Primavera Sound top 20
Time Out Barcelona's top 20 don't-miss acts at this year's festival. Prick up your ears!
3.10am, Primavera Stage, Thursday 23rd
There are groups that seem to have been born to make life difficult for critics. Animal Collective is one of them - it’s impossible to tie them down to a scene, a sound, a tag or a specific category – and this US band does exactly what it wants without explanations. Their latest album, 'Centipede Hz', is a radical change from the previous one and attempts to reveal all of the complicity and expressive urgency of their live shows.
© Linda Brownlee
1.30am, Primavera Stage, Friday 24th
Twenty-one years after the release of their self-titled debut album, Blur are playing Primavera Sound for the first time in an attempt to cure or reawaken the nostalgia of everyone who still misses the '90s. The fathers – you could almost say grandfathers – of Brit pop are arriving with their full battery of hits, ready and willing to relive the glory days.
Dead Can Dance
9pm, Ray-Ban Stage, Saturday 25th
An oasis of mysticism, contemplation and subtlety in the midst of the noise and bustle of the Primavera Sound Festival – the music of Aussies Dead Can Dance offers a great refuge that also carries with it the best possible guarantee: an impeccable back catalogue, a sound factory brand supporting them in the shape of the 4AD label, and an inspiring musical discourse that is situated between world music and European folk music.
9pm, Auditori Rockdelux Stage, Saturday 25th
Those legends of British pop, Dexys Midnight Runners, now known simply as Dexys, took the decision to make a musical comeback last year with 'One Day I’m Going to Soar', which turned out to be anything but a nostalgic return or a money-making exercise. It was rather the confirmation of the special DNA of a group that has never said goodbye or lived in the past. Quality that is immune to fashions, RTs, hashtags and likes.
12.15am (00.15), Primavera Stage, Thursday 23rd
Halfway between indie and high-quality mainstream – their music appears in ads, celebrities love them, they project cool – US band Grizzly Bear have managed to tame their discourse and take it to more accessible terrains without betraying its essence, crossing melodic but experimental folk, pop and electronic arrangements. They'll be presenting their latest album 'Shields'.
How To Dress Well
1.05am, Vice Stage, Sunday 24th
Tom Krell’s musical project is living proof that R&B is something more than a black vocalist draped in gold who spends his day drinking Moët and flirting with girls. How To Dress Well’s albums, especially the latest and best, 'Total Loss', show that you can find inspiration in the sounds of commercial R&B and turn them into deep, melancholic and contemplative pop.
12.15am (00.15), Primavera Stage, Friday 24th
'Overgrown', the second album by British singer/producer James Blake, shows that it’s still possible to reinvent the language of pop music. With influences from R&B, dubstep, torch songs and adult pop, and boasting an electronic production that’s both sophisticated and organic, his songs come across like an urban, dark and anticlimactic Antony & the Johnsons. Not bad at all.
9.55pm, Pitchfork Stage, Thursday 23rd
British singer Jessie Ware has gone from being the great heroine of vocal house-techno to positioning herself as one of the soul-pop divas of the moment. She started making waves through her collaborations with SBTRKT and Joker, but it was her sensual and dazzling debut album 'Devotions', one of the highlights of 2012, that provided definitive proof that she had the talent and the right stuff to make it as a star.
Jozef van Wissem & Jim Jarmusch x SQÜRL
10.40pm, ATP Stage, Friday 24th
A treat for the curious or, quite simply, for movie lovers who are at the Primavera Sound Festival. Director Jim Jarmusch, who needs no introduction in the film world, is visiting the festival in the company of Jozef van Wissem, with whom he has released two albums that prominently feature guitars. Experimentation and improvisation without pressure: free music as made by two free people.
8.30pm, Ray-Ban Stage, Thursday 23rd
Scheduled to play at a decent time, Manel are hitting the Primavera Sound Festival in top form: they've got a freshly released album in 'Atletes, baixin de l’escenari' ('Athletes, Get Down Off the Stage'), which still has some secrets to give up; a live show that’s both motivated and renewed; an audience eager to celebrate their success, both inside and outside Catalonia; and, above all, a slot in Barcelona’s greatest music festival.
