After the 2010 edition, arguably not at the same level as preceding years – despite counting with bands such as Pavement, Pixies, Pet Shop Boys, and Florence & The Machine – that the Primavera Sound Festival (PS) has returned to form in 2011 has been utterly undeniable. Once again, the festival has achieved the rich and exact mix of big solid names with smaller but also interesting new bands from all styles, letting the Spanish and the ever-increasing foreign audience know about new and exciting movements and sounds. In addition to this, this year’s PS has had more square meters to build stages and its programme outside the Fòrum of Barcelona has been bigger than ever before with legs in Galicia (north-west of Spain), a string of bars in Barcelona and the recovery of its original venue of 2001-2004, the Pueblo Español of the Montjuic Park, that hosted the gigs of the day prior and after the festival.
Man doesn’t live by gigs alone, so as usual in the Parc del Fòrum, the core of the festival, gathered the traditional and classic music fair of the PS with tents of official merchandise, independent Spanish and foreign labels, art, posters, clothes, and even two radios, the local ScannerFM internet station and the legendary WFMU from New Jersey that, like previous years, recorded many of the gigs to be enjoyed later in streaming. This is just the point of the iceberg of the festival offers to the people. But after this intro, let’s talk about its soul: The Music.
After the delicious noise rock and pop made by the Japanese trio Nisennenmondai, reminiscent of Sonic Youth (QRO live review), Can, Neu! or Lightning Bolt (QRO photos), the British Comet Gain displayed a subtle set of electric pop that woken the audience up after the artsy previous band, with tunes like “Love Without Lies”. This way, David Feck and co. paved the way to the big name of the night.
Echo & The Bunnymen, one of the very first bands to play the PS – in 2002 in this case – played a gig based on their first two records, Heaven Up Here and Crocodiles. Ian McCulloch adopted his usual persona, impassive and still during the songs, with an overall image that reminded of Andy Sirkis playing Martin Hannett in 24 Hour Party People. As for the music itself, it looked like Heaven aged not as well as Crocodiles which was the highlight of the gig, but the band didn’t make an exercise of nostalgia of it, with versions adapted for a six piece band that sounded vigorous and solid. The encores included their U.S. hit, “Lips Like Sugar”, that concluded a good 90 minutes of music from one of the best ‘80s bands.
But the triumphant band of the night was Caribou. Dan Snaith keeps on being a sort of a curious and free spirit, mixing pop, psychedelia and electronica in a way that makes a repertoire quite difficult to predict. Displaying his most festive side, Caribou just gave the audience what they wanted: fun, electricity and loud music. Tracks like “Odessa” made the audience jump and the ovation to the band at the very end of the gig spoke for itself.