By Álvaro García Montoliu
The reception of the Princess hotel was working at full throttle at 2pm on Thursday 26th May. Artists kept arriving and while we were waiting to get a room, we started eavesdropping on Moon Duo. With the map of San Miguel Primavera Sound 2011 in their hands, they started to plan their journey along the several stages, like any other mortal. “This is better than going up and down on your cell phone,” they said. Tell that to the organisation, who had been struggling with Apple for weeks in order to get the official festival app, with schedules and so on, online, to no avail. In the restaurant, Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion of Cults appeared, the young couple that would offer a solid show hours later, consolidating them as one of the sensations of the season. Both are charming, and she’s more self-assured but still as irresistible as in the promo photos.
While we’re waiting for the elevator, we see the unmistakable figure of Jarvis Cocker coming out of one – it turns out his room is three doors down from ours. All the good vibes we got from the New Yorkers went down the drain when the manager of the Pulp singer denied us a photo because “they were having trouble at the check-in desk”. More trouble was to come for them a bit later, because their key card didn’t work and they had to call reception after several minutes of struggling. Karma’s a bitch. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get anything out of him about next day’s gig, but we were listening to see if we could hear any wild parties in his room, now that he’s divorced from his wife, fashion stylist Camilla Bidault-Waddington. Not one suspicious sound. Anyway, it seemed like someone up there wanted us to bump into him all the time, for in the wee hours of the morning we saw him entering his room in the company of a beautiful redhead. The Devil is wise not because he's the Devil but because he's old, as we say in Spain.
Word has it Jarvis was spotted shaking his behind in the crowd at Of Montreal’s gig. We weren’t there to see it, unfortunately, but we did see Paul Banks, leader of Interpol. There were hardly any people around him; nobody recognised him. But there he was, watching Salem, which has us wondering: is he a fan of witch house? Will we be seeing some kind of bizarre collaboration in the near future? Or was he at the ATP stage simply because it was the nearest stage to the Llevant stage, where he and his band would be playing later on? While we were asking ourselves all these questions (you know, we thought he’d be at The Flaming Lips’ gig, for example), he disappeared in the crowd and we never heard from him again. From the top floor of the hotel, the view is spectacular, and we could see the full spread of the festival field. But the worst thing happened when we realised that the Llevant stage was way further than we had thought - our legs would be hurting, worse than crossing Middle Earth to get to Mordor. Our room was also a good watchtower to see the masses that would gather at the Llevant stage to see the Champions League final, or to see the queues to get into the Fòrum, get a wristband or accreditation.
We didn’t want to stay in our room too long, having an indie amusement park only metres away. The swimming pool was a meeting point of young bands that were playing on stages like ATP or Pitchfork, but we couldn’t see who they might be. You know, lots of Caucasians with nuclear white skin and clumsy figures. And most of them wearing T-shirts of bands that weren’t playing at Primavera Sound but could have: Herman Dune, Daniel Johnston, Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, et cetera.
Triángulo de Amor Bizarro leader Rodrigo’s attire was surprising, because of the red swimming trunks he wore during the gig. But we forgive him, not only because they played at six in the afternoon, but also because we saw him hours later in the VIP area with trousers on and a T-shirt that said “The Legend Of Zelda”, who we’re big fans of. We wouldn’t expect any less from someone who called one of his songs “Super Castlevania IV”. And speaking of that private area for artists and insiders, there was a huge sign with a T-shirt with the name of Pedro San Martín, the recently deceased bassist of Spanish band La Buena Vida, with number 10. Props to the organisation for remembering one of the key figures of Spanish indie.
On Friday we pulled up the roller blinds when we woke up and saw the sea. We looked for a yacht by the ATP stage, maybe Tennis would come to the festival by sea, as our colleague Sergio del Amo wondered in his preview of the festival. But no, the couple formed by Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore didn’t come by sea, but by land, as they explained to us when we met them coming out of their room on our floor to go for lunch. We chatted for a while about the concert they would be giving five hours later (they told us they would be playing two new songs from a record they’re preparing as we speak) and we joked about that crazy nautical idea. “We looked for a boat and a place to moor, but that would be very eccentric, wouldn’t it? We even thought of going to Europe crossing the Atlantic by boat, but in the end we thought that would be too much.” The good sense of morning humour of an adorable couple. Later that night (or early morning) we bumped into their drummer, who looked extremely sleepy. We didn’t blame him, we had cramps in our legs of all the walking.
