Surreal and diverse start to Primavera 2018

There are a few things to consider when you’re planning your weekend at Primavera 2018. The first is who from the stellar line up you want to see, the second is how badly you’re willing to alter your body clock to do so and the other is how far you’re prepared to walk. The sun-soaked Barcelona-based festival is located on the seafront, with several big stages and, in its 18 years of existence, a consistently good line up. Unlike a UK festival, the Primavera 2018 site is almost entirely concrete, with dust and rubble being more of a problem than our ubiquitous mud. Acts on-site play from 4pm until 6am so there’s ample opportunity to catch a lot of music, as well as extra showcases at the stage in Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona further into town during the day. Transfer buses are laid on from one end of the festival to the other, as the walk is fairly long. Primavera 2018: Atmosphere Photo credit: Sergio Albert Thursday’s bill is a mix of solid festival bands, new and old: The War on Drugs, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Four Tet, Chvrches, Hinds, Mount Kimbie and Bjork, alongside newcomers such as self-styled Catalonian Rihanna – Bad Gyal. Pop duo Client Liaison tears up the day stage, with a showcase including a set of novelty-sized water coolers, houseplants and an extremely 80s aesthetic. Their energy is infectious with vocalist Monte Morgan sliding around the stage. Later in the day Hinds, a girl band from Madrid, opened on the Seat stage with new song ‘The Club’, confidently taking one of the two big stages on their home turf. Following the release of their album, ‘I Don’t Run’ in April they have been booked for a number of festivals all over the world. It’s obvious they have charmed both Spanish and international crowds with their raggedy harmonies. Primavera 2018: Hinds Photo credit: Eric Pamies After Hinds, indie classic The War on Drugs take to the Mango stage opposite. Their sound lends them well to a big venue and the timing works in their favour. As dusk approaches the dust rises creating a dreamy haze throughout Red Eyes. Primavera 2018: The War on Drugs Photo credit: Eric Pamies As dusk moves into night, legend Bjork begins her surreal set and amidst the packed throng of the crowd, it feels as though everyone has turned out to see her. Bjork opens with ‘Arisen My Senses’ set to sped up videos of blooming flowers on big screens, a troop of female flautists and a set comprised of verdant greenery, moving on to videos of storks catching fish, graphics of alien-like creatures, flashing yellow, and later dying flowers. Nobody but Bjork could dream it up. Her pink PVC outfit and trippy use of her Wanderlust video make it otherworldly. Primavera 2018: Bjork Photo credit: Santiago Felipe The arc of the show makes sense, being both theatrical and conceptual, however, lots of people appear to leave early. Those who do stay to the end aren’t particularly rewarded, and with an anticlimactic end to a visually stunning show, Bjork offers no encore. The move from Bjork to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds only highlights how different they are, not only in genre but also in their polar opposite delivery styles. Bjork’s conceptual, visual show followed by a narrative-driven, fast-paced and inclusive show by Cave demonstrates there is more than one way to deliver the prime slots at an international festival like Primavera 2018. Cave’s wiry figure cuts an impressive shape and he has the audience in the palm of his hand, stealing the evening with a set that builds and builds. Skilful shredding on the viola – an instrument you don’t often see in rock – adds a special touch. ‘Red Right Hand’ sits at the heart of the set, and it only gets better from there. Cave’s storytelling is almost gothic, and, finishing with around 100 people on stage, he serenades various audience members with an emotional rendition of ‘Push the Sky Away’. Primavera 2018: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Photo credit: Eric Pamies The rest of the night offers cinematic synth from Nils Frahm, dancehall and reggaeton from Bad Gyal and minimal electro on the amphitheatre Ray-Ban stage from Four Tet, demonstrating just how diverse the line up really is and sets the bar high for Friday and Saturday at Primavera 2018. All photos courtesy of Primavera Sound. Main photo credit: Santiago Felipe