Primavera Sound came back strong in 2022. Over 10 hot days in June, nearly half a million people turned out for Barcelona’s waterfront festival to experience its biggest and worst edition yet . The typical one-weekend event now expands to two (with Primavera La Ciutat, an extra week of citywide concerts in between); the usual line-up of eight headliners nearly doubled to 17; the sun seemed to shine stronger and hotter, and the cerveza poured softer. It was undoubtedly a triumphant return for the booming international music event after two years of cancellations. Those in the know know that Primavera Sound started the same year as Indio’s Coachella in 2001, and after this year’s edition, it might have reached that level of notoriety too.
The 2022 festival was special for another reason: it marked the 20th anniversary of Primavera Sound. In the two decades since it was conceived as an independent one-stage outdoor festival, it has obviously undergone drastic changes. Star performers like Tame Impala, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Strokes, Dua Lipa, Lorde and more now grace its stages, and organizers maintain Primavera offshoots in cities around the world, including Porto, Portugal and in Los Angeles. Despite this, the fundamental philosophy of the festival remains the same. Created as an outdoor haven for music lovers and ravers, the epitome of the Primavera stage – that of an open-air amphitheater beaming under the stars – still reigns supreme. This year, that stage was Cupra, located at the very center of the festival and host to some of the year’s top high-profile acts: Slowdive, Playboi Carti, The Smile, Jessie Ware, and more. As its international attendees roamed the waterfront, jumping off each of the venue’s eight main stages, they always seemed to converge on there, the heart of the festival – and this year’s best stage, according to the many people I spoke to. asked. Arriving early enough to settle on one of the generous cement ledges of the amphitheater after five hours of walking and dancing, cold drink in hand, nothing could be more satisfying.
While a host of organizational issues plagued the first weekend of the festival, weekend two went by with fewer hiccups. The revelers – largely in functional, classic festival attire – lit cigarettes, perched on steps overlooking the water and danced with an energy that never seemed to fade even as the sun rose and the last acts of the night were ending. The performers also fed off that electricity, knowing somehow that there was something special about this year’s event. Either way, these six performers delivered sets that exceeded expectations, perhaps proof that absence makes the heart grow fonder – and the body dances louder.
All greet 100 gecs. The hyperpop duo weren’t the scheduled headliners for PC Music’s Primavera La Ciutat showcase, Acid Angels, but they might as well have been. Dylan Brady (in his six-pointed wizard hat) and Laura Les didn’t take the stage until 3 a.m., but at no other time of the night has the room been so rowdy, chaotic and positively electrified as ever. energy than during their set. Live, their chaotic, random and irreverent pop music is always exactly as it sounds, but with a huge extra dose of playfulness. “This song is about Doritos,” Les Deadpan told the audience in AutoTune before the band launched into “Doritos & Fritos.”
Nothing was serious, so it was everyone’s permission to get as wild as they wanted; people surfed across the room, and there was nothing more exciting than bustling to a song about having your tooth pulled. Since the beginnings of 100 gecs, critics have extensively developed their intellectual music: what it means for pop, what it means in the age of the Internet, whether supposed to be ironic. But who really cares? All I know is that at the end of their sweaty 30 minutes, not a soul was left unconverted.
Playboi Carti’s live show has changed drastically over the past few years. At the Governors Ball in 2019, the Atlanta rapper appeared on stage in the light of day, hopping about his bits in skinny jeans with his entourage and doing very little actual rapping. In 2022, on stage at Primavera’s amphitheater, Cupra, he still doesn’t rap much (and still shows up 40 minutes late), but now there’s a permanent wall of fog and dramatic light – through which he stalks, grunts and screams agonizingly – rolling ominously across the stage and a gripping, tangible sense of performance. Since the release of All Lotta Red, Carti has clearly taken his role as King of the Vampires seriously, fully embodying a tortured creature of the night in his much more amped-up live shows to impressive effect. Somehow, through that skinny body (which he drapes in ripped jeans and a jacket), he can let out a piercing scream, a skill he now shows constantly during the show instead of rap. No longer moving, it moves in a jerky and eerie fashion, a sight that seems all the more frightening as it enters and exits the white smoke.
