Primavera Sound

Last updated
Primavera Sound
Primavera Sound music festival official logo
Dates2–6 June 2021
Location(s) Barcelona (since 2001) as well as Porto (since 2012) and Los Angeles (from 2021)
Coordinates 41°24′38″N2°13′35″E / 41.410667°N 2.226333°E / 41.410667; 2.226333 Coordinates: 41°24′38″N2°13′35″E / 41.410667°N 2.226333°E / 41.410667; 2.226333 41.410666, 2.226342
Years active2001 - present
Founded byPablo Soler

Primavera Sound is a music festival that takes place between the end of May and beginning of June in Barcelona, Spain. The first edition took place in 2001 in Poble Espanyol and in 2005 it moved to the Parc del Fòrum, a much larger site on the seafront. The nature of the festival (urban and an integrated part of the city) and the wide range of bands represented have made Primavera Sound a meeting point for artists and spectators from all generations. In 2012 the festival expanded to Porto, the second biggest city in Portugal under the name NOS Primavera Sound. [1] This one takes place at the Parque da Cidade a week after the Barcelona edition. In September 2021, the festival will celebrate its first edition in Los Angeles called Primavera Sound Los Angeles. A spin-off of the festival titled "Primavera a la Ciutat" takes place in selected places in Barcelona from plazas to churches and offers free concerts a couple days prior to the festival's inauguration. [2]


The festival presents all genres including pop, indie, rock and the most underground tendencies of electronic and dance music.

Pixies, Arcade Fire, Queens of the Stone Age, The National, Nine Inch Nails, Kendrick Lamar, Neil Young, Sonic Youth, Portishead, Pet Shop Boys, Pavement, Echo & The Bunnymen, Lou Reed, My Bloody Valentine, El-P, Pulp, Patti Smith, James Blake, Cat Power, Public Enemy, Grinderman, Franz Ferdinand, Television, Devo, Enrique Morente, The White Stripes, LCD Soundsystem, Tindersticks, PJ Harvey, Shellac, Dinosaur Jr., New Order, Fuck Buttons, Swans, Melvins, Psychic TV, Spiritualized, The Cure, Bon Iver, La Buena Vida, Death Cab For Cutie, Iggy & The Stooges, De La Soul, Marianne Faithfull, Mazzy Star, Blur, Wu-Tang Clan, Phoenix, Radiohead, Animal Collective, Sigur Rós, The Jesus and Mary Chain and Tame Impala amongst many others have performed on its stages.

At every edition the event has grown both in terms of numbers and in terms of media exposure: press, radio and television both nationally and internationally. Its first edition in 2001 closed with an attendance of 8,000 people, an audience that by the latest edition in 2019 had become 220,000. [3]


2001–2004: Beginnings at Poble Espanyol

Although Primavera Sound had existed in a small format in Barcelona since the 1990s, 2001 saw the first bigger event take place at the Poble Espanyol with more than one stage and attracted around 7,700 people. This venue is an open air architectural museum up the Montjuïc hill. It recreates the best and most famous venues and cultures within Spain.The bill included the likes of Armand Van Helden, Le Hammond Inferno, former main man of Pizzicato 5, Yasuharu Konishi, Faze Action, Bent, Los Planetas, Manta Ray, Sr. Chinarro, Samuel L. Session, Unkle, Carl Craig, Dj Godfather; and many other bands and DJs like Gentle People Djs, Leila, Zip and Gus Gus Djs. [4]

Poble Espanyol (2001-04) Poble Espanyol - panoramio.jpg
Poble Espanyol (2001-04)

In 2002 Primavera Sound took place on 17 and 18 May. The main change was the addition of a second day to the festival. Sixty local and international bands and DJs played on five different stages that year, including Pulp, Tindersticks, Spiritualized, Echo & The Bunnymen, J Mascis, Aphex Twin, Luke Slater, Giant Sand, The Delgados, Dave Clarke, Bis, Ian Pooley, Andrew Weatherall, Le Tigre, Gonzales, The Moldy Peaches, Chicks On Speed, Clem Snide, La Buena Vida, Green Velvet, Cinerama, Lo-Fidelity Allstars and The Zephyrs. 2002 was also the first year to include non-musical performances.

