It's around 3 a.m. on the Barcelona waterfront, and Karl Hyde of Underworld is jubilant. He's singing and bopping across the Primavera Sound stage while tens of thousands of fans watch him wrap up a full-album performance of his group's 1994 techno classic "dubnobasswithmyheadman." Though he spent much of the set behind a wall of synths and samplers re-creating his album's analog thump, right now his performance is all human, just shouting vocals with plenty of room to move.
On the last full night of Primavera, that's just about how everyone felt.
While you're in the thick of Primavera Sound, it never seems to actually end. Concerts stretch through mornings, which blend into very late brunches and walks around Barcelona, which turn into drinks with friends at cafés in Gracia and ambles right back into the Parc Del Forum. So to know that this was the last late night of it added an extra edge. Because it seemed as if the party never ended all week, it's hard to believe that it actually can.
Saturday night's bill was probably the best of the weekend. A rough-looking but sweet-sounding Strokes played what will be the classic rock of our current generation; the Catalan teenagers in Mourn mining the '90s to find their own future of indie rock.
One of Spain's best electronic exports, John Talabot, played a one-off disco set in a small club tent right at the edge of the harbor. Those hundreds of kids, raised on harsher club music, were finding new joy in '70s decadence and melody. Across the giant lofted concrete thoroughfare, the L.A. electro-noise quartet Health found new lanes for their spastic violence in a deep, heavy slinkiness. Their forthcoming LP "Death Magic" looks to be one of L.A.'s best of the year, and as their new songs found space between tough and ethereal, they pulled the Primavera crowd right along with them.
Coachella has its own beloved rituals, but Primavera has a dreamy, urbane daze all its own. "This is my fifth year attending the festival and I wouldn't ever miss it," said FYF's Sean Carlson as he was off to take in a techno set from Daphni, the side project of Caribou's Dan Snaith. "It is magical and it is the reason that friends from all over the world fly here each year to meet up for three days. I'm proud to say that the team from Primavera are our friends, but they are also an inspiration to continue to push ourselves with the booking and experience at FYF Fest. Every year I walk away with so many ideas but also so many memories."
As Underworld wrapped up and the crowd piled all over itself for spots in the amphitheater to see Caribou's melodic, psychedelic disco, the local and international fans each seemed to acknowledge how special this occasion was. One twentysomething Barcelonan, who only gave his name as Carlos, was hunting for a cigarette to keep his perfect mood alive a bit longer. "Fuego?" he asked, before realizing his new pals were from L.A. and then switched to English. "It's something like half of the festival that is foreign," he said, beaming and pointing at the skyline behind him. And he knew exactly why. "It's Barcelona. It's beautiful."
He found his fire and skipped back into the crowd.