San Miguel Primavera Sound Preview (I)

The artists you have to discover

Previa San Miguel Primavera Sound (I) By Sergio del Amo and Franc Sayol

The countdown has started for the launch of San Miguel Primavera Sound 2011. You probably already have your ticket, your festival survival kit, a roadmap with the time schedules meticulously written down and your favourite artists marked in fluorescent colours. But if you still have doubts, if you need more info, clues and filters, we’re here to help you out. We’ve selected the names that, though the may be small, debuting or weird, will have their space at the festival and who could become the big surprises of this year. Tomorrow, in order to complete this overview, we’ll talk about the headliners.

Blank Dogs

The boss of Captured Tracks, hiding behind the name Blank Dogs, honours us with a visit and the only thing we can do is receive him with open arms. Now that Mike Sniper has become somewhat more accessible on “Land And Fixed” (Captured Tracks, 2010), getting rid of orgiastic, lo-fi, post-punk noise of his previous efforts, it will be curious to see how he’s going to put together his deafening demons with these new tracks full of overdubs and gloomy synths. In absence of Ian Curtis, we have Sniper, so we can’t complain. SdA

Thursday 26th May, Pitchfork Stage. 7:15 pmThursday 26th May, Ray-Ban Unplugged. 10:30 pm

Cloud Nothings

While on “Turning On” (Carpark, 2010), Dylan Blandi collected premature pieces that sounded like old garage junk, months later he decided to clean up his sound, ditch the DIY and get into a proper studio. Cloud Nothings tracks are like little tsunamis of eternal happiness. Like a virgin version of Wavves. The American and his three friends will play in Spain for the first time, so it’s the perfect time to see how they do live. SdA

Saturday 28th May, Pitchfork Stage. 6:00 pmSunday 29th May, Parc Central del Poblenou. 1:45pm


With “Duat EP” (Limbo Starr, 2010), a spectral mini album mixing the teachings of Popol Vuh and Los Brincos, Cuchilloreminded us that they’re one of the most solid bands of our country. While they confirmed themselves once more as psychedelic folk-rock luminaries on their latest album, it’s during their live shows that their music becomes the most intense. Israel Marco and Daniel Dominguez drag you into their hypnotic mortar of guitar loops, vocal manipulation and infinite percussive details. And when they play at home, even more so. FS

Saturday 28th May, Salón Myspace Smint. 7:00 pm


Because of the surprising “North” (Hyperdub, 2010), James Young and Aiden Whalley have been tagged as pillars of the post-dubstep generation. However, their sound is more retro-futurist synth-pop than anything ending in “-step”. On stage, they become a trio, with the addition of vocalist James Buttery (who also sings on the album) and they reinforce their sound with generous doses of sub-bass. However, the hour might propose a challenge for their gliding compositions. FS

S aturday 28th May, Jägermeister Vice Stage. 1:30 am

Ford & Lopatin (formerly Games)

After releasing the excellent EP “That We Can Play” (Hippos In Tanks, 2010) and being forced to change their name for legal reasons, Joel Ford (of Tigercity) and Daniel Lopatin (alias Oneothrix Point Never, who will also be performing on Thursday) are about to make their album debut with “Channel Pressure”, a record that promises to be a feast of vintage synths and eighties references. The release is planned for 7th June, so this is an opportunity to sample the new compositions straight out of the oven, during what will be their first ever performance in Spain. FS

Friday 27th May, Pitchfork Stage. 0:30 am

Gang Gang Dance

Another huge comeback. The New York combo is now on 4AD and has just released “Eye Contact” (4AD, 2011). A record with which they once again cross club sounds with a global and cohesive spirit, with some pop flashes thrown in for good measure. But apart from their studio efforts, the band gain a new dimension on stage. The quintet led by Lizzie Bougatsos transform into a cosmic jamming machine, reconfiguring their compositions as they go, in a ceremony that usually ends up with the audience dancing ecstatically. Just remember their gig at the 2009 edition of the festival. FS

Saturday 28th May, Pitchfork Stage. 9:45 pm


Glasser’s debut in Spain is one of the must-see performances at the festival. Behind the Glasser mask is Cameron Mesirow, a Boston native with an impressive voice somewhere between the spectral and the heavenly. “Ring” (True Panther Sounds, 2010), her first album, confirmed her as a reference in crepuscular pop and landed her comparisons to Björk. On stage, Mesirow dresses up in baroque clothes as she directs a ritual of hypnotic beats, in which her shiny voice emerges over electronically varnished bases put together by the more than efficient trio who accompany her. Must-see. FS

Thursday 26th May, Pitchfork Stage. 9:45 pm

Holy Ghost!