24,000 people attended in 2003, and the number of acts also increased to more than 90 groups and DJs both local and international. Five areas were arranged at the Poble Espanyol site for the night shows (Nitsa-Apolo, Rockdelux by Lois, CD Drome, Nasti and Psicolabis). An extra site was added to the festival: Mercat de les Flors, for the day time activities: the Primavera Soundtrack Film Festival and the Record label Fair, which included two stages (acoustic and electric) where the label's bands showcased their works. Acts included Belle And Sebastian, Yo La Tengo, Teenage Fanclub, Arab Strap, I Am Kloot, Sonic Youth, Mogwai, The White Stripes, Television, Beef, The Go-Betweens, 2 Many Dj's, Julian Cope, Baxter Dury, Roni Size, Ed Harcourt, Antònia Font, Lcd Soundsystem, Märtini Brös, Erol Alkan, Gold Chains, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Hangedup, The Streets, Baby Zizanie, A Room With A View.

In 2004 the festival kept growing in length (three days in the Poble Espanyol), artists and attendance. Attendance increased to up to 40,000 people. Headliners included PJ Harvey, Primal Scream, The Divine Comedy, Wilco and Franz Ferdinand. The size of the simultaneous record label and industry fair also increased, with 30 stands representing the leading independent Spanish record labels, as well as specialized press and associated companies.

2005–2009: Expansion

In 2005 the festival relocated from the Poble Espanyol to the Fòrum site. This new site was built explicitly for the 2004 Universal Forum of Cultures. It is a 14-hectare multipurpose public park meters away from the Mediterranean Sea. It is best known for its public art, the Museum of Natural Sciences of Barcelona and its underground auditorium, its seaview and solar panels, with the last one becoming one of the emblems of the site. Other points in favour was the proximity to commercial and residential areas of Sant Adrià and Poblenou, which has been described as the "hipster" part of the city, and its great connection with public transport through the Metro Line 4 and the Trambesòs.

2005 saw the first use of the Auditorium building where some of the main performances of that weekend took place, such as Antony & The Johnsons, Vic Chesnutt and Tortoise. Headliners included New Order, Iggy Pop’s Stooges live comeback, Sonic Youth, Steve Earle and Gang of Four.

Parc del Forum, where the festival takes place since 2005. 170209 219 R.jpg
Parc del Fòrum, where the festival takes place since 2005.

2006 saw only minor changes in the layout of the stages and some improvements in the infrastructure. Performers included Lou Reed, Motörhead, Yo La Tengo, The Flaming Lips, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Babyshambles, Animal Collective, Gang Gang Dance, Deerhoof, Richard Hawley, Isobel Campbell, José González, Vashti Bunyan,

2007 saw the audience increase to over 60,000 attendees. With thirty per cent of the audience coming from other countries, The 150 acts included Wilco, Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth played the legendary album Daydream Nation integrally and the Forum vibrated with the concert of the veteran Patti Smith, The Good, the Bad & the Queen, The Durutti Column, Maxïmo Park, Buzzcocks, Grizzly Bear, Billy Bragg, Low, Band Of Horses, Diplo, Erol Alkan and many others.

Portishead at Primavera Sound 2008 Portishead @ Primavera Sound 5.jpg
Portishead at Primavera Sound 2008

2008 saw around 160 artists perform in venues both in the Parc Del Fòrum and into the centre of Barcelona city. Performers included Portishead, MGMT, Public Enemy, Vampire Weekend, Cat Power, El Guincho, Bon Iver, Dirty Projectors, Explosions In The Sky, Why? and Caribou.

