Primavera

Interpol at the Llevant stage, Primavera Sound 2011

So, my first experience of the Primavera Sound festival was, on the whole, pretty awesome. Primavera is one of Spain’s largest music festivals, and takes place annually in late May/June at the Parc del Fòrum In Barcelona (Primavera is Spanish for Spring, by the way – so in England this would have been the ‘Spring Sound Festival’. God, our language sucks sometimes). It’s got a lot going for it – alively and exotic host city, seafront location, a great line-up, the chance to watch Pulp perform “Common People” at two-thirty in the morning to a hugely-psyched crowd in 18 degrees heat with a Balearic breeze at your back…

Of course, they nearly fucked everything up with a ludicrous attempt to run a ‘cashless’ payment system on-site using pre-registered ID cards. This wasn’t actually made clear until you arrived at the festival to exchange your ticket for the card and your wristband, by which point the Portal site where you could register and put payment on was down. You could, however, put credit on your card at the actual festival site, which we did, only to find out that most of the bars couldn’t accept the cards because their internet connections were down.

Fortunately, the organisers rolled with the punches and managed to get a cash-based workaround going by midnight, which it turns out is when Primavera really gets going anyway. Some of the bars had working connections by the following day, and they got by on a combination of both methods until the end of the festival, allowing me to blow all my hard-earned savings on overpriced booze. Phew! Close one.

Anyway, saw Cults, Bearsuit, the Walkmen, Interpol, Flaming Lips, Wolf People, the National, Explosions in the Sky, Belle & Sebastian, Pulp, Warpaint, Fleet Foxes, Money Mark, PJ Harvey and Mogwai, some of which were better than others, but all of which were extremely enjoyable (although Jarvis was on particularly good form in Pulp’s first major gig in nine years, it has to be said). The packed schedule meant there were inevitably a few clashes, so I missed a few things I really wanted to see, but hey.

Whilst myself and 70,000 others were enjoying ourselves at the festival this was going on just a few hundred yards from where we were staying. Los indignados are protesting against high unemployment and the governments proposed austerity measures. The Plaça de Catalunya protest is one of several occurring in a number of major Spanish cities, which started on May 17th. The inciting incident appears to have been an attempt to dismantle a part of the camp, possibly to erect a big screen ahead of the Champion’s League final (that;s what I heard)We didn’t see much of it, except for a fuckload of helicopters over the apartment on Thursday night, a massive influx of protesters on the Friday as half the city seemed to come out for them in response to the police action, oh, and I was shoved rather roughly by a cop on the Saturday night when he lost patience with my extremely drunken attempts to explain (in English) why I needed to be let through his cordon (POWER TO THE PEOPLE!).

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