Thursday, June 9, 2016

Primavera Sound 2016 Introduction

This felt like a year of change for Primavera Sound: tickets sold out a month in advance, Brits made up a higher proportion of the audience, and it felt less like a private gathering of music lovers and more a party destination. This of course had much to do with securing Radiohead as headliners: the question is whether they will continue to pursue Coachella's strategy of mainstream bookings, or if it will return to 'normal' in 2017. The previous character of the Festival could still be experienced on the smaller, ocean stages, but the two facing main stages were often not environments conducive to appreciating subtle music. Inconsiderate (largely British) talkers amongst the audience seemed far more predominant, a situation made worse by the lower volume levels on the main stage than last year. This was especially evident during Radiohead's set, though they did seem to be able to command the attention of the crowd. Unfortunately though, my experience was marred by the chaos before they came on stage, when security cleared the VIP area unless (I found out afterwards) you paid them 20 Euros. As a result, I lost the place on the front rail I'd secured before Savages, but more importantly felt physically threatened as those displaced at the front became increasingly angry.

Aside from this upsetting experience, the festival remained inspiring. The line-up was still adventurous and challenging, and the site itself, main stages apart, is gorgeous. The addition of the Beach Club this year, featuring EDM music, was positive, though it increased the size of the site and time taken to move between stages, which can constrain your personal schedule. Coachella's stages are arranged so that it's entirely feasible to take in parts of sets, instead of having to commit to remaining in a section of the site. However, the climate is far more pleasant than the Californian desert's, and there's no need to drive into the festival with hotels in walking distance and an efficient public transport system. The paucity of ice cream vendors aside, the quality of food was good and about half the price of many UK or US festivals. It lacks Goldenvoice's art installations, and technical resources in areas such as video screens, but Coachella doesn't have a beach on site. I'm currently uncertain if I'll attend next year, but it's easy to understand why the secret is out about Primavera Sound.

Note that just as I post my 300th article here, this blog will be taking a break for a few weeks whilst I concentrate on my other great passion.

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

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