Primavera Sound ’11 – Day 1

The festival season kicks off here in Ireland with Forbidden Fruit this weekend. Elsewhere in Europe things are off and running, not least Primavera Sound which took place Last weekend.

My mate and gig-going accomplice Johnny Feeney, was lucky enough to attend this years festival. Here are his thoughts on day one.

Primavera Sound ’11 – Day 1

Primavera Sound is a lot of people’s idea of alternative music heaven. Set in the idyllic surrounds of Parc Del Forum with the imposing Mediterranean Sea dominating all around, avid festival punters scurry around frantically with barely a pause for breath between internationally renowned and up-and-coming alternative music acts of all styles. With little or no on-site distractions apart from eight music stages, some smaller tents for acoustic performances and one eating area, this place is all about the music.

Toundra kicked off proceedings with a bang on the Pitchfork stage with some fine, mazy, Mogwaiesque, instrumental post-rock and were a nice surprise. Sonny & the Sunsets were a much cheerier bunch, delivering good time rock’n’roll with hand-claps and smiles aplenty. Cults sounded promising on the ATP stage but I only caught a fleeting glance at them and they will have to be checked out at a later stage. Over on the main stage, Of Montreal played funky, glam-rock while putting on an enjoyably flamboyant show complete with bright colours, big wigs, tight-fitting spandex and some shoddy-at-best fake wrestling.

Glasser performed credibly with a stripped back band but, for me at least, fails to really command attention and is a bit more style than substance. The Walkmen were excellent with their brooding but beautiful indie rock. Suave frontman Hamilton Leithauser’s voice is every bit as distinctive live as it is on record and he had the large audience at the Pitchfork stage eating out of the palm of his hand.

The main draw on Thursday for me, Interpol were magnificent. Drawing quite strongly from their first two albums, they played classics such as Evil, NARC, Not Even Jail, Say Hello the Angels, Slow Hands along with newer ones such as Lights and Barricade to a raucous crowd at the Llevant stage. Ironically, Interpol seem to have become a more cohesive unit since they parted ways with bassist Carlos Dengler last year. He always looked so detached from the rest of the band on stage and since his departure, the band have replaced him with substitute bass players who don’t have a tendency to wander.

I caught a small bit of the Flaming Lips on the main stage who were doing their usual cosmic-rock schtick providing a spectacle with lots of stage props and Wayne Coyne swanning gracefully around the stage. Having seen all this before, I was much more interested in catching BathsEssentially just one man, a sound board and his Macbook, Baths’ Will Wiesenfeld positively bounced on stage while banging out his scattergun, glitchy electronica and the adoring crowd gratefully bounced along with him. His album, Cerulean, released last year is certainly a recommended listen.

A disastrously botched attempt to finish off the evening with Factory Floor meant this was the end of the first day for me but Primavera Sound is a tough taskmaster and you have to be prepared to miss bands you’d fully  intended on seeing.

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