2009 saw a total of 171 concerts and over 80,000 spectators. The audience was spread around the fourteen stages of the festival, six of which are on the Parc del Fòrum site (76,000 spectators) and another eight distributed around the centre of Barcelona with Primavera in the city, which attracted 4,600 more spectators. The starting signal was given in various underground stations of the town centre on Saturday 23 May and the usual presentation showcases, organized with the collaboration of different record companies and taking place from Monday the 25th in the Apolo, and Sidecar. The main event took place on the 28th, 29th and 30 May and the second edition of Primavera at the Park (free concerts in the Joan Miró) consolidated itself in 2009 with twelve concerts which prolonged the festival into the Sunday 31 May.

Headliners included My Bloody Valentine, Yo la Tengo, The Vaselines, Phoenix, Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Andrew Bird, The Horrors, Bloc Party, Throwing Muses, Saint Etienne, Jarvis Cocker, Art Brut, Damien Jurado, Sonic Youth, Herman Dune, Deerhunter, Simian Mobile disco, Liars, Michael Nyman, Ghostface Killah, Black Lips and Neil Young.

2010–2017: Reafirmation and internationalitzation

2010 saw over 100,000 spectators attend the festival for the first time, and featured the first edition of PrimaveraPro, a gathering more than 400 music industry professionals from different countries and different areas within the sector such as labels, booking agencies, promoters or festival programmers.

The xx at Primavera Sound 2010 The XX-01.jpg
The xx at Primavera Sound 2010

Performers included Pavement, Superchunk, The Fall, The XX, Pixies, Beach House, Pet Shop Boys, Orbital, Ben Frost, Van Dyke Parks, Built To Spill,

Grizzly Bear Dum Dum Girls, and Los Campesinos!.

In 2011 attendance grew to over 120,000 people. Performers included Caribou, Echo & The Bunnymen, Mercury Rev, The National, Nick Cave, Belle & Sebastian, The Flaming Lips, PJ Harvey, Animal Collective and Pulp.

2012's headliners included Refused, Wilco, Franz Ferdinand, The xx, Beirut, Napalm Death, Grimes, Danny Brown, Other Lives, Kindness, The Cure, John Talabot, Marianne Faithfull, The Chameleons, the Afghan Whigs and Nick Garrie. Attendance was around 117,000 people. In June 2012 the first edition of NOS Primavera Sound took place at the Parque da Cidade in Oporto. Alberto Guijarro, the festival's director, stated that “after years in Barcelona we organised a first edition in Porto to take advantage of musicians on tour, but it is a different type of event; what we do in Portugal is a Primavera boutique, more well-kept, smaller and with its own personality". [5]

Dinosaur Jr. at Primavera Sound 2013 Dinosaur Jr 2.jpg
Dinosaur Jr. at Primavera Sound 2013

2013's headliners included The Postal Service, Phoenix, Tame Impala, Deerhunter, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Blur. Bob Mould, James Blake, Wu-Tang Clan, My Bloody Valentine, Los Planetas, Hot Chip, The Knife, Solange Knowles, Kurt Vile, Local Natives and Mulatu Astatke among 260 concerts programmed at the thirteenth edition of the festival. Local bands included Manel, Madrid band Toundra, Fred I Son, The Free Fall Band, La Bien Querida and El Inquilino Comunista. There was a new record attendance of 170,000 counting the four days in the Parc del Fòrum and the activities in the framework of Primavera a la Ciutat.

Pond live at Primavera Sound. Pond Primavera19 -134 (48985549838).jpg
Pond live at Primavera Sound.

2014 saw performances by Arcade Fire, Pixies, The National and Neutral Milk Hotel as well as Charles Bradley, Kendrick Lamar, Nine Inch Nails, Caetano Veloso, Disclosure, Queens Of The Stone Age, Future Islands and St. Vincent.

