This is day two of our Primavera Sound 2019 coverage, read about day one and day three.
As Day Two of Primavera started, the Snobs couldn’t get their shit together. Barcelona traffic also worked against us but, in short, we failed to arrive in time for Snail Mail and Pond. “Sorry, not sorry.” as they say. Nevertheless, the day was long and we had so much on our plate that a few extra hours wandering around the streets of Barcelona seemed like a good plan before heading over to Parc del Fórum (we might have lied about the ‘traffic’ bit).
For BEAK> the Snobs split up, as Cuzomano, Easy C and Otacon wanted to see the official “Fuck Brexit band” up close, while John and El Mascarado were willing to sacrifice sound for a sunny spot on the hillside that had, by now, become a mandatory pit-stop on the Snob’s daily itinerary. As Geoff Barrow, Billy Fuller and Will Young play “their greatest hit” – apparently number 142 in Hungary in 1946 (yes, not the wittiest group) – the three Snobs join John and El Mascarado in agreeing that BEAK>, despite the hype, ended up being pretty forgettable.
John, El Mascarado and Otacon then move onto Kurt Vile, which was thankfully only a short stop away at the Pull & Bear stage. Trying to find our place in the Sun during the performance, we witnessed the most “Tom & Jerry” pursuit of a drug dealer by two security guards ever seen. When finally tackled – a predicament that did not seem to bother the young criminal at all, we may add – the smile on his face as he passed us, dragged by Primavera’s staff, nicely summed-up the mood during Vile’s performance, with Pretty Pimpin’ (one of Vile’s best-loved tracks) providing the soundtrack to this entire escapade.
As the only Snob to have watched Courtney Barnett on day one, Otacon noted how much more ‘rockstar presence’ Kurt has on stage when compared to Barnett. He captains his Violators in an open plaid shirt over black t-shirt combo, the standard uniform for a rock, indie or lo-fi guitarist. As Kurt shifts from electric to acoustic and back again, between songs and within the same song, John noted how he’s brought ‘70s stoner rock into the modern era. The show is a true rock and roll performance, although, when Easy C appeared for Wild Imagination, all four attendant Snobs declared it a “time-for-a-beer-and-a-piss” song and, with that, stopped rocking away with Kurt and his Violators to discuss next steps for the day.
At the same time, over at the “Your Heineken” stage (for fuck’s sake), Cuzomano was watching former Lush frontwoman Miki Berenyi’s new effort, Piroshka.
“No Spurs fans, no Liverpool fans, then? Thank fuck for that, then!” she said by way of opener, drenching the afternoon in a healthy slice of dream-wave indie for the slightly silver-haired. Despite constant sound requests from the band to somebody named ‘Jackson’, which in turn triggered calls for said individual to bring beers for the crowd, it is a great debut for a group of musicians who have been broadly dormant since their ‘hey-day’ (if one can use the term). A lacklustre performance of Everlastingly Yours, however, worryingly suggests the band is already tiring of their biggest single.
Cuzomano paused to eat some empanadas. It was time for the Snobs to gather and prepare themselves for an act they were all excited to see: Janelle Monae.
Appearing on-stage to the opening score of Kubrick’s magnificent 2001: A Space Odyssee, Monae opens as perfectly as her leather suit dress with Crazy, Classic, Life to a hugely supportive audience of ‘Dirty Computers’.
“Say it loud, I’m dirty, I’m proud!”
Monae is an amazing performer and you can definitely tell that she’s enjoying herself, which makes it better. As with many of the other, leading female acts at this year’s Primavera, there is a tangible sense of a debt owed to the late, great Prince. Monae, indeed, was mentored extensively by Prince, and dedicated a distinctly lame and hurried rendition of Purple Rain (serving as a costume-change opportunity for Monae) in lacklustre memory of the incredible artist to whom she owes so much.
