As music festivals grow increasingly popular stateside, Primavera Sound 2012, staged on the stone steps of Barcelona's Parc del Fòrum on May 31, cemented, once again, Europe's overwhelming superiority over North American in this area. The festival offered a diverse, carefully curated lineup in an unforgettable setting, with excellent sound, a helpful staff and minimal security presence.
Primavera, which has been taking place in late May/early June since 2003, can perhaps best be described as the "anti-Coachella." Its stern arena is almost prison-like in appearance, augmented by avant-garde industrial architecture -- hardly the image conjured by the description "on the water," but located on the Mediterranean nonetheless -- with nary a costume, day-glo headband or obnoxiously sconced goon in sight.
The festival sprawls across the city for most of May, popping up in various palm-lined plazas, clubs and bars, culminating in the three-day binge at the Forum, which most recently featured sets by the reunited Afghan Whigs, Godflesh and Refused; dance heroes Scuba, Jamie xx and Mattias Aguayo; black metal kings Mayhem, Wolves in the Throne Room and Liturgy and headliners The Cure.
Watch M83 Perform "Midnight City" at Primavera Sound 2012
Although Bjork was unable to perform due to a throat malady, festival-goers were treated to outstanding performances overlooking the water, with sound that was expertly mixed and never too loud to converse (with the exception of Godflesh's earbleeding riffs). There were few scheduling clusterfucks, and the festival's exemplary late programming, which began at 3AM and ran past sunrise