In 2015, the festival was headlined by The Black Keys, Anthony and the Johnsons, Alt-J, Patti Smith, The Strokes, Ride, Interpol and Underworld. James Blake, Caribou, Belle and Sebastian, Spiritualized, Jungle, Simian Mobile Disco, Jose Gonzalez, Jon Hopkins and The Church also appeared. [6]

The 2016 festival was headlined by Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem and Sigur Ros. PJ Harvey, Tame Impala, The Last Shadow Puppets, Air, Brian Wilson, Beach House, Suede, Beirut and Animal Collective also performed. [7]

In 2017, the festival was headlined by Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, The XX, Run the Jewels, Miguel, Aphex Twin, Grace Jones, Slayer, Solange and Van Morrison. [8] More than 200.000 people attended the 2017 festival. [9] American singer Frank Ocean, who offered less than ten concerts in 2017 and hasn't performed live since, cancelled its headlining gig four days before the performance. [10]

2018–present: Openness to pop, urban and California

In 2018, the festival started to bet for more urban and pop performers without leaving its rock and indie sign. This edition was headlined by Arctic Monkeys, Bjork, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The National, Chvrches, The War on Drugs, Lorde, Arca and A$AP Rocky. [11] It took place from May 31 to June 3. Migos were also booked for the show but cancelled hours before the performance becaused they missed their flight. Skepta and Los Planetas replaced them. [12] The local artists catalogue included C. Tangana, Hinds, La Bien Querida, El Capullo de Jerez, Bad Gyal, Mujeres and Núria Graham among others. That same year a new proposal was released: the festival's attenders could vote online who they would like to see performing at the Your Heineken Stage. [13]

Christine and the Queens live in 2019. Primavera19 -65 (48986308772).jpg
Christine and the Queens live in 2019.

The 2019 lineup of the festival has attempted to showcase a gender balanced lineup with equal numbers of male and female performers. [14] The festival's 'new normal' initiative aims to set a benchmark for equal gender representation that other festivals should follow. Primavera's head of press, Marta Pallarès, told The Guardian “We need to change the ‘pale, male and stale’ paradigm”. [15] Female acts announced for the festival included Cardi B, Janelle Monáe, Rosalía, Solange, Erykah Badu, FKA Twigs, Robyn, Courtney Barnett, Carly Rae Jepsen, Charli XCX, Lizzo, Cupcakke and Nina Kravitz. [16] Cardi B cancelled her appearance and was replaced by Miley Cyrus. [17] Other acts include Nas, Interpol, Tame Impala, Suede, James Blake, J Balvin, Jarvis Cocker, Primal Scream, Modeselektor and Loyle Carner. [16] National and local artists included Yung Beef, La Zowi, Cariño, Pavvla, Nathy Peluso, María José Llergo and most importantly Rosalía, whose performance at the main stage was ranked as one of the best and most awaited ones in the festival's history. [18] Over 220,000 people attended the festival. [19] When the 2019 festival ended, Primavera Sound announced two new editions. [20] One of them would be held at Los Angeles Historic Park in California would be taking place in September 2020. [21] Another edition in London was planned for June 2020 at Drumsheds but was put on hold due to time constraints and concerns over permits and licenses. [22]

Rosalia performing live in 2019. Rosalia, Pull&Bear stage 2.jpg
Rosalía performing live in 2019.

Following the reschudeling to August 2020, the 2020 Primavera Sound edition was cancelled due to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. [23] [24] The lineup for the 2021 edition, which will run from June 2 to June 6, 2021 and is presented under the slogan #BestFestivalForever, was announced a year before its celebration. [25] Again, the lineup respects gender equality as it has an almost perfect fifty-fifty gender lineup. Headliners include Tame Impala, Massive Attack, Pavement, Iggy Pop, The National, The Strokes, Bikini Kill, Yo La Tengo, FKA Twigs, Charli XCX, and Tyler, the Creator among others. Artists and bands like BROCKHAMPTON, Gorillaz, Doja Cat, Little Simz, Kehlani, Rina Sawayama, Mariah the Scientist, Paloma Mami, Young Thug, Pabllo Vittar and Bad Bunny will make their Primavera Sound debut this year. National and local artists include Manel, Amaia, Bad Gyal, C. Tangana, Yung Beef, Ferran Palau, Núria Graham, Maria del Mar Bonet and Carolina Durante. [26] Many artists scheduled for the 2020 edition like Kacey Musgraves, King Princess, Lana del Rey and Kim Petras won't be attending this new edition due to agenda conflicts. [27] This will mark the festival's 20th anniversary, which is said to be "a celebration of life with the 20 best performers of this 20 years". [21]