My Bloody Valentine
2.25am, Heineken Stage, Saturday 25th
Few releases in the indie world have kicked up a storm like My Bloody Valentine’s 'm b v'. Not only because it’s been 25 years since their last studio album, but also because they have managed to fulfill everyone’s expectations. Following their striking live show at the festival in 2009, Kevin Shields and company are back with inflammable material in their hands.
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
11.35pm, Heineken Stage, Saturday 25th
Although we have no complaints about Grinderman, and even fewer about his film-related solo projects, we’ve been looking forward to seeing Nick Cave get back together with the Bad Seeds once again. And even more now they have a new album to present – Push the Sky Away – in which Cave adopts his more reposed and calmer incarnation. But don’t be taken in; playing live he releases his wild side.
3.05am, ATP Stage, Saturday 25th
If we had to recommend a concert that’s different, original and difficult to come across in this country, it would be this one by Syrian singer Omar Souleyman. He once sang at traditional weddings, has released countless albums in cassette format, is a folk celebrity in his native land and in all the Middle East, and has crossed borders after remixing Björk and appearing at a number of prestigious festivals around the world. Folk, Arabian sounds, electronic rhythms and exoticism with a message.
Melody's Echo Chamber
7.45pm, Pitchfork stage, Saturday 25th
They were missed during the last Primavera Club, when the festival regulars demanded their presence following their celebrated and successful second album, 'Lonerism' (2012), which had just been released. Now their rich psychedelic pop textures and vintage flavour will be heard in the Fòrum, and, as Rodríguez had to pull out of Primavera Sound, there's nothing stopping fans from seeing another project linked to Kevin Parker – the man at the wheel of the Impala – Melody's Echo Chamber, who previously were slotted to overlap with Sixto's time onstage.
1.20am, Ray-Ban Stage, Friday 24th
Even though they have a long and impeccable career to back them up, New Yorkers Swans could be said to be living their finest moment. Released last year, 'The Seer', along with its support concerts have led the band to be discovered and rediscovered by an indie public fascinated by the cryptic and convincing discourse of their songs. A unique experience and an antidote to indifference.
The Breeders performing 'Last Splash'
9.30pm, Primavera Stage, Friday 24th
Another chance to indulge in guilt-free nostalgia. The Breeders, starring Kim Deal, the bassist from The Pixies, are back on the road in their original format to play their best album, 'Last Splash', in its entirety, on the occasion of its 20th anniversary. The band may have seen better days, but it’s not every day that you get the chance to hear an iconic indie album like this.
The Jesus & Mary Chain
10.45pm, Heineken Stage, Friday 24th
The Jesus & Mary Chain haven’t played live in Catalonia for six years now. It’s too long in the case of a band that is especially prolific and particularly given to calling in at festivals all around the world. In an edition full of totemic names in indie music, this band just had to be here too – they had a major role in the consolidation of a scene and a particular way of reinterpreting rock. Some noise please.
3.20am, Primavera Stage, Friday 24th
Mysterious, unclassifiable, risk-takers, and given to living dangerously, Olof and Karin Dreijer are indispensable if you want to contextualise contemporary electronic music. As leaders of The Knife, these Swedish siblings are writing a memorable chapter in the history of sound in which cold and precise techno lives in perfect harmony with experimental pop and echoes of the '80s. They will be presenting the impressive 'Shake the Habitual'.
The Postal Service
10.55pm, Heineken Stage, Thursday 23rd
Time flies: this year will be the 10th anniversary of the release of 'Give Up', the debut album by The Postal Service, a record and a project that gave solidity and commercial projection to what was then known as indietronic – a melodic fusion of pop and electronic rhythms. Although there’s no certainty of continuity, Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello have decided to get back together again to celebrate the anniversary with a revival style tour.
10.20pm, Primavera Stage, Saturday 24th
Next November will mark the 20th anniversary of the release of 'Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)', which, apart from being the debut album of NY’s Wu-Tang Clan, is also one of the most revolutionary, surprising, creative and striking albums in the history of hip hop. To celebrate it properly, Barcelona’s Primavera Sound Festival has invited the original members – only Ol’ Dirty Bastard will be missing– to settle an old debt with the city.
Time Out Barcelona's top 20 don't-miss acts at this year's festival. Prick up your ears!
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