The Hold Steady was the last band (part of) our team saw before the world has changed, in a year that started recreational, but ended kinda medical. Our yearly pilgrimage to London will unfortunately not happen in 2021, but they’re making up for it with their first proper album since 2014 (not counting 2019’s single collection “Thrashing Thru the Passion”). Our favourite rock band is back. Let’s celebrate like it’s early March 2020, minus the getting ourselves crammed inside a room with no masks on. At least for now.
Ok, ok, let’s get a little bit deeper than this.
First, the playlist:
THURSDAY, JUNE 8
We know it’s hard to go to the festival this early, especially when the only artist playing that early is a Portuguese singer-songwriter singing in a language you probably don’t understand. But really, give him a shot: Samuel Úria (17:00, Super Bock stage) is probably our favorite dude-with-a-guitar-singing-in-Portuguese. This should have been Grandaddy’s night, but misfortune knocked at their door and we’ll get Arab Strap instead (21:10, Super Bock). Recently reunited after a 10-year hiatus, the Scottish influent duo might look oddly placed between Miguel’s adventurous R&B (20:00, NOS) and Run the Jewels’ (22:20, NOS) raucous hip hop set, but hey, this is Primavera.
FRIDAY, JUNE 9
Painful decisions are to be made early in the day, with Whitney **(18:50, Super Bock) and **Royal Trux (19:00, Palco., or “the stage formerly known as ATP”) fighting for your attention. Last year’s _Light Upon the Lake _and their recent new single “You’ve Got a Woman” brought Whitney to the spotlight and were one of our highlights at last years’ Vodafone Paredes de Coura Festival. If they bring the full band to Porto it will be difficult to not see at least part of their show, but the prospect of witnessing Royal Trux’s reunion show swings the pendulum on the other direction. Last year, Neil Hagerty walked all over whoever was seeing him at the same stage, and this year he brings his lifelong partner Jennifer Herrema along. Well, at least **Angel Olsen **(19:50, NOS), who needs no introduction (seriously, she doesn’t – this is usually what people say when they’re too lazy to write anything substantial about an artist, but she really doesn’t) has no opposition, so I guess we’ll all be there, right?
Same with the first 30min of Sleaford Mods (20:30, Palco.), we’re guessing. Their music is definitely not for everyone, but then again most music isn’t. Just one day after the British election, expect the Nottingham working class heroes to be extra angry while spitting their verses. We were similarly angry when we realized two of our favorite acts in the whole festival, Nikki Lane (21:00, Pitchfork) and Teenage Fanclub (21:00, Super Bock) are clashing. Life isn’t fair. Country darling Nikki Lane has just released her third solo album, Highway Queen, and has a mountain to climb trying to win over a crowd that usually disregards country music as food for hillbillies’ ears. Teenage Fanclub, lords of British indie rock, have been touring relentlessly after releasing one of the finest albums of their almost 3 decades long career, Here. The toughest choice of the year.
And here’s to hoping we can hear Julien Baker (22:30, Pitchfork) during Swans’ set a few metres away (22:00, Palco.). The young songwriter from Memphis is set for indie stardom, releasing her sophomore record later this year on Matador, and faces fierce opposition, not only from Swans (on their last tour, at least with this lineup) but from bearded-folky-guy-turned-glitchy-weirdo Bon Iver. Later on, Hamilton Leithauser (00:00, Pitchfork) returns to Primavera without his Walkmen and the party goes on with King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard (01:00, Palco.) and Nicolas Jaar (01:00, NOS) splitting the audience in half: rockers to the left, dancers to the right.
SATURDAY, JUNE 10
The Growlers’ (19:50, NOS) make some of the catchiest songs of modern rock and roll, and their latest record, produced by the Strokes’ Julian Casablancas, is filled to the brink with such tracks. Expect fun. Then, it’s time for the yearly pilgrimage to wherever Shellac are playing (20:30, Palco.). This year, they play unusually early, but maybe that’s a good thing – they’re back to the stage where they originally played every year. Steve Albini, Bob Weston and Todd Trainer will – of course – once again provide us with the best show of the festival. I’m pretty sure we wrote the same exact thing last year.
Mitski (21:00, Pitchfork) is not exactly a good kept secret anymore, with her Dead Oceans-released latest album, Puberty 2, making her reach new heights. She will be followed by another songwriter at the top of her career, **Weyes Blood **(22:30, Pitchfork). _Front Row Seat to Earth _was one of our favorite records of 2016. Like Julien Baker the night before, she’s playing simultaneously with two of the most popular artists in the festival, but will have no trouble catching the attention of whoever passes casually through that stage.
Towards the end of the festival we switch to full-on party mode, with Canadian garage rock duo Japandroids (23:20, Super Bock) warming up to Aphex Twin (00:30, NOS)’s clusterfuck of a set (preview here) and The Black Angels (01:00, Palco.)’s psychedelic rock. And while we’re still longing for another of those DJ Coco sets at closing time that (again) won’t happen this year, there’s still a lot of dance to be had until the sun comes up for the last time.