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Primavera Sound hits Madrid for the first time: Festival Preview

Halsey (L); Kendrick Lamar (C); Rosalía (R)
Halsey (L); Kendrick Lamar (C); Rosalía (R) Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Jonny Walfisz
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Here are our three reasons why Primavera is the festival to keep your eye on every Summer.

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The first of the year’s biggest European music festivals kicks off with Primavera Sound. Hosted across multiple cities and countries in Europe, Primavera Sound has built a reputation by having consistently brilliant line-ups and stunning locations since its inception in 2001.

We’ll be reporting directly from Primavera Sound in Madrid this weekend. In the meantime, here are our three reasons why Primavera is the festival to keep your eye on every Summer.

Location

Back when it started in 2001, Primavera Sound took place in Poble Espanyol, an open-air architectural museum in Barcelona. Since then, it’s moved to its current location in Barcelona, the beach-side Parc del Fòrum.

Unlike most multi-day festivals that have most attendees camping on-site, Primavera has always been a city festival. Attendees return every night back to Barcelona to stay in homes or hotels for non-locals.

While it might feel at first like you’re missing out on the camping experience, Primavera has a more Spanish approach to festival atmosphere. Much as you won’t find a dinner table before 8pm in Spain, the vast majority of the acts at Primavera don’t take to the stage before the sun has already set. As revellers party into the night, away from the dazzling Spanish heat, it also means you get time to actually appreciate the thrills of Barcelona in the days.

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Concert goers wait for a show to open during the Optimus Primavera Sound music festival in Porto, Portugal Friday, June 8, 2012.Paulo Duarte/AP

What makes Primavera Sound unique though has been the way the festival has expanded beyond its original Barcelona setting to include other amazing places.

First Porto, Portugal and Benidorm, Spain were added in 2019 with concentrated versions of the Barcelona line-up. Then, in 2022 Primavera added dates in the Americas, with versions of the festival taking place in Los Angeles, Santiago de Chile, Buenos Aires and São Paulo.

Now in 2023, Spain’s capital is getting its own dedicated Primavera Sound. Held a week after the Barcelona weekend, Madrid’s Primavera Festival has the exact same line-up runs from 7-11 June.

Line-Up

This is where Primavera Sound has always excelled. While many festivals share the big names on the circuit every Summer, Primavera has an impressive knack for getting as many of the headliners of other festivals as possible.

This year, the festival kicks off with a preview free-access event in the city on 7 June with Pet Shop Boys headlining. The 80s synth-pop duo saw renewed attention when their hit single ‘It’s a Sin’ was featured as the title of award-winning AIDS drama ‘It’s A Sin’ in 2021.

Then, kicking off the first night of the festival are headline sets by Blur, Halsey and New Order. Covering the best of Britpop, Damon Albarn’s legendary band Blur have returned to stages for the promotional tour of their ninth album ‘The Ballad of Darren’. Another British institution, New Order promise to bring the intense club hits of Manchester in the 80s. Putting 28-year-old singer and songwriter Halsey between these two is a genius stroke, bringing the first night line-up to the present with one of Gen Z’s most exciting pop stars.

Johnny Green/AP
Damon Albarn of Blur performs in concert at Hyde Park in London Thursday July 2, 2009.Johnny Green/AP

Friday night at Primavera sees Kendrick Lamar and Depeche Mode take to the stage. Again a brilliant selection of different yet complementary headliners. Lamar has made a name for himself as one of the planet’s most vital artists, putting all other acts to shame with his headline set at Glastonbury last year. Next to Lamar is Depeche Mode, another British band in the same vein as New Order who’s 2023 album ‘Memento Mori’ is an impressive return to form.

On the final main night of the festival, Rosalía will take to the stage. In a year that other festivals have been criticised for their lack of gender diversity on stage, it’s refreshing that Primavera is supporting a home-grown star like Rosalía. Born in Barcelona, Rosalía will bring her sumptuous pop next to fellow headliner DJ Calvin Harris.

Marco Ugarte/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Spanish singer-songwriter Rosalia performs during a free concert as part of her Motomami World Tour in the Zocalo, or main plaza, of Mexico City, Friday, April 28, 2023.Marco Ugarte/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

Across the weekend, expect sets from other hot talents like Darkside; NxWorries; Central Cee; Loyle Carner; Pusha T; Black Country, New Road; Self Esteem; Baby Keem; Four Tet; Fred Again..; Skrillex; The Moldy Peaches; Christine and the Queens; Bad Gyal; Caroline Polachek; Måneskin; St. Vincent; Maggie Rogers; Death Grips; and The Voidz.

Other thrills

Set for the first time in Madrid, the opportunity to spend days in Spain’s capital before heading to Arganda Del Rey for the music should provide ample entertainment.

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MadridCanva

Madrid is famed for its tapas bars, fine dining restaurants, and historic sites. Who says you can’t spend the day in the Prado enjoying Picasso’s Guernica before getting down to Rosalía’s tunes?

Not able to attend the festival in person? Primavera has you covered. For the first time, the Madrid weekend will be livestreamed by Amazon Prime. With two Twitch streams as well, it’s impossible to miss out on your favourite artists from this year’s stacked line-up.

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