Every June, half of East London descends onto Barcelona and gravitates towards an expanse of concrete on the northern outskirts of the city. There they remain for the next three days, sampling some of the best festival line-ups to be found over the summer. We’ve done Glastonbury, we’ve done Creamfields, now for the five top songs of Primavera Sound 2017.
Romare – All Night
Among the first acts of day one, over at ‘Primavera Bits’ (two sound systems by the beach hosting some of the best DJs of the festival), was Romare. He expertly warmed up the crowd with All Night as the Barcelona sun was setting against a backdrop of palm trees and high rise apartments. All Night’s funky basslines and afrobeat drums got feet dancing and faces smiling. It set the tone nicely for the start of the festival, throughout which friends reminisced, “what about that first Romare set though.” We were spoilt.
Swet Shop Boys – T5
Not many people have heard of Swet Shop Boys, or so I thought as I dragged a few friends to a medium sized stage at the back of the festival on Saturday afternoon. It turns out rappers Riz MC (aka Riz Ahmed, known for his acting roles in Four Lions and Star Wars: Rogue One) and Heems (of Das Racist fame) plus producer Redinho, have a sizable and lively following. The set went off, the energy from the stage was among the best of the weekend, and the crowd knew every tongue-in-cheek lyric about Rupert Murdoch, phone tapping, and racial profiling at the airport (‘I always get a random check when I rock the stubble’). A top highlight was the leading song from their highly recommended LP Cashmere, T5.
Metronomy – I’m Aquarius
Metronomy were billed on one of the two main stages on the final evening of the festival, sandwiched between Van Morrisson and Grace Jones. They held their own and played a set full of classics to a huge crowd – a well-prepared group of which produced sparklers half way through and handed them around to gleeful onlookers. Metronomy live is not Metronomy on record; the set was rough around the edges with a few playful deviations, but it was packed with tracks that almost the whole crowd knew every word to, with I’m Aquarius among the top of the bunch.
Grace Jones – Pull Up To The Bumper
Grace Jones was on the lips of everyone when asked who not to miss, and she didn’t disappoint. Where many acts might shuffle out, politely greet the crowd, and roll through their set, Jones exploded onstage with her body painted, tits out, fashioning an elaborate headdress (the first of many) and upheld a stage presence only a seasoned performer like her could. Of course, Pull Up To The Bumper was the song many were waiting for, and during an extended bass solo she was carried right up to the sound desk on the shoulders of one lucky bouncer, much to the delight of fans.
!!! (Chk chk chk) – The One 2
At 5am on the final day, !!! (Chk chk chk) offered a final celebration to see out the festival. And what a celebration. The stage stood at the very heart of the site and, with all other stages wrapping up, a huge crowd gathered. The energy was high, the music unique, and we all fell in love with Nic Offer’s dance moves (a rigorous display resulting in his shoe breaking mid-set). There was cheering, there was hugging, there were smiles, it was the perfect finish. By this point, the individual tracks became secondary to the overall vibes, but a highlight had to be The One 2.
Extra shout out to…
I’d never seen a man strip naked on top of an amplifier and burn off all his body hair with a lighter, but now I have. Mac DeMarco’s whole set was something to behold, not only thanks to his outrageous stage antics, but also his eclectic set list, taking us from raw signature favourites to a new style of polished, mesmerising tracks from his newest album. So for luck, here’s One More Love Song from This Old Dog.
That concludes my pick of top songs at Primavera Sound 2017. Of course, there were hundreds more that could have made the cut, with special mentions to Arcade Fire, Talaboman, Flying Lotus, Pearson Sound, Dixon, JUNUN. If you didn’t make it this year, start gathering the crew for Barcelona 2018.
By Lucy Burnage