Primavera Sound 2018: The Review

Since moving into work, finding time to write for my Too Many Blogs baby has become more and more difficult. However, if there’s one thing that’s going to get my back on the keyboard, it’s my seventh trip to Primavera festival.

Set in one of the world’s best cities that is Barcelona, Primavera Sound has a lineup that almost defies belief year after year. This year boasting the likes of The National, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Bjork, Arctic Monkeys, Charlotte Gainsbourg and plenty more! It’s a festival that doesn’t have a set brand of music either. One minute you can be enjoying Idles, the next, some Confidence Man or Chromeo.

It’s also a festival that has gone through quite the transition over the years. Sponsorship is more prevalent than ever with Vueling even sponsoring a board that shows the times and stages of the acts playing each day. Heineken’s once ‘hidden’ stage is also now more Heineken’s ‘out in the open for all to see’ stage, with more LCD screens surrounding the grassy area than what can be found at all of the other stages put together. Apple Music also made a debut appearance at this year’s event, sponsoring the Primavera stage and also having their own area that wasn’t accessible to the public. If you’re anti-sponsorship, Primavera is not the place for you.

So let’s talk about the actual music on show at this year’s event. I could put everyone I saw into a long paragraph of what I did, followed by who I saw, followed by the headliner, and so on. But I won’t. Instead, I’ll break it down into what was great and what wasn’t. Also, sadly, none of the pictures I took came out very well… so they won’t be included.

The Great

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Simply put, he is a living fucking legend. The festival never lived up to this performance that took place on the first night. One of the many highlights was a moving rendition of ‘Distant Sky’ that put the tens of thousands that were watching into silence and even moved one lady near me to tears.

Confidence Man – The winner of day 2 of the festival. It was a set that got better the longer it went on and the more people turned up to have a dance. Confidence Man are a band that requires some audience participation for it to work, and luckily after a bit of time, the crowd at the Ray-Ban stage embraced it and made it as fun as it was.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – They were my favourite band of Primavera 2015 and they very nearly managed to pull it off again. UMO are a band built for festivals. Hunnybee, Can’t Keep Checking My Phone, Multi-Love…. it was a set laden with absolute hits that kept the crowd dancing throughout. A triumph!

Chvches – The Scottish trio had the tough act of following two of the world’s most known acts (Cave & Bjork) and not only seemed unphased but put on a performance that was just good, good fun! A rather grand way to end the first day of Primavera 2018.

Idles – The unexpected hit! Went to watch them while waiting for Ty Segall and ended up watching the entire set. I had seen them before at Latitude last summer but had forgotten how good a show they put on. They won’t be playing on the smallest stage the next time they’re there.

Beach House – The winners of the final day of the festival. Beach House have always been a band that I admire but the new record, 7, really came to life in a live setting. I’ve seen them a few times now but this was easily the most enjoyable set I’ve seen from ol Beach House.

Grizzly Bear – The seasoned pros were at their best at what was their fourth Primavera Sound. Probably had the biggest crowd of the weekend at the Ray-Ban stage (from what I saw) and that was with them being up against Lorde too. Loadsa good songs, played exceptionally well. What more can you want?


The Not as Great

Bjork – Don’t get me wrong, seeing Bjork at Primavera (albeit the latter half of her set) was still pretty great, but it felt a bit out of place at a festival. Enjoyable and lovely looking set, but not one to keep you going.

The National – Gun to my head, I’d probably pick The National as my favourite band. So to pick them for this section breaks my heart a little. It was a last three album heavy set. which I guess is to be expected with all of the new fans from that era, but I found myself losing interest. Probably the first time I’ve ever been bored at a National show. Treated to a new song though which was good. Heartfelt rendition of ‘about today’ dedicated to Scott Hutchinson

Rex Orange County – Considering the hype that surrounds this guy, I was pretty underwhelmed. It was a set that was perfectly fine but that was it. Possibly a victim of his own hype, possibly I expected too much from him. Either way, I won’t be rushing out to see Rex Orange County the next time they’re in town.

Also seen but neither great, nor not so great – Ezra Furman, Alex G, The War on Drugs, Father John Misty, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Ariel Pink, Deerhunter, Arctic Monkeys.

Primavera once again gets to hold the trophy for my favourite festival. It’s been seven years running now and I’m not sure when that run will come to an end. Will I be back in 2019? Of course I will.