It’s that time of year again people when I regale you with tales of a week spent in Barcelona, primarily at the Primavera Sound festival. Sadly/luckily (delete as appropriate) this time, none of us ended up tearing IV drips out of our arms in hospital or being assaulted by riot police for pissing in a highly ornamental doorway. We did, however, spend the week drinking San Miguel, eating chorizo and using the phrase ‘pum pum dive’ non-stop.
We arrived in Barcelona at some point in the early evening and navigated our way to the Yellow Nest hostel (two quick deviations from our narrative: 1) the BCN Metro system is a dream. A total and utter dream to use. Cheap, fast, air conditioned. 2) Anyone wanting to visit the city should stay at the Nest, the place is a total and utter dream to visit. Cheap, hot showers, PRIMO BABES ON THE RECEPTION DESK). It felt good to be back in the sweltering, lightless dorm rooms, and to head up to the roof terrace surrounded, as it is, by municipal flats, youngsters learning the recorder, and rabid dogs prowling around on terracotta tiles.
After unpacking and generally just fannying around for a bit, we (me, Jess, Hannah, Jake, Emma, Jess, Joe, Gunning) bowled down to the nearest place still selling alcohol, picked up a few litres of Xibeca beer, the mythical Don Simon wine boxes and some actually pretty rank but briefly very popular lemon based lager called Damm Limon. As a group we made our way to Mammas Pizza, a nice lil’ joint a few streets away from the Nest. We proceeded to stay there for about 3 hours, drinking endless bottles of Frexinet cava and discussing rape/gypsy attacks/Damilola Taylor/Michael Jackson. It wasn’t as cringey as that makes it sound, I swear.
Not really sure what happened after that, I think we just drank some Don Simon and then went to bed.
Now, as lovely as last years holiday was, we spent the entirety of it just lying hungover in either the hostel or on the beach. This year we decided to see a bit more of the city so after having marked pretty much every page in our guidebook, we headed down to Montjuic (Jew Mountain). This isn’t just any ordinary mountain though. No way. You have to get on some Space Mountain shit to get up there. Then in a rickety cable car. Once you’re up there, BOOM, you’re soaking in the LITERALLY incredible views of the city, wandering round the castle, eating ice cream, drinking beer, popping into the Olympic stadium for a bit, admiring the mothefucking palace that houses the city’s major art gallery, gown down the mountain on escalators, sitting in fountains. Basically the place is like something from a dream, but a good one, not one when you’re
After the mountain sojourn, we queued up for our wristbands for the festival. Took an absolute age but it was good to see that everyone waiting to go inside the venue looked as if they check Pitchfork daily. After getting our wristbands on we all headed to some grotty but awesome park for the second kebab of the day. The first had been at Pitta Hut on the seafront, this was at Bang Bang Zoom Kebab House or some shit like that on Las Ramblas. The durum de pollo tasted heavenly, literally heavenly. We had a few cans, a little zooty and we were good to go and see Los Campesinos!, a band I hadn’t previously been huge on. It was a combination of the lead singers voice and they way he sings the word ‘gullet’ (one of the worst words in the english language, FACT). But actually, in the cramped, sweaty Apollo, they were really good fun. And no homo but that girl on keyboards is buff as hell. So when they went into the crowd for the encore I took my chance and grinded on her and then worried that I’d just committed light frottage.
After that we tried to meet the Infamous Irish Boys at Club KGB. The only problem with this plan was that Club KGB is no longer open. So we sat on the pavement outside looking into the metal grates, willing them to open for us just so we could listen to D’n’B and breakcore all night. They didn’t though and instead we just watched a near paralytic Jess transform into the world’s happiest woman as she stumbled down side streets shouting about zooty parties. Got back to the hostel, probably drunk some more like the hardmen we are.
Ahhhhh! Primavera day! I think we all went down to BCN beach for a few hours of ray catchin’ and swimming. Well, me, hannah and jake swam, everyone else pussied out for fear of floating AIDS needles or something.
We got to the festival site and me and Jake watched Bis. Yeah, they were fun live. Manda Rin’s looking her ago though, poor girl. Headed to the super mall (pronounced ‘mall, not ‘moll’) for a couple of cheese burgers and super strength lager before running (well, jogging) back to the festival to see The Fall. No one else was up for it which was a relief as I was incredibly worried that Mark E Smith was going to come on stage, piss on the crowd, give himself an enema and get the words wrong to The Classical. Instead he came on, chewing gum frantically throughout, and blew me away. I hate the word but his band were ludicrously ‘tight’.