Although James Murphy decided to take a well-deserved holiday, his label DFA keeps releasing synthetic pop. Holy Ghost! turned the clubs upside down again with their eighties sounds, disco melodies of the new generation and instant anthems that taste of glory in the wee hours of the morning. The duo makes its debut in Spain to present their new, self-titled album. And you don’t have to be a rocket scientist know that “Wait And See”, apart from being one of the tracks that will be in the top tens at the end of this year, will also be one of the late-night anthems at the Fòrum. SdA

Saturday 28th May, Ray-Ban Stage. 3.30 am

Javiera Mena

To find out what’s going on in the Chilean underground, you need to memorise three names:: Dënver, Gepe (who will be at the festival as well) and Javiera Mena. The girl took her country by storm last year with her second effort, “Mena” (Unión Del Sur, 2010), full of naïve songs you can’t sit still to. With a growing legion of fans in Spain, Mena returns to San Miguel Primavera Sound in the company of her band to shut up those who think bedroom pop lacks singularity. Just ask Jens Lekman, one of her biggest fans. SdA

Friday 27th May, Red Bull Tour Bus (Plaça de la Catedral). 3:30 pm Friday 27th May, Adidas Originals Stage.00:30 am

Kode9 Burial Set

Steve Goodman is one of the artists who play twice. On Saturday, he will perform his “Black Sun” (Hyperdub/ 11) at peak-time (4:30 am) alongside The Spaceape, in a performance that promises to be a kick in the stomach. A day earlier, the Hyperdub capo will perform a gig that seems highly intriguing. In spite of the limitations of the concept, to have the opportunity to hear Burial’s new compositions at top volume sounds very, very good. Let’s hope the soundsystem at the Pitchfork Stage is in top shape, otherwise it won’t make sense. FS

Friday 27th May, Pitchfork Stage. 1:30 am


In the knowledge that they’ll be playing “Popemas” (Elefant, 2002), the album that washed the face of Spanish pop, the return of Nosoträsh is a must-see at the Auditori, a chance to appreciate once more the essential beauty of their best album. The Asturian girls promise there’ll be some surprises and appearances by guest artists. So it will be a good time to hear how “Gloria” and “Tres Tristes Tigres” sound, nine years on. SdA

Saturday 28th May, Rockdelux Stage (Auditori). 8:00 pm

Odd Future

These guys playing at the same time as Animal Collective was an unexpected blow, but if there’s one time you have to see Odd Future live, it’s now. In top shape and still untamed, word has it the live show of the collective of skaters and rappers from Los Angeles are real pressure cookers where blood and sweat are spilt in equal parts (including suicidal crowd surfing). At Coachella, Tyler was thrown off the festival pitch, in London they caused a riot, in Boston they were on Fox News because of public disturbances, in Detroit the whole thing ended in a bottle fight... and now they’ll meet Barcelona. Aside from the polemics, it will be a chance to see if their straightforward and experimental vision of hip-hop is as solid live as it is on record. FS

Saturday 28th May, Pitchfork Stage. 1:45 am

Oneohtrix Point Never

Daniel Lopatin does a double whammy. A day before performing the multi-coloured, synthetic pop of Ford & Lopatin, the American synth-master will be on his own to offer one of the most anticipated gigs of the festival. His “Returnal” (Editions Mego, 2010) was named one of the best albums of last year and, because of world-wide acclaim, the Brooklynite decided to go on tour for the first time ever. A must-see for the lovers of synthesised experimentation. FS

