Monday, May 30th, 2011

Primavera Sound 2011 Day One

Echo & The Bunnymen and Caribou at Primavera Sound

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangOkay, so that’s the touristy stuff out of the way. Let’s get down to business, which is to say the music. As in festival. Music festival.

While Primavera Sound’s main, three-day event would be cramming Barcelona’s Parc del Forum waterfront park to the gills with music until the wee hours of Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, the festival was also bookended by shows at a hillside venue on the other side of the city. El Poble Espanyol is a traditionally-styled Spanish village/museum that also happens to make a fantastic live music venue, offering great sightlines and a picturesque setting.

Getting through registration made me miss most of Englanders Comet Gain’s set, not that I knew their stuff at all, but their classically-appointed indie pop offered an enjoyable aural backdrop to exploring the environs and as a general kick-off to the festival and warm-up for Echo & The Bunnymen’s headlining set.

This show was one of their Crocodiles/Heaven Up Here recitals, following up the Ocean Rain recreation which they brought through Toronto in October 2009. While that show made perfect sense, boasting both some of the band’s most famous songs and lending itself to orchestral enhancements, offering the first two records the same treatment – sans strings – was a less obvious move. Both were considerably less populist and accessible affairs, very much attached to the band’s post-punk roots and existing in a darker sort of atmosphere. The “fans only”-ness of the set list didn’t keep them from packing the courtyard, though, nor from putting on a show that reinforced past impressions that the band rises – or falls – to the occasion when playing live. This was mostly the former, with Ian McCulloch much more animated onstage than in the past. A relative statement, certainly, but it may have explained him making more effort to hit those high notes which are audibly a strain for him these days. After the main set, they returned with a short set of “hits” as an encore – yes to “Bring On The Dancing Horses”, no to “Killing Moon” – and were done.

Not surprisingly, the crowd thinned somewhat before Caribou took the stage – after all, the demographics for ’80s British New Wave/post-punk and ’00s Canadian cosmic disco don’t entirely overlap – but the audience maintained the crucial density necessary to achieve dance party critical mass. Okay, dance party may have been an overstatement for the start of the set as it was only the handful of die-hards up front who began flailing when the music started, but as the set went on and the grooves got deeper, the dancing seemed to spread virally throughout the audience. I’d not seen the four-piece Caribou live show before – only the baker’s dozen-strong Vibration Ensemble – and their tightness and intensity totally impressed. There were no hat tips as to where they might be going on the in-progress follow-up to Swim, but wherever they go with it I can pretty much guarantee you that it will groove. Hard.

Note that since I didn’t have a photo pass, there’ll be no regular galleries from the fest but live and atmosphere shots that I got from the crowd can be seen at Flickr.

And in other animal-related band news:

Drowned In Sound gets Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison to annotate their debut album Sings The Greys. The Selkirk Weekend Advertiser also has an interview. They play The Molson Amphitheatre on July 27.

Black Book talks to Alex Turner and Matt Helders of Arctic Monkeys and The Guardian to Turner alone. Their new album Suck It And See is streaming over at Soundcloud; it’s out next week.

Stream: Arctic Monkeys / Suck It And See

Under The Radar profiles Wild Beasts.

Today, in Antlers links: NYCTaper is sharing a couple of live recordings, The Alternate Side has an interview and session, The Line Of Best Fit and Drowned In Sound have interviews and a new MP3 from Burst Apart is available to download. They’re at The Mod Club on June 14.

MP3: The Antlers – “I Don’t Want Love”

The AV Club talks to Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes.

By : Frank Yang at 7:22 am
Category: Concert Reviews

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RSS Feed for this post4 Responses.
  1. Bruce says:

    Hey Frank – looks like you had a fantastic time, good for you! Great shots, both the concerts (amazing lineup!) and the travel photography. Some really striking compositions there. (By the way, what is that huge deco-sharkfin structure on the coast?)

    Took in Stornoway, Anna Calvi and Glasvegas shows here in the interim, all excellent!

  2. Joe says:

    Comet Gain was awesome, though not particularly strong male vocalist. The star of that show was the first act, the Japanese band Nisennenmondai. They have the most animated drummer ever. I thought Echo and the Bunnymen was a pretty pointless show and Ian was a dick to one of the sound guys.

  3. “Don’t Slow Down” – The Primitives Interview 2011 « The VPME says:

    […] Echo & The Bunnymen and Caribou at Primavera Sound ( […]

  4. James says:

    I just discovered Comet Gain very recently, via the British indie film 1234, and was surprised to learn that they’ve been around for nearly 20 years. Would have been fun to see them live, and I don’t expect that they travel over to our hemisphere much.