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Primavera Sound 2024: The Australians Who Took Barcelona by (Tropical F*ck) Storm

The biggest music festival in the Mediterranean included a healthy dose of Australian power to kick off the European summer season

Troye Sivan at Primavera Sound

Troye Sivan performs at Primavera Sound

Christian Bertrand

For any Australian, the opportunity to ditch our winter in pursuit of a warmer climate would likely be a welcome one. Swap multiple layers and a drop in temperature, for long sunsets and even sunnier dispositions? Sign us up.

It’s this feeling and more that makes the European summer festival circuit such an enticing one.

Should anybody have an opportunity to be in this area of the world during this time, immersing yourself in music is one of the biggest recommendations we can give; Europe is a melting pot of artistry and performance styles and for a lot of these festivals, they provide potential for music discovery and bucket list gigs to collide.

A Primavera Primer

Primavera Sound is one of these premier-scale events that has been a popular mainstay on the circuit since its founding in 2001. Though originally focused on indie rock and noise bands, Primavera’s scope has extended broadly in its history to include a variety of genres, from hip hop to EDM, pop to alternative rock.

The Barcelona leg of the festival, held on the seafront at Parc del Fòrum, had a lot to offer punters for its 2024 edition, with headliners including Pulp, Lana Del Rey, SZA, Justice, Charli XCX, and more. And that was just for to start.

Primavera can offer the perfect gateway experience into one’s summer season; the Spanish know how to recover and rally, with artists starting around 4pm each day, and music extending until 5am or later each morning. 

The headliner stages – Estrella Damm and Santander – stood side by side, giving Big Day Out Orange and Blue Stage energy for huge draw cards like The National, Disclosure, and PJ Harvey. Near the main entry, stages hosted by Amazon Music and Spanish clothing brand Pull&Bear boasted some of the biggest sets of the weekend by artists such as Clipse, Romy, Deftones, and Militarie Gun

Spanish car manufacturer CUPRA had a stage of their own – as well as the infamous Boiler Room – on lockdown by the seafront, where the likes of Beth Gibbons hypnotised and Jai Paul captivated. And just a stone’s throw up from the heaving Boiler Room, the recently renamed Steve Albini Stage stood opposite the Plenitude stage, offering some of the more diverse sets of the weekend; everyone from Keanu ReevesDogstar to ‘anti-popstar’ Princess Superstar and London-based Nigerian Afropop artist Obongjayar.

Image: Tropical F*ck Storm Credit: Christian Bertrand

The Australian Effect 

Australia maintained a strong, if smaller presence, at Primavera this year – though it didn’t stop these artists from delivering sets punters turned out in droves for. (Previous years have seen beloved Australian performers like Tame Impala, Julia Jacklin, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Nick Cave, Courtney Barnett, Chet Faker, and Pond come through the ranks.)

Having featured on the lineup in 2022, Melbourne’s Tropical F*ck Storm made their return to Barcelona, performing on the festival’s opening night – a free show for the public to attend, featuring alongside Phoenix, Stella Maris, and more. The festival show marked the start of the band’s European tour with Bikini Kill and served up a steamy reminder of their power; TFS have made a welcome return to touring and recording, following bassist Fiona Kitschin’s breast cancer diagnosis and treatment process in 2023. 

There is a ferocity that comes laden with a TFS experience, and the band delivered signature snarl and energy at a crowd ravenous to absorb it. Arriving on site the following afternoon, there was chatter about their set being a standard-setter for the weekend to come. And on a lineup this stacked, it wasn’t an insignificant compliment to make.  

Celebrating their 21st anniversary this year, Melbourne’s HTRK featured on the Primavera bill for the first time, which seems odd, given the duo’s long-standing relationship with European fans. Unlike TFS, who kicked off an European tour with the festival, HTRK arrived at Primavera nearing the end of theirs, Nigel Yang and Jonnine Standish bringing their ethereal soundscapes to the Steve Albini Stage. 

