Regularly hosting some of the finest festival line-ups in Europe, if not the world, Barcelona’s Primavera Sound guarantees good music, good weather and a good deal of time spent chasing the roaming beer vendors through buzzing crowds of giddy attendees. Primavera Sound 2018 is no exception. Perusing the bill is basically like browsing your coolest friend’s Discover Weekly playlist, with a few added surprises that you’re unlikely to find at many other festivals. (This year’s wildcards include Jane Birkin singing some of her iconic Serge Gainsbourg collaborations with a full orchestra, and a rare trip to mainland Europe for legendary free jazz collective Art Ensemble Of Chicago.)
The only problem with a bill this broad, in terms of both size and variety, is that it can be hard to know where to start. That’s why we’ve put together this list of MusicMap-endorsed performances that will make Primavera Sound 2018 one of the most memorable editions to date. From Brazil to Belgium, Chicago Juke to Finnish electronica, here are the things to ‘star’ as you scroll through the Festival app…
Kedr Livanskiy (Russia) Wednesday May 30 at 01:00 @ Apolo
While the ‘main’ festival doesn’t start till Thursday, there are events all through the week including Wednesday night’s enticing line-up at Barcelona’s premium club/venue Apolo. Moscow’s Kedr Livanskiy is one of the main reasons why, as her dreamy productions will surely prove the perfect way to set the Primavera ball in motion…
Mavi Phoenix (Austria) Wednesday May 30 at 02:15 @ Apolo and Thursday May 31 at 20:55 @ Pitchfork
Mavi Pheonix’s Young Prophet EP proved completely addictive when it caught our ear last year, and we expect her to take us on another ‘Aventura’ when she makes two Primavera appearances in as many nights…
F/E/A (Spain) Thursday May 31 at 17:00 @ adidas Originals
Primavera are clearly big fans of Mallorca’s F/E/A (‘Forces Elèctriques d’Andorra’), as they recently released their track ‘PL5’ via their own El Segell del Primavera record label. It’s easy to hear why. Sinewy riffs augmented with layers of fuzz, sax and furious drumming, this should be an absolutely barnstorming way to open the adidas Originals stage.
James Holden & The Animal Spirits (UK) Thursday May 31 at 22:00 @ Bacardí Live
After proving a spellbinding highlight of our recent trip to Rewire Festival in The Hague, Holden and his Spirit Animals will surely trigger the same dizzying highs here. Expect to hear elements of gnawa trance, spiritual jazz and psychedelic electronic spilling out of their heady musical stew…
Jlin (USA) Thursday May 31 at 23:25 @ Bacardí Live
Jlin is one of those artists who are pushing new sounds forward at a time when most musical releases seem to have been recycled from past eras. Despite having started producing in 2008, she’s never got as much attention as now, especially after the release of Black Origami for Planet Mu, a beautiful display of experimental footwork and tribal percussion.
Oumou Sangaré (Mali) Friday June 01 at 18:30 @ Ray-Ban
Last year’s Mogoya album – Oumou Sangaré’s first for almost a decade – showed that ‘The Songbird of Wassoulou’ is in the musical form of her life. A chance to see her singing live in the Primavera sunshine is one that cannot be passed up for any reason, so don’t even think about it.
Metá Metá (Brazil) Friday June 01 at 19:30 @ Primavera With Apple Music
Metá Metá mix jazz, punk and a variety of Brazilian styles into something that’s hard to classify but easy to lose yourself in. As you’ll find if you stop by their stage on Friday evening and throw yourself into their musical maelstrom.
Peggy Gou (South Korea) Friday June 01 at 20:30 @ Desperados Club
Following the success of her Once EP for Ninja Tune, a ’90s electro and house tribute where she raps in Korean, Peggy Gou’s most recent release ‘Travelling Without Arriving’ for Phonica White sees her more housey and acid than ever. Listen below and join the Gou-mania…
Sevdaliza (Iran/Netherlands) Friday June 01 at 21:00 @ Pitchfork
The sultry, trip-hop stylings of Sevdaliza have seduced many a listener since 2014 single ‘Backseat Love’ first slunk into view. The Dutch-Iranian former basketballer is sure to put a few more under her spell when she makes her Primavera debut this year…
Núria Graham (Catalunya) Saturday June 02 at 17:00 @ Ray-Ban
The Primavera curators always make sure to include plenty of local talent on the bill, and Núria Graham is the pick of this year’s selections. The Catalan singer-songwriter first caught our ear with her cover of Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’, but it’s tracks from last year’s Does It Ring A Bell? album that we’re most looking forward to hearing live.
Nkisi (DR Congo / Belgium) Saturday June 02 at 02:00 @ The Warehouse
NON WORLDWIDE’s Nkisi recently told us how she absorbed elements of Ancient Kongo Cosmology into her latest live sets, which she described as an “experiment with improvisation, rhythmic prediction and rhythmic archetypes… and it’s great for dancing.” She performs as part of a Warp Records showcase on Saturday night alongside the likes of Gaika, Yves Tumor and LYZZA.
Aleksi Perälä (Finland) Saturday June 02 at 03:40 @ Bacardí Live
While he may be a veteran of much-missed ‘braindance’ label Rephlex Records, Aleksi Perälä’s more recent music has surpassed even his impressive earlier works. Based around the mystical-sounding Colundi Sequence, these esoteric methods may sound somewhat cultish, but it’s a cult we’ll be eagerly signing up for by 4am on Saturday night…
Primavera Sound 2018 takes place between May 30th and June 3rd in Barcelona. Head here for tickets and more information.
Photo: Garbine Irizar