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The view from Far Out: Primavera Sound 2019, Barcelona


The 19th edition of Primavera Sound held each year in Barcelona is now over. Besides some side events across the city, the festival focussed predominantly on three main days stretching form May 30th through to June 1st with 18 stages offering music genres for all tastes; from techno to grime, from post-rock to mainstream pop.

As those who have had the pleasure of attending Primavera Barcelona prior to this moment, the added bonus of enjoying a music festival without the need of bringing an umbrella or a poncho is an advantage that cannot be underestimated. Yes, the sky was ‘boringly’ blue all the time. The warm and dry climate (between 18 and 25 degrees) of Gaudi’s city allows your mental health to stay strong and focus on the music, avoiding that mental dread of plotting a route in order to avoid mud spatters.

While Primavera 2019 was its usual glitz and glamour, the festival had introduced subtle and important changes to this year’s event. Most notably, organisers had enforced a 50/50 gender equality line-up for the first time in their history, and, in terms of physical logistical issues, installed artificial turf on the main stages’ area.

One drawback, which seems to arise every year with prominent comments, was the fact that the festival’s popularity has forced the sheer size of the location to become somewhat torturous to manoeuvre. At times, with the site map so large, we encountered difficulties to disperse through the crowds and the sheer length of distance in which to trudge through large crowds became tiresome. Despite internal bus transfers across festival areas, due the sheer amount of people it was difficult to move around with reasonable timings. By contrast, the Primavera app and map become your best friends and that will help you to schedule the gigs properly. This said, if your purpose of this festival is have a taste of every performance, you can also sign up to the next half marathon as, believe me, you’ll be trained enough to finish the race in spite of the alcohol and other divertissements wandering in your body.

But let’s talk about serious stuff now. The best concerts—of those that I could attend—still managed to blow me away and Primavera’s vast and expansive line-up caters to almost every genre of music fan.

The veteran of hip-hop NAS had the whole crowd jumping at the same time while rapping classic hits such as ‘I can’ or ‘If I Ruled the World’ which was more than enough to lighten the mood as the temperature began to drop ever so slightly. Following that up, Future showcased that same energy thanks to dancers on stage. That said, while on the subject of energy, it was South London MC Flohio who led the way by bursting out fierce rhythms and lyrics. Lil Simz proved to be an artist with a future ahead in coming years having enjoyed a glimpse of mainstream success with Gorillaz.

Next up, Apparat and his band who managed to convince the entire audience with its dark atmosphere sounds reverberating inside the Primavera auditorium. The same venue hosted an awesome vocal performance by Lisa Gerrard and The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices which was equally enchanting.

Primavera favourites Shellac confirmed once again how professional they are and, while on stage, proved their somewhat iconic status at this event with the never-ending pogo. Former Fugazi members, The Messthetics, were also noteworthy thanks to fuzzy sounds of their distorted guitars. It’s at this point I began jumping around the site to catch splatterings different shows when I negotiated the crowds to see a portion of Mac DeMarco playing his new album, Here Comes The Cowboy, in a jovial atmosphere before the sunset.

Looking at the known artists, the queen of neo-soul Erykah Badu kept three generations of fans hypnotised for sam solid 90 minutes which captivated those lucky enough to see the performance. In parallel, Interpol played mostly early songs and Tame Impala glued the public to the stage with mesmerising psychedelic visuals. Despite their time away from the stage, Stereolab gave a good performance, as well as Neneh Cherry with her (still) amazing voice.

With all that said and done, Primavera offers the chance to catch some artists that you may not know too much about and, the most interesting novelties in terms of musical approaches were Beak, Son of Kemet, The Comet is Coming, Tirzah and Yves Tumor who pitched in as more than solid line-up fillers.

As the day draws to a close after a long afternoon in the sun, night approaches and the festival takes on a different atmosphere. On the decks, Avalon Emerson and Antony Naples hit the dancefloors by mixing buzzing sounds with rough breaks recalling the 90s in a modern fashion.

Another severely impressive year for Primavera who are already plotting events year round and in new locations. For us though, Barcelona remains home and we are impatiently waiting the 2020 Primavera Sound complete line-up.