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Primavera Sound Barcelona 2024 Review

Primavera Sound Barcelona 2024 Review

Plenty of acts debuted new songs during the festival, while others resorted to tried-and-true hits.

Primavera Sound Barcelona 2024 has come and gone, leaving a trail of new music in its wake. When June rolls around, music takes over the Spanish city for a week with multiple side events taking place outside of the main festival's calendar — from smaller-scale pre-shows to surprise DJ sets, this year was no exception.


From May 30 to June 1, Primavera Sound Barcelona 2024 took place in the city's Parc del Fòrum and attracted music lovers from all corners of the world. The festival's headliners included Lana Del Rey, SZA, Justice, Pulp, PJ Harvey, and Charli XCX, and featured many smaller acts dotted across multiple stages, including the festival's now trademark dual main stage configuration. Though, for the most part, everything went according to plan, the rain did disturb some of the festival's last-day schedules, as thousands sought refuge by the food and drink stands. The show did go on, though, and the music did not stop.



The festival notably honored Steve Albini, the legendary musician and audio engineer who died on May 7, by forgoing a converted sponsorship for the heartfelt homage of naming one of its stages after him — reinforcing the notion that Primavera is truly by and for the music. Albini's band Shellac was scheduled to perform on that very stage during the weekend, but instead, band members Bob Weston and Todd Trainer turned the slot into a listening party for their latest album, To All Trains, their first original studio project in over a decade, which was released just days after Albini's passing.



L'Impératrice

Fresh off their success at Coachella, French indie band L'Impératrice returned to Primavera Sound (the band previously performed at Primavera a la Ciutat in 2022) with futuristic ‘fits and dance music to spare, including newer tracks like “Amour Ex Machina,” “Me Da Igual,” and “Anomalie bleue” and old gems like “Agitations Tropicales" and “Matahari,” as well as a cover of Daft Punk’s “Aerodynamic.” Whether you know all the songs or none, chances are you'll have a great time witnessing L'Impératrice live.



Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend returned to Primavera Sound 16 years after they made their debut at the festival in 2008, just two years after their formation. The band's set at the festival was a mix of new — performing “Classical,” “Capricorn,” and “Gen-X Cops” from their latest album Only God Was Above Us — and a lot of old. The group closed off their set at the Estrella Damm main stage with beloved records “Diane Young,” “Cousins,” “A-Punk,” “Harmony Hall,” and a mash-up of “Worship You” into “Ya Hey,” to the delight of indie lovers in attendance. Nostalgia is not dead.



Ethel Cain

Ethel Cain brought her signature sense of community to Parc del Fòrum during her Friday set at the Santander main stage. Rocking a black shirt in honor of Palestine and waving a keffiyeh borrowed from a fan, the singer once again took a stance with the platform she was given. During her 50-minute set, the American singer-songwriter performed “Dust Bowl,” “House in Nebraska,” “Crush, ”Amber Waves," “Thoroughfare,” “Gibson Girl,” “Televangelism,” “Sun Bleached Flies,” and “American Teenager.”




The Last Dinner Party

Abigail Morris, Lizzie Mayland, Emily Roberts, Georgia Davies, and Aurora Nishevci, the members of British indie rock girl band The Last Dinner Party, took over Primavera Sound's Cupra stage on Friday with the very definition of a short but sweet set. The quintet, accompanied by a drummer on stage, played a mix of hit tracks like "Nothing Matters" and “Sinner” as well as more under-the-radar tracks like “The Feminine Urge” and “Portrait of a Dead Girl” that had the crowd swaying like sea anemones.



Lana Del Rey

After Troye Sivan, it was Lana Del Rey's turn as a headliner on the adjacent Estrella Damm stage. Without a doubt one of the most anticipated acts of Friday night, the star brought the show she debuted at Coachella and later took to Hangout Festival to the Catalonian shore for Primavera Sound Barcelona. If Troye Sivan got the crowd jumping, Lana Del Rey got them sobbing. The singer tapped into nostalgia with tracks from Born to Die, Lust for Life, Ultraviolence, Norman F*cking Rockwell!, Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, Chemtrails Over the Country Club, and more. A setlist made for the fans and not the general public, Del Rey even brought back her beehive 'do for the occasion as an extra nod.



