The first-ever US edition of Primavera Sound took over sunny Los Angeles last weekend, marking a successful milestone for the international event. Featuring a clever and eclectic lineup containing heavyweights from across the spectrum, Primavera Sound welcomed thousands of fans to LA Historic Park for the three-day festival. We might’ve been obsessing over these five acts before the show, but we’ve now got an entire roster of new musical discoveries.
Read on for our weekend review covering the best, the worst and the most divine moments of Primavera Sound LA 2022.
[Photo by Brian Greenblatt / Dark Matter Photographs for Compose Yourself Magazine]
As one of our most anticipated performers, PinkPantheress’ stage presence and prowess did not disappoint. After canceling her initial Primavera Barcelona appearance due to sickness, it was clear the UK producer was making up for lost time and having a blast while doing it. She brought some of her biggest experimental singles to life – ‘Pain’, ‘Just for Me’ – while also jumping into the photo pit to engage with fans in the crowd. On the indie pop end of the spectrum, Clairo gave a stunning performance on the Primavera stage playing ‘Flaming Hot Cheetos’, ‘Softly’ and ‘Amoeba’ among others, her pristine pitch serving as a perfect match to the Californian summer aesthetic.
[Photo of PinkPantheress by Quinn Tucker for Primavera Sound LA 2022]
Another one of Friday’s unexpected yet spectacular highlights was courtesy of surf-indie rock group Current Joys. The band, made of members Nick Rattigan, Ciarán Fitzpatrick, Sinéad Kelly, Stephen Cafferky & Teresa Browne, delivered an impassioned performance to spellbound attendees at the Barcelona Stage. Rattigan is also the drummer and lead singer of Surf Curse, a west coast rock band that featured on the Primavera lineup as well. Catching them on Saturday night at the Tecata Alta stage allowed me to witness one of the rowdiest mosh pits of the weekend during ‘Freaks’ and ‘Disco’, fueled by pure rock and roll-driven rhythms.
[Photo of Surf Curse by Miranda McDonald for Primavera Sound LA 2022]
Longtime ambient producer Nicolas Jaar and guitarist Dan Harrington’s experimental live band, Darkside, have created quite the cult following since their hiatus ended earlier this year, especially with the announcement of their Primavera slot. Darkside’s combination of sonic textures and deep, instrumental house grooves was a formula of perfection as they closed out the festival on Friday night.
On day two, the colorful and hypnotic hip-hop queen Tierra Whack lit up the Primavera Stage. Making the entire crowd twerk on command, she blazed through Saturday’s daytime set with tracks like ‘Pet Cemetery’, ‘Only Child’ and ‘Clones’. Her expressive candor provided a carefree vibe, even inspiring an elderly man in the crowd to take over a dance circle.
Irish post-punk band Fontaines DC are indeed the ‘Boys in the Better Land’ – they have an addictive sound that is simply emblematic of bigger things to come. Our only gripe? With a later slot the band would’ve had a larger crowd but, alas, we don’t think that will be much of a problem in the near future.
[Photo of Khruangbin by Brian Greenblatt / Dark Matter Photographs for Compose Yourself Magazine]
The best-dressed fans will always be seen dancing to Khruangbin, every time, everywhere they perform. Once the trio was entrenched in their psychedelic jam grooves, guitarist Mark Speer introduced himself before encouraging the crowd to exchange names with those next to them and become friends during the set. He then asked the crowd to yell the name of the people we’d just met, with a jumble of names filling the air. The band then went into an exquisite setlist that included ‘So We Won’t Forget’, ‘Evan Finds The Third Room’, ‘Time (You and I)’, ‘Maria Tambien’, and of course, their signature medley of old soul and hip hop covers. The love and creativity Khruangbin brings to their performances is on another level and we enjoyed every minute.
[Photo of KCRW Beat Swap Meet Record Fair Vinyl Market by Lindsey Byrnes for Primavera Sound LA 2022]
When we weren’t enjoying sets, we were indulging in the top-notch selection at KCRW’s Beat Swap Meet Record Fair Vinyl Market. Expert curation and below awesome prices made this a true cornerstone of our weekend. The marketplace was also flanked with a unique selection of limited concert posters by Flatstock and Heavy Gel, bringing all the nostalgic feels out to play. We even spotted one of our favorite tour posters from friends SunSquabi in the mix!
