State can’t help but notice the familiar faces on our journey to Barcelona for the Primavera Sound festival. People you know and people you vaguely know from gigs scatter the corridors of Dublin Airport and they’re all heading to Barca too. The Irish travel to Primavera in spades, and they sometimes bring spades with them. That’s because Barcelona and particularly Parc del Forum where Primavera is held, is beside the Mediterranean sea and the beach so that only entices. Of course, the line-up is extremely indie and alternative with the added bonus of an ATP stage to guarantee music nerds interest.
When State arrives at the venue to pick up passes, it’s 1pm and the festival is still five hours from opening but the unmistakeable sound of Portishead sound-checking ‘Glory Box’ sets the heart racing. An overly eager member of Primavera staff forgoes the correct method of clamping wristbands causing State to queue for another hour later in lieu of catching MGMT’s set. By the time State enters, The Notwist are playing the Rock Deluxe stage and we take advantage of the forum’s concrete steps to watch. The band are an adequate soundtrack to taking in the view but have little else to hold attention.
Public Enemy’s performance of It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back album is imminent and while The Bomb Squad have their moment claiming to have created dubstep or “dub-bass” as they name it, another hip-hop legend calls. Unfortunately, Kool Keith aka Dr.Octagon didn’t call that many people as a crowd of no more than 100 have gathered to check out the space-rap legend. What proceeds is a tired show; the kind that gives hip-hip live shows a bad name. Kutmasta Kurt tries in vain to get some kind of party happening but the crowd is desolate and disinterested. Keith and his cohort keep name-dropping Ultramagnetic MCs in desperation that the crowd will get on their side but it’s a no-go. Bizarrely, Keith stays on the stage while the crew prepare for Boris telling anybody who will listen about his many upcoming albums and how this Barcelona show was charity and he commanded no fee.
Back in time for the end of Public Enemy and surprisingly Flava Flav announces after ‘She Watch Channel Zero?!’, that they only have time for two songs so they quickly sprint through ‘911 is a Joke’, ‘Welcome to the Terrordome’ and a song from their latest album ‘Just Like That’. The energy is contagious and it sure is a triumph after the car-crash of Dr. Octagon but letting the Shocklee Brothers open their slot has reduced their time and disappointed fans expecting a full run-through of the album.
Portishead are arguably the most anticipated act of the night and their downbeat performance is greeted with fervour. Much of the material is taken from new album 3 and it sounds wonderfully caustic in the Barcelona air. Supplemented by 3 large video screens mostly showing close-up shots of Beth, cymbals and the bass-drum, it’s exceedingly agreeable in night-time mode. ‘The Rip’ is a highlight as is the unexpected appearance of Chuck D on ‘Machine Gun’ with Adrian Utely announcing him mid-song with the synth line from ‘Public Enemy No.1’ (See video below – 2:18 in). It’s also a slightly surreal experience to witness every male in the audience crumble and sing “I Just want to be a woman” repeatedly during ‘Glory Box’.
Caribou are in flying form at the CD Drome stage complete with trippy psychedelic visuals and verve but it coincides with State’s hunger pains so we cut our audience participation short to buy some dodgy pizza. De La Soul are peddling hip-hop histrionics at Rock Deluxe so we make our way to our last band of the night.
It’s 2.30am and the perfect ending arrives on the Vice Stage looking a little bit preppy and let’s face it, American. It’s Vampire Weekend of course! The stage is down by a large body of water which may or may not be behind a dam with a massive over-bearing solar panel structure serving as the eye candy. The band’s tales of campuses, transport and American peninsulas causes one guy to shout “Spring Break!!”. Their performance is so damn irresistable that by the second song, everyone is giving it socks dancing and jumping around, singing every word. No song outstays its welcome and for sunshine pop performed at night, it can’t be beat. State wishes they would stick around for another show. Absolute pop joy.
Friday sees 2 extra stages open up and there are performances from The Sonics, The Go! Team, Devo, Cat Power, Fuck Buttons, Glen and Marketa, Bill Callahan, Portishead (again), Why?, No Age, Holy Fuck and El Guincho. Come back tomorrow for more updates.
Solar Panel Structure