Friday began as it meant to go on: loud and unrelenting. John Grant started proceedings at the Heineken stage amidst the throws of a fully fledged thunder storm that saw half the crown run for cover. But a hardcore huddle of festival goers stuck it out and watched Grant run through highlights from last year’s stand-out album Pale Green Ghosts and some choice tracks from his debut solo album Queen Of Denmark, including a resplendent set closer in the form of the album’s title track. Oh, and the biblical style thunderstorm eventually relented resulting in an awe-inspiring double rainbow that arced right across the Balearic sea… which was pretty amazing and had everyone quickly reaching for their camera phones.
The ATP stage hosted a much anticipated set from Loop, who have recently reformed and proceeded to push the levels of the sound system to near breaking point with their torrent of bass-heavy, melodic dirge that has always given The Jesus & Mary Chain a run for their money. Things took a distinctly more mellow turn when Brooklyn based chanteuse Sharon Van Etten took to the stage. Taking mostly from her new release Are We There, it didn’t take long for Van Etten to charm her way into the heart of the crowd giving emotionally raw renditions interspersed with broken Spanish and school yard level jokes. But it was when she grabbed her guitar and hammered out ‘Serpents’, from her visceral album Tramp, that the crown truly began to lose themselves.
After that, there was really only one place to go, and the crowd duly herded over to the Heineken stage. You’d be hard pushed to find a more influential band than Pixies, who’s artistic cannon has been cited by the likes of Nirvana and Sonic Youth as a major influence. So it was unsurprising that the sea of people erupted into a jubilant frenzy when Frank Black et. al. unassumingly strode on stage and proceeded to embark on a hit heavy set beginning with their Surfer Rosa era classic ‘Bone Machine’, Black’s freakishly gnarly vocal yelps raising up into the atmosphere. The band knew exactly what the crowd wanted, delivering a set drenched with hits airing ‘Here Comes Your Man’, ‘Debaser’ and the set closer anthemic ‘Where Is My Mind’. They also included a run of songs from their ‘Come On Pilgrim’ EP, which was an inspired choice as many of the songs on the EP are sung in Spanish, something that wasn’t lost of the appreciative crowd. The only notable omission was ‘Gigantic’, but since the very nature of the song is intwined with the now departed Kim Deal who sings lead vocals on the track, it seemed that it would be borderline sacrilege for anyone, including her current replacement Paz Lenchantin, to fill those boots. But the crowd didn’t seem to mind and the 80 minute set was the perfect way to cap off Primavera’s penultimate night.