Primavera Sound 2009 - Rated!
Parc del Forum, Barcelona, Spain - 28-30 May
Photographer: Tom Spray03 June 2009
Overall - 8/10
Primavera Sound’s 2009 edition proves to be an absolute gem of a festival. Everything from the site layout to the timing slots and genres has been taken into account by organisers, as everyone’s day just seems to fall into place if the smiles are anything to go by.
The line-up has been handpicked with diligence, mixing up influential bands, up-and-coming acts and indie-label signings, which gives punters an abundance of choice across both large and small stages. Pick a genre and chances are it will be resounding somewhere across the site.
Barcelona itself is still buzzing from the emphatic Champions League victory by their local football team over Manchester United the on the Wednesday before the festival. This is definitely a contributing factor to the high spirits of the Primavera masses. To boot, an equally striking line-up, comprising of such fabulous rarities as My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth and Neil Young, keep the excitement levels to a maximum, the crowd on their feet and the event an unique feel.
Getting there and back – 9/10
The weekender is located in the recreational arena of the Parc Del Forum on the Barcelona waterfront. Only a one minute walk from the nearest Metro stop (TMB) and two of Barcelona’s high streets, the venue is easily accessible from almost anywhere in Barcelona. It's not much more of a fuss for punters travelling from elsewhere in Spain or indeed from foreign lands. The city is a major hub for the Spanish national railway system whilst a huge number of flights run through Barcelona International and Barcelona Girona Airports. If flying into the International Airport you can get a quick train and metro to wherever you desire within Barcelona. Flying into Girona proves to be just a little more time consuming but no less stressful with a one hour bus ride to the city centre.
The site - 9/10
The site is fairly small and the stages are evenly spread out, which makes moving between them no hassle at all. There is a fantastic little hill overlooking the main stage for those wishing to sit, relax and enjoy the music, while seats are a feature around the edges of the other two larger arenas creating an amphitheatre. Add the stunning view across the harbour with the sun setting over the mountains and surely there is no more prefect festival backdrop. The site even has ticket machines for buying your beer which means to real queues which is refreshing.
Bat For Lashes – 8/10
Kicking off with tunes from their second album ‘Two Sun’, Natasha Khan and Co open with a magical rendition of ‘Glass’ stretching her breathtaking vocal range, running from bursts of passion to the plain beautiful. With Charlotte Heatherly on lead guitar and percussion the band are extremely tight stealing the heart of the Primavera Sound crowd before finishing with ‘Daniel’ to a rapture of applause.
Bloc Party – 9/10
Playing a set spanning all three albums as well as stand along single 'Flux', Bloc Party storm the Friday night headline slot. With everyone in that weekend party spirit, mosh pits form in the middle of the floor and the band are just as energetic, feeding off of the feeling. This is close to the tightest the band have ever been as they merge from one song into another. They play all the hits everyone wants to hear including ‘Mercury’, ‘Banquet’, ‘Like Eating Glass’ and ‘Disappear Here’ climaxing with ‘Helicopter’. They get the whole crowd to sing the first few lines before kicking into the song like Eto did scoring past van der Sar.
Crystal Stilts - 8/10
With Ian Curtis-esque droning vocals, Beach Boy-sounding keys, simplistic beats and progressive guitar licks, Crystal Stilts’ influences blossom as they play songs from their debut album ‘Alight The Night’ with a few new tracks thrown in. The band have drawn one of the largest crowds of the festival for their Pitchfork Stage appearance and managed to hold them too. The audience really get stuck into the music - singing, dancing and clapping along as their triumphant brand of dark indie is fittingly complemented by the dark drapes that line the arena. Crystal Stilts raise the roof and will surely have a bright future ahead of them.
The Horrors - 7/10
The British five-piece kick off with tracks from their new album ‘Primary Colours’. Faris Rotter doesn't appear to be pleased with the sound engineer during the first two tracks as he calls every which way for more sound in his monitors. But by the third track the problem appears to be sorted although the frontman's frustration is still clear. The better sound leads to a better performance from the man and the band as they ease into the set and look like they are enjoying it for the duration.
Fucked Up - 7/10
The saviour of punk rock. Fucked Up’s Pink Eye unleashes the chaos by smashing a JD and Coke against his head before launching into opening tracks from ‘The Chemistry Of Common Life’. Come the third song he precedes to the security barrier, to the joy of the Fucked Up faithful before jumping head-first into the pit. The band’s music is as tight as on the album and their live presence stunning.
Wavves - 3/10
The band start slightly late due to what is obviously unhappiness with their earlier sound-check. Right from the beginning both members don't seem bothered about their presence at the event. Already intoxicated, with five more beers lined-up for each of them they don't win over many fans, if any at all. The disgruntled members of the audience make their feelings clear by leaving the arena before their set finishes.
RayBan, assuming The Horrors would be playing an acoustic set in their unplugged tent, only to delay it twice before finally cancelling. When asked what was happening, lead singer Faris Rotter said, “I don’t know what this is all about? We’ve never played acoustic in our lives!” This proves highly disappointing to many of the fans who took two hours out of their day to catch the rare performance.
On a similar note, only one of Black Lips’ members show up for a set in the MySpace Arena. Apparently he couldn't find his colleagues as the band dabbled in a lot of drugs the night before. Shame, as their set in the RayBan unplugged tent the previous day was fantastic.
Black Lips hit the stage in the RayBan unplugged tent, putting on a great performance, playing three songs after asking, “where are my RayBans? I ain’t playing until I’ve got my RayBans!” The set is cut short after the admit, “we sound shit. This is awful!” That said lead singer Cole Alexander climbs on anything elevated in the tent and pulls his trousers down to the delight of the fans - a typical Black Lips show then.