Thursday 26th May, ATP Stage. 9:45 pm


Their “King Night” (IAMSOUND, 2010) was one of the biggest records of last year, and with reason. John Holland, Heather Marlatt and Jack Donoghue’s album (you’ll know the stories about crack and adolescent prostitution by now) is a disturbing effort where their torn souls are reflected and on which concepts like alienation and vital disaffection gain a new dimension via the sound. However, that extreme disaffection also becomes obvious during what remains their big challenge: their live shows. Will they have done their homework? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to be there to see it. FS

Thursday 26th May, ATP Stage. 2:15 am


We’d love it if the pair formed by Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley came to the festival by sea, in reference to the trip they took for eight months along the North American east coast and which resulted in their debut album, “Cape Dory” (Fat Possum, 2011). As dreaming is free, we’ll have to make do with seeing them play live, performing the lo-fi sixties songs that earlier this year made us long for the summer that is now almost upon us. If Bethany Cosentino were at the festival, she wouldn’t miss Tennis’ gig for all the money in the world. What about you? SdA

Friday 27th May, ATP Stage. 19:15h Saturday 28th May, Parc Central del Poblenou. 4.00 pm

The Soft Moon

Another one of last year’s rookies. With “The Soft Moon” (Captured Tracks, 2010), the band of Californian Luis Vasquez showed that it’s still possible to explore the darkest side of post-punk while sounding fresh and personal. On the record, the creeping and taciturn beat of their songs settle in the darkest corner of the soul, but on stage, the band turns into a tornado spitting tension and decibels with mechanical strength and an abrasive voice. It’s a pity that the time of their gig isn’t more in tune with their sound. FS

Saturday 28th May, Llevant Stage. 5:30 pm


Merrill Garbus, the soul of tUnE-yArDs, is in top shape, so you’d have to be short-sighted to not go and see the Spanish presentation of the immaculate “w h o k i l l” (4AD, 2011), full of personality and great tracks like “Bizness” and “My Country”. The American has left her den in order to record in a proper studio, and she did well. Her cocktail of pop, African rhythms and schizoid melodies make her one of the shiny little stars of the season. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. SdA

Saturday 28th May, Pitchfork Stage. 7:15 pm

Twin Shadow

“Forget” (4AD, 2010), Twin Shadow’s debut album, was one of the big surprises of pop last year. Behind the project is George Lewis Jr, multi-instrumentalist with Dominican roots, who recorded the thing in his bedroom in Brooklyn. After months of playing live, he now comes to Barcelona with a band and with his show perfectly oiled. The fact that it’s going to be his first concert on Spanish soil completes the list of reasons why it’s going to be one of the little big moments of the festival nobody should miss out on. FS

Friday 27th May, Pitchfork Stage. 11:15 pm


Compared to Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth and Teenage Fanclub since the day they started, their sound is a trip to the time in the nineties when the term “indie” wasn’t yet synonymous to mass events, queues and general hysteria. With their self-titled debut on Fat Possum, Yuck don’t need any poses: they are who they are, they make songs like “Get Away” and “The Wall” and they don’t mind spitting at the trend-setters. One of the revelations of the year, colour in their name on your festival agenda with a yellow highlighter. SdA

Saturday 28th May, ATP Stage. 6:00 pm

PlayGround is a media partner of San Miguel Primavera Sound

A few days before the start of San Miguel Primavera Sound 2011 at the Fòrum in Barcelona, we took the liberty of preparing a small and practical gig guide of bands you may want to see. They’re not all there, but these are all must-sees.

Report: '' San Miguel Primavera Sound. The evolution of a globally recognised festival'

Review: '' Land And Fixed''

Review: '' North''

Review: '' Eye Contact''

Review: '' Ring''

Review: '' Holy Ghost!''

Review: Kode9 & The Spaceape '' Black Sun''

Review: Tyler, The Creator '' Goblin''

Review: '' Returnal''

Review: '' King Night''

Review: '' Cape Dory''

Review: '' w h o k i l l''

Review: ' 'Forget''

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