If you have read my review of Franz Ferdinand at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound 2012 (published in The Herald), or Paul Smith’s review of Franz Ferdinand and Rustie at Primavera Sound 2012 (published in The Scotsman) you would be forgiven for thinking that us Pin Ups chaps were a model of professionalism, surveying the festival with cool detachment, delivering perfect copy precisely on schedule.

While it’s true that we wanted to do the best job possible, there was also plenty of fun along the way.  Set out in this article is an assortment of supplementary Primavera Sound 2012 highlights that Arts Editors of national broadsheet newspapers are unlikely to want to read (and even less likely to want to publish). 

Joining myself and Paul Smith on our trip was another Pin Ups chap, the infamous James “Butcher” Cassidy, Paul’s fiancé Laura, Scott (of Glasgow club night $pitfire) and Dr Dave, a Physics boffin with a PhD in something to do with lasers.

Sugar Bar, Touch Music, Sideshow Bob, The Chair – and an American in a dockyard

Our first night in Barcelona got a bit wild.  I blame Sugar Bar, which whetted our appetite for action by plying us with free shots of Peach Schnapps and allowing us to take over the iPod (“put on Chaka Khan pal, it’s Scott’s birthday”). 

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For some reason that isn’t entirely clear we got it into our heads that a karaoke bar was just what we needed to raise the pressure.  Finding Touch Music Karaoke wasn’t easy, and complicating matters was the fact that the owner (whom we Christened “Sideshow Bob” because of his wild hairdo), hated our guts and didn’t want rowdy scenes in his bar.  He banned us from even touching the microphones, which led to some Liam Gallagher stances.  (Check out this review which, amusingly, notes the unfriendly service - so it wasn’t just us then!)

We were eventually chucked out when yours truly gave an emotional Spanish performer the thumbs down, and his girlfriend got so angry she knocked me over and trapped me with a chair.  I was so confused I didn’t offer any resistance, but Sideshow Bob had seen enough.  I then lost everybody on the way home and ended up in what seemed to be some sort of military dockyard, helping an American chap over a really high wall.  We could dwell on these very strange scenes and get The Fear, or we could just admire this snap below of Scott recreating The Chair a few days later.

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Oh, Clara.  Several folks back home were speculating on the composition of the wonderful Spanish drink which the chaps were mentioning in social media despatches.  Was it some sort of orange cider?  Was it chambord and champagne? 

Imagine their crushing disappointment when we told them it was essentially shandy.  (And when I say “essentially”, I mean “exactly”.)  Shandy it may have been, but we reckon Fanta Limon was the secret ingredient, and it was ideal for drinking during the day when you knew that you would have to last until 5am.  Butcher reckoned that when he got home he would have to be locked in a room with a tin of baked beans, as getting him off the Clara would be a Trainspotting, baby across the ceiling job”.

Paul Smith wants it on the record that at no point did he lower himself to drinking any Clara.  He’s from Motherwell and needs to protect his rep.  Scrutinise the snap of Dave, Laura and Paul below.  There’s definitely a Clara “in play”, but maybe in front of Dave..

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Terrifying Architecture

It’s easy to get caught up in all the bands. However if you get your head up and have a look around you at Primavera during sunset, then the Parc Del Forum site is otherworldly yet beautiful, in a terrifying Chemical Plant Zone sort of way.  There’s all these Barcelona buildings turning on their lights like a huge jewellery box, then there’s the coast, the sea and a pink sky.

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Arriving just in time to hear Grimes play Genesis

Enough said.  Belter of a tune and a great way to kick off the Festival.


Beirut was simply a joy from start to finish, thanking the crowd between songs, and keeping the performance moving at a pleasant pace.  Elephant Gun, Postcards from Italy, A Sunday Smile and the quite fabulousNantes were highlights.

“I’ve got about this much left in my voice, Barcelona”

Certain members of the party did not completely share my fanboy zeal for Franz Ferdinand, and it’s fair to say that Alex Kapranos gave them a bit of ammunition during Franz’s performance.

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Announced in an accent somewhere between Bearsden and Milwaukee, Alex told the crowd “I’ve got about this much left of my voice left, Barcelona”, as he pinched an imaginary vol-au-vent between his thumb and forefinger.  [insert your phrase here], Barcelona” uttered in a silly voice became a bit of a catchphrase.  On Twitter we sent Alex Kapranos this picture, asking “how’s the throat gaffer?”.  Alex has yet to reply.

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The Press Area

Paul Smith and I were searching for the Press Area when we spied a small bespectacled chap guarding a small gap in a felt fence.   With a quick “ola” we found ourselves in partitioned area with a few portakabins, a set of steps that led directly into the ocean, a clear view across the water to the Vice stage, and last (but certainly not least) a sparkling silver tap of draught San Miguel and a fridge of Red Bull. 

I hadn’t actually noticed the San Miguel tap until Paul Smith started giggling and saying “no, no way” and we played it cool by waiting at least 2 minutes before piling in.  We were in and out of the Press Area all evening topping up our lagers and taking Red Bulls, so you can imagine our confusion when a new doorman denied us entry on the Friday.  Yes, it seems that the actual Press Area was along to the right, and we had somehow been blagging into a VIP bit during all of Thursday!

