Primavera Sound Festival Barcelona 2022

After a two-year hiatus, Primavera Sound returns to the Parc del Fòrum in Barcelona this weekend. That, in itself, is a reason to celebrate. For sure, the very idea of a live festival is music to the ears of many after the coronavirus pandemic saw the cancellation of summer events in two consecutive years. Last year would also have marked the twentieth anniversary since Primavera Sound launched back in 2001. In its first edition, the festival was a much smaller ordeal and took place at Barcelona’s Poble Espanyol. But the likes of Sonic Youth, The Kills and The White Stripes all performed there – setting the precedent for the festival’s line up each year, as music icons and legends from around the world return descend upon Primavera’s stages each summer. Of course, the festival has grown considerably in size, popularity and reputation since then, whilst managing to retain something of a “local” festival feeling. But perhaps there’s no greater testament to Primavera’s global influence within the music world than the fact this year’s iteration has been promoted to a two-weekend line up. Whilst Massive Attack, Tame Impala, The Strokes, Gorillaz and Tyler, The Creator (to name just a few) are set to headline this weekend’s events, the likes of Dua Lipa, Lorde and Megan Thee Stallion will also perform next weekend. 

The addition of this second line up to Primavera’s programming is part of the festival team’s response to the pandemic. As Marta Olivares, Primavera’s affable Head of Communications, tells NR over Zoom, COVID was a moment for pause and reflection – especially as, she says, it was a time when the “whole ecosystem proved to be so fragile.” For Primavera co-founder, Pablo Soler, this couldn’t have been more apparent; the pandemic didn’t just reaffirm the importance of live music, he says, “it has revealed it;”

“Without festivals, we realised that we were missing a part of our lives that was the collective experience.”

The communal aspect of a festival goes without saying – it’s about the excitement and the emotions that are experienced with other people that, Pablo says, is crucial for creating a state of happiness. The idea that the festival is nothing if not for the people is crystal clear, as Marta explains that having this year’s events spread out over the course of two weekends (with a week of indoor performances in Barcelona in between, no less) was made possible by the fact that last year’s ticketholders “overwhelmingly” decided to keep their tickets. As a result, Primavera 2022 is an amalgamation of three years’ worth of acts in some ways; Beck and Pavement, scheduled to headline in 2020 will, for example, make a much-awaited appearance in Barcelona this weekend. But over the course of the pandemic, Marta says, we’ve witnessed;

“so many artists creating amazing stuff, working so hard and releasing incredible records.”

In that sense then, Primavera 2022 is an ode to music in the lead up to, and over the course of, the pandemic – especially when popular acts from today might have flown under the radar back in 2020. 

Given that the festival will be a de-facto twentieth birthday celebration, this weekend’s events will be both a moment to look back on Primavera’s journey so far, whilst also looking towards the future. In fact, part of the festival’s events will take place at Poble Espanyol – something that Pablo thinks the team can be justifiably sentimental about. “Over the years, we have played concerts at this venue outside of the festival,” he notes, “but going back there with Primavera Sound is even more emotional.” It will be, Marta says, a kind of homage to that tiny festival that was first unveiled. But as much as Poble Espanyol is part of Primavera’s legacy, the festival team’s outlook is to keep moving forward. In fact, in the midst of the pandemic when the Primavera team were figuring out their bid for survival, the answer was, perhaps surprisingly, to grow bigger still – though “sustainably” as Marta puts it. “It felt weird to stay put,” she recalls adding that there was a need to pivot somehow. As in previous years, the festival will head to Porto for the weekend (which will occur at the same time as the Barcelona edition’s second weekend). But satellite festivals will also take place in Los Angeles, Santiago, Buenos Aires and São Paulo later on in the year. “It was [a case of] go home or go big,” Marta notes of the decision to grow the festival in this way. “Definitely we’re going big.” For Pablo, the new locations explain the festival’s future-facing outlook in themselves: “we are a festival that any country would want to have.” And with an insatiable international appetite for Primavera as it’s staged in Barcelona, it perhaps makes sense to take the music to the people. So how does the essence of Primavera translate to these new locations? Marta notes that the festival’s Barcelona location is part of its draw – close to the city, near the sea, and with a lot of cultural pull as well as music. “That’s something we want to be careful with,” she says of the other locations – noting, for example, Porto’s luscious green backdrop near the coast at the festival’s site in the Parque da Cidade. But as Primavera looks outwards and globally, it’s also turning back inwards, too. Earlier this year, Primavera Sound Madrid 2023 was announced – a way for the festival to continue its newly-established tradition of two back-to-back weekend events in Spain. There is, it seems, an exciting path ahead for Primavera over the coming years, but first: this weekend. 

“We are always the first festival of the season,” Marta explains, adding that this particular edition means that the weekend will be something of a test run for the string of European festivals that follow on.

“I want people to come to Barcelona and celebrate life, to express themselves and to feel safe and alive again”

Marta says. Pablo concurs; “seriously speaking, we have learned that we have to live in the moment – seize the day – because we are all more vulnerable than we thought. If we should take this twentieth anniversary party as the party of our lives, then so be it.” But what should Primavera punters expect when they’re there? For Marta, it’s the unexpected – recalling Arcade Fire’s impromptu performance on a boxing ring-esque stage at the 2017 festival. This is, of course, not an indication or confirmation that such an event might occur this year, but possibilities and chance encounters are certainly part of the Primavera fabric. To that end, Marta describes the ideal standard that the Primavera team strives for: “at the perfect Primavera;”

“you would be able to enjoy a show from your favourite band; you would go to something that challenges you; you would see someone you don’t yet know will be your next favourite act; and the fourth would be something you really had fun at.”

And with a line up as glittering as Primavera’s is this year, it’s almost guaranteed to be perfect.


More info · Primavera Sound Festival Barcelona
Special thanks to Chris Cuff and Henry Turner (Good Machine PR)

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