PRIMAVERA SOUNDParc Del Fòrum, Barcelona
On approach to Parc Del Fòrum, the large open-air arena that currently houses PRIMAVERA SOUND, the first thing you’ll notice is the contagious, carefree calm that blankets the area. Small hives of jovial revellers sit cross-legged, enjoying the last opportunity to slurp rum from red cups, just a few yards from the festival’s front gates. Unlike the strange angst and intimidation felt upon arrival at many UK festivals, the admittance and security checks at Primavera are serene. Here, the young groups are only mildly perturbed by the occasional street vendor selling cans of beer. There is the sense that this is a real music-lover’s festival as soon as you walk through the gates, as you’re greeted by the merchandise stands, pop-up record stores and gig poster stall (Screenadelica gets everywhere). Making your way through waves of band T-shirts throughout the site, you then get a sense of the scale of the festival, the space and functionality of the park with the impressive architectural structures that bend and tower around the stages.
As the sun starts to set, projecting a burnt, hazy, blue filter across the festival site, the bouncing beats of young Chicago rapper JOEY PURP can be heard around the Pitchfork stage. An exciting member of the SaveMoney crew that includes fellow Chicago rappers Chance The Rapper and Vic Mensa, Joey has stirred a lot of excitement over the past year following his first official release iiiDrops. The mixtape features heavily here, staked with versatile rap styles, fun and introspective lyrics with soulful and charismatic vocals, he whips the small crowd into a carnival mood. Girls, feat. Chance The Rapper, is a springy pop-rap tune reminiscent of that funky Neptune’s sound, which provides the perfect soundtrack as the mood starts to lift before the night’s headliners.
With increasing domestic and international political division, the looming threat of terror, and just the mere existence of that orange fella over the Pond, RUN THE JEWELS provide some much-needed political catharsis. These two socially conscious uncles of rap preach equality, political responsibility and progressive relationships with an anarchistic grit, that proves to be one of the most polished, enthralling and provocative sets of the weekend. The atmosphere is lit with the euphoria, energy and feeling of general togetherness, providing the perfect representation of what a festival should be; mutual respect and harmony.
SKEPTA ends the weekend with a magnificently gritty, yet eloquent, slap to the face. Dwarfed by the Heineken stage in physicality, he strides before the crowd like a giant towering over them, riding the coursing tide of energy and aggression that he’s brought to the arena. Although the crowd are treated to a set comprising mostly of tracks from his Mercury Prize-winning album Konnichiwa, he pays homage to his Energy crew with his early releases, prompting chants of “BBK” in response. The set gathers momentum and nears tipping point in the crowd as It Ain’t Safe causes the already huge moshpit to double in size. A whirlwind of three-day old dust begins to billow up from the front of the stage, as the moshpit’s centrifuge weaves across the front of the arena.
Even when your experience of Primavera is as good as this, it still feels like you’ve only scratched the surface of what’s on offer. Whatever measurement you want to judge it by – line-up, setting, atmosphere, crowd – Primavera invariably comes out above most other festival in the world. It rightly deserves its place at the top of the tree.