Right, so somehow it’s festival season already: you’ve bought your tickets, spun a tissue of lies that in no way hang together to your employer and packed your bags full of alcohol and, er, a single T-Shirt and a Nutrigrain bar for three days’ sustenance. Now all you need is your boots and you’re set and ready for another great UK festival experience.

Only, you can’t find them anywhere. They’re not in your wardrobe, near the backpack you took last year that appears to have rusted shut, nor are they in the loft with the tent you couldn’t face cleaning that now looks sentient with mould. That’s because they’re still in the ground at Worthy Farm, after the very earth sucked them from your feet as you naively attempted to make your way to the Square Pie stall to buy some lunch. And then you got Trench Foot, remember?

Make no mistake: British festivals hate you. They hate all of us.

Spain’s festivals, on the other hand, think we’re great. Fine temperatures to thaw our permafrozen limbs, no need to navigate your battered Corsa through rutted fields in search of a car park and little chance of contracting a debilitating fungal infection: they have it all! Oh, and with Barcelona’s Primavera Sound an amazing lineup of cutting-edge and classic bands as well…

Headliners this year include shoegaze noisemongers My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, Bloc Party, Neil Young and, in a brilliantly incongruous inclusion, Michael Nyman, whilst any proclivity for white noise is well-served by Warp stalwarts Squarepusher and the Aphex Twin. Elsewhere Bat For Lashes will be doing their best to bring a hint of Wicker Man romanticism to an expanse of modernist concrete jutting into the Mediterranean sea, and Jarvis Cocker is on hand to prevent us from forgetting just how cool he is.

This being a European music festival there’s little deference to our need for sleep, set-lists coiling around the morning hours with insomniac fervour. Still, you could always fend off the red-eye with an up-close with Pink Eyes, as Fucked Up flesh out the witching hours with their hardcore batterings, and Simian Mobile Disco return to aid those throbbing temples by, er, pounding them even harder.

With ATP and Pitchfork each afforded their own stage to curate, there’s a smorgasbord of leftfield offerings to pore over whilst stroking your chin voraciously, Crystal Antlers, The Mai Shi, Sunn O))), Gang Gang Dance and Wavves amongst them, and that’s before even getting to Saint Etienne, Throwing Muses, Deerhunter, Yo La Tengo and The Horrors.

All of a sudden our British offerings seem rather grey and tired. Best just forget about those boots and get booking those flights, people…

Five Things That You Should Strive To See:

1. Aphex Twin: so your flight gets in at 10pm on Thursday night, you’re already knackered and you can’t find your hotel. None of this will matter after Richard D James’ unhinged electronica has dismantled your thought processes.

2. Bat For Lashes: Natasha Khan’s live shows always succeed in conjuring a tangible other-world of forest canvas and rich mythology. Whether she can do this whilst surrounded by blue sea, salty air and a bustling cosmopolitan metropolis will be seen later this week.

3. Bloc Party: A controversial line-up inclusion, Bloc Party’s late-night performance should hopefully prompt a darker, more visceral set, free of the football-terrace audience that blighted their recent Olympia shows.

4. Michael Nyman: you’ll need to queue early for guaranteed tickets to see the near-legendary composer but there’s really no question as to whether you should.

5. Neil Young: Sure, you could just wait to see him at Glastonbury next month. If you don’t mind the trench foot.

Christian Cottingham


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