Pitchfork’s Guide to Primavera Sound Barcelona 2024

May 11, 2024 - Music

Staged amid the crown jewels of European architecture and culture, Primavera Sound routinely adds a monster festival lineup to the long list of reasons to throw it all in for a week in Barcelona. Here, we highlight some hidden treasures to be found beneath headliners Pulp, SZA, and Lana Del Rey, including restorative jazz, apocalyptic folk, and dystopian club bacchanals. Plus, we pay tribute to the festival’s de facto house band, Shellac, who were scheduled to return before the death of frontman Steve Albini.

Primavera Sound Barcelona begins Wednesday, May 29, and stretches through to Sunday, June 2, at the city’s Parc del Fòrum.

Aya (Thursday, May 30)

Laced with late-night poetry scrawled in her iPhone’s Notes app, Aya’s skewed club music doubles as a snapshot of her life, and her DJ sets do something similar; mic in hand, she might regale audiences with off-the-cuff interjections and stream-of-consciousness monologues while dropping heater after heater from club music’s most visionary fringes. Her technique is as radical as her selections, mixing glowering drones and pulverized breakbeats with artists like SOPHIE, Autechre, 3Phaz, and Show Me the Body—as well as, if we’re lucky, her own cover of the Cure’s “Lovesong.”

–Philip Sherburne

billy woods (Thursday, May 30)

New York rapper billy woods has no shortage of material from which to choose when he takes the stage in Catalonia. In recent years, he’s released collaborations with producer Kenny Segal (Maps), Armand Hammer bandmate Elucid (We Buy Diabetic Test Strips), DJ Preservation (Aethiopes), the Alchemist (Haram), and Moor Mother (Brass), as well as the solo standout Church. The Backwoodz Studioz founder has a commanding stage presence, barking his righteous words proudly to rapt crowds.

–Matthew Strauss

William Basinski: The Disintegration Loops (Thursday, May 30)

Like many great Mediterranean festivals, thoughts of Primavera Sound conjure images of tank-topped crowds downing cold drinks beneath the unforgiving sun, and sea breezes cooling tired bodies cutting shapes in the wee hours. Not so much, however, a somber ambient masterpiece like The Disintegration Loops, an ode to decay and, by extension, mortality, that the artist composed on September 11, 2001, watching smoke rise from the Twin Towers. But that totemic piece is what William Basinski will be playing for the audience in the shelter of Parc del Fòrum’s auditorium, offering a rare chance for reflection—and, sure, maybe even a bit of slumped-in-the-seats shuteye—amid the hedonistic crush.

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