Primavera Sound 2012 Part 1 29/05/2012

I used to shrug at those who bought Glasto tickets every year without a clue of the line-up. I guess you just have to find your festival..


The best 15 minutes of the year - forget New Year's Eve, or the last 15 minutes of the Cup Final (although the English Premier League's twisted ending was pretty good fun this year) - is 4pm on Primavera Thursday, walking down towards the Forum Park with the sun blazing, the sea sparkling and the growing echoes of soundchecks bouncing off the beautiful concrete. Swerve the Smint pushers (they really don't go with beer), pick up the guidebook, a quick punt on which of the mostly local opening bands looks the most interesting, find a patch of concrete near chosen stage, couple of beers and I'm home. In 2007, after attending Forum Park's Summercase Festival largely because we felt like a weekend away, we decided it was the best festival site ever: great facilities, great location, great weather, no mud and no camping. Summercase played to the commercial end of the market, though - the big NME bands of the day and a few alternative pop legends. If we were going to go back one day, it would have to be Primavera, and when several of our favourite bands confirmed for 2008 we decided that day would be sooner rather than later. Summercase breathed its last that same year, citing "economic reasons". It's like some strange parallel universe where the commercial isn't actually that commercial (possibly because there are hundreds of festivals across Europe and the world offering pretty much the same line-up). Primavera, meanwhile - with its line-up of the underground, the weird and wonderful, the best bits of the past year's ATPs, hipster bands, cult legends, local acts and Shellac - goes from strength to strength.

By the time that best 15 minutes of the year happens, we've already been here two days. Yep, this year we're doing six days of this nonsense. Some of what happened follows, some doesn't, because if you can remember it all you weren't really there (or something). Wibbly special effects at the ready, it's flashback time...


"What if it's just elephant?" Good question. Day minus one - or is it minus two? - of Primavera (that'll be Tuesday, in the real world we left behind a while ago) and we're in the Apolo venue for the Memphis Industries showcase. So the official first band of the festival for Incendiary's official Pissing About On The Costa Brava Division is.... ELEPHANT. They are not elephants; they are a boy and a girl, the latter described on Memphis' site as a "French-by-way-of-Pontefract chanteuse" which is not something you hear very often, and they play smooth, dreamy electropop that's lightweight in a nice, summery way.

Dutch Uncles

"Are we in Manchester or what?" asks Dutch Uncles' manager. Well y'know, we're in a venue called Apol(l)o... Barcelona's version is a lovely little theatre type place with lots of very red lights. As I point out to him, Primavera's like that. A true gathering of the tribes, where you run into people you normally see in the Deaf Institute or Islington Mill or whatever your city's top emerging artists venue is. If you love music you'll eventually end up here - and never leave. We were somewhere in Warsaw's Old Town when this year's first batch of super-earlybird (about half price) tickets went on sale back in October. Amazingly an internet shop - or Portakabin - appeared just when we needed it. I used to shrug at those who bought Glasto tickets every year without a clue of the line-up. I guess you just have to find your festival... DUTCH UNCLES are exactly the sort of band you want to kick off a six day music marathon. Lightweight and fun on the one hand, intelligent and full of twists on the other, it's pop gone wayward: it's Field Music's cheekier cousin having an art-pop party. Singer Duncan (in trademark pattern-frenzy shirt tucked into trousers whose waist reaches halfway to his chin) is on brilliant form with his amazing bendy-legs dancing and the way he does little weird flourishes on his keyboard at the end of songs, accompanied by a flicked heel, and by the time they finish on The Ink the whole crowd's going mad for them. I catch the manager again and tell him they slayed it, but he knows.