Parc del Fòrum
It’s the second weekend of Primavera Sound, and the temperature of Barcelona is beautifully humid. The long-awaited 2022 chapter of Primavera is finally happening, and there’s a sense of euphoric excitement rippling across Parc del Fòrum. Port Fòrum’s water is glistening gently under the last of the day’s sun beneath a cloudless cyan sky, and the setting feels unbeatable for a music festival. Parc del Fòrum’s architecture threads the festival map together, from the amphitheatred Cupra stage to the fairy-lit steps leading down to Ouigo and Plentitude. Elsewhere there’s the main arena featuring two large stages next to one another, saving time for changeovers, as well as the new Cupra x Boiler Room area whose signature circular style offers panoramic views.
The weekend starts early for us. On Wednesday we’re treated to an energising performance from Megan Thee Stallion at the Razzmatazz club as part of Primavera a la Ciutat (a series of concerts before the festival begins). The unfiltered feminine power directed from the stage feels like an injection of confidence into the crowd. Preaching self-esteem, body confidence and hot girl summers, the singer ignites an eruption of screams every time she drops one of her signature moves.
Thursday sees the official festival kick off with a sprawling programme. Upon approaching the main arena, the infamous bass lines of Laura Lee begin filling the large space as Khruangbin step up for their Primavera debut. Towards the end of the set people are flooding in, ready for festival favourites Gorillaz to play alongside a wallpaper-esque sunset. The queues for food and bars are substantial but, from what I can gather, a far cry from the first weekend as the team took a proactive approach towards remedying the long waiting times. However, water points are exceptionally scarce, meaning purchasing a €2 can on every trip to the bar became the go to. Moving down to the waterfront and into the night, Working Mens Club enter the Ouigo stage with high-pitched distortion and blinding lights. The stage becomes inundated with synths and a relentless drum machine beat, underpinned by the jerky grimace of frontman Sydney Minsky-Sargeant. It’s a memorable moment for the festival as the four young Brits channel early New Order into their performance.
Elsewhere, A.G. Cook treats the audience to a set of buoyant dancefloor bangers whilst pop royalty Dua Lipa brings in one of the largest crowds of the weekends with her singalong classics. Down at the Cupra stage, Playboi Carti, perhaps unsurprisingly, keeps a swarm of sweaty teenagers waiting as he arrives fashionably late. An explosion of flames and energy, Carti and his live guitarist Ojivolta are an undeniable force together once they hit the stage.
Charli XCX returns for the second weekend of the festival and shells down another perfectly knitted together set to doting fans, departing the stage with an obligatory “make some noise for me, bitch!” As the first night comes to a close, HAAi is followed by Mall Grab at the Dice Stage, who occupies the last of the evening’s party-goers.
As the heat soars on Friday, a resonant and unfaltering set from Sampa the Great is a welcomed choice to begin the second day with. Styled in red, Sampa Tembo and her band appear as if they are having as much fun as the crowd before them, making charismatic movements across the stage. Brittany Howard is a surprise highlight; her wondrously powerful voice caressing the main arena and stopping the conversations held around us. Following the feminine flow of the line-up so far, New Zealand’s treasured star Lorde is next up. Her set couldn’t have landed a better placement as the sky blooms in orange hues and the moon appears to opening track The Path. Lorde’s set is amplified by the natural beauty surrounding her, delivering tracks from all three of her records and even debuting a cover of Bananarama’s Cruel Summer – much to the audience’s delight.
Elsewhere, across the Friday, there’s the ever-transfixing IC3PEAK. The Russian duo, whose mysterious operations are underpinned by the political nature of their act, evoke imagery of existential dread. Whilst the majority of the crowd don’t seem able to understand the words, Anastasia Kreslina’s unapologetically raw and emotional delivery translates beyond language. As they exit the stage a black screen with large white letters appear, urging festival-goers to help Ukraine. Back at the Cupra stage, there’s an excellent selection of musicians including Giveon, Nicola Cruz and an enthralling set from The Smile. Just up the path is pop’s latest sensation Remi Wolf; her raspy, powerhouse vocals bouncing around a sea of youthful faces.
If energy levels are running low at this point in the festival, one moment in the crowd at Dorian Electra would reinvigorate you. Larger-than-life choreography and a stage presence felt from across the port are all wrapped up in the unpredictable exhilaration of not knowing where their hyperpop sound is moving to next, or where the BPM will go.
On Saturday, there’s a slower beginning to the event as the crowds roll in for the festival’s final day. The magnificent Arooj Aftab entrances a large crowd at the Ouigo stage overlooking the water. Accompanied by just a double bass and harp, the Grammy Award-winning vocalist, and Issue 132 cover star, bewitches us with an emotional performance – a stunning testament to the weekend’s magic. She tells the crowd, “We’re trying to reinvent sad music, we’re trying to make it sexy.”
On sexy, sad music, Sky Ferreria starts her set slightly dishevelled as her mic is fitted on stage and several attempts are taken to begin a track, only for the vocalist to stop a few bars in. Once settled, she plays a nostalgic selection from her almost 10-year-old album Night Time, My Time; the crowd swaying in delight. Everybody’s favourite cult indie trio Yeah Yeah Yeahs bring an abundance of vivacity to the main arena, riling the crowd up for one final time. The darkwave riffs of Molchat Doma draw in a transfixed crowd as the evening progresses, whilst hedonistic disco rivavalist Jessie Ware holds down the fort for those looking for a dancefloor.
Then it’s time for the set that’s been on people’s lips all weekend. Kevin Parker arrives on stage with the presence of a warm hug after a long week. Between transcending visual effects and hooks that leave you reminiscing over the first time you heard them, he regularly asks the crowd if they’re OK and directs staff to help. There’s a certain vibration across Tame Impala’s audience, basking in the glow of the 90-minute set. With an eruption of confetti at the end of the final song New Person, Same Old Mistakes, the magic of Primavera feels like it’s come full circle. The enchanting magnetism of the large-scale festival feels safely restored. Primavera is back. Let’s do this all over again.