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Primavera Sound Barcelona 2023 – 3 June 2023 (Barcelona)

5 June 202313 min read

Still hangovered from the great concert by Depeche Mode the night before, we were a little more rested and with our batteries recharged for the last day of this Primavera Sound 2023 in Barcelona. We went to the Parc del Forum to enjoy Rosalia’s eagerly awaited show, but also personal favourites like the Dutch Sevdaliza or two of the regulars in our work playlists such as St Vincent and The War on Drugs..

Mäneskin - Primavera Sound Barcelona 2023 - Clara Orozco

Photo of Mäneskin by Clara Orozco courtesy of Primavera Sound 2023

With the scorching heat and no wind to soothe the sun, Wednesday‘s dark shoegaze-meets-country-rock approach didn’t seem to be on the best possible stage. However, the band fronted by Karly Hartzman presented their new album Rat Saw God (2023) with a concert full of ’90s guitars that at times reminded us of Dinosaur Jr or The Breeders.. With the crowds heading off to the Villano Antillano gig, we decided to wait for the tiny Cupra stage to empty out and catch Californians Surf Curse on the Brugal stage. At a time when the new British punk seems to have taken over the style, it is curious to note that there are still bands like Surf Curse, who come close to the style of The Ramones, seeking simplicity and power in equal measure. While drummer Nick Rattigan was charismatic on lead vocals, the rest of the band was not up to the task and sometimes we’ve lacked a little more anger, especially from the guitars.

Wednesday - Primavera Sound Barcelona 2023 - Sergio Albert

Photo of Wednesday by Sergio Albert courtesy of Primavera Sound 2023

Anticipating that the Dice stage would not be empty, we decided to join the crowd to catch the last 25 minutes of Villano Antillano’s set. Between constant and necessary proclamations in favour of transfeminism, the fight for LGBTIQ+ freedoms and firm and harsh opposition to machismo and homophobia, the Puerto Rican singer ate up the stage with songs such as “Reina de la Selva“, “Mujerón” and her famous collaboration with Bizarrap. There is no denying that her show was one of the greats of this edition, even if at times it was extremely sexualised, with twerking and morbid lyrics.

Villano Antillano - Primavera Sound Barcelona 2023 - Sergio Albert

Photo of Villano Antillano by Sergio Albert courtesy of Primavera Sound 2023

It was time to pack up and move to the main stages where the gig of Dutch Sevdaliza started. We remember seeing her at many Dutch festivals in her early days with  the release of her EP The Suspended Kid (2015) (great her gig at Down The Rabbit Hole 2016), and being blown away by the intimacy and rhythms that brought her closer to FKA Twigs at the time. The beginning of their concert was in the same vein of subtle and delicate electronics, so we really enjoyed what she had to offer. from the presentation of her new single ‘Ride or Die‘ with Villano Antillano, who jumped on stage to defend the song live, the concert turned into a chaos full of heavy-bass and nonsense electronica where nothing seemed to fit. Special mention should be made of a 10-minute DJ set of Dutch and Belgian Eurodance hits from the 90s, which completely broke the rhythm of an otherwise disastrous concert.

Sevdaliza - Primavera Sound Barcelona 2023 - Sharon López

Photo of Sevdaliza by Sharon López courtesy of Primavera Sound 2023.

Just a few steps to the right, we could once again enjoy a live performance by one of the great female references of the independent scene, the North American vocalist/songwriter St. Vincent. Few Masters of Ceremonies have the charisma of the one from Tulsa, who also knows how to surround herself with a band of the highest calibre as Jason Falkner and Justin Meldal-Johnsen on guitar and bass respectivel to deliver a concert that does not fall below the remarkable for rhythm and quality in each song.. She performed up to four songs from her latest album Daddy’s Home (2021), but there was also time for classics from her long discography such as “Digital Witness“, “Cheerleader” and the tender “New York“.

St. Vincent - Primavera Sound Barcelona 2023

Photo of St. Vincent taken from her official Facebook profile.

With the final chords of her concert, we made our way back to the Plenitude stage to see the Dominican Tokisha, whose popularity has grown exponentially in recent months thanks to her collaborations with Madonna and Rosalia. We don’t know which genius came up with the idea of putting her concert on such a small stage, and whose design of shipping containers (a 10 for their sustainable use, but a 0 for their U-shaped layout, which made it impossible to see anything from the sides) created a crowd blockage of the kind rarely seen in this festival.. She opened with a video of her newly formed political party Popola Libre, and between dances of extreme dembow and reggaeton, the crowd enjoyed moving madly to the rhythm of sexual empowerment, which at times became excessively repetitive. With the few songs she has in her repertoire, as soon as she started repeating a couple of them it was the signal to go upstairs and enjoy the diametrically opposite show offered by The War on Drugs in the Amazon stage.