It goes without saying that Primavera Sound has one hell of a reputation as international tastemaker of the music scene, and Sunday treated us to a few choice rarities on the final day of the festival. Our early gems of the day included the tropical dance sounds of Buscabulla, rising pop singing sensation Bad Gyal and Australian punk outfit Amyl and the Sniffers.
The chance to see dream pop band Cigarettes After Sex live is on a lot of bucket lists and Primavera was a long-awaited opportunity to cross it off. The delicate melodies of Greg Gonzalez matched with the bands’ ethereal instrumental soundscapes together created heaven on earth at the Tecate Alta stage. One of their biggest hits, ‘Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby’ was synced with a clip of recently deceased Parisian filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard’s movie ‘Vivre Sa Vie’, featuring his wife and forever muse, Anna Karina.
[Photo of Arctic Monkeys by Pooneh Ghana for Primavera Sound LA 2022]
Arctic Monkeys had a crowd much in advance before their set time, with fans prioritizing the headliner higher than many others on the lineup. I even ran into a group of people who underwent days of travel just to be there for Sunday evening’s performance. The band mirrored the energy by blasting out some of their best hits, kicking off the show with the low and slow bassline of ‘Do I Wanna Know’ followed by other favorites ‘Brianstorm’, ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’, ‘505’ and the first single to be played from the new album, ‘I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am’.
[Photo of Arca by Nicolita Bradley for Primavera Sound LA 2022]
Sunday night belonged to Arca, an experimental powerhouse producer whose’ music was beyond anything we could’ve expected. Bouncing back and forth between her technological arsenal that included a customized instrumentation controller, Arca was a pinnacle of duality – hard/soft, fun/dark. The set refused to be restrained to any one genre or texture, dipping into everything from darkroom techno to reggaeton, footwork and jungle. When Tristan Stone, better known by the moniker Author & Punisher, joined Arca onstage, the crowds’ mood erupted.
Our Primavera experience wouldn’t be complete without The Smirnoff Ice stage, who hosted some of the most progressive names in house and techno all weekend long, including John Talabot, Sherelle, Octo Octa, and John Mills. Exuding the coolest vibe out of anywhere else, this stage was just straight-up fun.
James Blake, the final headliner of Primavera, has been a long-time favorite. Battling a fierce time slot clash with the Arctic Monkeys, you wouldn’t have known it by the dedicated and filled-in crowd before the stage. His crystalline, soulful voice paired with analog synthesizers and an impeccable live band brought goosebumps to our skin that remained all night. Tweaking versions of songs like ‘Say What You Will’, ‘Life Round Here’, and ‘Mile High’, with a live appearance by Atlanta rapper SwaVay on ‘Frozen’, the producer continued through a stacked set list that also included ‘Retrograde’, ‘CMYK’, and two of his most beloved covers, ‘Limit To Your Love’ (Feist) and ‘Godspeed’ (Frank Ocean).
You could feel the Primavera tension on day one and it hung in the air all weekend. Primavera Sound certainly made good on its reputation to bring an expertly curated lineup to the masses, but there were two major things they failed to get right. Not only was the will call situation hectic, but the festival separated attendees by age from the stages, making for particularly terrible sights and dangerous conditions for those under 21. Multiple artists, including PinkPantheress, Lorde, Mitski and Girl in Red, called out the lack of safety measures for fans during their sets. Multiple reports of people passing out and getting crushed was shocking to hear and a scary realization that the aspect of public safety isn’t a concern. This was not an all-ages-friendly event.
[Photo by Brian Greenblatt / Dark Matter Photographs for Compose Yourself Magazine]
Instead of having enclosed beer gardens spread throughout the site, Primavera opted to serve alcohol inside of the stage areas – requiring 21+ wristbands in order to get anywhere near the acts. This also meant you were forced to finish your drinks in order to get to the other stages. As someone who has attended hundreds of music festivals, this move showed a distinct lack of concern for fan safety. The areas were made slightly larger by the last day, but with no statements from Primavera being made, the sour taste in my mouth isn’t likely to leave anytime soon. Hopefully, the festival will do more research in the future to avoid making the same mistakes – even with the incredible music, wonderful fans and idealistic location, Primavera has to be held to higher standards for next year.