It's my favorite time of the year, spring. Things are starting to get warm, people dress differently, everyone is starts getting happier due to warmth and the on coming summer... and most importantly it's the beginning of festival season!!! While most of my friends back at home are well aware of my intensity and love for festivals my girl friend had not experienced this aspect of my life with me yet. An avid music listener myself we decided to plan out a nice summer filled with traveling and music festivals.
We decided on doing a single day for a music festival in Spain as the precursor to our summer travels. There are many many options to choose from when it comes to Spain and music events but one can argue that the three big juggernauts to choose from are Primavera Sound, Sonar, and Bilbao BBK. We ended up going with Primavera Sound because they were the only ones hosting the returning act I was dying to see named Ratatat. An amazing live jam-electronic group who had been on hiatus for the past five years. The lineup wasn't that great to be honest so we only decided to go the day Ratatat was playing and our goal was to just take a train to Barcelona in the morning and party all night and take a train back home when the sun rose. What could go wrong?
It was no doubt a beautiful day in Barcelona.
We arrived 8 am so that we could have some time to enjoy Barcelona before the festivities began. One of the things we didn't do last time we were here was to visit the Picasso museum and thanks to our student cards we were able to go in for free. To my surprise, the museum was hosting my favorite artists' work as well..
The museum was small but very nice. I wasn't aware up until this point that Picasso and Dali were close friends and heavily influenced each others work. It really made me like Dali on a whole new level.
...aaaanndd chocolate! Never been to a chocolate museum before but if there's chocolate involved, I'm in!
Random picture time!
They have chocolate statues! I don't know why this concept was shocking to me. It did say Museum in its title. But there were so many, and so magnificent!
Yes. All chocolate.
I want to start this post by mentioning that this is my first European festival. As someone who has gone to many festivals in the United States and been around many type of people from around the US there had always been one common thread of truth people had told me: European festivals are so much better then US festivals. Everyone told me this, and honestly doing my own research I tend to agree with them. This festival is the exception to the rule. I don't know what happen to be honest but I'm going to walk you through it.
To enter the festival you need to walk down a some what long blacktop walkway next to a parking garage area. Two things welcome you:
1. The festival entrance ground
2. These bad boys.
Now I'm all for having porta pottys in front of the festival grounds for people who arrived before opening time and want to wait at the gate. What seems pretty unsettling is open area urinals. These aren't such a bad idea inside the festival but while waiting outside the festival you don't want to be hanging around people peeing in the open and that lingering urinal smell. You just don't.
Luckily it didn't take long for the gate area to open and let us through.
The entrance to the festival. At night these letters lit up and each one moved up and down on it's own. It was pretty cool to look at.
There was a big line to get in. Mostly due to the fact that the festival refuse to open its inside gates to the festival for at least 3 hours longer than most people who arrived expected.
The area surrounding the festival was quiet beautiful. There is something about dancing and partying by water all night long that is just so nice. Maybe it's the comfort of the sway water surrounding you. Who knows. One thing you'll notice in this picture is the large amount of open space. Now granted these pictures were taken when we first arrived but even by night time it is pretty empty looking. This is a popular festival that doesn't offer camping so you'd expect it to not feel so desolate but it does. This is partially because the festival offers you nothing. There are four stages, some randomly scattered food and beverage stands, maybe one or two merch booths and some scattered porta pottys. there is no activities or anything for the people at the fest to do. You look around and you can't help but feel like this was a skeleton to a bigger and better event. It's like they put the minimal amount of effort possible to throw a festival.
I think this picture is a good representation of how the crowd was all day long: silent, standing still, and uninterested in what is currently going on. It was shocking, I had never seen anything like it. People were there but it didn't seem like they were actually THERE. There was no emotional charge, no electrical feeling you get when you're on a vacation away from your life. It felt like people were there because it was now the cool 'in' thing to do. It was so weird and really brought down our vibes a lot.
As the night falls the vibes start picking up a little bit once people had consumed enough alcohol to forget they were bored all day. Dixon through down a set under a tent by the water. It was relaxing but didn't really get you in the mood to pump yourself up for the night.
Another major issue was that after every act there was an hour long break in between which is way too long of a wait especially when there aren't a butt load of acts you wanted to see. And when there were no acts on stage they played TV and movie commericals on the big screen.
.... that's right, you didn't misread. TV AND MOVIE commercials. Are you kidding me? Like really? They really should rename the festival Corporate Primavera Sound Music Festival. The whole point of festival is to escape. Escape the things that are in your everyday life, especially the advertisement. Instead this festival spent its whole time when music wasn't on trying to convince you to consume and to spend. An absurd amount of Heinken ads were posted all over the festival. There were more signs for the beer than for the actual festival!
One of the two main acts we wanted to see was alt-J. Luckily they put on an incredibly amazing show. Really amazing.
I'd say for all the annoyances that the festival brought us up until this point. alt-J made it all better.
We moved on to see Run The Jewels play. I'm not a fan of trap at all and they played a very typical trap set. Although as a whole I really didn't enjoy the show it had its moments that were fun. The two guys in the group are very entertaining on stage which helps I think.
And now the main event. Their only stop in Spain for their whole European tour. The reason we endured this crappy festival......
Ratatat was worth it ten fold. Really blew me away. Their sound and video production was incredible and their set was full of their classics and some stuff off the new album. I suspect Ratatat isn't back together for good so I highly suggest catching them if you get a chance!
Here's a quick rating of the acts we saw:
Patti Smith & Band: 1/5
Sylvan Esso: 3/5
Julian Cassablanca + The Voidz: 2/5
Run The Jewels: 2.5/5
Belle & Sebastian: 2/5
I know I'm beating a dead horse here by this point but Primavera Sound was a super corporate disappointment of a festival and I wouldn't recommend it unless you're trying to catch a super rare act. While it's for another post I will say that the three other festivals we went to after this one were much better than this and we were definitely able to redeem that European experience.
More blog updates coming soon!