As expected, the old hands performing at Primavera Sound 2018 proved adept at holding the crowd’s attention. Whether it was Nick Cave’s thousand-mile-stare or Sparks’ ‘Mael Gaze’ (see below), Björk’s bizarre stagecraft or Jane Birkin’s tearful chansons, Skepta’s last minute appearance or hip-hop big guns Tyler, the Creator and A$AP Rocky joining forces, there was plenty to get excited about at the main stages throughout the weekend.
However, the real thrills of a festival like Primavera Sound are the new discoveries, those bands and artists who you’re witnessing for the first time, perhaps having just stumbled upon them in a drunken haze. It’s those moments that elevate a festival from a well-curated series of concerts into an enchanting space where new loves can be forged just as old ones are strengthened.
To celebrate the spirit of discovery that has helped make Primavera Sound a globally recognised music event, three members of the MusicMap team have each chosen their three favourite performances from the weekend by acts they’d never seen before. From dreamy Austrian R&B to gobby Bristolian punk, here are the moments from Primavera Sound 2018 that we hope to relive again and again at future editions…
Finding French duo O’o was one of those auspicious chance incidents that are always the sign of a good festival. Ostensibly on my way to meet some friends, I found myself irresistibly drawn towards singer Victoria Suter’s overlayed vocals in the distance. After hearing her self-harmonising in full effect alongside Mathieu Daubigné’s synth artistry, our plans to meet at the Ray Ban stage swiftly became a new rendezvous with O’o at Night Pro. The duo, who are based in Barcelona, couldn’t hide the excitement triggered by appearing at this local institution, while their carefully developed electronic grooves boasted a fitting melodiousness for a band named after an extinct Hawaiian songbird. Kier Wiater Carnihan
Thursday had a mellow start with Art Ensemble of Chicago’s avant-garde jazz and Kelela’s R&B, however as soon as Jlin got started the whole audience reacted with their smoothest dance moves. It was undeniable that her visceral African drum samples and Chicago footwork energy awoke something inside everyone, whether they were or weren’t familiar with her work. At some point the Bacardí stage resembled a ritualistic area within a black forest, where a tribe was celebrating a yearly rain dance with their best attitude. Anna Baqués
After arriving on stage and playing his first song, the singer announced ‘I’m Wandl, W-A-N-D-L’. Most of the audience seemed surprised at his strong Austrian accent. You see, Wandl sings dreamy wavy-R&B that would sound far more at home in a smoke-filled dive bar in LA. He continued his set flitting between piano and microphone, and by the time he played ‘Cola’ from last year’s album It’s All Good Tho the audience had their eyes closed and were swaying to the fragile, melodic beats. There was something enigmatic about his display which included jazz interludes, hazy vocals and occasional coy smiles from the artist. With the water next to the Night Pro stage we could well have been in California after all. Roxy Shah
Primavera Sound has a knack unlike any other festival for idyllic scheduling. As Thursday’s hangovers began to subside and the sun started to set, Yellow Days (below) took the adidas Originals stage in one of those perfectly timed moments. Despite releasing music for a few years, the teenage prodigy is finally gaining well-deserved recognition for his harrowingly beautiful modern soul sound. There are obvious comparisons with fellow Brit King Krule, however this Primavera Sound 2018 appearance allowed George van den Broek to be recognised as an original in his own right. Interjections of jazz trumpet pulled the performance together with ‘Gap in the Clouds’ and ‘Your Hand Holding Mine’ proving to be crowd-pleasers. There are clearly big things to come from this youngster. RS
For hip-hop fans, the name Knox Fortune might be familiar. He’s produced tracks for Joey Purp and Vic Mensa and grabbed the attention of the world when he appeared on Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book. While he isn’t a rapper himself, his show at Primavera Sound 2018 had the swagger and finesse of his colleagues, though his own musical style is closer to the indie pop DIY explosion happening across the pond. Accompanied by band, Knox looked like he’d arrived straight from the skate park in a tie-dye t-shirt. He sand a medley of songs from his debut album Paradise, with stand-out track ‘Lil Thing’ getting the crowd in the perfect mood for the rest of summer. RS
Visually, Idles’ debut at Primavera was a blurry mess of spit, sweat, crowd-surfing and some seriously demented dance moves. Musically, however, their brutish, serrated punk anthems never failed to miss their mark. Bluntly, they were tight as fuck throughout. Much like when Sleaford Mods conquered the same stage back in 2015, it was slightly surprising that their idiosyncratically British mix of acerbic wit and political righteousness translated so well for a foreign crowd, but then again the pure passion that Idles spew out makes sense in any language (as does, bizarrely, an impromptu rendition of Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’). However, as a mid-set shout out to Bristol gig-going legend Big Jeff demonstrates, Idles’ increasing notoriety overseas doesn’t mean they’ll be forgetting their roots anytime soon. KWC
You can do all the research you want beforehand, but the best-laid festival plans are inevitably tossed aside the moment a friend drags you towards a particular stage with wild promises of musical nirvana. Often those promises turn to ash the moment you arrive, but Brian Piñeyro’s 4am set as DJ Python more than lived up to expectations. The New York native’s silky shimmy through gentle dembow rhythms – a style he’s previously dubbed ‘deep reggaeton’ – was as refreshing as the Mediterranean zephyrs that were just beginning to breeze across Parc del Fòrum, while retaining enough bass to keep the crowd moving till dawn. Having since delved deep into last year’s Dulce Compañia album, it’s clear that DJ Python was never going to be anything other than good company at Primavera Sound 2018. KWC
One of the novelties at Primavera Sound 2018 was the incorporation of The Warehouse stage: the inside of a car park powered by Bowers & Wilkins Sound System that immediately transported everyone who entered to Berlin. The stage hosted three different label showcases and Jonsi’s Liminal Soundbath, an ambient event presented by Sigur Ros’s singer alongside Alex Somers and Paul Corley. When Gaika appeared for Saturday night’s Warp Records showcase, it was difficult to tell (they located the stage in the middle of the room and it was generally surrounded by people); did the previous show end or was everyone clapping to their favourite tune? However, Gaika made himself noticeable soon enough: his tremendous energy filled every inch of the huge space and jumped to the DJ table previously used by Tutu. The audience didn’t stop twerking until the very end. AB
Although Lyzza’s Amsterdam Boiler Room set sees her blasting all-audience hits such as a Los Del Río and Rihanna mashup called ‘Rude Macarena’, her Primavera set, which followed Gaika’s performance, saw her display hardstyle and gabber tunes without giving the audience a break. If Gaika’s atmosphere was hot, her show made literally everyone in the room sweat and dance like crazy. Tops off and butts down! AB
Photos by Anna Baqués except for Sparks photo by Kier Wiater Carnihan