After The Fall we all reconvened to watch the XX. Initially I wasn’t sure about this choice as I grew tired of the record after a few listens but yeah, it was good. I mean, it sounded exactly like having the album on quite loudly but it worked. Props to the bass player looking like an actual greased up rapist. They could do with a bit more stage presence really, but I guess that having fun would be the antithesis of their all important image.
Broken Social Scene were up next. Yeah, the new record (‘World Sick’ apart) is total unmemorable shit but they were pretttay, prettay good. If a little indulgent. Sorry for the scant report but all I remember is pissing up a hill as 7/4 Shoreline started and running down, piss streaming down my legs probably, to hear it. And lots and lots of very long guitar solos. Oh, and Owen Pallett joined them for a few songs. Which was nice.
Pretty sure we just slammed down more four euro pints until Pavement came on. Ah, Pavement. Not particularly great were they? I mean, yeah, Crooked Rain Crooked Rain is a pretty great slice of summer slacker indie, but nah, not worth the hype. The older portion of the crowd (and Primavera seems to be a festival dominated by the over 30s, which is a genuinely Good Thing) seemed to be loving it. Sort of glad I saw them but mainly just to say that I once saw Pavement.
More alcohol, then bang, we headed down to the Vice stage to catch Moderat do their heads-down-stare-at-laptop-at-all-times-ensure-you-don’t-smile-at-any-point thing. And it was good. A New Error sounded as excellent as you imagine it would by the sea in Barcelona at 4am. Highlight of the set: Jake busting out every dance move in his possession and telling us that a) “I don’t hear music…I see patterns” and b) “fuck the rhythm, I don’t need one”.
Metro home. Bed.
I hate wallowing in a hangover. Hate it. Why would you want to lie in bed all day feeling shit? WHY? So being unable to sleep for more than four hours after a night out, I got up really early, did the food shop, dossed around on the roof terrace and waited for the others to get up. They did, we ate lunch and then I got the Metro down to Parc el Forum to see motherfuckin’ Owen Pallett. It was glorious. Absurdly, incredibly, stupidly brilliant. Except for that creepy dude Owen got to play guitar. His odd, affected, spasmodic style of playing/moving made me feel quite uncomfortable. But other than that it was a 10/10 show. He did all the big hits off Heartland (aka the best record of 2010), some of the best Final Fantasy tracks and a cover of Odessa by Caribou which made the girl in front of me nearly faint with pleasure.
After OP finished I had a few hours to wander round the near empty site. It was a bit depressing really, just damp concrete and the smell of stale San Miguel. And lots of guys with beards and glasses eyeing up expensive band t-shirts. I caught a bit of Harlem, saw the New Pornographers do their only good song and then watched the end of A Sunny Day in Glasgow’s set. Wished I seen more because the girls in that band are FINE.
Caught up with everyone and saw Best Coast. Hmmm. She doesn’t really work ‘live’ like most lo-fi fuzzy indie-pop stuff. The lack of sonic hiss pretty much reveals how she’s got one song that she constantly re-writes. Basically No Age but she sings about hanging out with rad boys who like skateboards rather than skateboarding and hanging out with rad girls. oh and she did a cover of So Bored by Wavves. LOL! HOW META! BECUASE GEDDIT, WAVVES HAD A MELTDOWN AT PRIMAVERA LAST YEAR! AND THE WAVVES MAN IS HER BOYFRIEND! She’s pretty fit though.
A massive drinking session/kebab with a bloke who probably was a rapist followed. Luckily the East 17 Rapist buggered off when we excluded him from our circle and was soon replaced by a wolf. Not just any wolf though. No, Jambi was an albino wolf who belonged to a drug dealing squat dweller. Jambi’s sole purpose in life was to protect his owner (though ‘owner’ is a term he would probably refute, as after all, ownership is theft) from rampaging neo-nazis. We were put in charge of him whilst the squatter went off to buy Jake a ‘superpill’. We chilled with that wolf, a pissed wolf, a wolf who had been drinking 60 cent wine, like we were the coolest fuckers in BCN. We probably were. The squatter came back and he and Jambi walked out of our lives forever. We swapped him for Les Savy Fav. LSF are a band way better live than on record and you know what you’re gonna get from them. in a good way.
I saw Shellac next, the others saw Cold Cave. Fuck Cold Cave, I wanted to see Steve and the boys hammer out some stupidly taught mathrockwhateverthefuckitis stuff for half an hour to a crowd that seemed to scared to move. They started with Prayer to God, the rest is a blur.