Image: Troye Sivan Credit: Christian Bertrand

Feeling the Main Stage Rush

Speaking with numerous Spanish music lovers across the Primavera Sound weekend, it was evident pretty quickly that one of the main draws for a lot of them was Troye Sivan

It’s undeniable that Sivan’s ascension to the upper echelons of pop music’s elite, in 2023 especially, has been one of Australian music’s biggest global success stories. Still, despite the success of his third album, Something to Give Each Other, and the foundations Sivan has built for himself as an artist over the last decade, festival stages on the scale as Primavera Sound’s Santander have, until this point, not been his usual playground.

Of all the artists on the Primavera lineup, Sivan’s Friday sunset performance brought possibly the biggest vision, in terms of production and execution. Accompanied by dancers, props, and a guest in Spanish singer-songwriter Guitarricadelafuente (who features on Sivan’s song “In My Room”), Sivan knew the stakes were high for him with this show. The confidence he brought to this set was matched by the energy in the crowd, who were full of euphoria and a desire to lean into the decadence being produced on stage.

A few moments seemed to catch Sivan off-guard, ever slightly, the massive expanse of the crowd before him must have been off-putting – as to be expected. Breathlessly commenting that the Primavera crowd may possibly be the biggest he’d played to, Sivan ensured that his time on that Santander Stage was filled with choreography, glorious gay energy and, of course, “Rush”. 

A song that quickly turned into an anthem for late-night club bacchanalia, “Rush” brought Sivan one of the biggest reactions of the festival – a dizzying effect that felt on brand for the name of the song. 

Which brings us to more homegrown Australian heroes of Primavera…

Image: Amyl and the Sniffers Credit: Christian Bertrand

Amyl and the Sniffers Devour their Primavera Main Stage Return

Fresh off the back of the release of singles “U Should Not Be Doing That” and “Facts”, Amyl and the Sniffers brought their unrepentant chaos to the main stage on Thursday evening.

Like TFS before them, Amyl and the Sniffers’ spot on the Primavera bill was not their debut, having first played the festival in 2022. The crowd, having grown considerably for the Melbourne punk-rock band since then, crammed into the large open space for the classically turbo-charged set, led by the frenetic Amy Taylor

There is a comfort with which the blonde manoeuvres stages like this; for a band whose stage set up is minimal, Amyl and the Sniffers have the capacity to make a thousands-strong festival crowd feel like they’re at a sweat-filled club night at The Corner. 

Again, it was an example of the impact Australians had on ground this year; Amyl and the Sniffers stood out as one of the acts to dominate on the first full day of festival programming, laying a punk mantle for artists like Bikini Kill to pick up further into the program. 

A Royel Welcome to Barcelona

With their debut album Pratts & Pain elevating them to national (and now international) profile, Sydney’s Royel Otis made their first appearance at Primavera – and Spain in general – on the festival’s final day of programming. 

Coming off the back of a North American run in May, the band performed on the Santander main stage, as punters began to stake out their positions for the remainder of the evening; the duo’s brand of uplifting guitar-pop was the level of dopamine needed for those who were maybe feeling weary at this point of the run.

Like Sivan before them, both Royel Maddell and Otis Pavlovic seemed in awe of their circumstance but took it in their stride, deciding to keep stage banter to a friendly minimum, instead focusing on the vibe-heavy delivery of music. With a more extensive European and UK tour scheduled for this year, Primavera was the perfect test run at what Royel Otis could expect once they kick into full gear in July.

There’s a freshness to Royel Otis’ sound that has clearly gripped audiences for a reason; for those fans who lived through the surge of indie bands of the late ‘00s and early ‘10s, there is an added layer of fun nostalgia in their approach to the craft. But for audiences who are starting to fall for this type of euphoric and unashamedly happy (and sometimes melancholic) pop, Royel Otis have emerged as exciting new champions of this style of music.

A festival like Primavera, at its heart, is about having fun and revelling in live music, but it’s also a beautiful mix of influences, demographics, and tastes – making it still an important festival for Australian artists to lock into when and if given the opportunity to do so.

Primavera 2024 provided the opportunity for some Australian artists to come and make their stake as worthy festival names on stages larger than most in Australia could deliver, while for others Primavera was a way to re-enter the European market and deliver sets that reconfirmed their status as some of our best exports. 

The writer attended Primavera Sound as an invited guest of CUPRA Australia.