The 2020 NOS Primavera Sound edition in Oporto was also rescheduled to June 2021 following the coronavirus pandemic sanitary crisis. Primavera Sound was scheduled to celebrate its debut Los Angeles edition at Los Angeles Historic Park in September 2020, which was also pushed to 2021. This two lineups will be revealed soon. [28]

Location and festival grounds

Primavera Sound takes place in the Parc del Fòrum, located in the south-east part of the Poblenou neighbourhood, between Barcelona and Sant Adrià de Besòs. It is accessible through public transport.

During the festival, several stages continuously host live music. These are named after the festival's sponsors. [29] The primary stages that have been used are:

Festival summary by year

EditionYearDatesHeadlinersAttendance or SalesAvg. daily
1st2001April 28No headliners8,0008,000
2nd2002May 17–18 Pulp · Tindersticks · Spiritualized 15,0006,500
3rd2003May 23–24 Blur · Nick Cave · Fiona Apple · Animal Collective · Los Planetas 25,00011,000
4th2004May 27–29 Pixies · DJ Harvey · Primal Scream ·Wilco 38,00017,000
5th2005May 26–28 New Order · Stooges · Sonic Youth · Steve Earle · Gang of Four.44,00019,000
6th2006June 1–5 Radiohead · LCD Soundsystem · Suede · Pusha T · Tame Impala · Sigur Rós 52,00021,000
7th2007May 31–June 2 Smashing Pumpkins · Sonic Youth · The White Stripes · Wilco · Patti Smith 62,00020,000
8th2008May 29–31 Portishead · MGMT · Public Enemy · Vampire Weekend · Cat Power · Bon Iver 59,80026,000
9th2009May 28–30 My Bloody Valentine · Yo la Tengo · The Vaselines · Phoenix · Aphex Twin · Squarepusher · Andrew Bird · The Horrors 80,00025,000
10th2010May 27–29 Pavement · Superchunk · The Fall · The XX · Pixies · Beach House · Pet Shop Boys · Orbital · Ben Frost · Van Dyke Parks · Built To Spill 100,00030,000
11th2011May 26–28 Caribou · Echo & The Bunnymen · Mercury Rev · The National · Nick Cave · Belle & Sebastian · The Flaming Lips 120,00036.000
12th2012May 31–June 2 Refused · Franz Ferdinand · Beirut · Napalm Death · Grimes · Danny Brown · Other Lives · Kindness · The Cure · John Talabot · Marianne Faithfull · The Chameleons · the Afghan Whigs · Nick Garrie 117,00035,000
13th2013May 23–25Phoenix · The Postal Service · Blur · The Jesus and Mary Chain · Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds · My Bloody Valentine 170,00055,000
14th2014May 29–31 Arcade Fire · Queens of the Stone Age · The National · Pixies · Slowdive · Nine Inch Nails · Kendrick Lamar 190,00055,000
15th2015May 28–30 The Black Keys · Anthony and the Johnsons · Alt-J · Patti Smith · The Strokes · Ride · Interpol · Underworld 194,00055,000
16th2016June 1–4Radiohead · LCD Soundsystem · Sigur Ros · PJ Harvey 200,00056,000
17th2017May 31–June 3Arcade Fire · Bon Iver · Frank Ocean (cancelled) · The xx · Aphex Twin · Grace Jones · Slayer · Solange · Van Morrison 208,40057,000
18th2018May 30–June 3 Björk · Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds · The National · Migos (cancelled) · Arctic Monkeys · Lorde · A$AP Rocky 217,00060,000
19th2019May 30–June 1 Erykah Badu · Future · Interpol · Tame Impala · Miley Cyrus (replacing Cardi B) · Janelle Monáe · Solange · J Balvin · Rosalía 220,00063,000
20th2021June 2–6Tame Impala · Massive Attack · Pavement (reunion) · The Strokes · The National · Beck · Tyler, The Creator · Gorillaz · Bad Bunny N/AN/A

Prizes and awards

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