RECAP - Primavera Sound 2019
Primavera Sound has been an institution since it first opened its doors in 2001. Moving to Barcelona’s famous Parc del Fòrum in 2005, it’s since welcomed the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Wu-Tang Clan and De La Soul. Consistently breaking the barriers of festival line-ups with its eclectic mix of genres from pop and rock to electronic and dance, and range of independent artists, upcoming musicians and huge headliners, this year was no different. With a line-up boasting a 50/50 gender split, and headliners including Erykah Badu, Tame Impala and Solange, Primavera looked to be stepping things up in its nineteenth year (despite the last-minute dropout from Cardi B!).
Here’s our favourite moments of Primavera Sound 2019.
Kicking off the first night, we were treated to a spectacular show from Christine and the Queens. Perhaps best known for her performance of Tilted / I Feel For You on Later… with Jools Holland, the French singer-songwriter has followed up her meteoric rise by donning a new look, adding some funk vibes to her music, and performing exhilarating contemporary dance routines with her posse of dancers. Her Primavera set didn’t disappoint, with new tracks Comme si and Girlfriend bringing the party vibes, on-stage lighting theatrics and routines that echo Michael Jackson’s Bad era. Our highlight of the set has to be her rendition of David Bowie’s Heroes who she pays homage to in the most respectful of ways, and her call to action to all festival-goers to show empathy in this time of political and social unrest. She declares ‘Be kind to one another.’ as she exits the stage as majestically as she entered.
We catch a taste of Nas’ set. Over twenty years into his career, and having been named as one of the greatest MCs of all time, he doesn’t disappoint. Bringing out the classics, If I Ruled the World and Life’s A Bitch from his It Was Written and Illmatic days, he shows just why he’s still one of the best rappers in the game. Following up is FKA twigs whose show is breathtaking to say the least - her performances of Video Girl, Water Me and Two Weeks invite a choral response from the audience, and new track Cellophane moves them to tears, whilst her dancing and swordsmanship bring another layer to her theatrical performance. Our long-standing memory of the night has to be her pole dance routine which accompanies intimate and vulnerable piece, Lights On. Following time off in which the singer was recovering from surgery to remove fibroids from her uterus, it’s a performance that symbolises strength, recovery and fierce femininity. Moving from a ballad-centered set from FKA twigs to Future proves a shock to the system, but the Atlanta rapper knows how to bring the party with tracks Bugatti, Wicked and Jumpman evoking hip-hop house party vibes, (also partly in thanks to numerous pull-ups from his DJ and his energetic dancers). We finish off the night with an incredible 1 ½ hour set from the other-wordly Erykah Badu who opens with her soft rendition of Hello. As always, the Queen of Neo Soul enters as if in a Western shoot-out, with her giant eccentric hat and face jewellery. Performances of On and On, Bag Lady and Window Seat prove firm favourites, but the best moments of her set are in fact her improvisations as she shows off her immense vocal ability and passion. She teases, coaxes and speaks to the crowd as if they’re old friends, and it’s this Erykah that true loyalists will always love and know. Erykah can’t be tamed, watered-down or commercialised - she is simply a true artist (and she’s sensitive about her shit).
After an epic first night, it’s a wonder if anything can live up to it, but the second night proves equally incredible. We’re front row for Jungle and their show can only be described as flawless. Simple as their set may seem, the soul music collective are anything but. Seamlessly performing old favourites from their 2014 debut album Jungle, and new album For Ever, their set proves that their sounds will always be timeless. As always, Busy Earnin’ and Time go down a treat, but it’s great to see the reception for their new material, particularly Casio, Pray and Heavy, California. Mura Masa delivers yet another stellar performance, bringing back old-school mixes alongside new tracks All Night and Complicated. Janelle Monáe proves to be the ultimate show-woman as she dances, acts, raps and sings in her one set. Pulling off slick choreography, weaving her sounds across an array of musical genres, and welcoming her diverse crowd by telling them they’re welcome regardless of the marginalisation they face, it’s proof of why the artist is dominating the charts in 2019. Tame Impala round off the night with their nostalgic, psychedelic sounds, with Let It Happen, Past Life and other tracks from their Currents album proving firm favourites.
As we reach the final night of the three-day extravaganza, there’s a solemn mood in the air. The evening kicks off with sets by Loyle Carner and Nilüfer Yanya, before Kali Uchis makes her Primavera debut. Neneh Cherry hits the stage, before we move on to see new talent Rosalía perform. With her hypnotising performance, folkloric-style music and breathtaking vocal melismas at times render the audience speechless, but she brings the energy back with Barefoot In the Park in which she brings out collaborator, James Blake, and as she finishes off with Malamente, her flamenco-inspired hip-hop track, it’s clear to see why she landed a place on BBC’s Music Sound of 2019 list. We’re stunned by Solange as she brings the epitome of black excellence to her set. With twerking, dance routines that echo Beyonce’s Coachella set, impeccable performances from her band and stunning renditions of Cranes in the Sky, Losing You, Don’t Touch My Hair, Way to the Show and Things I Imagined, she proves to be the best set of the night (she also shades Primavera for putting her set at the same time as Lizzo and Tierra Whack). As night descends on Barcelona, we are treated to the melancholy sounds of James Blake who brings back classics Limit To Your Love and Life Round Here before getting into tracks Where’s The Catch? and Mile High from this year’s Assume Form album. We catch some of J Balvin’s reggaeton-fuelled set, complete with psychedelic cartoon graphics and bright colours, before the night ends with Northampton punk-grime hit, slowthai.
With 2020 on the horizon and a L.A. debut for the festival announced, it looks like we’ll be heading to Primavera next year for much more.
Words: Mireille Harper
Photography: Anis Ali
Photos: Primavera Sound
We’ve curated a 30-track Spotify playlist for this year’s Primavera Sound so you can enjoy the best sounds of this year’s lineup.