Primavera Sound Review: Suede, Daughter, LCD Soundsystem, June 2, Parc Del Forum

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Primavera Sound is pretty much the gold standard for music festivals. Why? Let’s see

  • Located in a gorgeous city, easily accessible by public transit
  • On concrete, so no messy mud pits
  • Too many food options to count
  • Always amazing lineup
  • You can see the sea from the grounds, its actually right beside the water
  • Never have to lineup for bathrooms, because they are quite organized
  • Starts at night, so you can do touristy stuff during the day

And it goes on and on. You really need to go. Unfortunately, I was only able to get tickets for one day and was too cheap to get tickets for other nights. So here is a brief recap of one of the nights. Knowing how I write, lets use the world “brief” loosely.

Suede – Night Thoughts
My favourite band performed their new album in it’s entirety as one of the first must see sets of the night. While not my favorite Suede album, Night Thoughts is still an extremely solid album and watching it live in a theatre while a music film plays in the foreground was very unique. The lead actor in the movie reminded me of Alex Ovechin which made me laugh because man, they always get eliminated by my Penguins. “Outsiders and “I Don’t Know How to Reach You are very good tracks, but I don’t know how I feel about them playing behind a screen while a film plays in the foreground. Still, I appreciated the experience. It’s like, I really like Caesar salad, and this one time in Morocco, I had a deconstructed Caesar salad. It was still Caesar Salad, but not exactly the same, I still enjoyed it but part of me just wanted a god damn Caesar Salad.

It’s hard to believe it’s only been three or four years since I saw Daughter in a tiny venue at SXSW, and now they are playing a massive stage at Primavera. Their new album is excellent. Halfway through one of the new songs, the crowd started singing along and Elena Tonra broke into the biggest smile mid track and my heart just melted. It’s always nice to see good artists make it big without compromising their work.

Food break – I had a pork sandwich from a food truck. It was only okay, the meat to bun ratio was not to my standard, but I had to remind myself – Ricky, you are in Europe, bread is the star here. Bread is the star.

Air – It’s been six years since I last saw Air, and actually, six years before that so I guess I see Air once every six years. That’s information you don’t need to know, but now you do. They played a low key set that was peppered with hits and the end of the set featured the 1-2 punch of “Sexy Boy and “Kelly Watch The Stars, which served a notice as to how ahead of the time Air really was back in the day. They closed it off with “La Femme D’argent.” I can’t think of a better band to play to the setting sun. Sleek, polished and timeless, Air is always a must attend show.

Food Break 2 – Because I am a pig, I had another meal here. Ramen. I saw a ramen food truck and thought, why, I must try this!. Never try ramen from a food truck, it was subpar and just a grade better then cup noodles. They claimed to have cha siu but when I got to the meat, it was just meat cubes. That is not cha siu. Sad.

Dead Buttons – Stumbled on this Korean bluesy rock act at one of the tinier stages. It’s odd to see a Korean act where it wasn’t five hot girls in mini skirts prancing about but these guys were actually quite good. Clearly inspired the Black Keys, they are worth a look.

Floating Point – Not entirely sure who they are, but they were a tight instrumental band that played a pretty hypnotizing electronic set. One of the keys for this band was that they were playing Rayban stage, which had a bunch of places for people to sit down, which was an offer I simply could not refuse.

Tame Impala – Drawing one of the biggest crowds, it’s hard to believe I saw Tame Impala at the Horseshoe just a few years ago. Their brand of psych rock has really taken over, although I still feel like they lack that anthem that would make them truly worthy headliners.

John Carpenter – Yes, THE John Carpenter, of horror movie fame. He played his famous soundtracks with a live band and man, does this dude have swagger. Wearing sunglasses, chewing gum and dropping some classics on synth – I want to be this cool when I’m in my sixties. I heard the Halloween theme live, so that’s pretty fucking awesome.

LCD Soundsystem – WHERE ARE MY FRIENDS TONNNNIIIGHT. Man, LCD Soundsystem is a band that is 1000x better live then on album. When it’s live, those eight minute tracks that always seemed a bit too long on cd JUMP to life and you really do understand what they are trying to achieve. Their percussion section is so strong you have no choice but to move. They haven’t missed a beat since I last saw them and their set was filled with anthems and hits. I don’t even know if half the songs they had were actual hits, but live, with that band and James Murphy growling into the mic, they were hits to me. It was just one gigantic dance party cumulating with their epic song All Yr Friends. Part of LCD Soundsystem’s charm is that their lyrics hit you in places you don’t expect when you least expect it. There’s a certain element of now to it that I can’t really explain, but at the end of the set, when James asks you where are your friends tonight? I was very glad to have at least two of them there with me, even if they were lost in the crowd. Now if only I could have found that crying kid at the end of their documentary.

