And we finally reach the last part of our epic report of how we experienced the Primavera Sound ’10 festival in Barcelona: a four day musical journey with plenty of highs and very few lows. So, what exactly did I do on the last Saturday of May in Parc Del Forum? Glad you asked. Here’s how the story ends:
Once again, I managed to arrive at the festival site at 6:00 pm sharp, quite an achievement if you take into account the exhaustion from the two previous all-nighters, the record shop excursions and a bit of sightseeing. For starters, I paid a visit to the Pitchfork Stage for the hotly tipped Real Estate. I cannot really say that I didn’t like them, but the fact of the matter is that their music just didn’t leave a lasting impression on me. As I am writing this piece, I take a break to watch a video we took of one of their songs to refresh my memory but it’s like seeing-hearing them for the first time. I guess that after a four day sensory overload, the polite psychedelic pop of Real Estate just failed to register.
A brief visit to the nearby San Miguel Stage to catch about 20 minutes of Dr. Dog’s performance proved to be more memorable, thanks mostly to a few rocking numbers that were delivered with conviction and intensity. This was followed by a failed attempt to see the Dum Dum Girls performing at the Ray-Ban Unplugged Stage as the whole thing was over in less than 10 minutes and there was no way to see anything anyway. But we were going to get another chance later on in the day… and it was going to be sweet!
Back to the Pitchfork Stage it was time for Atlas Sound, namely Bradford Cox and his guitar. Last year’s “Logos” was certainly a fine album, but the live experience felt too understated and, frankly, unable to provide the thrills I was looking for. After a couple of lengthy numbers, it was time for me to move on and try to get my kicks elsewhere. New Zealand legends The Clean who were playing at the Vice Stage, seemed like the best proposition for that purpose.
Listening to the highly infectious drone-pop of The Clean, a band who has been around since the late ’70s and whose debut single “Tally Ho” was just the second release in the celebrated Flying Nun Records catalogue, it’s easy to realize the influence it had on latter day indie stalwarts like Pavement or Yo La Tengo. And, furthermore, they prove they still got it, as one of their new tracks, “In The Dreamlife You Need A Rubber Soul” from 2009’s “Mister Pop”, is easily among the best I’ve seen performed in this festival.
Another lesson in musical history was offered at the Pitchfork Stage, where The Slits played a lively set buzzing with their traditional reggae-punk sound. Ari Up and Tessa Pollitt are the only remaining members from the original line-up, but the new girls do a fine job recreating classics like “Typical Girls” or “Shoplifting”. The Jamaican influence was prevalent in their fun performance which featured several new songs from recent album “Trapped Animal” and non-stop dancing and dreadlock spinning from Ari Up.
A second visit to the San Miguel Stage to watch Florence + The Machine proved rather disappointing. She gave her usual flamboyant performance, managed to get the crowd jumping at her command, but the music suffered from an apparent effort to alter the songs. Maybe after a year of touring behind her highly successful debut it’s time for Florence to take a rest and start writing some new material.
Moving on to the Vice Stage, a huge crowd had already gathered for one of the most talked about new bands, The Drums. Jonathan Pierce is a gifted performer, busting out some jerky dance moves as he sings infectious songs that blend ’60s surf guitar with ‘80s new wave pop that brings to my mind, above all, Edwyn Collins and Orange Juice. They played most tracks from the already familiar “Summertime” EP with “Let’s Go Surfing” easily becoming one of the hits of the festival, along with several new ones that are going to become familiar pretty soon as their recently released eponymous debut has the potential of becoming a big hit.
As The Drums’ set approached its finale, I made my way to the also crowded Ray-Ban Stage for the ending of Grizzly Bear’s dreamy folk performance. Last year’s highly praised “Veckatimest” failed to make me a fan of the band and, as expected, the 15 minutes that I watched sitting on the stands helped me only to catch my breath for a while before moving on to the ATP Stage for one of my most anticipated performances of the festival; it was finally time for me to see Built To Spill live for the first time.
Doug Martsch seemed a bit unhappy with the sound coming from his monitors, but personally I had no problem whatsoever with what I witnessed for the next hour. Built To Spill played an intense set that relied on tried and tested old material, going as far back as 1994’s “There's Nothing Wrong With Love” (“Distopian Dream Girl”, “In The Morning”, “Big Dipper”, “Twin Falls”) and moving on to latter day favorites (“You Were Right“, “Else”, “Carry the Zero”, “Traces”, “Wherever You Go”). Latest album “There Is No Enemy” was represented only with “Hindsight” (personally, I would have loved to hear also “Pat” or “Planting Seeds”), while the track that went straight into my Primavera Sound “best of” list was the superb “Goin' Against Your Mind”.
Built To Spill
The other highlight of the festival’s third day for me came right after Built To Spill. Dum Dum Girls, the band that thanks to the excellent debut LP “I Will Be” has quickly become one of my favorite new acts of the year, took to the Pitchfork Stage dressed in matching vintage dresses and gave us a brief but electrifying performance. Dee Dee and the girls breezed through a set filled with future classics like “Jail La La”, “I Will Be”, “O Mein Me” or “Bhang, Bhang, I'm A Burnout” while they also included a few choice covers (GG Allin’s “Don’t Talk To Me” and The Rolling Stones’ “Play With Fire”). An excellent set from start to finish.
Around one in the morning, totally satisfied but with batteries running dangerously low, I somehow managed to summon my remaining strength and head back to the ATP Stage for the last part of Liquid Liquid’s highly energetic, polyrhythmic set, during which Tim Harrington made a cameo appearance jumping gleefully around the stage. After a brief look at Gary Numan who was still wondering “Are Friends Electric?” on the Vice Stage and a dose of heady dub sounds from the legendary Lee “Scratch” Perry, it was finally time for the C.M.C. team to head for the exit, while we were still able to walk. Primavera Sound ’10 - it was certainly a pleasure to have met you!
Live action from Primavera Sound '10 - Day Three (May 29): Built to Spill ("Distopian Dream Girl", "Hindsight"), Dum Dum Girls ("I Will Be", "Jail La La"), The Clean ("In The Dreamlife You Need A Rubber Soul"), The Slits ("Typical Girls")
Top 10 performances of the festival:
- Les Savy Fav
- The Fall
- Sleigh Bells
- Dum Dum Girls
- Built to Spill
- Broken Social Scene
- Beach House
- The New Pornographers
The rest of our Primavera Sound '10 coverage: