[Travel Diary] Primavera Sound Festival Barcelona

Before starting a big series of posts about my trips to Sri Lanka and Myanmar, I want to jump forward a bit and tell you more about my second time at Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona. Because a little bit of rock’n’roll never hurts…

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Sunset of Barcelona with Patti Smith on stage – what an emotional moment.

Primavera Sound takes place right in the center of Barcelona (well, the Forum is a bit north, but it still is very central) and I guess is somewhat the European equivalent to Coachella. The cool kids from all over Europe fly in for the three day (or rather: night) festival that features a pretty eclectic line-up with a seaview. And while the line-up was pretty good, it could not compare to the 2014 edition – at least in my opinion. There were still a few names which I was dying to see (again) and I really, really enjoyed my time at PS14, so I just knew I had to come back – even if that meant cutting my trip to Asia a bit shorter.

Of course, Barcelona is always a good idea and I actually really love that they do not offer a camping option. This means that you have to find some sort of accomodation in the city, ergo the whole experience can get quite expensive. And even if this might sound a bit arrogant: I am pretty happy that this automatically excludes tons of drunk teenagers. Not that the adult crowd (I would say that the average age range is 25 – 35) doesn’t get any less wasted. But getting smashed around people your own age just feels so much nicer and civilised ;)

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Getting ready for PS15. (The drink is coke, not beer – unfortunately).

Unless – like me – you are lucky to have a good friend with a nice and spacious flat in downtown Barca (hi, Alica <3), I highly recommend getting an AirBnB close to the beach. Because there is no better way to cure a hangover than jumping into the fresh waves and taking a nap on the beach between a big tapas session. A terrace (quite common in Barcelona) is a big plus for some pre-festival brunch and Gin and Tonics.

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Seeing the gate of Primavera Sound always brings back tons of good memories.

Maybe the best part about Primavera Sound is how smooth and easy everything goes down: You can take the tram to the festival site, walk a few meters (just enough time to finish your mix of Gin and Tonic that you brought along, in case you got thirsty on the tram…) and obtain your wristband in just a few minutes. Yes, that’s right: Even at peak times, the queue moves super fast. I don’t know how many precious hours of my life I have wasted queuing for wristbands at festivals, so this was a really fresh and nice surprise. And this kind of vibe continues throughout the entire festival site, all night long: You usually never have to wait unbearably long at the bars or the loos either – even at the big stages. Anybody who had to hold it down for hours because their favourite band was playing and queueing for thirty minutes at the loos just wasn’t an option will know why this is so important…

You can also easily walk from stage to stage within a couple of minutes and are always sure to secure a good spot, even if you are late and a concert has already started. So there never is the sort of annoying rush to make it from one stage to the next right in time that I have experienced at other festivals.

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Post-Primavera detox at the beach.

But let’s finally talk about music now. It’s always hard to nail down THE best concert after having seen so many bands, but Chet Faker was a definite favourite. The whole concert was totally not what I expected – but in a good way (as in: less boring kissy-kissy couples and more smooth dancing with your friends and strangers alike). I went to see the gig with a girlfriend of mine and we decided that some of the songs felt like making love to Chet Faker (Chet, if you are reading this, PLEASE GET IN TOUCH, because I REALLY think we should make lots of love and babies).

Speaking of hot musicians: Interpol were also some freaking handsome bastards – I went with another girlfriend of mine and we almost couldn’t believe the hotness of those guys, even after so many years of rocking and rolling. Bonus: The gig was pretty good and we had quite a good spot (even though they didn’t play “Lights”, my favourite song – boo). I am a really big fan of their music and have been so for more than a decade, and yet never had a chance to see them live, so I was one happy girl.

Another band I was looking forward to most were definitely The Strokes. After all, their tunes make up for a big part of the soundtrack to my teenage years and I was looking forward to seeing how they evolved since I last saw them in 2006. However, judging by his looks, Julian Casablancas, aka the man formerly known as the hottest guy in rock music, seems to be in a serious midlife crises and he also didn’t seem to be particularly excited about headlining one of Europe’s biggest festivals. However, it did feel pretty great when everybody went mad during the first notes of modern classics such as Last Nite or Hard to Explain. It felt like everybody just had a massive throwback to their younger years and I just loved to go crazy for some Indie-disco-dancing. Because: Once an Indie girl, always an Indie girl…

Another act I was REALLY looking forward to seeing were Alt-J – especially since I never got a chance to see them AND as I listened A LOT to their first album during my recent trip to Asia (particularly Taro <3 ). While they were still good, I was expecting a lot more of dancey craziness for this gig. So I was not super duper happy when most of the songs actually sounded kind of the same as on the albums and when there was a pretty weedy-vibe going on in the audience.

But I guess the true highlight of the festival was Patti Smith and Band playing Horses. Oh, what an icon!! Even at the age of 68 and forty (!) years after the album was first released, she is still a real badass and the true “Godmother of Punk”. Her presence on stage is beyond words and gave me goosebumps so many times. She also seemed to be honestly excited about being on the road again (she explained that PS15 was the first stop of their current tour) and about the tons of young people who came out early to see her. I just wish I had a brought some weed, as it sometimes felt like a real flashback to the Seventies (not that I have idea what the Seventies were like, but I hope you get the idea). And in case you are living behind the moon and haven’t done it yet: “Just Kids” is a truly fantastic book that everybody should read it!!

And before this turns into one of those eternal articles that nobody is ever going to finish, here are some of the other acts I saw (I least bits and pieces of their gigs): my teenage-girlpower-icon Tori Amos, Ratatat, James Blake and Caribou (I have seen both of them previously and they are both so soo good live!), Julian Casablancas and the Voidz (boo), Anthony and the Johnsons and Foxygen (I think I will just never get into those guys), Ariel Pink and Run The Jewels (both not as good as expected), Damien Rice (big surprise, big love), Mac Demarco, Richie Hawtin…

But of course, not everything is perfect at Primavera:

The beer – Heineken, of course – really was just yellow water with some foam on top. This is often the case at such events, but I was shocked by the liters of beer I drank there without feeling drunk at all (instead I just felt super full and had to pee all the time. Thanks for nothing, Heineken).

The people – as this is also the case at many festivals – often tend to not be super into the concerts. It’s a bit lame to see an all-time favourite band of yours and totally going crazy while the people around you don’t share your euphoria…

Also, the sound really could be better at most stages!

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Barcelona <3

As I mentioned earlier, music-wise the festival was definitely a lot less exciting than in 2014 – which is a bit disappointing considering it was their 15th anniversary edition. Yet, the whole vibe and the organisation were just as smooth as last year, and I still can’t really complain about the acts I saw this year, so I still definitely recommended this festival. AND Barcelona is really always worth a visit as well. So now let’s just hope for a REALLY good line-up again next year and then see you all the #PS16 :)

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I am so in love with Barcelona and might come back for a few days soon.

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