Primavera Sound

Photo credit: Sergio Albert

Insights attended the 19th edition of Primavera Sound in Barcelona from May 30 – June 1, where a record 220,000 fans descended on the Parc del Fòrum to see performances from Solange, Erykah Badu, Tame Impala, and 292 others.

Notably, Primavera is one of very few festivals to race ahead of the PRS Keychange Initiative’s 2022 pledge to achieve gender parity across festival line-ups – well, almost. According to Joan Pons, the festival’s Press Director, the ratio was actually 51/49. Fellow Europhilic Brits will sympathise with this kind of defeat by marginal majority, but Pons acknowledges that while 1:1 equity is something to continually strive for, it might not be achievable every time. Still, explicitly aiming for and effectively achieving equal representation is a trailblazing move, and the team were unsure as to how it would be received. “We were a little scared about what the reaction might be,” said Pons. “Fortunately it was wonderful, and we’d like to thank not only our staff and artists for making it happen, but also our audience for supporting us”.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the line-up though was simply its ridiculously high quality. Listing individual acts would feel like a disservice to those excluded out of necessity, so check out the bill here. Primavera Director Gabi Ruiz, one of five longstanding in-house individuals that curates the line-up, summarised its programming identity as such: “Our model is creating a festival for people who are genuinely interested in music, and have the intelligence to appreciate many different styles”.

Speaking of the audience, in spite of Primavera’s increasing drive towards diversity and inclusion, the demographic makeup of attendees hasn’t changed much. Perhaps this is because the visitors are already highly cosmopolitan, comprising 124 different nationalities, with 56% of guests coming from overseas. Primavera-goers aren’t getting any younger though, and Pons claims that the audience data as a whole demonstrates no great variations.

2020 will be a big year for the Primavera brand, seeing the 20th anniversary of its flagship festival, as well as the ninth outing of NOS Primavera Sound in Porto. Regarding the former, Ruiz stated that: “It would be nice to get key artists from all 20 editions of Primavera to perform in order to demonstrate the way the festival has progressed. It’d be a great way to unite the old audience with the new. We want to make everyone happy.”

Furthermore, the festival will venture stateside for the first time next year, with the launch of Primavera Sound Los Angeles – promising another mid-city, open-air event with several stages. Operating under the same principles of diversity, social justice, and a pure love of music, the festival will host both Latin and local artists and hopes to serve as a “bridge between the US and Spain”, according to Ruiz.

The competition in California, from Coachella in particular, might pose a challenge, but the Primavera team isn’t worried. “It’s a competitive world,” said Ruiz.” We were born competing against other festivals, so we’re not worried. We’re simply going to take Primavera out into the world and see what happens.”