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Primavera reflects on challenging post-pandemic comeback

Primavera Sound has closed the biggest edition in its 20-year history, having welcomed nearly half a million people to the Spanish city of Barcelona.

The 20th-anniversary event saw more than 400 artists perform across two weekends (2–4 June and 9–11 June) for what was a bumper edition of the festival.

According to the organisers, the extended edition will have an economic impact in Barcelona of €349 million after bringing together nearly half a million attendees.

After two relatively festival-free summers, Primavera is one of the first major European live music events to take place in the first ‘post-pandemic’ festival season.

“I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed so much love from the artists – everyone was thrilled,” Primavera Sound’s Marta Pallarès told IQ. “Everyone was saying this was the best show they’ve played.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed so much love from the artists”

But being first out of the gates was both rewarding and exhausting, says Pallarès, who recounts a raft of post-pandemic teething problems ranging from illnesses to overcrowding and licencing to staff shortages.

The Strokes, Bleachers, Bikini Kill, Clairo, Holly Humberstone, Pink Pantheress and Massive Attack were among the acts forced to pull out of performances due to illnesses – Covid and otherwise.

“Musicians are athletes and they have been out of training,” says Pallarès. “Ours was the first festival of the whole season after three years of not playing so it’s understandable that teams are rusty and health is not up to scratch. Artists are trying to run a marathon when they haven’t even lifted five kilos.”

Covid also struck down a large chunk of Primavera’s hospitality team which, in turn, caused a whole host of issues during weekend one, predominantly large queues for bars.

Attendees of that weekend also complained of lack of access to water in high temperatures as well as overcrowded stages. Pallarès explained that the latter was due to licencing issues, which impacted the festival’s site layout.

“I think that we just forgot how music festivals used to be”

“The festival is split across two towns, Barcelona and Sant Adrià, where the beach area is,” says Pallarès. “We were going to have a very big stage in the beach area that would help spread people throughout the venue but two months before the festival, Sant Adrià town hall said that they wouldn’t give us a licence for 30,000 people and they reduced it to just 15,000. Then we weren’t able to put the big stage with the big acts in that area, so people really didn’t go to that area of the festival much.

“That meant that the beach was empty and you could get a beer just like that while the main site was completely full. So we moved waiters from that area to the main area, we hired more people, and we restructured a little bit.”

As for the issue with water, the festival added three stations where staff distributed water for free, which also helped ease queues at the bars.

While the festival apologised for the issues caused, Pallarès wonders if festivalgoers are simply not used to the festival experience after two years of enforced downtime.

“I think that we just forgot how music festivals used to be,” she says. “We’ve had two years of being at home, where you could go to your fridge and get a beer and your toilet is your own and you don’t have anyone around you.

“I think that other festivals will face the same challenges we faced”

“I understand the frustration of people saying I’ve been looking forward to this for three years and I lost one hour of my life for a beer but it’s about overcoming that and I think that in the end, everyone was so happy.

“We are always the first festival of the season so I’m curious to see how this season evolves because I think that other festivals will face the same challenges we faced – it’s a difficult season,” she says.

One issue that many other festivals are sure to face is the cost of labour and materials, which Pallarès says are “crazy high” this year. As Primavera was sold out last year, the organisers were not able to boost ticket prices in line with inflation, nor did the event receive any kind of financial help from the town hall in Barcelona.

However, with the help of branding and sponsorship, along with audience loyalty, Pallarès says the festival is doing better than ever.

In fact, this year Primavera will launch new editions in Los Angeles, São Paulo, Santiago de Chile and Buenos Aires. And, next year, the flagship festival will continue with a two-weekend format, with the first in Barcelona and the second in Madrid.

When IQ asks Pallarès what the secret to Primavera’s audience loyalty is, she replies “a consistent booking philosophy”. “The perfect day at Primavera would include seeing: an act that you’ve always loved and you’ve never been able to see, an act that becomes your new favourite band, an act that challenges you, and an act which delivers a massive amount of fun,” she says.

That booking philosophy is bolstered by a commitment to gender-balanced lineups, with this year’s headliners including Dua Lipa, Megan Thee Stallion, Lorde, Jorja Smith and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

 


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Primavera to return in 2022 with bumper event

Primavera Sound Festival has announced the programme for 2022, confirming previously reported rumours of a new expanded format.

Next year’s 20th-anniversary edition will take place across two weekends, 2–4 June and 9–11 June, with more than 400 artists and 150 shows.

The festival will primarily be held at the Parc del Fòrum in Barcelona but this year, more than 150 shows will also take place across the city’s music venues between 5–8 June. Primavera 2022 will then close with the ‘Brunch On The Beach’ party on 12 June.

The line-up for Primavera Sound Festival 2022 was announced this morning (25 May), with more artists to be added soon.

The first weekend of Primavera 2022 (2-4 June) will feature a large number of the artists who were booked to play in 2020 and 2021, including The Strokes, Tyler, the Creator, Pavement, Tame Impala, Massive Attack, Gorillaz, The National, Charli XCX, Beck and Jorja Smith.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds will also perform during the first weekend, as will Caribou, Kim Gordon, Jamie xx, Fontaines D.C., Earl Sweatshirt, Parquet Courts, Beach House, Disclosure, Idles, King Krule and Slowthai.

