Wading through the growing number of festivals strewn throughout Europe there's a familiar look to most of them, both in terms of layout and the artists booked to play them. Standing out like a proverbial sore thumb head and shoulders above the rest of the crowd is Primavera Sound, now entering its eleventh year on the festival calendar.
Set in the idyllic surroundings of Barcelona, next week from Wednesday 25th through to Sunday 29th May, Primavera Sound will play host to over two hundred artists from around the globe. Spread across numerous locations, Primavera A La Ciutat acts as a kind of fringe event having already launched the festival two weeks ago. Spread across many venues including the Placa Universitat, Parc Central Del Poblenou and the Apolo, some of the artists gracing its stage include Male Bonding, Darren Hayman & The Secondary Modern, Comet Gain and Tennis.
The Poble Espanyol site meanwhile will see the likes of Caribou, BMX Bandits, and special performances from Echo & The Bunnymen and Mercury Rev playing sets entirely consisting of material from classic albums 'Heaven Up Here', 'Crocodiles' and 'Deserter's Songs' respectively. Although only hosting its stage on the first and last days of the event, there's more than enough on display here to tempt the most ardent festivalgoer to its quaint courtyard.
Meanwhile, the Parc Del Forum stands aloft as the focal point of Primavera Sound. Situated in the Poble Nou district of the city, the arena consists of nine different stages hosting an array of artists from the past (Pulp, Suicide, Public Image Limited), the present (Interpol, The National, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti) and the future (Kyst, Moon Duo, Prince Rama). Indeed, with such a wide range of acts to choose from and barely a duff addition in site, clashes are inevitable. However, after several weeks of sifting through this year's incredible line-up, Contactmusic has assembled a list of ten must-see acts playing Primavera Sound 2011.
Having split up nine years ago - one of their final shows actually taking place at 2002's Primavera Sound - the return of Jarvis Cocker and co. looks set to grace many a festival's stages this summer. However, Primavera Sound marks their very first show since their reformation, and while it would be churlish to claim we at Contactmusic are merely excited, we are.. well.. excited! With a back catalogue simply littered with gems their seventy-five minute set will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of the entire summer.
(Saturday morning 0145-0300 Parc Del Forum San Miguel Stage)
DEAN WAREHAM PLAYS THE SONGS OF GALAXIE 500
As singer, songwriter and guitarist with Massachusetts based trio Galaxie 500, Dean Wareham was partly responsible for three incredibly flawless albums between 1988 and 1990. Since leaving the band in 1991 after the release of final album 'Today', Wareham has made music with Luna and also wife Britta Phillips, who will be appearing with him at Primavera Sound. What makes this set particularly special though is that Wareham will be revisiting the Galaxie 500 back catalogue in its entirety, possibly for the last ever time. Don't forget that box of tissues.
(Saturday evening 2315-0015 Parc Del Forum ATP Stage)
While still a fairly unknown quantity outside of their native East London and with only a handful of limited edition twelve-inch singles to their name, this capital based trio have quickly established themselves as one of the most exciting bands currently trawling the UK live circuit. Their hybrid of industrial, noise-infused, beat-laden krautrock falls in between several genres while the intensity created by said performances is breathtaking in its execution, as anyone fortunate enough to witness last week's show at Brighton's Great Escape festival will testify to.
(Friday morning 0345-0430 Parc Del Forum ATP Stage)
PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED
While its more likely to find John Lydon on television screens advertising butter or playing with celebrities in the jungle than creating groundbreaking music these days, this rare festival outing for Public Image Limited surely ranks as one of the unmissable shows of the summer. Having reformed the band last year, albeit without "classic line-up" members Keith Levine and Jah Wobble, subsequent reports heralded their performances as among the best the band had ever played. Here's to more of the same.
(Thursday evening 2115-2300 Parc Del Forum Llevant Stage)
Forget the silly way Merrill Garbus insists on writing her band's name, for tUnEyArDs have just gone about releasing one of the records of 2011 in 'whokill'. Mixing folk and electronica with African rhythms and a penchant for punk rock, there's little wonder Ms Garbus is being heralded as one of the most progressive musicians of her generation. We strongly advise you not to miss her set, as despite composing pretty much all of the arrangements herself, there's a possibility the odd special guest may make an appearance just as you least expect it.
(Saturday evening 1915-2000 Parc Del Forum Pitchfork Stage)
No longer Brooklyn's best kept secret, after five albums of incredible depth and consistency, 2010 finally saw The National break through into previously unchartered territories of mainstream recognition. That they're a much bigger proposition now in terms of a burgeoning fanbase makes no difference, as their status as one of the most distinguished live bands on the planet is firmly established. Play the "I wonder what will be in the setlist?" game beforehand, then marvel at Matt Berninger and co's performance.
(Friday evening 2115-2245 Parc Del Forum Llevant Stage)
THE BLACK ANGELS
These psychedelic warlords from Austin, Texas mix rock'n'roll hedonism with a heady dose of shoegaze tinged nostalgia, yet as anyone familiar with 2008's excellent 'Directions To See A Ghost' will concur, sound remarkably current in the present day. Expect a set veering between densely constructed soundscapes and West Coast inspired harmonies, and then watch the sunrise with blissful abandon.
(Sunday morning 0315-0415 Parc Del Forum Pitchfork Stage)
This East London trio feature former members of Seafood in their ranks and somehow manage to capture the spirit of Sub Pop's early years in the process. Last year's 'Nothing Hurts' long player was undoubtedly one of 2010's finest and their live shows border on the calamitous yet ultimately brutal at the same time. Expect to bounce, sweat, and smile joyously in equal measures, and as they're playing three times, only a fool would miss them!
(Friday evening 1915-2000 Parc Del Forum Pitchfork Stage & 2230 Parc Del Forum Ray-Ban Unplugged. Saturday afternoon 1530 Placa Universitat Red Bull Tour Bus)
THE SOFT MOON
Mixing Gothic tendencies with ferocious bouts of industrial noise, this Californian project of one Luis Vasquez give the likes of My Bloody Valentine and A Place To Bury Strangers a good run for their money in the sonic annihilation. While we'd never advise people to take the safe option and wear earplugs because they're for wusses, these guys definitely aren't suitable for the faint hearted either. Prepare to be aurally anaesthetised.
(Saturday evening 1730-1815 Parc Del Forum Llevant Stage)
Maybe something of a predictable choice, but come on folks, who seriously doesn't like Interpol? Sure, Carlos Dengler has long since left the building and 'Interpol' was perhaps a slight disappointment compared to its predecessors but live, they're simply astounding, and what's more, they brought long lost but never forgotten favourite 'Specialist' back into their live set. With so many great songs to choose from and in 'Turn On The Bright Lights', arguably THE definitive album of the past decade, it would be rude not to engage in an hour-and-a-half of their company.
(Friday morning 0045-0215 Parc Del Forum Llevant Stage)