It was crunch time after this. A few of our group had been jizzing themselves over the prospect of seeing Major Lazer, a group I’ve long dismissed as ironic ragga for middle class art students (Oh, I am SO edgy!). They clashed with The Pixies. I don’t really like the Pixies because I’m stuck in that stage where I refuse to listen to canonical bands but I thought I’d go and see them for a laugh. Instead I heard one song from inside a toilet and ran down to the front of the Pitchfork stage to meet the others. I made the right choice. Aging, balding rockers playing the same songs they’ve been doing for twenty years or two hours of grinding, pum pum diving, batty-whinin’, Jess posting on the FUCKING STAGE on her Blackberry, non-stop dancing, some bloke with a blonde mohican shouting WE PARTY EVERY DAY! WE PARTY EVERY DAY!? Yeah, that’s right, it’s obvious isn’t it.
Joker followed. I’d been pumped for this since he was announced a few weeks back as I’ve been a fan for a year or so now. I’ve got fond memories of him destroying the Goldsmiths student union with his bass heavy multicolour synth ejaculations so the thought of seeing him do his thing in front of a few thousand people was almost too much. He came on, looking dapper in a tweed jacket and crisp white shirt (as opposed to his normal XXXXXXL tee/purple cap) and did his usual purple wow thing - you know the drill: liquid melodies snaking round obese basslines, the odd vocal weaving in and out of the mix etc. He had the, if I’m being honest, fucking pointless MC Nomad with him which detracted somewhat. He played for a bit too long, but it was nice to hear Digidesign at least twice.
Joker bounced off stage, I went for a beer and when I came back Diplo was playing the Cirlce of Life from the Lion King. For the next two hours he played all sorts of rad stuff but the highlight was hearing Sunchyme by Dario G. Now, I’m not entirely sure if he actually played this, but in my head he did and in my head it was the most joyful moment of the decade so far. Think we made it to about half five before getting the Metro back.
I’ve actually got no recollection of what we did in the daytime. I remember we went to the mall for a nice sit down dinner at Pasta City. Ugh. Never order the cannelloni from Pasta City. The garlic bread with mozzarella was delightful though, so I musn’t grumble. This was at about eight o’clock, so I’m not sure how we didn’t see a single band before midnight. Oh. Now I remember: we hit the caffeine pills. Real drugs are for losers, who needs MDMA when you can do 500mg of caffeine instead? The side effects include uncontrollable spams that result in kicking over bottles of cava, the constant fear of shitting yourself, and numb legs. But other than that I’d recommend it.
Me, Jake and Jess saw Sunny Day Real Estate which was good. Chugging 90s emo performed by sad looking middle-aged men is always going to be a winner. I think it was after SDRE that I fell down a mountain of piss and ended up smelling like a tramp all night.
NEXT UP OMG IT WAS THE FUCKING PET SHOP BOYS!!!!!! Literally the best thing I’ve ever seen, so I can’t really sum it up in words (it was my second epiphany of the holiday; both involved me realizing that, sometimes, language cannot convey feeling. It is inadequate). But basically they played all the hits, did an incredible cover of Viva la Vida by Coldplay (which the crowd spunked themselves over), wore rad costumes, had fantastic dancers, and, for a few songs at least, essentially made me rethink my atheist standpoint.
Nothing was going to top them, so I got a hot dog and listened to a bit of Orbital’s set, which seemed to consist of the fattest kick drum of all time and Heaven is a Place on Earth by Belinda Carlisle.
Jess and Hannah bailed like total wimps, which left me, emma and jake to soak up the last of Primavera Sound 2010. This involved standing at the front for Fake Bloods never ending, pretty boring electro/dubstep set, buzzing on caffeine pills and drinking up all our remaining beer tokens.
The set ended. The sun was coming up. The ground was covered, literally covered, in empty beer cups. People sat on the floor, not wanting to return to the real world, wishing they could be cocooned in Primavera’s otherworldly embrace forever. But we had to leave, had to get on the metro, had to get back to the hostel, had to sleep.
I have literally no recollection of what we did this day apart from seeing the magic fountain and watching jess cry because it was too emotional.
Montjuic again. The olympic swimming pool. A sauna. A steam room. Endless swinging dicks. A ramble down the hill. Mammas pizza. A zooty party. Bed.
Rather than seeing the rest of the city, we lied in a dark, stinking room watching The Mummy and the Mummy Returns before getting the plane back to Gatwick and a taxi back to New Cross.
So yeah. The best week of my life. Even if I said that last year.