Primavera Sound 2016 – Review

As the Parc del Forum closes it’s gates once again on another year of Primavera Sound, we take a rather belated look back on what was the festival’s 16th year. With a line up that boasted everything from guitar wielders to those more often seen behind the decks, this year left no stone unturned, packed with local talent, big names and groovers taking you into the early hours. Here were just some of this years highlights.

Over the years Primavera has cemented itself as one of Europe’s hottest festivals, after hosting the likes of the Pixies and Aphex Twin in its early incarnations, this edition was the year of the comeback in the form of Radiohead and LCD Soundsystem, both touring for the first time in over four years.

Walking towards the site, it seems like a far cry from the green fields of the typical UK festival, set on the coast line in the urban Parc del Forum venue. The festival site, once a dockland regenerated in the recent past, is an industrial concrete flatland backing onto the ocean with undulations and geometric curves built into the surfaces so typical of Barcelona, a perfect playground for the skate scene in the festival off season.

Proceedings kicked off on Wednesday night, with the Parc del Forum opening its gates free of charge to the wider public. Swedish psychedelic seven-piece Goat kicked things off in style with an energetic set, led by their two animated female vocalists. The band’s sound is fuelled by its backbone of tribal percussive beats, fusing afrobeat and rock on loop, while the soaring guitars and bass drive their sound close to Fela Kuti on acid.

Thursday brought the opening of the main festival site and a full schedule of bands throughout the evening with Tame Impala the first of the headline acts to take to the main stage – now with three solid festival albums to rely on for a confident performance. This despite the plug being pulled by a power outage during the choral sing-along ‘Eventually’, in what can only be assumed to be an event which left one or two red faces around, Kevin Parker and co had enough about them to pick up from where they were cut off, even if a portion of the revelers had already turned their backs to the Heineken stage in preparation for LCD Soundsystem. By the time the confetti flickered down enveloping the crowd in a multi-coloured shower marking the end of the set, all mishaps were forgiven. Tame Impala are still a must-see live act.

Kamasi Washington was one of the first performers of the weekend taking to the indoor arena stage of the Auditori Rockdelux on Thursday. The packed out crowd filled the seats and spilled into walk ways towards the back of the crowd up in the gods, where the heat gathered and added to the atmosphere and buzz. Kamasi and his band punched their way through any sense of reservation or ‘hands-on-knees’ with their brand of jazz straight from the book of cosmic, enducing flails of limbs from pockets in the crowd air drumming along. Set for a few dates in the UK and Europe in the coming months, go grab yourself a ticket while you still can and jam out!

Radiohead rely on back catalogue to whip the Friday evening fire. Hotly anticipated and built up months before the event, the set was initiated to a chorus of shushes from the crowd while material from A Moon Shaped Pool played out a rather meek sounding speaker system. Like Tame Impala the previous evening, these early technical difficulties plagued the opening of the set (if they were indeed accidental) though this didn’t dampen the mood. The real highlights from the set came after a Spanish radio announcement swung into the driving force that is ‘The National Anthem’, opening the door to the back catalogue and newly found power from the sound system. Now making their way through big hitters and reworked versions of tracks from past albums, all tied together seamlessly and eventually finishing with an encore of Creep, Radiohead’s effervescence was clear to see. 

Orchestra Baobab injected their west African spice into the Saturday night at the famed amphitheater styled Ray-Ban stage. On the final night of music at the Parc del Forum, the tempo and afro-cuban fusion beats gave much needed life into the dancing feet of the Primavera punters. A style and flavour of music that rarely disappoints in a festival setting, let alone one by the sea in Barcelona, it’s a no brainer to check out when the organisers get their hands on a afro roots act that are still going strong, and for good reason as well.

Late starters Parquet Courts brought their electric live act to the Pitchfork stage late on Sunday night. The Brooklynites, now on their fifth studio album have been making waves in the rock scene for a few years now, they juxtapose frantic sub-two minute punk tracks with drawn out, repetitive guitar riffs. The audience that was drawn to the Pitchfork stage is a testament to how far the band have come in their short career and, with their latest offering “Human Performance” reaching acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic, they are a band definitely worth going to see.

The Bowers & Wilkins stage, over the bridge to the left of the giant mass of floating solar panels, kept the party going to the early hours as well as the soundtrack to afternoon chilling in the beach area, with DJ sets from Tiger & Woods, Floating Points, Todd Terje, Mano Le Tough, and Suzanne Kraft to name a few. Primavera Sound, far from an indie/alternative one trick pony, dished up the artist and genre variety to ensure that every taste was catered for in a diverse line up that makes a festival stand out in the summer calendar. See below for 2017 details…

Early bird tickets for Primavera Sound 2017 will be on sale at 11:00 (BST) for 48 hours. Information can be found over at the website.

Roll on next year!

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