Festival Frolics: Primavera Sound, Saturday.

Chameleonic, geeky and gangly, Bradford Cox of Deerhunter and perhaps more deservedly noted for his vague acoustic wandering lulls under the guise of Atlas Sound is equal parts genial, dazed and seemingly, confused. Despite Panda Bear warming hearts and igniting minds a mere matter of hours previously, the kaleidoscopic daydream pop of Walkabout lacks the woozy naïvety offered up by Noah Lennox. Not that it detracts all to hazardously from the lavishly looped abyss of nonchalant lusciousness for the vagabonding dawdlers and introspective onlookers alike that Cox conjures with nothing more than his disorientating drawl, an acoustic and a loop station. Something of a Pitchfork disciple, the retro sheen pop of Sheila’s utterly bone chilling in its euphoric discordance; a truer soundtrack to any lucid Daydream Nation than any Thurston Moore illusory and chimerical off-cuts could ever have been.
Where Pixies’ enchanting, if somewhat rudimentary greatest hits bombast the previous night got hearts and fists pumping, palpitating nervously and ecstatically, Florence manifests the worst possible envisaging of a forest dwelling imp, one that’d tear your shoes off and slap musty mud down your gob. Florence & the Machine run like clockwork, their plodding keys drowning out harp twinkles on the catastrophic You Got The Love, yet there’s an unflagging element of mechanistic monotony to Welch’s nonsensical, relentless belief in the emotionless wails and deprived Radio 1 A-list fodder she furrows to such clamorous acclaim. With The Dog Days now dawning, fingers excruciatingly tightly crossed Welch’s grasp of the mainstream may finally be Over... Over on the Ray-Ban Stage, yet another musical export from the Big Apple’s alternative core, Brooklyn in the depressively introspective wallows of Grizzly Bear. Inoffensive as a flock of knapsack-bearing stalks, there’s little to no rejuvenation nor sign of progressive thought procreation as Cheerleader comes across a little like Fleet Foxes struggling away with Cold War Kids in a fish tank, whilst Veckatimest highlight Two Weeks dumbs down its operatic tendencies, falling rather flat. Matt & Kim’s puerile inanity and Final Countdown covers are about as probable to shatter earthly boundaries as The Drums are to release a third LP yet up until they open their mouths and babble not-so-sweet nothings the likes of Yea Yeah bob along buoyantly like an ADHD-riddled cross-pollination of Blood Red Shoes and the twee ingenuity of The Research.

Crinkled industrial electrohead Gary Numan shouldn’t really be playing on a Vice-endorsed stage these days. He doesn’t really look like he should even be over in Spain at all, given his paling complexion and forever-frailer figure. Over half an hour late, Numan eventually swaggers onstage, hurls a mic stand around for a similarly brief timespan, spunks out Cars early in a blazon display of disaffection and his latest goth reinvention twinned with All Saints aesthetic overhaul never really gets in gear. Quite unlike Neil Tennant and über Arsenal fan Chris Lowe’s Pet Shop Boys, who pick from the fields of the campest 80s pop ever to have been blown freely from the Astoria’s secret stash of G.A.Y. speaker stacks. And get away with it. Pet Shop Boys, covering Viva La Vida, doesn’t quite carry the same loaded level of revere and pretence as an evening with Steve Malkmus’ scruffy godfathers of nigh on every ATP goer yet the likes of camp-as-Christmas cover You Were Always On My Mind and New York City Boy make the Village People look as straight talking and, well, straight as The Fall. If previous nights’ headliners could be acutely accused of not backing up their greatest hits with truly great stage sets, Tennant and Lowe, joined by block morph suits, Manhattan skyscraper cardboard costumes, overtly restless evocatively dressed dancers (Jealousy), tuxedos and Pink Floyd-esque tumbling neon walls, the Boys state their claim to quintessentially British pop ascendency. Half as many costume changes as Gaga, a quarter of her gibberish, whilst almost entirely matched. It’s A Sin they’re not as universally lauded really...
With bodies withered and wearied by fatigue, an endless stream of overpriced San Miguel and extensive sonic onslaught, HEALTH, emerging from the darkness around 3am to hazy vision and slurred discussions over ideal ATP line ups, their brand of genre-cruising dementia, dogged by swampy sound issues, isn’t all too sane an experience. Thrashing about the Vice Stage like leech-infested sea lions, Crimewave is almost mind-mutilating, a little like a bowling ball rolling around a bath tub. In comparison, The Field’s reclusively melancholic musical utopia sounds akin to an audio embodiment of a Paradise City, where the grass is green and the girls don’t look like Axl Rose, as projected shots speeding past pylons and gas centres envelop their crescendo-clambering minimalism, frothing, foaming and eventually spewing subduedly into the subconscious. As Fake Blood churns out gurning mixes of passé Stylophone pleasurer Little Boots, Primavera succinctly demonstrates, in a handful of days, the precise coordinates for the direction of contemporary musical artistry and by gosh, it’s brighter than a Barcelonan sunrise over the industrial haven that is and hopefully always will be Parc del Fórum. Pure, unfiltered Cataluña dreaming.