fathers, kings, pluckers, yo!


The last day of Barcelona’s Primavera proper, the Saturday, has the potential to be an amazing day – lots of sunshine gaps for sweet lolling and lots of great bands to watch in the mighty civilized Audotori. Nice.

First up in the dark, cool confines of the aforementioned theatre is ex fleet fox father john misty. He’s funny, he’s handsome, he’s self effacing and he’s got great, smartly lyrical songs that mostly consist, as he admits himself, of the G chord. He pulls fake rock star moves which is fun, but annopys when he sings harmony rather than melody lines to his own songs. Grrr but great.

We wait nearly an hour in the theatre owens and I, because no amount of sunshine or fun will keep us from the very front of swans’ hero Michael gira. Unique among musicians his live work has the kind of transportive, time-destroying effect that most post-rockers only very occasionally even reach for. How he achieves this solo acoustic is beyond my comprehension and as he screams hoarse over elongated notes, slaps himself and devil-cries to the heavens it’s a fucking magnificent, evil sight. An alchemist, a magician capable of near religious, semi-mythic feats I reckon. ‘he’s got some demons under the surface there’ understates ian. I nod emphatically.

Shazza vajazza is up at the big stage, it’s sunny and there be grass for lying on, friends. I don’t pay her perfectly nice set a great deal of attention, I note some of the better tracks on her recent album as sounding pretty good and drift off into the haze.

At this point we could scramble over to another stage, hit the bar, venture down to the ocean…but we rest, we mumble, we yawn and smile and we eventually are delivered kings of convenience.

Their favourite heavy set (including that one about two soft voices and working in the record shop…YES! screams the amateur music fan inside all of us) is a welcome additional ray of soft sun among the light breeze and grass. There are moments of contextual perfection…until they bring on the full band, funk it up and we groan…

Time for josh t pearson in a packed auditori. It’s the ideal venue for this storytelling country tragedy plucker and bathed in red, blue and flecked with stars he tears out ‘woman when I raise hell’ and deep it goes straight to the tired, worn heart. His joke tales and hurt, burning songs make for an intoxicating combination, we’re left sated.

Minutes later at atp shellac fuck out a massive, hard set that tops last year’s prima set but not, and I doubt this will ever happen, their astonishing new jersey bowling lanes morning set last autumn. A perfect band nonetheless, they illustrate exactly why they are considered, by those that give a single fuck, the best in the world. Spread the word, always.

We’re psyched for the festival capper – yo la tengo at the faraway mini stage. We traipse all the way over there to be greeted by a sparse, slightly aggressive crowd, madly awful sound, general bad vibes and moods and a poor set from a band capable of an infinite amount more.

‘let’s go and see yo la tengo’ someone says.

‘this IS yo la tengo’ we reply.

Goodnight primavera.