3 Jun, 2024 @ 11:49
4 mins read

EXCLUSIVE: ‘I spent three days at Primavera Sound Barcelona – this is why you MUST add it to your festival list’

The popular festival is a must for all music lovers

FOR three nights every year, tens of thousands of partygoers descend on Parc del Forum, an uninspiring concrete jungle nestled between the high-rise buildings of Barcelona’s bustling industrial quarter and the warm blue of the Mediterranean Sea, and transform it into a vibrant melting pot of music, culture and love. 

This is Primavera Sound Barcelona, widely accepted as Spain’s largest, most successful, most iconic and most popular music festival.

I, alongside three friends from home, visited Barcelona for the festival’s 2022 edition where acts such as Gorillaz, Tame Impala, Jorja Smith, Tyler the Creator and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds performed, and two years on I was eager to return to the site of many joyous memories.

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I attended the 2022 Primavera Sound festival with friends. Copyright: Olive Press/Ben Pawlowski

I was not the only one, too – thousands upon thousands of Brits make the annual pilgrimage every year, with over half of the 268,000 attendees coming from beyond Spain’s borders.

Unlike many popular British festivals such as Glastonbury, the city-centre location means there is no camping, so I could party to my heart’s content safe in the knowledge I had my own bed to collapse onto at the end of the night.

Given that Spain can get quite hot, most of the acts take place after dark, with gates opening around 5pm and performances continuing well into the early hours of the morning.

When I attended the festival two years ago, there were very obvious teething issues with bars and water fountains, but thankfully there were no such problems this time around.

The aptly-named Aperol Island of Joy which served one drink and one drink only – an Aperol Spritz. Copyright: Olive Press/Ben Pawlowski

The festival site includes seven main stages, six of which function in pairs to ensure that punters don’t spend hours walking around or waiting for the next act to set up.

The festival is sponsored by Estrella, the Barcelona-based lager company, who manage the dozen-or-so bars interspersed across the site, whilst there are a wide range of food options – across the three days, I sampled food varying from nachos to burgers, hot dogs and salads, all sufficiently tasty and inexpensive, with an average meal coming in at around €10.

There are also ample toilets across the site so you needn’t worry too much about breaking the seal with too many refreshing Estrellas.

On the first night, I spent an hour or so wandering around the site, re-familiarising myself with the geography and searching for any hidden gems which had escaped my attention last time out.

I was not disappointed – located on a floating platform in the harbour, I stumbled across the aptly named ‘Aperol Island of Joy’.

With friends on the festival’s second day. Copyright: Olive Press/Ben Pawlowski

As the name may suggest, this bar served one drink – Aperol Spritzes – and sounded like my idea of heaven.

Later on that night, I headed to the two main stages, tall and imposing, which sit side by side on a massive astro-turf-covered field.

Vampire Weekend performed first, and despite not knowing many of their songs, their upbeat tempo proved a hit with the burgeoning crowd.

Next up was an act I was eager to see – Pulp, the English Britpop band fronted by the enigmatic and quirky Jarvis Cocker.

Orange confetti lit up the sky during Pulp’s fabulous performance. Copyright: Olive Press/Ben Pawlowski

Pulp were absolutely brilliant, with classic singalong tunes such as Disco 2000 and Common People proving to be some of the most memorable moments of the whole weekend.

The band played a range of storming hits including Common People. Copyright: Olive Press/Ben Pawlowski

The following day, accompanied by a trio of friends, I paid a visit to watch The Last Dinner Party, a London-based female-only indie band who have taken the music world by storm in recent months and who performed on the Cupra stage, a pantheon-like arena which was packed to the rafters.

The lead singer, Abigail Morris, shone with her pitch-perfect vocals and relentless energy which showed exactly why this quintet of ladies are regarded as such hot prospects in the music industry.

Their final song, Nothing Matters, taken from their highly-acclaimed debut album Prelude to Ecstasy, was a glowing end to a wonderfully brilliant performance.

The Last Dinner Party produced a fantastic performance. Copyright: Olive Press/Ben Pawlowski

Sadly, their energy, colour and excitement could not be matched by that evening’s headliner, Lana del Rey.

The American singer-songwriter was blasted by festival-goers on social media after turning up half an hour later for her set, before producing a timid performance that lacked gusto and commitment. 

I concurred, and along with a friend quickly left to scour the minor stages for the rest of the night.

Lana del Rey, for all the hype, was the biggest let-down of the festival. Copyright: Olive Press/Ben Pawlowski

The final night was home to perhaps the festival’s best performance from PJ Harvey, a fellow Dorset export who took to the stage to play a range of hits old and new.

Her perfectly-sung, layered and moody tunes were framed magically by a storm that enveloped the festival site as she took to the stage.

Rainfall splattered on the front of the stage as she mesmerised the crowd with a magical set – even a spectacular show of lightning lingering on the horizon failed to deter the large crowds. 

PJ Harvey produced a mesmerising performance in stormy weather. Copyright: Olive Press/Ben Pawlowski

Even a brief break following the show to shelter from the rainfall and electric storm failed to dampen the spirits of the attendees.

The festival was closed out by SZA, the award-winning American hip-hop star, yet another female artist who wowed the crowd with a hit-filled, relentlessly energetic 90 minutes.

It proved to be a fitting finale to a fantastic three days – if you love attending festivals, fancy yourself as a music connoisseur, or simply like the idea of a good weekend with your mates, then Primavera Sound Barcelona 2025 could be the perfect place for you. 

BEST PERFORMANCE:

PJ Harvey: Her sublime performance in the heavy rain felt magical, inspiring and rather poignant.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT:

Lana del Rey: The highly-regarded American produced a tepid, quiet performance, exacerbated by her arrival on stage 30 minutes late.

TOP TIP:

Explore the minor stages – they are treasure troves for wonderfully intimate performances with young, up-and-coming performers, and you may just stumble across your new favourite artist.

Ben Pawlowski

Ben joined the Olive Press in January 2024 after a four-month stint teaching English in Paraguay. He loves the adrenaline rush of a breaking news story and the tireless work required to uncover an eye-opening exclusive. He is currently based in Barcelona from where he covers the city, the wider Catalunya region, and the north of Spain. Send tips to [email protected]

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