By Sergio del Amo and Franc Sayol
Just one more day and San Miguel Primavera Sound 2011 kicks off. Everything is ready and in the right place: ticket, map, phones, roadmap to navigate the stages. But if you still have these things to do, we’d like to take the opportunity to continue our round of recommendations, today focussing on the headliners and other key artists that will fill the Fòrum in Barcelona with history, quality and massive drops of audience participation. Here goes.
It doesn’t matter they’re a fix in the festival season, it’s a known fact that, unlike many other artists, the Baltimore band don’t use tours to promote albums, but instead treat them as an experimentation lab for future work. This time, the group is a four-piece again, with the return of Deakin, and it is highly likely Panda Bear will be drumming. The fact they didn’t even play “My Girls” at Coachella and that the combo has announced they’ve been working on new material since the start of this year leads us to believe the setlist will be full of unreleased material. So we’ll be there, listening to the songs we’ll be humming next year. FS
Saturday 28th May, San Miguel Stage. 2:00 am
Belle & Sebastian
They may not be at their best right now, but Belle & Sebastian are the quintessence of elegance in Scottish pop. We’ll keep listening to gems like “Tigermilk” (Electric Honey, 1996) and all of their early works until the Apocalypse arrives. Which doesn’t mean we dislike their latest effort, “Write About Love” (Rough Trade, 2010). Au contraire. We should be thankful that Stuart Murdoch and his mates are back on stage, and enjoy the band as if our lives depended on it. We owe it to them for all the fine moments they have given us. SdA
Friday 27th May, San Miguel Stage. 10:45 pm
After the rhythmic catharsis of his 2008 performance, Canadian Dan Snaithreturns to the festival as the spearhead of electronic pop. With the immense “Swim” (City Slang, 2010) his popularity in the indie world has skyrocketed, so his show will be rammed. A good opportunity to see if Snaith is capable of translating the attention to detail and meticulousness of his latest work to an audience that, at that time of night, will be ready to par-tay. His last gig in Barcelona, crowned by a tremendous version of “Sun”, was huge. Let’s see if he can top that. FS
Thursday 26th May, ATP Stage. 12:45 am
While last year, Bradford Cox stepped on stage at the Fòrum as the leader of Atlas Sound, this year he’s back with Deerhunter. The Atlanta band are playing at the festival for the third time, and this time they bring a new album with them. We’re not going to tell you how great “Halcyon Digest” (4AD, 2010) is, because you already know. The only thing we can tell you is not to miss the opportunity to see one of those bands that have been touched by the magic wand of genius. They’re big as it is, we don’t even want to think about how big they’ll be in a few years. SdA
Friday 27th May, Llevant Stage. 12:30 am
After his excellent performance in 2008, El Guincho returns to the festival with a completely different live show. With “Pop Negro” (Young Turks, 2010), Pablo Diaz-Reixa made a formal turn in his sound, which is reflected in the set-up on stage. From a one-man show, he’s now part of a trio, alongside Aleix Clavera on bass and Borja Rosal on guitar, both members of Spanish band Extraperlo. They’ve played all over the world already and have even flirted with the mainstream, appearing on TV shows on commercials. Now they’re coming home for an undoubtedly epic performance. FS
Thursday 26th May, Llevant Stage. 4:00 am
Fleet Foxes won’t have to defend “Helplessness Blues” (Sub Pop, 2011), mainly because the album does a fine job on its own. The Seattle band returns to Barcelona as the best folk band of the moment. After three years without a word, a few weeks ago they dispensed of their competitors with a collection of songs that should be added to the dictionary as synonyms for “beauty”. They took their time to leave us speechless, and that’s exactly what we expect from them this Saturday, although we will need to wear sunglasses at that time of day. SdA
Saturday 28th May, San Miguel Stage. 7:40 pm
Nick Cave’s favourite pass-time Grinderman will be at the festival for the very first time to show that the old dogs can still bite. The Australian will be wearing his suit and he’ll show us he’s still the main man when it comes to fierceness. The Cave legend can only grow this Thursday. SdA
Thursday 26th May, San Miguel Stage. 11:00 pm
The post-punk revival in New York at the start of the century has resulted in a some quite numbers of dead bodies over the last few years. However, Interpol are still there and they’re one of the few bands who have enough in their repertoire to bomb us with a string of huge hits. Hours after their (invites-only) gig at the Apolo, Paul Banks has a unique opportunity to speak Spanish (which he does excellently) and shut up everyone who think any old times were better than the now. SdA
Thursday 26th May, Llevant Stage. 12:45 am
John Cale & Band + BCN216 perform “Paris 1919”
The release of “Paris 1919” (Reprise, 1973) marked a point of inflection in the career of John Cale. More than on a musical level (Cale has always explored all kinds of paths during his career), it was a change in perception. The world stopped seeing him as the Velvet Underground outcast, and his followers connected with him on an emotional level as they never had before. Over the years, the album has been considered his masterpiece and one of the highlights of accessible avant-rock. So to be able to see him playing it live, with his band and the instrumental ensemble BCN216, in a place like the Auditori, is little less than a privilege. FS
