Incendiary go to Primavera - Part 1 - Wednesday 25/5/11

Cath Aubergine once again gives the full Primavera experience to us couch potatoes… 


Wednesday 25th May

We've been inside the Poble Espanyol about ten minutes when I score a treble on Primavera Bingo: not only the first Daniel Johnston "Hi How Are You" T-shirt of the weekend, but one accessorised with full arm tattoos AND a Black Flag shopping bag. On the stage are three Japanese girls playing something loud, spaced, throbbing, squidgy and motorik. Hello Barcelona, it's good to be back...

We so nearly weren't. On Sunday, Iceland decided to present northern Europe with a gift rather less welcome than the Bjork, Múm, Sigur Rós, Ólafur Arnalds, Hjaltalín, Stafrænn Hákon, Seabear and Valgeir Sigurðsson for which we love them: another bloody volcanic ash cloud. Flights to and from Scotland are cancelled, and it's heading south. Grrreat. Monday evening was thus spent not, as expected, excitedly checking the details of bands we've never heard of and plotting a course through the timetable to ensure we don't miss anything important, but cross referencing Eurostar timetables with flights from Paris and Brussels and my credit card limit. Tuesday passed in a blur of panic and Met Office models, until finally at 6pm the cloud started to shift direction. By Wednesday it's still hard to believe we're actually going until the plane takes off, but by midday we're enjoying cold beer and tapas in the city that's almost become my second home - and a few hours later NISENNENMONDAI - the aforementioned and thoroughly wonderful three Japanese girls - lift the curtain on Primavera Sound 2011.

This year the organisers have decided that three 12-hour days of the very best alternative music past present and future simply isn't enough, so they have stuck on an extra day either side of the main Forum Park event in the beautiful square of Poble Espanyol, an outdoor open-air architectural museum constructed in 1929 for the Barcelona International Exhibition, on the side of the Montjuïc hill just a short walk from the centre of Barcelona. Which basically means we get to see bands in absolutely stunning surroundings - and the bars and restaurants of the square have all turned themselves into caterers, dishing up sangria by the litre, decent pizza and some very weird butties; (one of our crew enjoys something she describes as "a sausage in a cake"). The festival is trying out another innovation this year too: instead of the ticket system which has been in place as long as we've been going, you just load money onto your festival entry card and use it to pay for drinks.


Santa Maria!

Local band LAS ROBERTAS are next up making their first of three appearances, and we presume Las Robertas is actually Spanish for "Vivian Girls meets Warpaint" - and then there's British indie veterans COMET GAIN who these days resemble nothing less than a university sociology dept staff/student social on a night out: four variably ugly and not exactly young blokes, three pretty young girls and one boy, doing classic indiepop described by one of our crew as "here's one REM stole off the Byrds and we're stealing it back". Tee hee.

The Hong Kong and Brisbane contingents have arrived in our gloriously international gathering (Oslo has sadly been unable to make it as the ash cloud that swerved England headed back up north) and more sangria is (possibly ill-advisedly) ordered in time for ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN who'll be performing their first two albums in full - but which Echo And The Bunnymen is it going to be? One of the greatest bands of the 20th century doing a well-earned victory lap, or an arrogant primadonna (plus long-suffering right-hand man and some hired hands) talking shit and knocking out substandard takes on their classics? Their Liverpool show in December (at least, the one we attended) veered mostly towards the latter... The sangria has rendered our memories hazy at best, but the following exchange of texts with Incendiary HQ might give some clues...

(Sent 21.16) I Love Will but mac is a Cunt
(Received 21.38) Of course mate Will is God. Get a chance and grab him
(Sent 21.47) Oh not in a sex way.  Just mac come on doing his fucking doorsy shit cunting up villiers terrace and will looks at him like he's poo on his shoe, ace :)
(Received 22.03) Yeah as usual god I don't know why will bothers

Crocodiles is excellent, although Heaven Up Here - a renowned fan favourite but not the world's most accessible suite of music for everyone else - drags a little; as someone points out at the time, a Greatest Hits set may have been more appropriate for the festival setting. They do of course find space for a few in the encore: first a storming Bring On The Dancing Horses and then the familiar sweeping opening chords of the band's late-period, 90s classic - one of my all-time favourite songs, although experience means my heart always sinks a little when I hear that introductory sweep in a live environment. Remarkably, not this time...

(Sent 22.14) Hey but they did Nothing Lasts Forever and he was about to go off on his lou reed shit and we shouted "oh fuck off just get on with the tune" and they did!

(Received 23.08) Thank fuck you must be THE first to do that, that drives me nuts one of THE reasons i don't go anymore
Now we don't actually claim responsibility here; it probably wasn't loud enough to be heard onstage and with limited time they probably just decided to cut it. Good call, though.


Bunnies giving it some

There are, we're told, three toilets between however many thousand people. Let's just say an alternative is found, and say no more... until seconds later I run into a member of Plank! I know from back home. Think I got away with it, though. Primavera is like that - it seems every obsessive music fan in the UK is here somewhere. The cash bars have all closed by this point and we're suddenly very pleased we charged up a festival card - the resulting beer is completely unnecessary, and CARIBOU sound great I think but don't ask me for details. One for the road in a bar halfway back to the hotel; the first of many heated football related discussions with locals and our resident fan of "Manchester's other football team" who will meet Barca in the Champions League final on Saturday; pass out. Still can't believe we actually made it here...


All pics by Cath Aubergine