Primavera Sound Day Three: Neil Young, Sonic Youth, Simian Mobile Disco

The ninth edition of the Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona closes its doors today with a record of assistance of over 80,000 spectators, and a total of 171 performances. Check out our video coverage of day three.

Although I didn’t get to see everything, great things were said of emerging artists like Ezra Furman & The Harpoons, The Lions Constellation and Rosvita. However, I was able to watch the performances of The Bad Plus, Neil Young, Oneida, Deerhunter, Sonic Youth, Gang Gang Dance, DJ /rupture, Simian Mobile Disco, A-Trak, Zombie Zombie and DJ Mehdi.

The Bad Plus was one of the few jazz groups I saw at the festival, and the best part was that Wendy Lewis joined the trio about midway through their concert to perform a few songs from their most recent album For All I Care. The band played an amazing rendition of Wilco’s Radio Cure, and Nirvana’s Lithium, and the audience was treated to some improvisation between songs. Dave King is one of the best drummers I’ve had the opportunity to see live, and his playing gave me the sensation that the drum kit was an extension of his body. I had heard recordings, but seeing The Bad Plus live made clear to me that the group has developed chemistry from playing together for years.

Neil Young was the biggest name on everyone’s list, as the Canadian singer and guitarist has not played in Barcelona in twenty-two years. He played classics like Rockin’ In The Free World, and I could see the nostalgia in the faces of some of the older members of the audience. The concert was historical, and fully deserved the loudest applause of Primavera Sound. In fact, I also believe his concert was the most attended at the entire festival.


The ambient rock of Deerhunter graced the Rock Deluxe arena, bestowing the audience with their progressive, hypnotic sound. I loved Bradford Cox’s wistful singing, it reminded me of Thom Yorke, and sometimes the music had the same “noise” texture as My Bloody Valentine, which I was able to see yesterday.

Another highlight of the day was Sonic Youth, which played on the same stage as Neil Young to a similarly enormous crowd. They played songs from different points of their history, ranging from mellow ballads to full blown hardcore punk, and I felt like I had gotten the complete experience.

Gang Gang Dance was interesting because of the diverse percussion instruments that the band used to create a mixture of latin and African rhythms and electronic music. They created a joyful, party atmosphere and the lead vocalist asked everyone to chant “Don and Lisa” for the band’s newlywed friends, after their performance. I then headed quickly to see DJ /rupture, one of the few artists that day who represented some of the less mainstream electronic genres like dubstep, drum and bass, and kuduro.

James Ford and James Anthony Shaw of Simian Mobile Disco were quite the pair, working on a gigantic machine at center stage, surrounded by an amazing light show. They played one of my favorite songs of theirs, I Believe, but mostly mixed and performed on the fly. It really looked like the artists where actually mechanics at work, and they produced some invigorating electronic dynamics between their main beats. Zombie Zombie was a pleasant surprise, Etienne Jaumet had a multitude of electronic devices surrounding him like a theremin, a toy piano, and several keyboards, while “CosmicNeman” was on the drums and percussion and screaming into a delayed microphone. The undulating music progressed over time, and once the repeating bass lines found residence in my ear, I was an instant fan.

In short, the Primavera Sound Festival’s conclusion was a huge success. The weather was perfect all week, the music was top-notch, and I only met friendly people while there. I’m already looking forward to next year! Check back to BeatCrave for more videos and additional coverage.