2 More New Bands At Primavera

Primaver by Xarlene - Best New Bands

Barcelona – Perfection is not something one comes across…ever.  Obviously the notion of true flawlessness is subjective and differs from person to person, but as a seasoned veteran of festival culture (going on twelve years), the Primavera Sound festival in Barcelona is as close to godliness as one can get when it comes to large, multi-date events.  Even as a dedicated devotee to Bonnaroo these past dozen years or so, nothing tops Primavera: line-reducing urinals, wandering keg-strapped beer vendors, throngs of gorgeous people everywhere; not to mention the location, which is unreal.  It all takes place at a sprawling, breathtaking seaside architectural park, complete with beach access and panoramic views of Spain’s northeastern shoreline and the mountains that curl behind the Catalonian city, nestling it up against the azure waters of the Mediterranean. (Top photo by Xarlene)

Perhaps the most alluring aspect of Primavera Sound is their ability to secure such amazing lineups.  My first two years—2012 and 2015—I saw bands and artists that I never thought I’d ever see in my life: Saint Etienne, Underworld, Mazzy Star, Sunn O)), Patti Smith…just to name a few.  And this year is no different: the lineup is perhaps the best it has ever been, boasting huge names like Radiohead, Sigur Rós, PJ Harvey, and the triumphant returns of bands like LCD Soundsystem and the elusively brilliant Australian outfit The Avalanches.  There are, of course, many new bands the festival is willing and able to showcase over the course of the weekend as well, and here are just a few of those sets that took place during the first night of the fest:


Empress Of

Empress Of at Primavera by  Dani Canto - Best New Bands

Empress Of is the project of New York-based singer/songwriter/producer Lorely Rodriguez, who has been actively making and releasing music for the better part of this decade.  Rodriguez played her second set of the festival at the Pitchfork Stage in the Parc del Forúm on Friday evening, her first being a set at the off-site venue BARTS in the Poble-Sec neighborhood of Barcelona as one of Primavera Sound’s annual club shows that happen before, during, and after the main festival dates all over Barcelona.  Her set at the actual festival did not differ from the one she performed at BARTS, but both were so captivating that I had to revisit her show, even though I had seen her perform less than 24 hours prior.  Empress Of released her debut LP Me last year to magnanimous acclaim, and she and her band—consisting of a keyboardist and a live drummer & percussionist—powered through several songs from said album, often not taking any breaks for rest or applause between two songs.  Empress Of opened with an early track entitled “Realize You,” gracefully flowing from one side of the stage to the other in an iridescent pearl-colored dress that looked like something someone would wear in Stanley Kubrick’s 60s-centric view of the future—but she totally pulled it off.  Her curly hair flopped easily yet purposefully from side to side as she tore into Me’s second track “Water Is Water” as the second track of her set, invoking images of a young Salma Hayek as she did so.  In addition to “Realize You” and “Water Water,” she played the majority of the material on her LP Me, including “To Get By,” “Need Myself,” “Threat,” and “How Do You Do It?”  Perhaps the best-received performance was of her single “Standard,” a slow yet gushing song that plays with sonic expectations and turns them on their heads.  The only other song that wasn’t lifted from Me was a newer, brutally honest song called “Woman Is The Word” that explores the meaninglessness of gender roles.  Lorely Rodriguez not only flourishes on the stage in general, she seems to blossom here in particular, like a Spanish rose on the plains. (Photo by Dani Canto)


Floating Points

Floating Points at Primavera by Cecili Diaz-Betz - Best New Bands

UK producer Sam Shepherd—also known as Floating Points—has a very unique style.  His blend of electronica takes cues from many different styles, ranging from deep house and garage to analog jazz.  At Primavera Sound he brought his music to life with a full band, featuring Shepherd himself on synths and sequencers backed with an array of drums and guitars, among other instruments including strings and even some woodwinds.  He played mostly songs off his full-length album Elaenia (released last year), including the lengthy “Silhouetttes (I, II, III),” “For Marmish,” and the title track “Elaenia,” yet while the album is quite mellow, the live version was much more energetic than expected, perhaps aided by the incredible light show that corresponded with the concert.  All in all, it was a remarkable performance that truly exhibited the breadth of the electronic music spectrum.

Stay tuned for more coverage as the festival continues this weekend.

Primavera is streaming live all weekend – including Radiohead! – at http://www.primaverasound.es/index

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Corey Bell

Corey Bell

Corey Bell is no stranger to music.Having spent the better part of the past decade at concerts and music festivals around the globe, he finds he is most at home in the company of live music.Originally a native of New England, he has since taken residence in New York and New Orleans, and now resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.He achieved his Bachelor of Arts from Goddard College in Vermont via an undergraduate study entitled “Sonic Highways: Musical Immersion on the Roads of America," in which he explores the interactions between music, natural environment, and emotion while travelling along the scenic byways and highways of the United States.His graduate thesis, “Eighty Thousand’s Company,” features essays regarding the historical and socio-economic facets of contemporary festival culture intertwined with personal narrative stories of his experiences thereof.He is the former editor of Art Nouveau Magazine and holds a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from California College of the Arts.
Corey Bell