The Terminator

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If Dave was in a movie, the trailer would describe him as “Relentless and Remorseless”.  He hasn’t missed a Friday night in Stereo since March 2008 and his easy familiarity with the strongest beers in Renfield Lane has made Dave virtually immune to alcohol. 

He has Total Recall of pretty much every aspect of a night out, which comes in very handy when (for example) nobody can quite remember why we have been flung out of Touch Music.  The Terminator was in his element at Primavera, patrolling the festival site and processing all sorts of interesting data until the 5.30am dawn.

Rufus Wainwright

Rufus played shortly before sunset on the Friday, and was fantastic.  The songs off new album Out of the Game sounded brilliant and the whole thing had a terrific feel good factor.  Here is a short video I took.  Look closely and you can see some smooching Spaniards enjoying the moment.

Shaking the hand of the man who wrote Stockholm Syndrome

Stockholm Syndrome is one of my favourite songs, and before the start of Mike Mills’ all-star performance of Big Star’s Sister Lovers I spied James McNew of Yo La Tengo in the audience.  Rather than attempt a conversation I simply smiled, shook his hand, said “Stockholm Syndrome!” then headed off.  This very odd bit of conduct alerted me to the fact that I was either in an exceptionally good mood, or exceptionally drunk.

Femme Fatale

Sister Lovers was played in its entirety, including the cover of the Velvet Underground’s Femme Fatale.  Felix Martin from Hot Chip took the lead vocals and absolutely nailed it.  Great to see Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub in amongst it too, notwithstanding a “gaun yersel Norman!” from the back of the auditorium.

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The Cure

The Sister Lovers performance clashed with The Cure so I was quite pleased to still see plenty of what turned out to be an epic 2 and a half hour set (with allegedly THREE encores).  I think I missed the first half hour and the last hour but still heard A Forest, Lullaby, Friday I’m in Love and Mint Car!

The Rapture

Despite my sneaking suspicion that the Rapture were on absolute autopilot, just playing another festival in their busy summer schedule of festivals, they were still just what the doctor ordered come 2am on the Friday.

Louis Theroux

Daytime discussion turned to Louis Theroux’s recent unsettling documentaries about, respectively, Alzheimer’s and Autism.  We started to wonder if Louis would consider making a documentary about Assholes – us, a bunch of thirtysomethings talking a load of rubbish and drinking too much.  I imagined Louis fixing me with his deadpan expression, holding his chin, and asking me if helping the American out of the military dockyard had actually been fun, or in reality, a bit worrying.

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“My time with the old guys was almost at an end.  I left them in their twilight world of alcohol abuse, discussing bands they would never form, and the celebrity women whom they would never meet…”

Beastie Boys Tribute act, available for weddings, birthdays…

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Saturday was Hawaiian shirt night – turns out my one was actually quite boring.

Wild Beasts

This was surely the biggest crowd which the Guest DJs at our fifth and final Ladies Night have ever played in front of, and the boys rose to the occasion, opening with an incredible salvo of Bed of Nails and We Still Got The Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues.  Here’s what the guys themselves made of it on Twitter, and here’s apicture of them during the magnificent Reach A Bit Further.

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Erol Alkan and Justice

Both were real crowdpleasers, and while Erol Alkan finished strongly with his Extended Rework of Metronomy’s The Bay, Justice really raised the stakes by closing with a  thunderous version of Phantom Part 2, in addition to a crazy light show.

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The Chromatics

Maybe I was getting jaded but during the Chromatics on the Saturday all I could hear was a clumsy jumble of 80s references.  The closing song so blatantly approximated the riff from Running Up The Hill that I just started singing Running Up The Hill over the top of it in an out of time and out of tune fashion.  Composed Spaniards round about me were not entirely amused.  (I later discovered the Chromatics were actually covering the song.  Whoops.)

Pox Foot

I woke up on the Sunday morning with a grossly swollen left foot and a crazy red inflammation.  I maintained it was sunburn even though Dr Dave insisted it looked more like somebody had taken a baseball bat to my shin.  Turned out Dave was correct (sort of – there wasn’t a baseball bat attack!) because when I go home it turned out I had an infection caused from scratching midge bites (which I had got at Loch Lomond the weekend before!)

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 Richard Hawley vs The Terminator

With serotonin supplies exhausted by my Pox Foot and 4 straight days of aggressive boozing, morale was ebbing on the Sunday.  I was content to watch a subdued show by Richard Hawley at the Arc de Triomf. 

It turned out Hawley was confined to a chair because he had broken his leg, and this seemed to accentuate his usual air of melancholy.  Surprisngly, he played Tonight The Streets Are Ours, but sadly no For Your Lover Give Some Time. 

Meanwhile, in the audience there were so many guys trying to sell us cans of cerveza that I began to seriously wonder if we were the only people actually there for the concert.  I honestly expected one of the cerveza guys to wander on stage and try to punt a can to Hawley himself.

Dave was still on the lager and was suffering Justice-withdrawals.  He was having none of Hawley’s mellow vibes, greeting each successive song with grunts of  “for f—‘s sake, does he not have any quick ones”, and “for f—‘s sake, he has definitely done this one already” .  To be frank I was relieved when Hawley left the stage, as I reckoned Dave had designs on breaking his remaining good leg.

Primavera Sound 2013?

So there you have it.  Plenty of nonsense (and believe me, plenty more nonsense has been left out to protect the guilty).  Same time next year?

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