Loads of things. At Primavera Sound, loads of things always happen. For 3 days, it is a non-stop activity. The 19th edition of the Barcelona festival had 22 stages. 17 of them, in Parc del Fòrum. The other 5, spread across different areas of the city, offering free concerts, involving the entire population and, as they themselves explain, giving back to Barcelona all the efforts the city makes every year for the festival to be held.
If one watches the aftermovie of the festival (you have it here above) without having a great idea of the context in which it has been produced, (s)he will be able, nevertheless, to elucidate minimally what the story has been about. It’s a new era. It’s a new generation. It’s a radical change. The technologies, the creative processes, the concepts that are transmitted, the variety of contents, the diversity, the parity, the equity… Primavera Sound has brought normality. Things that never were normal (but that always should have been so) have turned into normal. Now we all know it. It’s The New Normal.
Rosalía closes the cycle one year later
It was unforgettable. It was Friday, June 15. Night fell and the crowd gathered at the accesses to SónarHall. El Mal Querer hadn’t been released yet. We only knew “Malamente”, its initial track, but something was telling us that that concert was going to mark a breaking point. And so, it was. Before that, Rosalía had already performed at Primavera Sound. It was in the Auditori Rockdelux, in a performance in which the most traditional flamenco was the protagonist. That was not her destiny. At Sónar, a marvellous spectacle revealed to us the greatness of her new album in its entirety, at the same time as it showed us the powerful staging and the high impact of the greatest talent of the Spanish electronic music scene in the last 5 years.
That was the breaking point. During the 12 following months, Rosalía has been touring all over the world. Such is the hype of the Catalan that her name was almost a must for all the great festivals of the world, Lollapalooza and Coachella among them. Some people have even got tired of her. But how could she not be at Primavera Sound? It was the big date on Saturday night. And she didn’t disappoint. She combined the hits of El Mal Querer with previous works and other later singles, such as “Con Altura” or “Aute Cuture”, reaching the climax by inviting James Blake to the stage to sing with her “Barefoot In The Park”, a song produced by the Brit with Rosalía as the guest voice.
More electronic music than ever; better electronic music than ever
We wanted to open this review with Rosalía because we firmly believe that the cycle that started last year at Sónar has ended now at Primavera. In one year, we have received a historic album, 3 singles that approach different areas of dance music (always with limitless doses of talent) and the consolidation of the Barcelona singer as a Spanish national icon.
However, you all know which our tastes in Xceed are: we like electronic music, especially the more clubbing dance genres (don’t forget that the music of El Guincho -Rosalía’s producer- is also electronic). In Primavera Sound 2019, there was more electronic music than ever. One more year, on the other side of the bridge we had Primavera Bits, the most festive and mad area of the festival, in which the Desperados Cube, the Lotus stage, the Xiringuito Aperol and the El Punto court brought together a very long list of DJs and live performers ranging from ambient or experimental to acid techno or trance, also welcoming the urban sounds.
Lotus, home of gods
Literally, the last stage. The furthest from the festival entrances. Literally, on the beach. Dancing on the sand. That’s how authentic electronic gods saw us from the stage. Avalon Emerson, Agoria, Richie Hawtin, Marie Davidson, Sophie and Maribou State (to name a few) performed there. But, above all of them, 2 guys (well, actually 3) that conquered our souls: David August and Objekt.
We’ve been following David August‘s steps for years. Specifically, since he dared to edit the music of Kollektiv Turmstrasse and gave the world a version of “Last Day” as beautiful as intense. Far from that style is the version he performed live at Primavera Sound: a version impregnated with techno, bass and forcefulness. David August traced ascents and descents during his performance. He made us dance much more than we expected, but at the same time, he got us to close our eyes to try to visualize the worlds in which he composes his music. The magic German composer got one of the biggest ovations of the weekend.
Although the largest of all ovations (at least of all we gave) was for Objekt. His DJ sets are recurrent at cutting-edge and advanced music festivals. No wonder, on Thursday night, he was already one of the first to fill Ray-Ban Studios (we’ll talk about that stage later). But Friday witnessed something much bigger. Along with visual artist Ezra Miller, Objekt has been working on a live show that is being released for the first time this summer at several (not many) European festivals. During the research through a burning world on the big screen, Objekt did what he knows best: weave a curtain of ambient atmospheres with noise roughness, breaks, acid sounds, noisy experiments and IDM personality. The extremely elegant performance surpassed all expectations and overwhelmed our senses. Objekt’s live was the best we saw at Primavera Sound 2019.
The magic of Apparat… and of the Rockdelux
Thursday. A few minutes after 8 pm. And we started Primavera Sound sitting inside the Rockdelux, one of the most beautiful auditoriums in Barcelona. Before a sepulchral silence, Apparat in live band format made us start our marathon considerably excited. Subtle lighting managed to enchant the audience and, in front of the precious songs of the German composer, we had no choice but to surrender and shake our heads facing so much talent.
Also, there, in the Rockdelux, in unbeatable conditions, we enjoyed Caterina Barbieri’s live performance on Saturday. She is one of the greatest dominators of the ambient genre, a proposal that she builds based on modular synthesizers squeezed to limits that one could never associate with this style. Barbieri is another of those artists who frequent avant-garde festivals. Seeing her in a place like the Rockdelux was, however, a difficult experience to overcome.
Trying to assimilate Overmono’s recital
You may be more familiar with the aliases Tessela and Truss. Or maybe not… They’re great on the UK scene. Young people capable of making broken rhythms accompany, rhythmically, house music, techno, trance or whatever comes their way without anything squeaking. They are brothers (it’s something beautiful, isn’t it?), and together they are Overmono or, which is the same thing, an overwhelming live show in which there’s no respite, no pause, no compassion.
Their performance took place at Ray-Ban Studios, a nice space hidden in a car park, illuminated by red spotlights, sounded from outside corners and with the artist placed in the centre of the dancefloor. Kind of a boiler let’s say. It is striking that the most experimental, broken and underground proposals of dance and clubbing electronics took place there, and not in the Bits. Just to see the place, a look was already worth. But, as a gift, with Overmono we witnessed another of the best performances of the festival.
Ups and downs at the Ray-Ban stage
At the Ray-Ban (a large stage located at the foot of the great amphitheatre of Parc del Fòrum) we got some of the biggest disappointments of the festival. It was the stage with the longest opening hours (until 6 am) and, therefore, the one in charge of closing each day. This honour was awarded to Nina Kraviz on Thursday, and to Peggy Gou on Friday. Both sessions were rather flat, with little emotional content, even predictable. And, in the case of Nina, with certain mixing techniques that, avoiding debates, gave something to talk about (it seems questionable that she did those countertempos on purpose).
Fortunately, we could get a good taste in our mouths on the final day. Before the legendary local selectors DJ Rosario and Sama Yax closed this great 19th anniversary, we were able to burst our ankles with the German duo Modeselektor. They knew that people were tired and that there was only one way to success: to push hard from beginning to end. With them, we were able to add the last touch to at Primavera Sound edition in which we discovered more than ever, we varied styles more than ever, we opened frontiers more than ever and, in short, we mixed (music, races, orientations, opinions, tastes, roads, preferences and selections) more than ever. Isn’t this the way to a better world?