Primavera Day Three
PJ Harvey, Tune-Yards, Warpaint and Odd Future cap off Sam Breen and Emily Kendrick's adventures at Primavera 2011...
We're writing this from Ol' Blighty. Since we lost each other at Odd Future our lives have spiralled off in polar directions: when one of us danced on stage the other fell asleep at the back, one of us missed our flight whilst the other should never have been allowed to board.
Festivals are many things to many people and, in fear of sounding out like an ITN News commercial, there's never one single narrative, there's never one perspective. By the Saturday Barcelona was a divided town. Between the protests, the festival and the football there was little that held the day together.
Equally, during the press conference with festival director Alberto Guijarro questions were fielded on all three issues: "Why had the festival allowed protest banners and signage into the site? Was the festival taking a political stand?"; "Why had the festival only just decided to announce that they would be showing the football?"; and someone must have asked something about the music…surely!
Seemingly the music was speaking for itself. Cold Bloods are undoubtedly of a previous era. The 80s to be precise: Manchester to be exact. The industrial Martin Hannett drum sounds layered with ominous guitars and harrowing vocals made for a difficult to swallow dystopia. With the sun shining over a Catalonian beach it's difficult to identify with post-industrial malaise no matter how good your album is.
Building on their reputation for siren-like mysteriousness Warpaint have grown immeasurably to fill the grand confines of the Llevant stage. A little bass-heavy at times, ‘Beetles’ fizzled across the mid-point breakdown bringing the girls’ voices together to harmony, allowing ‘Undertow’ to close the set on a high.
At the same time as Warpaint were mellowing out, a certain Merrill Garbus was determined to kick up a stink on the opposite side of the field. Tune-Yards latest offerings, particularly ‘Bizness’, blasted carnivalistic growls from the frontwoman, screams from the saxophones and one of her boldest and most ambitious sets to date.
Nordic beauties Rubik won the prize for the most band members these reviewers saw all weekend on one stage. Their highly melodic brand of indie was charming, including seven hands clapping on one track. Equal in charm, but with a southern US drawl, Kurt Vile and the Violators fought for a crowd against the football, and won. Those who found their way to him were treated to psychedelic storytelling and soothing acoustics, those that felt an ageing beyond his years.
PJ Harvey, standing adrift from her troupe brought the wit and wisdom of a masterly musician. Where Belle & Sebastian had failed to deliver delicate, reticent hits Harvey had conquered. The expansive sound of both her group and her voice filled the air, upheld by old hits and scattered with her more recent folklore schtick. There's no doubt that Harvey is heading for another Mercury nomination and if she performs on the night like she did this evening she's a dead-cert for the prize.
Far removed from the composure of PJ’s set, our festival closer proved to be a significantly more riotous event. Whilst thriving on chaos, the Odd Future expectations were sky high, and typified the division of the day by playing the Pitchfork stage somewhat ironically. With more members on stage than one could count in an hour-long set, to say it was fun would be underplaying it. Multiple stage dives, at times an unclear mic or two, on the one hand it was a case of too many cooks: the other, with ‘Yonkers’, ‘Dracula’ and Hodgy leading from the front, the stage invasion at the end demonstrated a unity born of over-boiling excitement.