God knows how, as the ID checking process is roughly akin to the border controls of a country that doesn't trust foreigners, the result being the slowest we've ever seen a sold out venue fill up.
Wednesday's the first big day. Last year's opening party at the Poble Espanol came in for some criticism due to its rather limited capacity so this year they've taken Primavera out into the streets with a massive gig at the Arc de Triomf; free to all, which is good in itself in a country that's feeling the recession rather more harshly than most. The bloke serving in the corner shop looks like it's Christmas and birthday all at once as he despatches a mate out to replenish beer stocks; the bars in the arena are for some reason less popular (let me see, 4.50 euros a (metric) pint or 4.80 for six cans... no, can't fathom it...). There's a definite US 90s college rock influence in both opening acts - NO MORE LIES go with a punkier metal-ier version, whilst JEREMY JAY mixes Bunnymen and Smiths influences (he does a great Moz swoop) with Pavement et al. By the end of his set we have also ticked off The Chills, The Chameleons and the Cure - in short, his songs all sound slightly familiar and when you're sat in the park drinking beer in the sun, and that's definitely a good thing.
Both sound, at times, a bit like THE WEDDING PRESENT. As did a band I saw last year in Wakefield, but barely so - an off-key Gedge fronting a haphazard band of unknowns rendering some of my favourite songs almost unrecognisable. Tonight is a different band - except it isn't, they just got good again. They kick off with My Favourite Dress and I find myself - along with a small crew I know from Leeds, most of whom were at said Wakefield show and will vouch for how bad it was - down the front giving it loads. The bulk of the set after this is a recital of third album Seamonsters - not an obvious festival album, really, being rather dark and subtle by Gedge standards. For those who know it though it's an absolute treat; Corduroy a standout, then it's back to the hits and as they end on Kennedy I'm off forming a moshpit with random people.
That was ace. What do you mean they weren't the headliners? There's two more bands here? THE WALKMEN are held in very high regard by a number of my friends and I keep meaning to put in some effort there, but not for the first time (at Primavera) their stage time appears to have coincided with our being particularly wasted. I like them though. Afraid I don't see the appeal of BLACK LIPS, but we at least manage to make the front of the queue at the Apolo.
Sort of. There are several queues, into which those of us who have had the foresight to reserve (free) tickets online are randomly herded according to the whims of the bouncers. Those who didn't are turned away, although I meet plenty throughout the weekend who got in anyway. God knows how, as the ID checking process is roughly akin to the border controls of a country that doesn't trust foreigners, the result being the slowest we've ever seen a sold out venue fill up. Eventually CHAIRLIFT do some bouncy indie powerpop despite singer Caroline admitting to a nasty case of food poisoning, then it's BEACH FOSSILS (also from Brooklyn, and the first of several "Beach" bands on the weekend's bill, which could confuse a drunk person). We like the fact that blond moptop guitarist is wearing some sort of smock or very oversized shirt. They dish up shots of fuzzy sunshine bittersweet dreampop in a similar vein to The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - themselves an amalgam of lots of sounds we liked 20 years ago. It's 2.15am and a girl falls over nothing in front of us.