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10 Things We Learned At Primavera Sound 2018


Another Primavera Sound is in the books. Plans were made and then forgotten, tears were shed, hands were clapped, and every part of the body from vocal chords all the way down to feet are in recovery mode. 

Every year the festival shows why it's one of the best in the world. With so much to still unpack, here are our takeaways from an action packed weekend in Barcelona. 


Arctic Monkeys are at a strange point in their career.

 

Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is certainly not the followup to AM people were expecting. Alex Turner has taken his group in a weird direction and going into the Saturday night headline set, I don't think anyone really knew what to expect. Rest assured the Sheffield lads delivered in full, somehow managing to tether their dissident eras together in a way that felt a bit odd, but in a good way. 
 

 

Cornerstone #arcticmonkeys #primaverasound #primaverasound2018

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Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches has an incredible voice. Her bandmate Martin Doherty does not. 

 

I'll fully admit to being a bit skeptical of Chvrches before seeing them close out the Seat stage Thursday night. But damn can Lauren belt it out. And her ability to recreate her studio vocals live was made all the more impressive when her bandmate Martin took over vocal duties for a song. That dude should stick to synths. 

  


Brits shouldn't be allowed in groups of more than two anywhere on a festival site. 

 

I don't know if it was because Glastonbury took a fallow year this year, or if Primavera has always been like this and I didn't notice before, or if the Brit population increased this time around, but I think it might be time for action. 

 


The National actually aren't boring at all. 

 

With a repertoire of downbeat, forlorn songs that all sounds a bit similar, I wasn't sure how well The National could hold a festival audience's attention. But I'm big enough to admit that I was wrong. Matt Berninger is a consummate professional and his band's set hit this writer right in the feels. 

 


The War On Drugs are a perfect festival band.

 

Another band whose songs all kind of sound the same, The War On Drugs played an immaculate early evening set on Thursday. Their hazy jam-rock sound somehow works equally well washing over you while resting off to the side as it does up and moving around in the front row. 
 

 

The war on drugs ⚡️ #thewarondrugs #primaverasound #primaverasound2018 #barcelona

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Crossing a bridge can take a lot longer than you think. 

 

That's not some deep metaphor. I mean it literally. The bridge that connects Primavera Bits to the main festival area gets overrun with people at night and security stop the flow of traffic often. If you're one of those people who plans their festival down to the millisecond, you're going to want to keep this in mind going forward. 

 


Ariel Pink and Thundercat are legends who should make music together. 

 

Two of the best sets of the festival went down on the Ray-Ban stage. Thundercat's virtuosity on Friday and Ariel Pink's crazy collage of sounds a day later are the epitome of what Primavera Sound tries to be.

While they approach music from a different direction, it struck me that both artists have a solid foundation in pop music that they use to keep things accessible when they take their music to weirder places. 

 


Delicate artistry probably doesn't belong at a festival.

 

This is a tough one. You want to believe that at a place like Primavera the only requirement for making it on the lineup should be artistic merit. But I think perhaps some more practical considerations might have to be taken into account. Björk's Thursday headlining set was a masterclass in avant-pop.

But with the artist's choice to play mostly songs from her latest album which features an airy, delicate sound, keeping the attention of the crowd that had been partying for several hours already was a tall order. There was a lot of talking around where I was at least, which led me to question whether this was the right venue for what was on stage. 

 


A beach party is the only way to start a festival day.

 

After a long night of festival-ing, hitting the beach for an afternoon recovery sesh makes all the sense. With a beach on the festival site, ocean-fronted afternoon parties soundtracked by artists on the bill is a stroke of genius. 

 


Sure Lorde gets a lot of credit, but not enough.

 

Lorde is huge, I get that. She has hits and her album Melodrama was near or at the top of any good year end list. But does she get put in the discussion of best pop star in the world? She really should. Her Sunday night set had everything you could ask for, encapsulating the full range of emotion from crushing lows to soaring highs. And even though it shouldn't really matter, she writes her own music, which is more than you can say about a lot of her contemporaries. 

  


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