Songs of Spring: Primavera Sound 2011
During my teens and throughout my twenties I never gave much thought to camping out at one of those multiple-day music festivals. I had plenty of friends that went to Reggae on the River on the Russian Rive in California and the follow up to Woodstock that happened in the 90’s however getting grubby and subjecting myself to roughin’ it in a tent while other wild festival goers drank, vomited and partied on wasn’t my idea of fun.
Nevertheless, I wasn’t a complete weirdo. Then and now I still enjoy a great concert whether outdoors in an open field or amphitheatre like the Grec in Los Angeles to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers or Hyde Park in London for Jay-Z. The massive sports stadiums like Camp Nou in Barcelona for U-2 or Madison Square Garden in New York to see Janet Jackson still make me scream like an over-excited teen. Some of the best music performances have been the intimate ones in small venues like Jamiraquai in a tiny supper-club in San Francisco back in 1994.
Even those marathon music festivals that pack in multiple acts throughout the day can get me excited however the last one I attended, Rock n’Rio in Madrid in 2008, by the early evening I was exhausted. My stamina just wasn’t what it used to be and I knew that going in. Realizing this, I suppose that is why I am probably one of the few amongst my fanatical musical friends that have never attended Primavera Sound.
Starting in the early 90’s in Barcelona, Primavera Sound was created to offer up-and-coming indie bands and current popular artists whether they be pop, rock or electronic to come together and give the broader public a quality live show that they wouldn’t forget. Like any festival just getting started, the event was an all day affair taken place at any music venue organizers could get their hands on and the acts were always on the cutting edge of the music scene. It was also becoming the unofficial opener for the summer music festival session that would follow after its Springtime concert series, which directly correlates to the name Primavera (translates to Spring in Spanish).
However in 2001 Primavera Sound leapt into the big leagues of music festivals when Spanish beer purveyor, San Miguel came on board. The festival by that point was an important event for 20-something music fans in around Barcelona and San Miguel tapped into the marketing potential of sponsoring a festival that basically held their target audience captive for a few days as well as align themselves with a hip event that would garner the beer brand major cool points. This was the year that Primavera Sound took over Poble Espanyol as its venue of choice setting up 5 stages for an all-day music affair that included acts like Armand Van Helden and Pizzicato 5 and Carl Craig. That year the festival attracted 8,000 visitors.
In 2002 Primavera Sound continued its metamorphoses by adding a second day for a total of 60 local and international bands on the playbill. It also included for the first time non-musical activities with an art exhibition and the Primavera Soundtrack Film Festival. That year’s festival more than doubled with 18,000 in attendance. But it was the 2003 edition that catapulted Primavera Sound into the upper echelons of national music festivals. 25,000 people attended the two-day festival that began with an opening party the previous night to set the mood. The number of acts increased to 90 international and local bands as well as djs.
The non-musical activities was moved to an additional location away from Poble Espanyol and featured once again the film festival as well as a record label fair where bands from various record companies were showcased. And to top it off the media was in full force with 450 journalists on site to cover the festivities.
Over the years up through 2010 the festival has continued to grow in attendance (80,000+ in 2009) as well as in offerings and length. In 2005, Primavera Sound moved to the Parc del Forum site along the Barcelona beachfront where it remains with numerous performance stages and a solid infrastructure. 2007 was the year that it gained recognition of the whole European music scene with 30% of attendees coming from other countries outside of Spain.
In 2008 its parallel activities became so hefty they had to expand to different venues throughout the city taking over locations like Joan Miro Park and other clubs just to host them, some of which are free of charge. Primavera Sound now also includes an impressive series of conferences and events geared toward the music professional. In addition to the Record Label and Industry Fair it hosted the Digital Music Conference 2.0 in 2007 and just in 2010 they added Primavera Pro to the program, which is a forum for industry professional to meet, learn and share new ideas. With all of this going on its no wonder that festival also grew from it’s two-day format to now spanning a week with the main concert series lasting three days.
For 2011 festival-goers can expect more of the same¾ big performances from acts that span the rock, pop and dance music spectrum. Primavera Sound 2011 is scheduled to take place from the 25th to the 29th of May and the main concert series will be split between its current site at the Parc del Forum and its previous location at Poble Espanyol. There will also be a ton fringe events taking place in parks, public spaces and underground venues. To purchase tickets and stay updated on who will be included on the playbill go to the Primavera Sound website at www.primaversound.com and be sure to sign up for their mailing list to receive regular notices on upcoming events.