Primavera Sound Review: Suede, June 1, Parc Del Forum

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I can’t think of a better way to watch my favourite band than in a gorgeous outdoor setting in Barcelona on a warm summer night. Suede was to play not one, but two shows at Primavera Sound and the fans were extremely lucky that the first, free show was the greatest hits version of their show. This was the main reason behind my trip to Primavera and yes, it was totally awesome. What can you say? I feel blessed I’ve been able to see my favourite band three times now in my lifetime. Ask me this in 2005 and I would have laughed a very sad laughter.

It’s hard to believe over twenty years after they first arrived on the scene, the band is still at the top of their game. My guess is that they are less chemically dependent now and thus, a lot sharper then they used to be. Brett is still the Brett Anderson, swiveling his hips, dancing up a storm and driving the crowd wild while still sounding quite good on the mic. No one will ever forget Bernard, but Fat Richard is and has been Suede’s guitarist now for twenty years so he’s got the chops and fury down on the ax.

Here is a quick song by song breakdown of their show

Introducing the Band
A good track to start off your set, especially since this was a free show and I doubt many people really knew them.

A strong song from their new album, but knowing that they were playing Night Thoughts in it’s entirety the next day, I couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed this took the place of another song that I’ve never heard before live, like “Europe is Our Playground or “Dark Star or something

Killing of a Flashboy
Everyone’s favourite b-side, the distinctive drums that starts this song got people dancing and that dancing pretty much never stopped after that. This is such a sleazy, awesome rock song. How was this not a single, I’ll never know. A classic song with a lot of “Oh oh oh oh oh” moments you can sing along too and boy, did we sing.

Trash is awesome. It’s a dance party, everyone in the crowd is losing it cause we’re traaaaaaaash you and me.

Another singalong. I’m not the biggest fan of this track but it’s hard not to sing along to it.

Animal Nitrate
The first entry from their debut album, if Trash was a 9/10 on the fan going crazy scale, this was probably a 11. Note: As you can tell by the picture, I was close, for all I know they could have been twiddling their thumbs from the back of the park, but I don’t care those people don’t count. There’s nothing like shouting “In your broken home / he broke all your bones / now you’re taking it time after time” at the top of your lungs. Poor Justine, Justine Frischmann, of Elastica.

You know, if Suede was super popular today and they released their self titled album now, the fans would go crazy studying those lyrics. Was it about Blur? Was it about Elastica? Those lyrics make “Becky with the good hair” sound like child’s play.

We Are the Pigs
One of my top ten songs. This song was probably a 13/10 for me on the excitement scale. I really wish they had a child choir come out and do the ending part, but we can all dream.

Sometimes I Feel I’ll Float Away
The lone track from Bloodsports, which was a good album but not one I would put on a ninety minute set. Brett did sound quite good here.

Everything Will Flow
Everytime a Head Music track gets played live, I am pleasantly surprised. This album was pretty good, but came out at a bad time. I do wish they’d play “He’s Gone once in a while, that’s a fantastic song.

The Drowners
Damn right, the opening drums, the guitars. Slow down, slow’re taking me ovvvvvvah. A 12.33 (repeating 3) out of 10 my excitement scale

Still Life
I cried a little bit inside when I realized this was going to get played. A gorgeous song that I missed hearing in England when I went there to see them in 2010. This was a lighter in the air moment, but I didn’t have a lighter. There was no orchestra sadly, but if that had happened I would have just boarded a plane and flown home because nothing else would have topped that on this vacation. This was probably a 14.5 out of 10 on my excitement scale.

For the Strangers
I wonder if there’s a bunch of 20 something year old fans who just discovered Suede at Bloodsports. This might have been their favourite Suede song. Kids these days.

So Young, Metal Mickey
These are classics.

Beautiful Ones
Suede’s anthem. The singalong is so easy and hard at the same time, we all did the lalalala part and it was fantastic. A perfect 10/10 on my excitement scale.

She’s in Fashion
An acoustic version of “She’s in Fashion,” one of their most summery songs. At this point I realized I might not hear “The Wild Ones or “Europe is Our Playground.” Will I ever hear “Europe is Our Playground live? Cue existential crisis.

New Generation
A fitting end to the show. “New Generation is an absolutely amazing song. It has four choruses. Most bands struggle to find one hook in a song, this track if you pay attention has FOUR massive hooks.

That was that, a totally unbiased review. This was my favorite part of Primavera. Come to North America please, I can’t afford all these European trips.

