Champions League or San Miguel Primavera Sound?

A new indie dilemma

¿Final de Champions o Primavera Sound?

By Álvaro García Montoliu

Since 10.30 pm last Tuesday, we’ve known that F.C. Barcelona will be the Spanish team in the final of the Champions League, as they to win their fourth cup of the highest continental competition. But those who are well informed and have their calendars up to date also know that this will create a dilemma for them: what to do on Saturday 29th May at 9.45 pm, if their team play the final at Wembley Stadium? Stay at the San Miguel Primavera Sound 2011 festival and listen to good music, or go to the nearest bar with a shawl around your neck? It’s no small dilemma: ever since it became clear that the game of the year would coincide with the festival of the year, the music loving football fans –including yours truly– have been biting their nails in despair. You know: “Do I really want my team to get to the finals if that means I’m going to miss two or three concerts? Is it worth it to spoil one of the Spanish musical events of the year for 90 minutes of football?” By now, some will have made their decision, and others will be waiting until the last moment.

The official festival forum has been burning these days with the debate of football vs. music. Many people oppose the idea of installing screens at the Fòrum for the culés (Barcelona fans) and the Brits, of whom there’ll be many (some of them fans of Manchester United), to see the game. It’s a possibility that has been speculated upon with for a while, but just so that the football fans don’t get too excited, we must remember that the organisation of Primavera Sound tried to show the previous Barça-ManU, the CL final in Rome in 2009, at the Auditori, but that their attempts were frustrated by the financial interests of the UEFA. Will they be able to pull it off this time?

In case they will, those who don’t like football will have a grand time. For a couple of hours, the precincts won’t be completely rammed (the festival is already almost sold out). Which will be great for some concerts, especially the bigger ones. In the meantime, the football fans will be happy in their private space, suffering while watching the game. It should leave everybody happy, as long as the gig schedule remains untouched. I wouldn’t be surprised if 10,000 people would want to see the game. Where would they go? The area where the gigantic screen is, showing images of the San Miguel stage, seems rather too small, apart from the fact that it would create an important traffic jam of people going from one stage to another. It’s a difficult problem to solve. And what about the idea of doing a “Neil Young”? Putting all concerts on hold for a few hours so that nobody misses anything? An idea that would surely infuriate the anti-football fundamentalists. After all, they paid good money to see concerts, not 22 blokes in shorts running after a ball.

We haven’t got the schedule yet, but it looks like Fleet Foxes and/or PJ Harvey will be the artists coinciding with the London final. Messi, or beardy folk? Rooney, or “Let England Shake”? Two of the most attractive artists on the line-up, in great shape, with albums out that many people will have high on their 2011 hit list. Keeping in mind that Primavera Sound is the only Spanish gig this year for many of the bands on the line-up, the dilemma is huge. Football or music? If you choose the first, you won’t see those bands for a long time and, even worse, if your team should lose, you’ll feel foolish. With the second option, you probably won’t enjoy the concert as much as you should. You’ll be checking your phone every five minutes, you’ll put you headphones on to listen to the radio report on the game and you’ll scream goal or lament missed chances while, for example, Polly Jean is singing that perfect “The Glorious Land” (an explosion of football euphoria would definitely not look good in the middle of that song). We know what the indie public is like and how much we hate having some idiot standing next to us going on about what he did last Friday night instead of enjoying the music. Imagine the tension could be created between football fans and obstinate indies. The mods vs. rockers riots of Brighton, 1964, would pale in comparison.

Speaking of fights, we all know football generates tension. There will be four kinds of people at Primavera Sound: Barça fans, ManU fans, Real Madrid fans (who will cheer for the British team) and the neutrals. Some will be relaxed, some will be hooligans. There’s always some incident at any final, and sometimes it could get out of hand (remember the fights between Liverpool and AC Milan fans at the 2007 final in Athens). We don’t know what could happen at Primavera Sound. I would like to think that the music would calm everybody down. It’s definitely better to let go of all your frustration during a Soft Moon gig than in the face of a rival fan or some park bench in the city centre. The indies, hipsters or whatever you want to call the Primavera Sound audience, are supposed to be gentle people. In fact, the foreigners who come here usually behave better than they would elsewhere. In other words, throwing beer glass full of piss is not common at the Fòrum. So I think that both a loss and a win would be taken with sportsmanship and even with fans of both teams embracing each other, which some people in other parts of the country call “gentlemanlike” behaviour. I want to believe in the power of music, what the hell.

Another, completely different scenario is that there won’t be any screens showing the footy at all. In that case, that dilemma’s out of the way. Each go their own way, to a bar or even at home. Not too shabby, either. The advantage of that option is that drinks will be cheaper and you’ll be able to see the game with friends who don’t want to or can’t go to Primavera Sound. But that would mean you’d miss some important gigs.

Whatever happens, we’ll have to accept the decision. If in the end a screen is set up, we trust that it will be in a place where nobody bothers anybody else, that the musical program will not be altered in any way, nor that the hysterical screams of the football fans will mingle with those of the strictly music lovers. If you haven’t decided yet which side you’re going to be on, maybe it’s good to know that Gabi Ruiz, co-director of Primavera Sound, is also giving it a thought. This is what he said on the official festival forum: “Regarding the broadcast or not of the game, I have serious doubts about what to do. On one hand, I realise it could seem strange to show a football game at a music festival, but on the other hand there are already a lot of bands saying they don’t want to play at that time, so some of the stages will be on hold, and if we’re going to stop anyway, why not show the game on the big screen? I’m also thinking about what I’m going to do. Am I going to stay at the Fórum? Am I going to London? What the hell, all that talk about the Villarato Effect and there they go organising the CL final in the middle of PS. Platini, take note and correct it for the future!”

The thing he said about going to London is no joke: Gabi did already say earlier that if Barça were to reach the final, he would think of getting a ticket and going. He already did something similar in 2009, when, a day before the festival started its ninth edition, he was in Rome to witness Puyol hold up the third cup. PlayGround is a media partner of Primavera Sound FC Barcelona and Manchester United in the final of the 2011 Champions League means a serious problem for the football loving attendees of the Primavera Sound festival: both events take place at the same time. We wanted to talk about this new indie dilemma.

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