Saturday, the final day of the festival, boasted the most eclectic line up of the whole event. Beginning on the Pitchfork stage (which served as next door neighbour and fellow enfant terrible to the Vice stage) Dum Dum Girls served up a welcome dose of pop noir via their goth inspired doo-wop. There was a stark contrast in their set, which is hardly surprising given their more pop influenced change in direction on their latest alum Too True, but the punk spirit was still alive and well as they powered through highlights such as ‘Bedroom Eyes’ and ‘Coming Down’, which sat comfortably alongside tracks take from their new album.
The Vice stage hosted New York trio Hospitality, who delved a mellow set of quirky spacious indie pop, but they fell foul of the sound as the PA didn’t seem to carry across their tightly wound intricate melodies as well as it could. Timing clearly wasn’t on their side either because just as they seemed to hit their stride, the crowd started to file out, making heir way towards the Pitchfork stage in hot anticipation of the Odd Future collective’s most enigmatic representative Earl Sweatshirt. Any member of Odd Future, the brainchild of LA based hip-hop artist Tyler, the Creator, has a reputation for doing things ‘their way’, and Earl Sweatshirt was no exception. Sending out his DJ ahead of him in order to whip up the crowd, Earl Sweatshirt finally appeared a full 10 minutes into his all too short 40 minute time slot to a rapturous sea of whoops and hand claps. What followed was the probably closest to a West coast bloc party Spain has ever seen, blasting through condensed versions of nearly the entirety of his recent album Doris as well as some highlights from his lauded mixtape, and even showcasing a brand new track. Earl Sweatshirt truly proved himself to be an ambassador of hip-hop in the fullest sense.
The Sony stage then hosted Volcano Choir, the now full-time side project of Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. The type of intense, atmospheric electro-infused folk Volcano Choir delivered seemed to fall flat in the seemingly infinite space of the huge stage. The band were’t necessarily a bad choice for the festival, but it seemed like they would have been better in a smaller space, not because they aren’t capable of drawing a crowd, the huge audience in front of the Sony stage was testament to that, but their unique output requires the kind of attention from a spectator that just isn’t possible in front of such a huge platform. This was certainly not the case where the ATP stage was concerned as Godspeed You! Black Emperor held court to an ocean of head-banging fans as they tore through a set of typically intense progressive rock.
Cleveland based three piece Cloud Nothings must be really big in Spain, because it was so packed during their set at the Vice stage it was nearly impossible to see the stage at all. Despite this, they got the party started in fine fashion as they pummelled their way through a selection of stand out tracks from their previous two albums including an outlandishly heavy version of ‘Stay Useless’, taken from their third album Attack On Memory.
Afterwards, it was clear who everyone was really here to see as the space in front of the Sony stage filled up for the final time to receive Nine Inch Nails. It was difficult to anticipate what to expect from Trent Reznor’s project after their ‘farewell’ performance at Primavera five years ago, but riding on a wave of renewed energy after the release of their new album Hesitation Marks, Nine Inch Nails were primed for an incendiary performance. They didn’t disappoint. Beginning their set with a trio of new songs, Reznor stood demigod-like on the vast stage bathed in red light looking like a version of Henry Rollins freshly rejected from hell for being too bad-ass. Reznor has a reputation for being reluctant when it comes to performing his more popular material, but this certainly wasn’t the case tonight as a slew of vintage tracks were aired amidst a sea of fist pumps and electrifying strobes. Downward Spiral stand-out ‘March Of The Pigs’ seemed to wave the banner for industrial post rock like never before and ‘Head Like a Hole’ was delivered with so much energy that, if harnessed, could have powered the entire country for years. Just when the crowd thought the 90 minute set had come to a close, the lights went down and Reznor strode over to a small piano and delivered ‘Hurt’ to devastating effect.
The best thing we saw on Saturday: Earl Sweatshirt and Nine Inch Nails.
So, that was Primavera 2014… all in all, an amazing and intense experience. Maybe next year we’ll get a triple rainbow, if there is such a thing.