His songs are preceded by lyrical rock intros (courtesy of the only guitarist on stage with him), adding a distinct Halloween-esque theater vibe to the whole thing. But the best part is that rap still hits just as hard, and maybe even harder. When after all the drama, the “Sky” beat hits, you can’t help but want to kick out all your demons too. The only criticism you might have is that you’ll barely get a glimpse of the real Carti the whole show – but who wants to spoil it with reality.
I’ll say it: Lorde is the perfect summer headliner. At this point in her career, the 25-year-old is a veteran, adept at working easily with crowds of thousands. Stepping onto the huge Primavera headliner stage at dusk with the glow of an orange sun beaming behind her, she brought nothing but joy and summer energy throughout her set. 90 minutes. She played the hits – “Green Light”, “Supercut” – and the older hits – ‘Royals’ and ‘Ribs’, revealing how much her voice has matured. His staging of rotating sculptural platforms was grand and surreal in the light of the set, providing a mind-blowing playground for his running and dancing, which is still weird and edgy. Fans might have feared that the lukewarm reception of Solar energy would have diluted his power, but luckily they would have been wrong. Swaying in the warm night breeze as she closed her set with the title track, it all suddenly made sense.
DJ set Grimes
It might seem like pulling the short end of a stick to see Grimes deejaying his festival set, but it has its own delightful merits. The second she stepped out on stage – long blonde hair with fiery neon green tips blowing in the wind, wearing Marine Serre tights and a puffy mini dress – it was clear the night was going to be spacey, harsh, weird and iconic. It was. For the hour-long set, Grimes focused largely on the trancey vibes of bass house, but selected a surprising selection of varied samples: Prince’s “When Doves Cry”, Doja Cat’s “Moo”, “Orinoco Flow” by Enya and Vivaldi. . At one point, deep in the second half of the set, she stopped the music to blast Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” intro, which drove the crowd absolutely wild. (What can I say? We love his troll side.)
In the blue light with her hair blowing in the wind, sometimes working on the boards while completely crouched on top of the table, Grimes looked like there were no rules. For that, purists might argue that she’s not a real DJ, but I’d say that’s the whole appeal.
For many people, The Smile — the new band made up of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood — is the platonic ideal of a festival set. There is reason enough; the two legendary musicians are above all master instrumentalists, capable of creating a bewitching set built on a formidable technicality. Appearing onstage in a misty haze around midnight on Primavera’s Cupra stage, Yorke, Greenwood and drummer Tom Skinner built their heady, funky and seemingly mesmerizing tracks layer by layer. Songs like “The Same” emanated from the stage like a natural sonic high, and their twisty, funky melodies echoed wonderfully through the amphitheater. It’s everything you’d expect from a Radiohead show, but stripped down and looser, more fun.
Plus, it’s always a privilege to see experts doing what they do best. Yorke and Greenwood swapped instruments throughout the night, and Greenwood even jumped on a harp for a song. No dances or fireballs found here, but it’s more than good at times.
Jessie Ware has released one of the best disco albums of 2020. What is your pleasure? brought a suave, bubbly and sophisticated disco for people looking to swim in the genre outside of the sugary pop adaptation. His best songs, “Spotlight” and “Save A Kiss”, could easily bring you to euphoria and tears on the dance floor simultaneously.
On the Cupra stage on Saturday, Ware brought the same bold yet restrained air to her performance, which packed the stage to the point that not all latecomers even had a chance to catch a glimpse of her in her sleek neon yellow outfit. . Backed by a diverse cast of black-clad dancers, she staged a performance that was more artistic than explosive, leaning into fan intricacies and tight choreographed movements to bring out the rhythmic power of her songs. Not that she even needs it; the crowd pulsated beside him regardless, eager to move. Still, it was one of the tightest and smoothest performances of the weekend, executed with uncluttered elegance and finesse. The return of disco doesn’t mean it should be relegated to young crowds only familiar with the new avant-garde; he can also grow and hit just as hard.