Nonetheless, the popular, crossover appeal of so many of her songs, together with intelligent nods to the sexual, the feminine and the political proves Monae does indeed Got The Juice. So, too, do three of her fans, it would seem, who were brought on stage to dance in a trial that was hilariously entertaining.
A performance of Pynk, replete with now-infamous vagina trousers, was too Pop-y for your dear Snobs, and demonstrates that, while Monae is a phenomenal artist, her cross-over appeal to Indie and Funk only goes so far just yet. Monae appears conflicted between pursuit of the ‘full Pop’ path of so many performers (Lady GaGa, Beyoncé), versus the ‘performance’ route that appeals to… Snobs like us (James Brown, Prince, et al.). She has the ability to do both, although we certainly prefer the latter (Am I A Freak is a particular favourite, and was sung during the set).
Singles Q.U.E.E.N., Electric Lady and mega-hit Make Me Feel (obviously, the Prince song) are, at times, a bit cheesy, but Monae can really dance. Her production value is beyond amazing and she has the showmanship of James Brown, complete with “one more time” horns. Monae offers a truly positive message that you can tell that she believes in, and so do her fans.
Monae seemingly closes the show with an amazing rendition of Tightrope, before coming back on stage with what seemed to be Primavera Sound’s first real encore. However, it was too late by then – our glasses were empty, nature was calling and, as John said, “the night’s still young.”
“The night’s still in diapers,” corrected El Mascarado, and he was right: Tame Impala are two hours away, and Jungle nearly four. Thus John, Cuzomano, El Mascarado, Otacon, and a couple of disciples leave Monae’s show unanimously impressed by another superb performance from one of Primavera’s many female powerhouses of 2019.
First, however, there was still time for Cuzomano and Otacon to catch Suede.
Otacon had never heard of Suede, but Brett Anderson reminded him of the likes of old Muse, for some reason (despite being considerably older). Anderson was definitely trying his hardest to hype the crowd, but with little to no effect. Cuzomano depressingly declared the performance time for a bathroom break and beer, and off they went.
Next up in the “killing time before Tame Impala” window was Low. With a very similar psychedelic and laid back vibe to BEAK>, the low vibes play to the low mood of the crowd. The same sonic atmosphere worked much better at seven o’clock versus midnight. Despite us all liking Low, the experience is somewhat forgettable. You can tell that everyone is waiting for Tame Impala, which leads us to… empanadas. And then Tame Impala.
Parker opens with Let it Happen and rips through hit songs Mind Mischief and The Less I Know The Better.
At this point, Bad Vibes Cuzomano set upon killing John and Otacon’s good vibes.
“Tame Impala are now that band where the crowd is annoying.”
It’s half-true – half the crowd seems (newer fans) ludicrously into it (John), dancing aloft partners’ shoulders, etcetera, etcetera, but the other half (Cuzomano) is kind of bored.
Tame Impala put on a great show. One unknown song was played, but – aside from Patience and Borderline – there is no other new material. Whilst there is no doubt that Parker is one of the most interesting and innovative artists of the 21st century, the lack of newer material taints the performance.
Kevin Parker’s vision for the show, with both stage screens shut down most of the time – trying to create an intimate environment – loses some of its magic when you are playing for 30,000 people. It can feel like Tame Impala is becoming a victim of its own success – too big for their own sake.
Whilst the crowd is hypnotized by Parker’s soothing voice, occasionally awakened by his roaring psychedelic guitars and synthesizers, the otherwise great performance is notably marred by a fake encore, by now such an unnecessarily predictable part of the live concert experience. Feels Like We Only Go Backwards predictably closes out the set from a fantastic artist who, until we hear new material, in reality has nothing to offer from a live show since you last saw him.
Notably absent from Tame Impala was Easy C.
The reason why Easy C found himself at the front of Miley Cyrus, closer than any other band he witnessed at Primavera, will not be fully divulged. With no interest in her music, and, as a result, absolutely no knowledge of her catalogue, Easy C took a leaf out of John’s Guide to Hedonism, fuelling himself with a combination of beer, vodka and gin. From the small, disjointed pieces of memory somehow still stored, Easy C recalled that Miley Cyrus was lip-synching, and not much else.
