What I have learned from my first day of Primavera is that massive festivals are no longer for me. I think I am too old to try to avoid people acting like they are possessed and knock you down with a blank stare in their eyes while you are trying to get from one stage to the other. Oh and that usually takes about a good 15 minutes. Talk about burning those beers! Worse is when you get caught in the mindless dance of people who are pushing everyone around them like a string of dominos. You get the idea.
Despite the unpleasant crowds though, there were beer stands everywhere, people go around in mobile beer sacks on their back and pour you an ice cold pint on the spot which made it very easy to get a drink. The food courts are spread out and the queues for food and the toilets were reasonable. Primavera is one of the easier festivals on concrete, by the seaside, surrounded with hotels around (even though that is an expensive option) and pretty much in the city (even though the shuttle and taxi queues gave me a nightmare before bed at 4 am). Still, compared to the British ones, you are basically in heaven.
I arrived at the festival site a bit late and after a pleasant dinner, made my way to the Heineken stage to see Anthony and the Johnsons. He has a voice from another world, songs to make your spine tingle and with the disturbing images projected at the back, provided the most theatrical experience of the night. We haven’t seen much the rest of the night as far as visuals go (At this time I have to apologise for my lack of visuals in this article. My phone was stolen and I was not able to get my hands on any photographs of the night. I will have material for tonight once I have a phone again today to take photos. I am not allowed a camera inside).
Straight after Anthony and the Johnsons, it was The Black Keys who took the Primavera stage right across the Heineken stage. I am not a massive fan but I do recognize their knack for entertaining crowds, which they fulfilled yet again. However, I was standing slightly at the back and I could hardly hear anything. It was almost as low as the Blur show at Hyde Park a couple of years back. My promoter friend has this decibel meter app on his iPhone and he turned it on to find that the volume was on average.
From The Black Keys, we made our way to our favourite stage Ray Ban. It is a great stage, not corridor shaped but more like an amphitheater and with steps at the back, allowing people to actually sit to watch gigs. It was Chet Faker onstage and he was just absolutely brilliant. It was by far the best performance of the night. Gone are the days he used to play to a few hundred people in Audio in Brighton and I couldn’t find anyone to give my spare ticket to. He had thousands of people in front of him while the Black Keys were still playing on the main stage and everybody was going berserk. Some of his songs are soulful mid tempo numbers but even then past midnight, he didn’t lose the crowd and with his impossibly angelic voice, managed to bewitch. He was mostly a one-man show but towards the end, he was joined by a drummer and guitar player and put on an excellent performance.
After Chet Faker, we went down to the Pitchfork stage to see Simian Mobile Disco. By that time, there was nothing else going on in any of the big stages so basically the whole festival was there. The set was pleasant but a bit flat and I realized I would much rather watch the duo in a club where I can appreciate the subtle nuances in their tracks more than a festival site where the volume was still quite low.
After struggling to make a decision on whether to walk to the Heineken stage for 15 minutes and come back again, I decided to go for it and took a look at James Blake. When I got there, he was opening his set with CMYK, a more upbeat version of it. Three tracks in he started Limit to Your Love, and that is when he got a wild cheer from the crowd. I love James Blake, I am actually in love with him. But at almost 2 am at night, I have to say programming wise, it was a bit of a downer.
I went back to the Pitchfork stage to the brilliant Gui Boratto and his set was everything I expected. No volume issues, just the right amount of crowded, great setlist, upbeat techno interspersed with trance that saved the party people’s night. To me, he is a God.
I wanted to stay more and catch Roman Flügel and Richie Hawtin but fresh from travel, I felt the tiredness kick in.
Overall, it was a very pleasant night full of good music and good friends. Watch this space for day two. Ciao!