How does one of the most popular and largest music festivals in Europe differ from Montreal’s Osheaga?
After booking my escapade in Europe this summer to mainly visit family, I stumbled upon the lineup for the twentieth edition of Primavera Sound (PS) taking place in Barcelona, Spain. The music festival’s main weekend took place from June 1 until June 3 which perfectly fit at the start of my trip.
I try to attend at least one big music event each year, especially during the summertime, hence I felt no hesitation before booking the three-day-long festival, being fully aware that I’d be going solo to an event starting only two days after landing in a country I had never stepped foot in.
One of the decisive factors for me was the lineup. It included artists I had been listening to for years, and even the artists had become very fond of quite recently. The festival started at 4 p.m. and the last sets finished at 6 a.m., following the same schedule every day. Being relatively sleep deprived is one thing, but standing up for the majority of those 14 hours while constantly hearing music through humongous speakers is another— and it’s not for the faint of heart.
My most memorable performance was by NxWorries, the duo made out of record producer Knxwledge and recording artist Anderson .Paak. I was near the barricades and got the chance to get on the stage during one of my favourite songs off their 2016 album Yes Lawd! titled “Link Up.”
It was pretty surreal but for some reason I wasn’t nervous at all. I had an absolute blast dancing with everyone and singing whilst interacting with the crowd. The most unexpected interaction happened when I was in the food court at 3 a.m. on the third day, and a stranger came up to me because she had recognized me from the show. She then airdropped me footage from the performance… the world is too small sometimes.
Definitive highlights from other performances I attended started with the musical duo Jockstrap’s energetic and experimental set. Georgia Ellery pulling out a violin to play on top of the track “Concrete Over Water” was too awesome of a sight before Taylor Skye pulled out a water blaster to the crowd. Moments after, a remix of the theme song from the show Succession played. Despite the song having nothing to do with the band, the crowd got ecstatic due to its extreme popularity.
Kendrick Lamar — also a headliner at Osheaga — had everyone shouting his name and lyrics even before the large-scaled canvas unveiled behind him. This impressive painted backdrop accompanied Lamar throughout the coverage of his music catalogue from Section.80 up until Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers. His cousin Baby Keem also hopped on stage to perform their infamous “Family Ties” and other tracks, making the energy even hotter than the actual fire rising up by the stage.
Singer and rapper Channel Tres’ performance was overflowing with grooviness, made even better with witty and calculated dance moves. Listening to his song “6am” almost at 6 a.m. was so much fun to say the least, and he couldn’t believe people were still out and about for his set at that time. JPEGMAFIA, an American artist that’s collaborated with Tres, made a similar comment about how ridiculous and awesome it was to play at 4 a.m. the next day.
It isn’t surprising that American artists aren’t used to PS’s different schedule. Osheaga, for instance, ended around 10:30 p.m. — just about the time some folks at PS Barcelona would start showing up. The earlier curfew of cities in North America completely shifts the magnitude that a music festival could ever become, counting less artists to begin with.
Seeing Rosalía perform her album Motomami in her hometown was also very special. She rallied a wide variety of fans (the Spanish ones being more than passionate and not letting anyone squeeze their way in any closer).
Talking about the audience, it seemed like the entirety of Europe came to Barcelona for this weekend. Locals as well as Canadians and Americans were in attendance so I heard an extensive range of languages when passing by foreigners.
The Concordian’s Assistant Music Editor and fellow student, Stefano Rebuli, attended this year’s sixteenth edition of Osheaga and recalls there being a lot of traffic from stage to stage. Getting around between the two main stages was tricky due to clashing crowds entering and exiting between two consecutive performances.
“It left everyone packed and nearly caused a crowd crush between Kim Petras and Kendrick Lamar’s sets on Sunday. Everyone tried to get forward, but nobody was allowed in for a good 30+ minutes,” Rebuli said. As for PS, the crowds seemed to always be mobile which made getting in and exiting smooth. Getting home after the shows is another story— whether it be Montréal or Barcelona, the metro is a hot spot for waiting and waiting behind a stagnant crowd.
The security at Osheaga could have been “much more rigorous” according to Rebuli. His friend had a glasses case which was left unchecked, which means he probably could’ve snuck anything inside. PS’s security also let me in quite easily, with a filled water bottle in my pocket which they didn’t check.
Moving on to some numbers, PS in Barcelona held 16 stages whereas Osheaga counts 5 across its site. Both are near the water, but PS is impressive with its clear views of the sea. In terms of prices, however, it’s expected that the food or beverages aren’t affordable at any festival.
I brought some granola bars to keep my food purchases low but on my second night I had to have actual food so I ended up spending about $15 for a burger. Osheaga charged $13.75 for a poutine, tax included (taxes not being something to consider in Spain was pleasant at least). For beer however, I spent about $7 for a regular sized cup at PS, whereas Osheaga charged around $10.
From an artist cancelling their set last minute to discovering a new favourite song at a random show you decided to check out, music festivals are a chance to fully immerse yourself with passionate people all day— or all night. Whether in my own city or overseas, music in a festival setting has proved itself to be a driving force for a boisterous time.