Primavera 2013

The Primavera lineup was revealed yesterday. Festival announcements have become so modern nowadays – the lineup was revealed via a live stream. Some say the lineup, however, was far from modern, a throwback to 1993. Jim Carroll over at On the Record says today that the headliners “would whet the appetite of indie fans 20 years ago”. The headline on his blog post is: “The future of the music festival is 1993.”

I was six in 1993. I had made about three friends in school. Jason, Jer and, er… Make that two friends.

Anyway, enough about my slow development as a child. The biggest print on the Primavera poster reads: Phoenix, Postal Service, Blur, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and My Bloody Valentine. OMG, they’re all dinosaurs! Wait, apart from Phoenix, a French band are only two albums into their career and who will probably explode in popularity over the next 12 months. Blur, oh man they’re sooooo old. I mean, my friends saw them all the way back at Oxegen 2009. Why would anybody go see them? Just because frontman Damon Albarn is one of the most innovative musicians around, one who can do monkey operas and still get lauded? And sure Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are only playing because they’re constantly releasing critically acclaimed album. And don’t even get me started about Postal Service, a duo who made couples cry all the way back in 2k3. (I was 16 then. Imagine the emotions when listening to ‘Such Great Heights’!) A band who probably influenced all the big Pitchfork bands over the next decade. All of mine and your favourite bands. (Seriously, go to Postal Service and click on the related artists tab. I love all those bands.)

Lets look at the bands in the next tier of font size, the second headliners we’ll call them: Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear, Tame Impala, the Knife, Fiona Apple, James Blake, Wu-Tang Clan, Band of Horses, Los Planetas. Wow, they’re all old as well. Soooo old. Except they’re not. Grizzly Bear have been building steadily over the last seven or eight years. Animal Collective have been building since the start of the decade. The Knife are the most hyped band on the Primavera lineup. They have three albums under their belt, not including the Fever Ray sideproject. They formed in 1999. Tame Impala are two albums in. OK I’ll give you Wu-Tang.

For these bands to be a huge draw to thousands of people, people like me after only one or two or three albums is a pretty good achievement. I think. But I’m only 25 – what do I know about music?

So this idea that festivals in 2013 are so 20 years ago. Let’s look at recent Primavera lineups. Bands who played in 2007 include: Smashing Pumpkins, Buzzcocks, the Fall and Sonic Youth. 2006 saw Motorhead, Dinosaur Jr and Lou Reed play. In 2005 Primavera played host to New Order, the Human League, Iggy & the Stooges and Gang of Four.

It seems that old bands have been playing festivals for years. How did that happen? Yesterday, I actually tweeted to Carroll, kind of agreeing. Then I thought about it for a while. Looked at past festival lineups.

Carroll writes: “Primavera’s booking policy is totally characteristic of where music festivals are going. We’ve ran out of new headliners.”

What? Phoenix are one of the headliners! How many festivals have they headlined before?

He adds: “But the conservative, old-school nature of the headliners does also point to the conservative, old-school nature of your average festival-goer these days because they’re prepared to put up with this widespread recycling of the past.”

I haven’t seen any of the headliners on the Primavera bill. All those bands in the biggest font – yup, I haven’t seen any of them. No recycling going on here folks. I was six in 1993. I got into Blur in about 2005. I even did the whole Britpop thing of arguing with myself over who was better: Blur or Oasis. One of the bands I’m most looking forward to seeing in Barcelona is Titus Andronicus. They played Dublin last year – I was over in Edinburgh at the time; gutted doesn’t even cover it. Grizzly Bear I’d miss anybody to see. Again and again and again. James Blake made one of my favourite albums of the last 10 years. Not all of us are going to see the Jesus and Mary Chain. Not all of us are going to get press passes to go to all the festivals in and around Dublin this year.

We’ve gotten used to instant gratification. We expect the band who released their debut album last year to have built enough hype to headline in front of 60,000 people. Carroll wants to have his cake and eat it though. He lists off bands that HE wants to see who are y’know, pretty modern: Killer Mike, Poolside, Matthew E White, Death Grips, Foxygen, Savages. All of whom, he says, will be playing at a festival near you this year. Man, give them time to grow. Come back to me when Primavera 2023 gets announced. Lets see how many can be tipping at the top of the bill like Animal Collective are doing.

And if all you’re going to do is complain about people liking the bands that got them into music 10 years ago then please stop talking about music, OK?