While we left early to catch Jungle, John, Cuzomano and Otacon in fact ended up arriving late, as they were trapped for what seemed like hours trying to get another round of drinks. All was not in vain, however, as the trio struck up a conversation with two locals who enquired about our t-shirts. A brief sermon on the Gospel of Snobbery resulted in the duo happily converting to our mission, and thus a few more disciples were recruited. Sauntering off with their own t-shirts, we wondered if we might spot them the next day. We love our disciples, you see.
Jungle have come a long way since Easy C first saw an apparent bunch of misfits perform live several years ago. The timing of their performance at 2 a.m. on the Primavera Stage on the peak day of the festival could not have been better chosen by the organisers. Seeing them several years later has cemented our view that, not only do they have a phenomenal sound, they are even more phenomenal as a live act at any festival.
Tom Macfarland and Josh Lloyd-Watson lead the band out to great whoops by the crowd, the anticipation unequivocal across a massive audience. Their production and stage presence is far tighter and more impressive than the misfit appearance of yore, with the two lead men playing adjacent to one another, both adorned entirely in white as their name sits proudly above them. They deliver Heavy California to a crowd in complete euphoria and harmony, proceeding to jump between songs from their debut album to their most recent release.
Halfway through Casio, John is comfortable in announcing to the rest of the Snobs that “in a venue like this, and for a crowd like this, these guys work better than Tame Impala.” The Snobs, jubilant, agree, with John actually transforming into a Wookie, sending crowds screaming.
The performance is great, all elements work and everything flows. Old songs from Jungle’s self-titled debut LP mesh well with new anthems from their 2018’s masterpiece For Ever and the rhythm never stops, nor does the pace slow down.
It is always bold to say that they have saved the best for last, but Busy Earnin’ and Time, the two songs that catapulted Jungle into superstardom, are the show’s closers – and fittingly. With time to introduce everyone of the band members and thank Primavera for the energy, the band bows to close out a magnificent performance. They are clearly growing with time and we wait with excitement to see what the future will bring for one of Audio Snobbery’s most cherished “new” acts.
As was the tradition at this time of the evening, El Mascarado, Otacon and Cuzomano then whisked themselves back to HQ for some beauty sleep. Easy C, simultaneously, was tied up with “other business”, so John ventured off into the deeper depths of Primavera after-dark with a couple of disciples to the beachy end of the venue, where Helena Hauff was putting on a power-heavy show in the Desperados Cube.
Easy C in fact found himself watching Mura Masa. The Guernsey-based DJ is known for his association to Nao, who duly appeared on-stage for Complicated and Firefly. Her presence at 3:30am was lauded by the crowd, taking the night up a notch in preparation for what was to come.
Following Helena, a disciple convinced a now completely inebriated John to see Batu. The Bristol-born DJ’s setup was a sort of a Boiler Room-style affair, with him playing in the middle of the crowd, surrounded by smoke machines that released the pleasing aroma of chipped wood [Editor’s note: John was clearly hammered]. At nearly 5 a.m., Batu delivers exactly what was needed: more beat, more bass and more power. In a Street Fighter cum Fight Club environment, Batu’s crowd serves as a reminder of how Primavera has evolved to become a bit of everything for everyone, where no one is left out.
Easy C and John then reunited for Peggy Gou. Despite repeated warnings by Cuzomano that “Peggy is shit,” and the natural hesitancy that comes with such hype, she can certainly perform. In contrast to Cuzomano, John now thinks she is “class.” Instagram- or Facebook-DJ – call it whatever you want – the Berlin-based Korean DJ and producer apparently knew how to throw a party to conclude day two of Primavera Sound.
This is day two of our Primavera Sound 2019 coverage, read about day one and day three.