Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Primavera Sound ’10: Day Two Review (May 28, 2010)

The plans to start the second day of the festival with Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions at the Auditorium were scuppered by the delayed start of the performance. After listening to just a couple of tracks, I left the darkness of the indoor venue to return to Barcelona’s sunshine and made my way to the San Miguel Stage where The New Pornographers were just starting their set with just the right track: “Sing Me Spanish Techno”.

The New Pornographers

Although both Neko Case and Dan Bejar didn’t make the trip to Barcelona, Carl Newman and the rest of the Canadian collective did a fine job on the festival’s main stage, presenting us with an hour-long upbeat collection of sunshine pop, that combined brand new tracks (“The Crash Years”, “Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk”, “Your Hands (Together)” - the latter dedicated to Dio) with old favorites (“Mass Romantic”, “The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism”, “Use It”, “The Laws Have Changed”, “All The Old Showstoppers”, “Testament To Youth In Verse”) - an ideal soundtrack for a sunny afternoon by the Mediterranean beach.

Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast

More sunny guitar pop with a twist of '60s girl-group sound was on offer at the nearby Pitchfork Stage, where Bethany Cosentino and her group, the hotly tipped Best Coast from California, were presenting their soon to come debut LP “Crazy For You” (out in July). Recent singles “When I'm With You» (see also this) and “Something In The Way” were the tracks that I enjoyed the most, while they cheekily closed their set with a cover of Wavves’ “So Bored”, the band who suffered an infamous meltdown at the same stage a year ago.


Back at the main stage, it was time for me to finally see Spoon live, one of my favorite bands of the last decade. Britt Daniel and his band have had considerable success in the States with “Transference” but their profile in Europe remains relatively low. Maybe this is starting to change as Spoon managed to pull quite a crowd at the San Miguel Stage, although not as large as Wilco did a bit later on (one of the performances I missed, as well as that of Japandroids due to the congested schedule of the day). Spoon have built up a remarkable repertoire over the years, so it was certain that for the next hour we were going to get an interesting mix of new (“Nobody Gets Me But You”, “Got Nuffin”, “Trouble Comes Running”, “Written in Reverse”) and older tracks (“Jonathon Fisk”, “Small Stakes”, “The Way We Get By”, “I Turn My Camera On”, “I Summon You”, “Don't Make Me a Target”, “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb”, “Don't You Evah”, “The Underdog”) while, inevitably, some favorites would be left out (“Everything Hits At Once”, “Sister Jack”, “Rhythm & Soul” for example). In any case, this was definitely one of my favorite performances of the festival and the start of a four hour period (from 8 pm till midnight) that had plenty of excitement in store for us.

Beach House

A little after half past 9, and after catching just the first song of CocoRosie’s set, I made my way to the packed ATP Stage where Beach House were about to begin. Climbing on the bleachers and finding a spot to watch the band proved to be a tough challenge, but I was rewarded with an enchanting 40-minute performance, dominated by Victoria Legrand’s imposing voice and brief fits of headbanging over her keyboards. Alex Scally, to her right, was more restrained, concentrating on his guitar and effects pedals, while the drummer had a relatively quiet evening. I usually prefer more tension and volume in live shows but on this occasion I must admit that the ethereal, magical sounds of Beach House won the day, captivating the audience for the duration of their show. Not surprisingly, the highlights of their set came from “Teen Dream”: “Norway”, “Zebra”, “Used To Be” and “10 Mile Stereo”.


The tension and volume I am usually after were on offer in generous doses at the nearby Vice Stage, my next destination, where I was able to catch the second half of Wire’s electrifying performance. The veteran post-punkers are preparing a new record for January 2011, and I’m guessing that they played some of the new material as I didn’t recognize several tracks of their set, a fact that didn’t lessen in any way my enjoyment of it. In stark contrast to bands like the Pixies, the headliners of the day, who seem to be stuck to their glorious past and, unable to move forward, have become nothing more than a touring nostalgia act, Wire are looking to the future and continue to create vital art.

Les Savy Fav

The absolute highlight of the day (and perhaps of the whole festival) for me, came at around 11 o’clock when Les Savy Fav started their deranged show at the ATP Stage. Tim Harrington made an impressive entrance dressed in a strange animal suit (I’m guessing an oversized wolf in honor of “What Would Wolves Do?”) and seconds later he was diving in the crowd and heading for the bleachers, as the guitars were catching fire. As soon as he was back on stage for the start of their second number (the magnificent “Patty Lee” - check it out here), he began his customary striptease, thankfully keeping his shorts on, and pretty soon he was back in the heaving mosh pit where madness reigned supreme. Impressively, among all this chaos, the band didn’t miss a beat, performing a note perfect set even when the guitarist was riding on the shoulders of some big fellow. For a blissful hour, Les Savy Fav was a well-oiled, firing on all pistons, punk rock machine on its way to music Valhalla!

Cold Cave

For the finale of the festival’s second day I checked out Cold Cave at the Pitchfork Stage, who were playing industrial-sized New Order melodies armed with no less than three synthesizers, and ended up at the Vice Stage for a taste of the mad garage rock of The King Khan & BBQ Show and for the dance party of Yeasayer. They kicked off their set at 2:30 am and somehow managed to keep us on our feet for another hour, until they signed off with the fine “Ampling Alp”, “Odd Blood”’s best track. The highlights of their performance, however, were “2080” and “Sunrise”, the two top tracks from their superior debut effort.


Live action from Primavera Sound '10 - Day Two (May 28): The New Ponographers ("Your Hands (Together)"), Spoon ("Written In Reverse"), Beach House ("Norway"), Les Savy Fav ("The Sweat Descends"), Yeasayer ("2080") and Best Coast ("So Bored")

The Day One report is here. Our report from the third day of the festival is coming soon..

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