time for some food and rest.

With energy levels partly replenished, we watched the promising start of the Liars set (who thanked Neil Young for opening for them and Sonic Youth for closing!), but having seen them live twice in the past we decided to proceed to the nearby Rockdelux stage to see Deerhunter for the first time. The rising experimental noise-pop band seemed happy to be playing to such a large crowd, but my feeling was that their sound needed a roof above its head for better results. "Nothing ever happened" was the highlight for me and I guess that with more tracks like this, they could easily find themselves headlining festivals soon enough.

Gang Gang Dance live@Primavera Sound '09 (May 30, 2009)

As the time approached 1:00 am I had to face the most difficult dilemma of the festival. Gang Gang Dance were playing at the ATP stage at the exact same time that Sonic Youth were scheduled to start their set at the main stage. As I had never seen Gang Gang Dance live before, my decision was to catch at least the beginning of their set. A set which started impressively with the tribal drumming of LZA (Liz Bougatsos) laying the foundation for an exquisite mix of oriental melodies and idiosyncratic dance-punk rhythms. As the final notes of the third track (either "House Jam" or "First Communion" - I cannot remember, but feel free to correct me) still lingered in the air, I took the difficult decision to leave for the main stage, where a large crowd was already grooving to the Sonic Youth guitar maelstrom. First track I got to hear was "Sprawl", followed by its "Daydream Nation" companion "’Cross the breeze". Given that, in my book, "Daydream Nation" is simply the best rock album of all time, you can easily understand that I instantly forgot all about my G.G.D. dilemma and I felt the need to apologize to the Youth for even considering being unfaithful to them. What followed was the greatest 70 minutes of Primavera for me, even though it was difficult to get close to the stage where I felt that I should be. The new tracks off "The Eternal", like "Anti-orgasm" or "What we know", held their own against the old favorites like "Bull in the heather", "Tom Violence" (another festival highlight next to the "Daydream Nation" tracks) and the closing "Expressway to yr. skull”. An excellent set, with Mark Ibold from Pavement handling admirably his bass duties.

Sonic Youth live@Primavera Sound '09 (May 30, 2009)

After the guitar apotheosis of Sonic Youth it was time for the beats and the rhymes; the beats of Simian Mobile Disco's set on the Rockdelux stage, which we attended for a while ("It’s the beat" as they say), and then the unstoppable rhymes & rhythms of Def Jux head honcho El-P, one of the best underground hip-hopers of this decade, who blasted tracks off his 2007 LP "I’ll sleep when you’re dead" into the early hours of the morning.

El-P live@Primavera Sound '09 (May 30, 2009)

We left exhausted but thoroughly satisfied, thinking that we should do this all over again some other time.

Video highlights from day three of Primavera Sound '09: Sonic Youth ("Bull in the heather"), Th' Faith Healers ("Reptile Smile") and Gang Gang Dance:

Listen to the mind-blowing Sonic Youth set from Primavera here (the link comes from this thread of the Sonic Youth forum, while you can see the complete set list here).

No comments: