It's May and festival season is upon us, which means it will soon be time for Primavera Sound 2013, arguably the pinnacle of Europe's increasingly popular schedule. Set in beautiful Barcelona and mainly based on the Parc Del Forum site at the heart of the Diagonal Mar area of the Sant Marti district, this year's event will be the thirteenth edition of a festival that first opened its doors in the summer of 2001.
As has been the norm in recent years, Primavera week kicks off with a series of fringe events starting on Monday 20th May. Sonic Boom's Spectrum headline the Sala Apolo venue, with the likes of Bo Ningen, Godflesh, Veronica Falls and Parquet Courts all playing there over the two nights. The main festival itself kicks off at the Parc Del Forum on Wednesday 22nd May, with The Vaccines and Delorean heading a bill that also includes hotly tipped US trio Guards and skatepunk duo The Bots.
The main event itself gathers momentum the next evening for the following three days, where over 200 artists will perform across eight different stages until the early hours of Sunday morning. However, as in previous years, that isn't where the fun ends, as there'll be a series of free shows on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th May in the Parc De La Ciutadella featuring the likes of Merchandise, The Babies and Mac De Marco, while Sunday evening's closing ceremony at the Sala Apolo will see performances from Deerhunter, Come and The Orchids among many others.
All in all, it's the perfect festival with a consistently flawless line-up in one of the most picturesque cities in the world. What is there not to enjoy? Once again, Contactmusic will be there for the duration of this year's event, and with the help of a handy homemade clashfinder we've spent the past few weeks building, have come up with a handy list of ten bands you really ought not to miss.
Now in their twenty-fifth year, Blur's status as one of the quintessentially great English bands of their generation is firmly assured. Five number one albums and over twenty million records sold worldwide, its not always been a comfortable ride for Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James and Dave Rowntree; internal disagreements during the recording of the band's last album to date 'Think Tank' in 2002 leading to Coxon's departure and seemingly the end of Blur in the process. However, the foursome reunited in December 2008 with Coxon and played a stunning headline set at Glastonbury the following year that still ranks as one of that festival's finest. In many ways a real coup for the organisers of Primavera Sound, this is one show not to be missed under any circumstance!
Heineken Stage @ 1:30am Saturday 25th May
THE JESUS & MARY CHAIN
The term "legends" is bandied around far too often, yet such a description couldn't be more appropriate where The Jesus & Mary Chain, aka the Reid brothers Jim and William are concerned. Ever since changing the face of guitar music with 1985's seminal debut 'Psychocandy', they've been cited by any number of bands from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club to The Raveonettes and Glasvegas as a major influence, while undoubtedly sowing the seeds for the C86, shoegaze and surf rock phenomenons that followed suit. Currently a five-piece also featuring former Lush bassist Phil King, ex-Fountains Of Wayne drummer Brian Young and returning all round musician John Moore on guitar, such a rare opportunity to see one of the most influential acts to ever grace a stage in the flesh should be devoured intently.
Heineken Stage @ 10:45pm Friday 24th May
MY BLOODY VALENTINE
Sticking with the subject of influential icons, My Bloody Valentine arguably fall into that very same category. Having spent their formative years releasing a handful of singles and EPs across various labels, it was their signing to Creation and subsequent release of 'You Made Me Realise' in 1988 that set them apart from their peers. Three years later with second album 'Loveless' then and still today sounding like nothing else on earth, their music has gone on to inspire a generation of bands and artists across numerous genres. Having gone on hiatus for sixteen years after, the band returned in 2008 for a series of live shows culminating in 2009's explosive ATP pre-Christmas event. Then, on 2nd February of this year, mainman Kevin Shields surprised the world (and possibly his own bandmates) by announcing their new album would be available at midnight. What's more, it's everything and more one could have hoped for. Now, returning to Primavera for their second appearance, prepare for the originators of sonic annihilation.
Heineken Stage @ 2:25am Sunday 26th May
Completing the reunion of all four bands on 1992's Rollercoaster tour are Dinosaur Jr. Having initially retired the band in 1997, J Mascis reformed Dinosaur Jr with the original classic line-up of Lou Barlow on bass and Murph on drums for a series of shows culminating in 2007's 'Beyond', their first long player in over a decade and eighth in total. Now, with two more well-received albums ('Farm' and 'I Bet On Sky') also in the bag, they're one of the few "revival" bands that can boast a back catalogue of equally consistent old and new material to choose from. Should be a blast!