In the dining room we bump into one of the great attractions of Friday, Ariel Pink, albeit without his Haunted Graffiti. Eccentric like no other, he was sporting his typical long blonde hair, clogs and multi-coloured socks. Walking slowly with a bit of a hunchback, after going through his pockets looking for his food tickets for quite a while, he opted for the extremely tasty hamburger, accompanied by a glass of white wine and beer. The king of hypnagogic pop didn’t leave us indifferent.
Before, we mentioned karma being a bitch for Jarvis Cocker and his entourage. Well, something similar would go for yours truly. While I was watching M. Ward play, another member of the PlayGround team ran into Bradford Cox and the rest of Deerhunter at the Princess hotel. I openly cried when I heard this. But at least I got a little serviette with some kind words from Cox, who apparently thought it was a pity I couldn’t be there, aware of the fact that his role as the leader of an influential band also brings certain duties with it with regards to his fans, which he fulfilled perfectly. A genius, both on and off-stage.
The next morning, and with the lesson well learned, we set new goals. At this magazine, we have already openly declared our fandom of the charismatic drummer of Yuck, Jonny Rogoff. Well, after running around the hallways of the hotel, we find them in the middle of a crazy photo shoot. During a break, we jump at the band, show them our devotion and we ask them about their new video, “Get Away”. The long-haired musician confirms what we already suspected: what he drinks is virgin olive oil and not another liquid of the same colour.
And though, on Saturday morning, the weather wasn’t really encouraging us to the poolside, that’s exactly where we went, in order to see if we could find more artists. The place was completely empty, but to our surprise, on our iPhone “Gary Olson’s MacBook” appeared. The musician, though he wasn’t there with his The Ladybug Transistor, was part of the band of Comet Gain, who had already played at the Poble Espanyol on Wednesday and would do so again a few hours later at the Parc Central del Poblenou. We looked everywhere, but we didn’t find him.
While we were waiting for the elevator (more traffic there at 3pm than on the Diagonal Avenue at peak time), we bumped into Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, who was wearing a face on her. Understandable, as sometime you had to wait up to 3 minutes. We kept our cool, because we felt there would be things going on in the lobby. And we were right. We ran into Yuck leader Daniel Blumberg again, chatting with one of the members of Odd Future. The rapper was sitting in an impossible pose on some weirdly designed table, wearing leopard shorts. He broke a hard-boiled egg, much to everyone’s surprise, and he agreed to us taking his photo in this strange situation, but not before yelling “I need a fucking job!” Why would he need one, if he’s one of the big promises of rap? Another member of the collective appeared shortly after, screaming “Where is the restaurant? I want to eat!” Quite a scene. Imagine what they would do on the Pitchfork stage.
And so, after a quick dinner at half-time of the CL final, where we saw three other Odd Future members, our stay ended, without any more lucky encounters. With our mythomania satisfied, but sad because we hadn’t been able to confirm if PJ Harvey is wearing short skirts like in her press photos in real life, because we hadn’t met Nick Cave to tell him he looks better with a ‘tache, and because we hadn’t been able to ask Animal Collective to leave the experimentation for the studio and play “Grass”, or “I Think I Can”, or “Chocolate Girl” for us during their gig. PlayGroun is a media partner of San Miguel Primavera Sound For three days, we haven’t only been feeding our ears, but also our mythomania. We slept at the hotel where the organisation and the artists of San Miguel Primavera Sound 2011 were staying to be close to them and to commit all kinds of misdemeanours.
View of the venue from the festival organisation's hotel.
Review Wednesday: Good vibrations at the Poble Espanyol (and an omen) Review Thursday: An extensive overview of a fistful of memorable concerts Review Friday: The day Pulp returned and other supernatural facts Review Saturday: PJ Harvey’s control and football happiness Review sunday: To die killing
Whith Rodrigo from Triágulo de Amor Bizarro.
With Ariel Pink.