Primavera Sound Review: Fleet Foxes, PJ Harvey

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Barcelona – After all the shenanigans of the first two days of Primavera, day three was the designates come down day for me. A nice afternoon was spent on the beautiful Barcelona beach with beer in hand, followed by a leisurely paella by the sea dinner. Needless to say, the tone was set for a nice relaxing evening.

If you look up “nice and relaxing music” in the imaginary encyclopedia I’ve created for this post, you might see the band Fleet Foxes there. The Portland group have come of of hiding this year with their sophomore effort Helplessness Blues and are now riding the festival circuit to promote this record. Playing against the lovely Barcelona backdrop, the harmonious group gently welcomed the Primavera crowd into the night. Forgoing any sort of front man stage tactics the band seemed content sitting there and letting their musicianship shine through. While that in itself seemed rather grand, I couldn’t help but feel that the concert just felt like the album turned up really loud.

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues by subpop

The next two shows I saw included ambient rock band The Album Leaf and Philadelphia hard rocker Kurt Vile. I enjoyed the Album Leafs piano driven atmospheric rock although I was disappointed with their decision to forgo vocals for the time that I saw them, which meant the wouldn’t be performing Always For You, a track that I enjoyed. Kurt Vile brought his rock game to the Jagermeister/Vice stage. While I can appreciate his rock, it wasnt the right setting for me so I went to do what everyone else seemed to be doing, which was watch the Champions League game.

The Champions League final finished just in time for PJ Harvey. The last time I saw the English songstress, it was in 2004 and it was an early show and I had also the Libertines on my bill that night, so I don’t remember it well. By the time I found a spot, Pj Harvey was already in full swing. Dressed in a white dress with some head feathers, Polly Jean stood by her lonely self away from her band clutching an autoharp. The band itself were situated in a tight semi circle, which made for an interesting setup. Playing tracks new and old, you can say that the woman pleased all in the crowd. Her voice sounded as strong as effort and her dedication to not moving throughout the night make you focus solely on the tracks, which mUgur have been the goal of the night. The twenty song setlist ended with classic Meet Ze Monsta as did my time at Primavera. A classic way to end off a classic festival

PJ Harvey – The Words That Maketh Murder by VagrantRecords

Primavera Sound: Einsturzende Neubauten, Odd Future, May 28, Parc del Forum

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Barcelona – Einsturzende Neubauten.  For those of us who don’t speak German, it’s not a band name that rolls off the tongue easily.  Nor are they an easy band to listen to.  Pioneers in the genres of noise and industrial, I went into this show expecting something pretty extreme.  Actually, what I was expecting was some dour, overly serious Germans making a heck of a lot of noise.  What I got was noisy, yes, but also rather tuneful at times and not terribly serious at all.  Frontman Blixa Bargeld was actually quite hilarious, showing off his sense of humour right from the beginning by addressing the crowd with ,”Hello, non-soccer fans!” (The Champions League match was also going on that night)  I suppose when one plays music in a genre that is often classified as “noise,” one probably would have a well developed sense of the absurd.  He later made a point of bringing everyone’s attention to the fact that the photo pit was clearing out, semi-singing, “The photographers must leave now.  They always leave after the third song.  This is why you never see pictures from later in the set when we all get naked.” 

Making noise of a decidely different variety was heavily buzzed LA hip hop collective Odd Future.  I had heard a lot of the hype about this group and was determined to check them out to see if they lived up to it at all.  And to see if they said anything horribly stupid and offensive.  Arriving early for their set at the Pitchfork Stage (otherwise known as the sticky floor and pools of urine stage), I caught the last bit of another well-hyped performer, James Blake, who was performing a DJ set.  Blake’s down tempo material seemed like an odd appetizer for Odd Future as it’s not exactly the kind of thing to get the crowd pumped up.  Also, I found it strange when he slipped his own material into the set.  Of course he’s entitled to and probably expected to, but when he’s standing right there and I’m hearing him play a recorded version of his own voice, it is a little bit weird.  After Blake finished up, I heard some more incongruous music played over the PA, like Elliott Smith.

While I do think that Sara Quin has a point about them, I had heard good things about the energy Odd Future put into their show, so I figured since I’m here anyways, I might as well see  for myself.  And they did display a lot of energy, jumping and running around the stage and encoraging their fans to shout out their various slogans (not that they needed much encouragement).  They didn’t quite live up to all the hype, but then again, it would be hard for anyone to really live up to that kind of hype.  That said, they did put on an enjoyable, high energy show.   Sure, there’s a lot of (valid) criticism of these guys, but at the end of the day, they probably don’t care, as evidenced by the fact that they dissed Pitchfork, the very outlet whose stage they were playing on.  Odd Future basically come across as what they are: a bunch of young guys having fun on stage, regardless of who they may piss off in the process.