Review of Primavera Sound Festival 2012

Heralded as the highpoint of Europe's busy festival season and rightly so, the 2012 edition of Primavera Sound is almost upon us once more. Now in its twelfth year, Primavera Sound have been running a series of fringe events in and around the city of Barcelona throughout the month of May before the main festival itself kicks off on Wednesday 30th May at the Apolo venue.

Primavera Sound Festival

From then until Sunday 3rd June, it's pretty much a non-stop extravaganza of live music and DJs featuring an eclectic mix of the very best from just about every genre under the sun. While focusing more on the independent and alternative side of the fence, there's also a more radio friendly element than in previous years with the likes of Franz Ferdinand, Saint Etienne and The Cure all figuring prominently at the high end of the bill.

Even the cancellation of initial Saturday night headliner Bjork hasn't dampened spirits too much, so good is that day's undercard and indeed the rest of the weekend's line-up. The bulk of this year's programme once again taking place at the Parc Del Forum, they've also increased the number of stages to eight this year with the addition of the Adidas Originals stage to the now familiar Auditorium, San Miguel, Pitchfork, ATP, Vice, Mini and Rayban arenas.

Aside from the music, there's also the historical, picturesque city of Barcelona to visit with its many elegant landmarks. Just be wary of the pickpockets!

Anyway, without further ado, Contactmusic have been studying this year's bill with a fine-tooth comb before arriving at our handy guide of ten acts most definitely not to be missed.

Although best known for 'The Rat', it would be fair to say The Walkmen's real strength lays in their albums, each one a model of consistency from start to finish. Latest record 'Heaven' hits the shops the same week as Primavera and follows in a similar vein to predecessor 'Lisbon', frontman Hamilton Leithauser's unmistakeable tones aided and abetted by the four exquisite musicians surrounding him. Having wowed those present at the Pitchfork Stage during the Thursday night at last year's event, they're playing the more intimate confines of the city's Arc De Triomf this time around.

Where: Arc De Triomf.
When: 21:20pm Wednesday 30th May.

Relative newcomers when placed alongside such hallowed company they may be, however, Brooklyn's Beach Fossils have made a flawless start to their recording career to date. First single 'Daydream' was followed by their self-titled debut long player in 2010 and, since then, a handful of EPs and singles culminating in this year's excellent double a-side 'Shallows/Lessons' for Captured Tracks highlighted what an exciting band they are. Here, European audiences will get a rare opportunity to see what all the fuss is about. We promise you will not be disappointed.

Where: Apolo.
When: 01:15am Thursday 31st May.

Veterans of the Seattle based Sub Pop scene that triggered the grunge movement of the early 1990s, many of those that saw Mudhoney live back in the day claim them to be a more potent force than the much lauded Nirvana. Having emerged from the ashes of Green River, bursting onto an unsuspecting scene in 1988 with the acerbic 'Touch Me I'm Sick', they've since gone on to record eight studio albums. Promising to play a set encapsulating their entire career, this will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of the summer let alone Primavera Sound.

Where: Parc Del Forum ATP Stage.
When: 22:00pm Thursday 31st May.

Arguably the prototype nu metal band, Sweden's Refused recorded three groundbreaking records culminating in 1998's 'The Shape Of Punk To Come' before calling it a day just months after its release. Now, having reformed with original members Dennis Lyxzen and David Sandstrom alongside Kristofer Steen, Jon Brannstrom and Magnus Bjorklund who also played on their grand opus cum epitaph, this promises to be one of the most special shows Primavera Sound has ever witnessed. Not least because for many revellers, it will be their first and possibly only opportunity to see this legendary outfit in the flesh.

Where: Parc Del Forum Rayban Stage.
When: 00:30am Friday 1st June.

Having formed in Manchester at the beginning of the 1980s after the fall out of punk, The Chameleons went on to define the post-punk sound influencing a trail of bands in their wake ever since. 1983's debut long player 'Script Of The Bridge' is still held in much reverence today and, without that record, it's unlikely people such as Interpol, The National or Editors would exist. The current line-up features two members of their "classic" era; songwriter, vocalist and bass player Mark Burgess and drummer John Lever and reports from their recent live shows suggest their appearance here has all the makings of being one of this year's finest.

Where: Parc Del Forum Rayban Stage.
When: 18:50pm Friday 1st June.

With thirty-five years and thirteen albums behind them, The Cure shouldn't really need any kind of introduction. Having redefined their sound several times over the years, occasionally predating genres by several years, Robert Smith and co. have remained at the forefront of alternative guitar music for the best part of four decades. Despite not having released any new material since 2008's '4:13 Dream', it's fair to say The Cure as a live experience is always a special event, as anyone present at last summer's incredible Bestival headline performance will testify to. With the promise of a three-hour long slot here, let the guess-the-setlist(s) games begin, then marvel aghast at the seamless wall of hits unravelling before your very eyes and ears. Frankly unmissable.

Where: Parc Del Forum San Miguel Stage.
When: 22:10pm Friday 1st June.

To make one remarkable groundbreaking record would be considered an achievement in itself. That Wild Beasts managed to create two in the space of a couple of years speaks volumes. Undoubtedly one of the most innovative, forward-thinking and downright unique bands on the planet right now, their late addition to this year's line-up was greeted with yelps of joy from Leeds to Llorente and rightly so. As well as choice cuts from all three of their long players, expect a smattering of new material too.

Where: Parc Del Forum Rayban Stage.
When: 00:30am Sunday 3rd June.

Innovator, agitator and architect of some of the most multi-faceted sounds around, Mark Stewart is from that rare breed of artists whose sole aim is to genuinely break through boundaries. Having formed The Pop Group in 1978 at the height of punk rock, he fused reggae, dub and funk rhythms with a polemic aggression sounding like nothing else on earth at the time. Cited as a major influence by people like The Rapture and Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Pop Group's debut long player 'How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?' still sounds as fresh and invigorating today as it did upon release some thirty-two years ago. Dance music you can think to.

Where: Parc Del Forum ATP Stage
When: 02:00am Sunday 3rd June.

Although still relatively unknown outside of their native Olympia, grunge tinged punk rockers Milk Music have been wowing the blogosphere in recent months thanks to their furious racke which conjures up images of Husker Du jamming with Buffalo Tom and vice versa. Still to record let alone release an album, their hard to find 'Beyond Living' EP is their only official output to date, their recent mid-afternoon show at Brighton's Great Escape proved to be one of the weekend's highlights for those fortunate to get in to see it. However, there's no such excuse here as the four-piece will be playing twice, enabling us lucky festival goers two separate opportunities to see what all the fuss is about.

Where: Parc Del Forum Pitchfork Stage & Parc De La Ciutadella
When: 18:00pm Friday 1st June & 15:45pm Sunday 3rd June.

Sheffield based musician, singer and songwriter Richard Hawley has been actively creating and playing in bands and on his own since 1989, making him something of a veteran. Having first come to prominence as a member of Britpop anomalies Longpigs before joining Pulp for their 2001 swansong 'We Love Life', Hawley has since gone on to carve out a reputation as a writer and performer of considerable merit himself. His fourth album, 2005's 'Coles Corner' earned him a Mercury Music Prize nomination the following year, while this year's exemplary 'Standing At The Sky's Edge' looks set to achieve similar recognition come September. As the closing act at this year's Primavera Sound, expect nothing less than a spectacular finale.

Where: Arc De Triomf.
When: 22:30pm Sunday 3rd June.

Of course these are just a few of our recommendations from what is largely a stellar line-up. The full list of artists playing this year's Primavera Sound can be found at the web address below. Have a good one!

Dom Gourlay

Official Site -