Barcelona’s Primavera Sound, one of Europe’s best-regarded music festivals, announced that its first American edition will come to L.A. next year.
The festival, known for an idyllic waterfront location and Coachella-caliber bookings such as this year’s Tame Impala and J Balvin, will debut at Los Angeles State Historic Park in Chinatown September 19-20, 2020, with early tickets going on sale Friday.
“We had been thinking about crossing the Atlantic for some time now and, in particular, about Los Angeles,” said Gabi Ruiz, the director and founder of Primavera Sound. “Los Angeles is a city that has always fascinated [us]. Its vitality, its appeal, its forward thinking. We feel that in some ways, in Barcelona, we share the sensations and way of experiencing things with Los Angeles.”
The new Live Nation-produced festival isn’t the first international edition for Primavera, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year. The fest also has a smaller annual satellite in Porto, Portugal, which began in 2012. Ruiz says the L.A. version will initially be more akin to Porto in scale than the flagship, which draws 220,000 fans from 150 countries. The 32-acre Los Angeles State Historic Park has a maximum capacity of 25,000.
The lineup for the L.A. edition isn’t set (though Primavera has broken ground by committing to full gender parity in its bookings). As Coachella further grows into a pop-friendly, youth-leaning leviathan, the L.A. Primavera may prove appealing to some of the same L.A. music fans looking for smaller events catering to more specific audiences or a different ambiance.
Between Primavera and the techno-leaning Sónar, Barcelona has become a festival hub in its own right, and some L.A. industry professionals or fans interested in music-minded vacations may already be familiar with Primavera.
“We have been competing with the market of festivals not only in Europe but also in the United States for a long time already,” Ruiz said. “We know that we have an increasing American audience at our festival in Barcelona.”
Primavera’s expansion comes during an unprecedented tourism boom in Barcelona, and its move into L.A. is an acknowledgement of that global appeal. In L.A., where FYF Fest collapsed last year and midsize festivals including Just Like Heaven, All My Friends and Secret Project have proliferated with mixed track records, that global cachet might provide a fresh angle on the festival market.
Of course, Barcelona’s famously freewheeling nightlife and music culture won’t be exactly replicated in L.A., which is typically more strict. But the Chinatown location is a decent approximation of Primavera’s urban setting. Ruiz said that “respecting the idiosyncrasy of the city” is a central goal wherever the festival has expanded. But much of Primavera’s appeal comes from the allure of its hometown, and the organizers said they’ll do what they can to evoke it here as well.
“Obviously our main interest is to be able to transport the vibe of Barcelona and of our festival to California, but we will always find it wherever we go,” Ruiz said.
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