Arca

Venezuela-born, Barcelona-based star Arca was in charge of closing out Friday's festivities as one of the last acts to take over the Amazon Music stage. Starting with “KLK” and wrapping up with "No Queda Nada," going over the hit tracks “Prada/Rakata” and “Reverie,” the set was a late-night introduction to the artist for those who braved to stay until it was her turn to perform. (Those who missed her had another chance to catch her vibes during a DJ set held the day after at the Boiler Room x Cupra stage.)




Mitski

Day three of Primavera Sound Barcelona 2024 arrived with a literal storm. As dark clouds engulfed the coast of the city and rain began to pour, Mitski took to the Estrella Damm stage to make everyone forget about the deluge and live in the moment. Performing renditions of her songs “My Love Mine All Mine” and “Love Me More," the thunderous lightning illuminating Barcelona's skies felt like a welcomed guest during the singer's set, which, despite being accompanied by a live band, largely felt like an intimate one-woman show with an all-black background. After sharing more than a handful of lovely words with the crowd and thanking them for withstanding the rain to enjoy her music, Mitski closed off the show with two of her biggest songs: “Nobody” and “Washing Machine Heart.”



SZA

As Saturday's headliner, the crowd was ready for SZA, and thankfully, the rain conceded. Amid moody but dry skies, the star kicked off her European festival run at Primavera Sound Barcelona 2024. (SZA later took her set to Paris with We Love Green, and will soon take on Glastonbury.) The crowd expected a bill-topping set and SZA delivered, changing the configuration of the stage multiple times as she ran through often adlibbed versions of tracks from her critically acclaimed albums CTRL and SOS, as well as standout featured tracks like “Rich Baby Daddy,” “Kiss Me More,” and “All the Stars.” The crowd — which also included SZA's own parents from the VIP section — knew every single word, whether she was serving sultry R&B or punk-rock with her guitarist, combining choreography with smooth shredding.



ATARASHII GAKKO!

ATARASHII GAKKO! solidified their status as one of the girl groups to watch this year at Primavera Sound Barcelona 2024. On the first stop of their first world tour, quartet Mizyu, Rin, Suzuka, and Kanon took over the Cupra stage with their high-octane set, gathering viewers from all corners of the amphitheater-style setup for an hour full of headbanging and colorful visuals. Clad in their trademark school girl uniforms, they kicked off the show with the trifecta of “Toryanse," “Omakase," and “Giri Giri" and wrapped things up a bit earlier than expected with “Tokyo Calling” and “NAINAINAI" for a just under 50-minute set — though the crowd would have taken 50 more. Not content with just that, the group also debuted a new song live for the first time, “Fly High,” which will be featured on their new album releasing June 7.




Charli XCX

Charli XCX fully entered her Brat era at Primavera Sound to close out day three of the festival, performing not one but two unreleased tracks, "365" and “Everything is Romantic,” from her new album arriving June 7. The singer, who had done a surprise DJ set teasing the project at Barcelona's Barceloneta beach earlier that same day, made it known that this was her Brat introduction by performing six tracks from the 15-song project. With no outfit changes and no time spent off the stage, Charli XCX made people dance for an hour straight with her set, which included covers of Caroline Polachek's “Welcome to My Island” and Icona Pop's “I Love It,” as well as hits of her own like “Vroom Vroom” and “Boys.”



Mannequin Pussy

Despite complaining consistently that she could only hear snares in her ears and please can someone fix it, Marissa ‘missy’ dabice put on a stellar, fiery show. The band channeled rage and sparked the audience, a hard thing to do with a peaceful blue sky above. ‘Loud bark’ from their 2024 album ‘I got heaven’ remains their greatest song, live and recorded. It wouldn’t be a Mannequin Pussy gig without a fierce political statement; this time they called out any religion that didn’t just let people be, organically and truthfully to their deeper selves.