Primavera Stage @ 9:45pm Thursday 23rd May
Formed after meeting while all four members were working in a record shop off Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard two years ago, this LA-based outfit have emerged as one of the pivotal acts at the forefront of the new psychedelic (or "psych") scene. Last year's self-title debut, recorded with esteemed producer-cum-artist in his own right Nick Waterhouse stood out as one of 2012's finest, its lush amalgamation of styles and structures echoing the likes of Love, The Byrds, The Sea Urchins, and early Primal Scream, whose frontman Bobby Gillespie is a self-confessed fan. Playing as part of the closing ceremony on the final evening of this year's festival, expect sun-kissed anthems with a melancholic twist.
Sala Apolo @ 10:30pm Sunday 26th May
EVANS THE DEATH
Exuding a youthful exuberance and brattish charm sadly lacking in many of today's career conscious new artists, London's Evans The Death are a welcome breath of fresh air. Formed just over two years ago, the four-piece have already released a string of excellent singles followed by last year's eponymous debut LP since signing to Fortuna Pop! eighteen months ago. Now, with a handful of songs ready for the follow-up, expect two enthralling performances occasionally bordering on the shambolic, but filled with some of the sassiest punk pop tunes we've heard this side of the millennium. Comparisons have ranged from Lazy-era My Bloody Valentine to The Primitives and former tour buddies The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. Whatever your bag, there's something in the locker for everyone.
Salon Smint Stage @ 10:10pm Wednesday 22nd May
Adidas Originals Stage @ 8:45 Thursday 23rd May
Having been figureheads for electronic dance music for over a decade now, there's no better way to finish Saturday evening than in the company of Hot Chip. Second album 'The Warning' is still heralded as one of the genre's greatest crossover records, while its three successors 'Made In The Dark', 'One Life Stand' and 'In Our Heads' further cemented the band's reputation as masters of their craft. With a start time of nearly 4am, expect the party to continue into the early hours and if they have their way, beyond. Simply perfect.
Primavera Stage @ 3:50am Sunday 26th May
Some would say Reykjavik's Dead Skeletons are a product of Brian Jonestown Massacre frontman Anton Newcombe's desire to "keep music evil." While Newcombe has been a key figure in the band's development, occasionally joining them for live shows, they've grown into an uncontrollable, psychedelic beast of their own. Initially formed in 2008 as part of an art project, their first long player 'Dead Magick' came out to a wave of glowing reviews three years later. Now, having ruled Austin Psych Fest (the organiser's words not mine) with their noise-tinged gothic mantras, prepare to be equally mesmerised here. Unmissable, in the darkest possible sense.
Vice Stage @ 2:00am Friday 24th May
Forget Jay Z, Kanye West or any of the other "superstar" rappers, Wu-Tang Clan eschew the real spirit of hip-hop. Formed twenty years ago in New York's Staten Island district, they've gone on to become one of the genre's most influential groups, while releasing two of its most definitive records in 1993's 'Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)' and the follow-up four years later, 'Wu-Tang Forever'. Having overcome the death of controversial founding member Ol' Dirty Bastard in 2004, the remaining eight members are still a prominent force to be reckoned with, as anyone fortunate enough to witness their set at Glastonbury two years ago will testify. Prepare to be educated.
Primavera Stage @ 10:20pm Saturday 25th May
MELODY'S ECHO CHAMBER
As Melody's Echo Chamber, Parisian multi-instrumentalist Melody Prochet conjured up last year's most memorable debuts. Assisted by Tame Impala's Kevin Parker on production duties, the album recalled the likes of Broadcast, Stereolab, Lush and the Cocteau Twins across its eleven pieces, encompassing elements of shoegaze, krautrock, ambient and dream pop. Now, having recruited a full band for the purpose of playing live, expect a dazzling set of kaleidoscope sounds and vigorous effervescence.
Pitchfork Stage @ 7:45pm Saturday 25th May
While these are just a handful of recommendations for what promises to be a remarkable six days of music, the full, stellar line-up can be found on the official Primavera Sound website below. See you down the front!