TOKISCHA - Primavera Sound Barcelona 2023 - Eric Pamies

Photo of Tokisha by Eric Pàmies courtesy of Primavera Sound 2023.

Adam Granduciel‘s band seems to come from the opposite pole of the current trend. With little charisma, thought-provoking lyrics and unwavering rhythms, the Philadelphians showed that they have a large enough legion of fans to transcend the fashions by doing what they do best, making real music outside the ephemeral tik-toks and dances. Their live show, which is getting closer and closer to Springsteen’s sad era, was a visit to a good part of their discography, with “Come to the City“, “Pain” and “Red Eyes” being played at the beginning. Once the show focused on their latest album, I Don’t Live Here Anymore (2021), the pace slowed, but the final rouge of “Eyes to the Wind” and “Under the Pressure” was spectacular. A few metres away, in the midst of a flood of Italians arriving for the Mäneskin show that followed, the North American Kelela took to the Brugal stage to defend her new album Raven (2023). But only after opening with “Washed Away“, the sound failed and the concert had to be stopped for just over 20 minutes. The sound problems continued throughout the concert, burying the delicate proposal of the singer from Washington in the face of the ridiculous volume of her voice. On the part of the organisation, a 0 for the lack of delicacy shown in suddenly cutting off the sound during “Enough for Love” and not even letting her finish the concert.

The War On Drugs - Primavera Sound Barcelona 2023 - Sergio Albert

Photo of The War on Drugs by Sergio Albert courtesy of Primavera Sound 2023.

The main problem was that next to her was the Italian band Mäneskin, who, as already mentioned, had gathered a good legion of compatriots. It is true that their proposal remains in a rock that is too light, even flirting with the essence of the Italian light song, but we must also recognise that they do it with a solvency and a know-how on stage that dignifies their proposal, because if someone told us sometime in the middle of the 10’s that a Eurovision winner was going to play at Primavera Sound, we just wouldn’t believe it. Aside from the charisma of their incredible frontman Damiano David, the rest of the band also transmits rock between movements and dancing, and even some of the songs sound really powerful, like their hits “Zitti E Buoni“, “I wanna Be Your Slave” or the cover of “Beggin“. As Damiano said in the presentation of one of their songs, what people think of them “doesn’t matter” and they will remain faithful to a proposal that they master and with which they please their large community of followers.

Rosalia - Wikimedia

Photo of Rosalia in concert in Mexico DF with Creative Commons license extracted from Wikimedia Commons

As the festival drew to a close, it was time for the icing on the cake: the first major concert by a national artist as a true headliner in the history of Primavera Sound. Rosalia played as local, and a good indication of that is that the we have never seen the main stage hall as crowded as it was on that Saturday, such as families with children who had not yet reached their teens, who arrived at the festival at 2 a.m. just to see the Catalan singer. In the era of reels and 8-second tik-toks, little remains to be seen of the Motomami tour show, and a condensed version of it could be seen on the Forum.  It starts as usual with “Saoko“, a continuous performance by an exceptional group of dancers and the feeling that everything is happening very fast. Among slight volume problems with Rosalía’s microphone and interferences from the damned new electronic stage set up next to the stairs leading up to the esplanade, Some of the songs were a bit lacklustre, but there was time for “Linda” (which had already been played a few hours earlier at Tokisha’s show), “Despechá“, “La Combi Versace” or “Con Altura” to be played more than decently. At the end, without the presence of Rauw Alejandro, would be time for the concatenation of “Beso” and “Vampiros”, to close the concert with a cover of “Héroe” by Enrique Iglesias, “Malamente”, “Chicken Teriyaki”’ and the uncontrolled absolute partying of “CUUUUuuuuute”. Despite the small problems, it was game, set and match for the girl from Sant Esteve Sesrovires, who became the absolute winner of Primavera Sound 2023 where we have been able to enjoy great concerts such as hers, Depeche Mode, Blur or Turnstyle and in which the amount of public, for the first time in years, has meant that there has not been a feeling of continuous overcrowding beyond the somewhat overcrowded main shows..

Victor Ramos

Fanático de la música desde que mis padres me ponían a Eydie Gorme y Los Panchos o el Discotuna por la A2. Intenté tocar varios instrumentos, pero soy muy torpe con la mano izquierda, así que ya sabéis el resultado final. Fan del britpop, Post-punk, el rugby y el baloncesto...


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