Saturday 28th May, Rockdelux Stage. 5:45 pm
Happy times for Mogwai. Or, at least, that’s what their latest album transmits, “Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will” (Sub Pop, 2011), on which the Scotsmen radiate a brightness which alters the post-rock gene that’s marked their entire career. Hours before the Fòrum gates close until next year, you can close your eyes and float towards the moon on the soundtrack provided by one of the capital names in instrumental rock. SdA
Saturday 28th May, Llevant Stage. 12:15 am
As you will remember, though it cost Kele Okereke (Bloc Party) a couple of punches in the face when he dared ask John Lydon if he was going to resurrect P.I.L. , in the end, he turned out to be spot on. He might have even given Lydon the idea, as one year after the incident, the seminal post-punk band reformed (in 2009), and got on the road for a tour that hasn’t stopped. So we believe those who say they’re in great shape. A date with history. FS
Thursday 26th May, Llevant Stage. 9:15 pm
After three years without playing live, the eternal indie muse returns to the stage, and she does it with a new album under her arm. “Let England Shake” shows us a Polly Jeanin top shape and reminds us of the fact that we’re dealing with an artist who feels creation is impossible without evolution. Her live shows, whether she’s on her own, playing with John Parish or with her own band, are always as solemn as they are straightforward, with the communion with her audience reaching metaphysical levels. After her memorable performance in 2004, she returns to the festival to offer a concert with her full band, and it promises to be one of the highlights of this year’s edition. FS
Saturday 28th May, San Miguel Stage. 10:30 pm
Could “Common People” become one of the anthems of the festival, sixteen years after its release? Do you have any doubts? Jarvis Cocker recovers Pulp after a ten year hiatus and he does so with the original line-up, too. Many still remember the goodbye gig at the Poble Espanyol in 2002. Because of that, for those who were too young at the time, to be able to enjoy tracks like “This Is Hardcore”, “Razzmatazz” and “Do You Remember The First Time?” is a dream come true. The answer to the question of whether Brit-pop could be rabidly ironic and ultra elegant is obvious. SdA
Friday 27th May, San Miguel Stage. 1:45 am
With Sufjan Stevens, one of the big controversies of the festival arrived, even though it’s not his fault. The reservation system for the performance of his latest work “The Age Of Adz” (Asthmatic Kitty, 2010), only allows for 3,000 attendees (per day) and you can only get a maximum of two seats, via a draw. The repertoire for this tour consists of his most recent tracks, although we already know that the collective catharsis will come in the form of an encore with “Chicago” and his greatest hits. Lucky are the few who’ll be able to access the Auditori. SdA
Thursday 26th May, Auditori del Fòrum. 8:30 pm Friday 27th May, Auditori del Fòrum. 5:00 pm
Martin Rev and Alan Vega have been going at it for almost 40 years as an active cell of the least accommodating music. They never needed to resurrect the band or reform, because, simply put, they’ve always been true to their disturbing vision of sound. A blurry, unsociable and straightforward sound, that has been a major influence on a wide range of styles, from post-punk to techno. On another date with history, we’ll go to where it all started: the New York duo will play their first album, a masterpiece of dystopic synth-punk that still shines as one of the big classics in synthesiser music (even though they’re broken), in its entirety. FS
Thursday 26th May, Ray-Ban Stage. 12:45 am .
The Flaming Lips
Although they haven’t got a recent album out, it’s a known fact that the live shows of the psychedelic combo led by Wayne Coyne are always guaranteed fun. Their performance at the festival will be one of the two stops in Europe and it will most likely feature the pieces from the excellent “Embryonic” (Warner, 2009). We only hope Coyne’s voice will hold up better than it did in 2007. If so, it will be another unique experience. FS
Thursday 26th May, San Miguel Stage. 2:15 am
“High Violet” is one of those records that should be listened to every day in order to be able to cope with life. We’re eager to see the Americans again, and it’s no surprise many people are already saying it will be one of the concerts of the year (with Sufjan’s permission). The National, apart from being on top form, are one of the few bands that leave no room for discussion. With every album the number of fans has grown, and now they’re a landmark band of the kind of rock that’s capable of freezing your blood and, why not, letting the tears well up in our eyes. SdA
Friday 27th May, Llevant Stage. 9:15 pm PlayGround is a media partner of San Miguel Primavera Sound
A day before the gigs start at the Fòrum of San Miguel Primavera Sound 2011, we continue our little (and biased) guide of concerts you might like. Today we focus on the headliners and the mythmakers.
Review: '' Halcyon Digest''
Review: “ Pop Negro”
Review: '' Helplessness Blues''
Review: '' Grinderman 2''
Review: ' 'Interpol''
John Cale "Paris 1919"
Review: " The Age Of Adz"
Review: " High Violet"