Amyl & the Sniffers

Amy Taylor of Amyl & the Sniffers had the entire thousand-odd audience gripped between her ass cheeks. The entire place seemed to be moshing, grabbing faces of strangers and screaming joyfully together. New tune ‘you should not be doing that’ landed so well it’s a sure fire indicator of a relit career even spunkier than their loyal following can imagine. Amy made sure to shout ‘free Palestine’ whenever she had a moment of pause - an insane set and a platform used for good.



Pulp

Jarvis cocker, polemical character he is, knows how to move like a legend. Despite twittering on about Sheffield slang for the heavily European audience, the band glimmered, accompanied by an orchestra and the great Mark Webber on guitar who had a stellar show.   It was all theatrics; poised languidly on a couch at the top (‘do you guys mind if I take a little rest?’) Jarvis’ sharp suit lines cut legendary shapes beneath pop-art imagery. ‘Donald trump’s a criminal now!’ He yelled too much fervent applause. They played ‘disco 2000’ a little too early, finished their second encore curiously with ‘Razzamataz’ and spoke a lot about 1995, but they do, indeed, still have it. 




Peggy Gou

Rumblings had spread throughout different crowds all night about the 32 year old DJ, renowned for deep house electronic trance sets. Could she meet the hype? It turns out she could do better - she could exceed it. In front of often psychedelic graphics of her own bubble clowning avatar, Peggy Gou twisted dance hit after hit with no sign of duress. She brought out friend and collaborator Villana Marie to sing two songs, one of which was from her upcoming album, and is Peggy’s self professed favourite. Only a few weeks ago she closed Monico gran prix where she introduced her boyfriend Aron Piper, a Spanish actor; here he was again, skipping onto the stage to kiss her dramatically and cover their faces to the cameras with his wobbling hand. She dismissed him with a flick of a hand that frequently held a cigarette, until her asssitant crouching perpetually behind the decs held it for her. From the right the cameras angled trjough two sparkling glasses of champagne and she ended simply with a bow, popping some things in her purse and bag, and exiting stage left. It’s unconceivable how that set could’ve been any better.



The National

By comparison, American indie rockers The National – who played the longest set of the weekend straight after Lana Del Rey – proved why they’re so reliably booked at big festivals. Matt Berninger and his gang of sad dads didn’t do anything out of the ordinary for them, but their well-oiled machine of textured guitars, thundering drums and earnestly delivered – if croaky – baritone vocals works for their legions of fans. You know what you’re getting with The National at this point, but after a semi-disappointing set from Lana Del Rey, they delivered. 





Róisín Murphy

Back on the main stages and the huge crowds filtered out after SZA to leave a comparatively paltry group for Irish electropop musician Róisín Murphy. Primavera prides itself on its LGBTQ+ inclusive atmosphere and line-up, and while Murphy was once considered a proud ally, she’s fallen out of favour in the last year with many people in the Queer community for her comments on puberty blockers. Was her small crowd a reflection on that or do Spanish fans simply not know her that well? Murphy still put on an excellent show with costume changes and high energy renditions of her expansive repertoire. But perhaps the reason so few people saw it was of her own making. 



At Primavera Sound, attendees also enjoyed performances by Lankum, Bikini Kill, Deftones, Royel Otis, 070 Shake, Militarie Gun, Dogstar, Yo La Tengo, Romy, Mandy, Indiana, La Zowi, Troye Sivan, Depresión Sonora, Beth Gibbons, Phoenix, Arab Strap, Nieve Ella, Model/Actriz, Dorian Electra, Blonde Redhead, Slow Pulp, The Lemon Twigs, Faye Webster, Omar Apollo, yeule, Lambchop, Balming Tiger, and many more.


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