6 Highlights From Primavera Sound 2024 Saturday, June 1

    The final day of a festival like Primavera is always a test of endurance, but this Saturday in Barcelona was something else. After catching back-to-back sets by Water From Your Eyes, Militarie Gun, and Crumb, I made my way to the main stages as it began to rain, then pour down during a magnificent set by PJ Harvey, who paid tribute to Steve Albini with a rendition of ‘The Desperate Kingdom of Love’. It at least meant I got to stand pretty close to the stage for Mitski, who proved she’s more than capable of captivating as a festival headliner. In chronological order, here are six highlights from the final day of Primavera Sound 2024.

    Water From Your Eyes’ Mangled Grooves

    Credit: Clara Orozco

    After playing Primavera Weekender in November 2023, Water From Your Eyes were promoted to the main event this year, bringing their mangled grooves and strangely addictive hooks to the Amazon stage early on Saturday evening. It was an arresting show that saw the duo of Nate Amos and Rachel Brown, backed by second guitarist Al Nardo, and drummer Bailey Wollowitz, restlessly homing in on the driving beats and repeated phrases of their songs, subtly bending and distorting them along the way. Despite the Brooklyn band’s reputation as ascendant experimentalists, the set was evidence of a group locked into a sound rather than feverishly searching or recalibrating it around the audience. To finish off, they made the unconventional choice of playing the feedback-drenched ’14’, as if melting all the noise and rhythm down to a single question: “When did it start to loop?” The guitar and vocals traced the same melody, just ever so slightly, so perfectly out of sync.

    Militarie Gun Got Me Jumping

    Credit: Eric Pàmies

    Before charging into their Dazy collaboration ‘Pressure Cooker’, Militarie Gun’s Ian Shelton gave the crowd two rules: get closer and jump. It was the Los Angeles hardcore band’s first time in Barcelona, and they made it count. Along with highlights from their debut LP Life Under the Gun and a few older songs, they played a new song, the pensive yet dynamic ‘Thought You Were Waving’. “Alright, no more soft songs. Throw it in the trash,” Shelton declared, and they group barrelled through ‘Never Fucked Up Once’, ‘Do It Faster’, and even a cover of ‘Song 2’. (“I feel like you might know the bit.”) They even announced a secret show that took place much later into the night, and I bet it was a blast.

    Feeling the Chill With Crumb

    It was getting chilly as I headed down to the Plenitude stage to see Crumb, who drew a noticeably large crowd (and could have easily played one of the bigger stages). The atmosphere was eerily fitting for the New York band’s ethereal yet nervy dream pop, with a setlist heavily based around their new album AMAMA. What made the show special wasn’t just hearing these songs live for the first time, but bearing witness to how the group stretched and twitched them out while keeping the right balance. They had several ways of wringing anxiety out of these tight grooves: subtly cranking out the distortion on the bass, testing the limits of a single note on a few different instruments. One particularly memorable moment came when singer/guitarist Lila Raman uncannily pitched her voice up just long enough for it to bleed into one of Bri Aronow’s several great saxophone solos. The result wasn’t chill so much as totally entrancing.

    Every Drop of Rain Singing “I Love You” With Mitski 

    Credit: Sharon López

    Sometimes, if the setting is right, what seems like just a figure of speech in a song can suddenly feel palpably real. This is exactly how it felt when Mitski, who sang through the night to a crowd of adoring fans, many of whom had been standing in the rain for hours, reached ‘Pink in the Night’ towards the final part of her phenomenal set: “It’s like a summer shower/ With every drop of rain singing ‘I love you, I love you, I love you.'” It’s one of her many songs about being alone in a room and hearing your heart break and blossom, a feeling that extends through her most recent album The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We. Mitski is not alone on stage – she’s backed by a full band that never misses a beat – yet the spotlight is all on her, her performance staged like a one-woman show where the songs do the talking and she acts them out, crying out to the night, no good guys, herself. The we, too, has never felt more palpable.

