Primavera Sound 2011 – The review
Originally published: Clash Magazine
Although a new Oyster-style drinks system brought with it meandering queues of a similar ilk to the Harrods’ Christmas sale, any initial technical hitches were quickly ironed out as Primavera Sound resumed its normal, impeccably organised festival duties.
With his bevvy of hot pant clad shorties in tow, larger than life rapper Big Boi ensured that the party went off with a Cristal sized pop, combining much-loved Outkast party classics ‘So Fresh, So Clean’ and ‘Miss Jackson’ with breakneck gangsta rap. People got intimate to the Moroder-esque post-punk of Blank Dogs at the Ray Ban Unplugged tent and The Walkmen’s vivacious frontman Hamilton Leithauser didn’t fail to disappoint the excitable masses at the Pitchfork stage, ferociously spitting out tracks like ‘The New Year’, ‘War is Me’ and ‘The Rat’. Elsewhere, Suicide’s explosive sprint through their first self-titled LP left people punching the air in a protopunk fury whereas Interpol’s trip down memory lane was more of an steady amble, reeling off hits from their early back catalogue along with current material. Factory Floor’s hammering synths were a real tour de force, their relentless sonic pummeling perfectly timed to coincide with that late night rush of beat hungry ravers and after Girl Talk’s primordial party mash-ups rounded the night off nicely, people headed to the beach to cool down.
Mincing around to the dazzling indiepop of Belle and Sebastian, their remarkably balanced set interspersed cult favourites ‘Judy and the Dream of Horses’ with radio friendly stompers like ‘The Boy with the Arab Strap’ and ‘Lord Anthony’, the latter calling for an on stage love-in. Locked in an otherworldly trance from the outset, Explosions in the Sky elevated us to a higher state of consciousness with their glistening guitars and contemplative soundscapes. And where Pere Ubu’s nails-against-chalkboard aural outbursts may not have been to everyone’s taste, the sound effect of shattering glass was certainly a visceral accoutrement. As we all collectively struggled to remember the first time, Pulp’s early hours set was met with universal adoration. A colossal sing-a-along ensued and the snake-hipped Jarvis united Britpop kids and continental hipsters alike with unconventional love songs like ‘Babies’ and ‘Common People’. Histrionics were limited to the backdrop—a gargantuan illuminated moniker—and the frontman’s final address to the young Catalan demonstrators ended the band’s perfectly polished set on a poignant, altruistic note.
Aside from Swans’ heavy plodding post-punk, Saturday’s line-up was of a more sedate affair, with New York’s Gang Gang Dance raising the bar for cosmic interaction and Galaxie 500’s emotionally charged slowcore set culminating with their heart-wrenching rendition of ‘Ceremony.’ Fleet Foxes’ sunset performance on the main stage may have soothed fuzzy festival heads, but it was PJ Harvey’s ethereal warble that brought all-round serenity. Playing tracks from her latest album ‘Let England Shake’, those longing for a glimpse of that angst-ridden anti-heroine were instead witness to Harvey’s noticeable mellowing out. As the last night drew to a close, Animal Collective’s psychedelic, tripped-out finale served as an antidote to the burgeoning post-festival blues. Guiding us through a heady maze of iridescent loops, we all bid farewell to yet another stellar Primavera Sound.