The Strokes, Tyler, The Creator, Tame Impala, Gorillaz, Massive Attack and Jorja Smith will also return for weekend two of Primavera 2022 (9-11 June).

The festival will primarily be held at the Parc del Fòrum but this year, more than 150 shows will also take place across Barcelona

The likes of Lorde, Dua Lipa, Megan Thee Stallion, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol, Run The Jewels, M.I.A., Playboi Carti, Holly Humberstone and Burna Boy will also perform on the second weekend of Primavera 2022. You can find more information on the Primavera Sounds 2020 line-up here.

Once again, the festival has achieved a gender-balanced bill, reinforcing the festival’s public commitment. Read more about Primavera’s pledge to maintain gender parity here.

Tickets for Primavera 2022 will go on sale on 1 June via DICE. Ticketholders for the cancelled 2020 and 2021 editions of Primavera will be able to attend one weekend of Primavera 2022 of their choosing, or they can upgrade their tickets in order to attend both weekends.

Refunds will also be available for any 2020 or 2021 ticketholders who do not wish to attend Primavera 2022. You can find out more information here.

Ahead of the 2022 event, Primavera Pro, the music industry conference, will take place in a ‘hybrid’ format (part physical, part online) from 2 to 4 June 2021.

Primavera Sound’s Primavera Weekender will also return, welcoming some 30 artists and around 1,000 attendees for the second edition of the resort festival in Benidorm, this November.

 


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Primavera Sound expected to expand for 2022 edition

Barcelona’s Primavera Sound is set to dramatically expand for its 20th-anniversary celebration in 2022, according to Reuters.

Reportedly, the festival will take place between 2–5 June and 9–12 June next year – double its usual length – and will host around 400 shows across two line-ups.

No decision has been made yet on whether to keep the new two-weekend format beyond 2022, according to Reuters sources.

Primavera organisers told IQ that they ‘could neither confirm nor deny’ the information.

In March, the flagship festival was cancelled for a second consecutive year due to the pandemic, shortly after the cancellation of sister festival NOS Primavera Sound, in Oporto, Portugal.

Primavera organisers told IQ that they ‘could neither confirm nor deny’ the information

As in 2020, all tickets remain valid for the delayed Primavera Sound 20 in June 2022. Ticketholders who would prefer a refund will be able to make a request from 2 June, when the 2022 line-up will be revealed.

Headliners for Primavera Sound 2021, which sold out in record time, were Gorillaz, the Strokes and Tame Impala, with FKA Twigs, Tyler the Creator, Iggy Pop and Disclosure also set to perform from 2 to 6 June.

Ahead of the 2022 event, Primavera Pro, the music industry conference, will take place in a ‘hybrid’ format (part physical, part online) from 2 to 4 June 2021.

Primavera Sound’s Primavera Weekender will also return, welcoming some 30 artists and around 1,000 attendees for the second edition of the resort festival in Benidorm, this November.

 


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Primavera Sound called off, Primavera Pro goes hybrid

Primavera Sound has called time on its 2021 event, cancelling its planned 20th-anniversary celebration for a second year in a row, despite having shown that live music need not lead to an increase in Covid-19 infections with its Primacov clincal trial.

In an announcement today (2 March), the Barcelona festival says its 20th edition “deserves a party like the ones we are used to, and the global situation does not seem favourable” towards being able to go ahead without significant restrictions this summer. Headliners for Primavera Sound 2021, which sold out in record time, were Gorillaz, the Strokes and Tame Impala, with FKA Twigs, Tyler the Creator, Iggy Pop and Disclosure also set to perform from 2 to 6 June.

As in 2020, all tickets remain valid for the delayed Primavera Sound 20 in June 2022. Ticketholders who would prefer a refund will be able to make a request from 2 June, when the 2022 line-up will be revealed.

“We have reached this painful decision due to the uncertainty surrounding the legal framework for large events on the original dates of the festival,” say organisers, “which, added to the restrictions that currently exist, mean that we cannot work normally on the preparation of the festival nor ensure that, once the date arrives, it can be celebrated. Although it is painful, we know that this is the right decision, especially for those of you who have to plan your trip in advance.

“The 20th anniversary of Primavera Sound deserves a party like the ones we are used to, and the global situation does not seem favourable to allowing something like this to happen”

“We have left no stone unturned: we led the clinical trial carried out at the Apolo in Barcelona last December and we have been in constant contact with the health authorities to explore all possible solutions. But the 20th anniversary of Primavera Sound deserves a party like the ones we are used to, and the global situation does not seem favourable to allowing something like this to happen this summer. At least not in a way in which we can live the full Primavera Sound experience.”

Primavera Pro, the music industry conference, will hold a ‘hybrid’ edition (part physical, part online) from 2 to 4 June. Sister festival NOS Primavera Sound, in Oporto, Portugal, is still scheduled for 10–12 June.

The Primacov study at the Apolo, organised by Primavera Sound in association with Barcelona’s Hospital German Trias, found that concerts held with rapid coronavirus testing in advance are “not associated with an increase in Covid-19 infections”.

Primavera Sound announced a series of physical concerts in Barcelona, Coliseum Nights, set for 26 April–2 May, earlier this month.

 


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