    The first time I saw Mitski, during the Be the Cowboy tour, it was clear she’s as much as a mesmerizing performance artist – gazing, waltzing, freezing, gesturing her hands in impeccably choreographed ways – as she is a one-of-a-kind musician and songwriter. She did the same during last night’s set at Primavera, and though I wasn’t sure how well her intimate compositions would translate to the main stage – it was essentially her festival headliner debut  – the upgraded stage design (at one point, shards of what looked like glass descended from the top of the stage), lighting (not to mention actual lightning), and audience interaction (she genuinely said “I love you” several times between songs, too) kept the crowd in rapture.

    The music itself, however pastoral, also felt strikingly theatrical, occasionally whipping a storm that rivaled the one we’d been standing through. It proved that if you’ve seen Mitski before, it’s worth seeing her multiple times – not just to hear the same songs again, but hear them transformed. In this case, it meant marveling at countrified renditions of songs from across her discography, from Bury Me at Makeout Creek‘s ‘I Don’t Smoke’ to Laurel Hell‘s ‘Love Me More’, matching the organic instrumentation of The Land. Only the last two songs, ‘Washing Machine Heart’ and ‘Nobody’, two of Mitski’s biggest hits from Be the Cowboy, remained relatively unchanged, and of course everyone sang along. I only wish the audience could have stayed quiet through ‘Bug Like an Angel’ so that the chorus of voices singing that one word, in that one line, would ring out that much louder. “Sometimes a drink feels like family.” Sometimes a song – a crowd of hundreds, even – does too.

    Mandy, Indiana’s Bottled Chaos

    I didn’t get to catch the beginning of Mandy, Indiana’s set, and it ended ten minutes early, but it was still one of the biggest highlights of the festival. The show was ear-splittingly loud, and despite having seen a few hardcore bands at Primavera, the pit that opened up during the Manchester band’s clubby industrial noise was still the biggest. (Their music is a lot more about bottling up tension than offering release, though, which meant the circle strangely just kept getting wider.) The set was equal parts airtight and chaotic, with vocalist Valentine Caulfield frenetically dancing over relentless beats and Scott Fair’s scorching guitar, at once retaining and amplifying the mystery of their songs. After Mandy, Indiana, Model/Actriz were scheduled to take the same stage later in the night, and I pray for the ear health and well-being of everyone who stayed up.

    Charli XCX, Strictly Bratty

    The last time Charli XCX played Primavera in 2022, performing at one of the main stages, it felt like a celebration of every one of her eras as much as it supported her album Crash. It was a pop show, while her late-night set at the Amazon stage – one of the Primavera’s most eagerly anticipated, especially after not joining either Troye Sivan or A.G. Cook onstage and then surprising fans with a Party Girl DJ set on Saturday afternoon – was much more concerned with turning the festival’s wide-open space into a rave. No guests (“Don’t get too excited, Troye’s not here,” she said before launching into ‘1999’), no elaborate visuals; just throbbing beats, big words (bratPARTY), and Charli (successfully) being her own hypewoman.

    In anticipation of her upcoming sixth album Brat, the whole set was rooted in delightfully trashy, abrasive electroclash, delivering the album’s already-released singles – ‘360’, ‘B2b’, ‘Von dutch’, ‘Club classics’ – as well as a new song, the Brazilian funk-inspired ‘Everything is romantic’, which featured some unexpected belting along with lines like, “Bad tattoos on leather tanned skin/ Jesus Christ on a plastic sign/ Fall in love again and again/ Winding roads doing manual drive.” When she mixed in older songs, she made sure they fit into the new record’s bratty aesthetic, as evidenced by how different her version of ‘1999’ was from the one Troye Sivan sang a day earlier. And though there was nothing from Crash or before Pop 2, capping off the night with the crowd-pleasing ‘I Love It’ – still her most-streamed song – almost made up for the fact that she finished the set 20 minutes early without explanation. Mainstream or not, it was the best pop the festival served all week.

    Check out the rest of our Primavera Sound 2024 coverage here.

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