Primavera Sound: The National, Sharon Van Etten, Growlers and Rainbows

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crowd at war on drugs RR
The Crowd at War On Drugs at Primavera Sound
Photo by Rachel Reynolds

One of the reasons I’ve always loved music is the way it can bring people together.

Never is that more evident than when a bunch of music fans unite behind a common cause, whether it be a particular band or, in the case of Primavera Sound, hoping for the end of a thunderstorm.

The Drive-By Truckers had barely started when the rain began pouring from the sky. This was not a drizzle, it was a thunderstorm. The covered outdoor dining area became the respite for the early arrivals (this is what we get for getting there early!).

Drive By Truckers
Drive By Truckers
Photo by Jenn Semler

No one was upset, everyone was cheery and hopeful. And then about 30 minutes later, during the last song of the set, the rain stopped and the sun came out. There was a giant cheer from everyone, many of us soaking wet, as we had all survived this momentary disruption in our musical oasis and were rewarded with a double rainbow that ended in the ocean. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

Dr. John
Dr. John
Photo by Jens Semler

I caught a bit of Dr. John and the Night Trippers, before I ran over to see SoCal’s own Haim. They really command a stage — Este in her red dress and wild expressions, Danielle the guitar goddess and Alana who was a great hype woman along with everything else. “The Wire“, the first single off of their awesome debut album, was the perfect showcase for all of their talents.

Sharon Van Etten Photo by Jen Semler
Sharon Van Etten
Photo by Jens Semler

Next up, Sharon Van Etten hit the ATP stage and we got to hear a bunch of her new songs live, as well as a track the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter wrote in Spain while on vacation called “Tarifa“. She was charming and sounded excellent.

The War on Drugs Photo by Jen Semler
The War on Drugs
Photo by Jenn Semler
The War on Drugs Photo by Jen Semler
The War on Drugs
Photo by Jenn Semler

The War on Drugs had a bit of a late start due to technical issues (Adam killed some time photographing the HUGE the crowd waiting for them). There were some rapturous moments throughout the set, mostly with tracks from their latest album.

The Growlers Photo by Taylor Bonin
The Growlers
Photo by Taylor Bonin

I hopped over to see another SoCal band, The Growlers out of Costa Mesa. They call their music “beach goth”, essentially surfer music with minor chords that you can dance to. They have a devoted following, including in Barcelona! A lot of people around me were singing along to every word.

They just announced that their new album will be out on Everloving Records this Fall.

The National
Photo By Jenn Semler

Darkside played their cool, sexy, atmospheric electronic music while The National headlined one of the main stages just down the road. Singer Matt Berninger spent almost all of the end of their set in the crowd, at times without a working microphone. He introduced The Walkmen‘s Hamilton Leithauser to join him on vocals for “Mr. November” by saying that they were one of the first bands they toured with and taught them “how to try harder and be better.”

Then he went into the crowd and never made it back to the stage to sing before the set was over (though he did take the last swig of a wine bottle and then throw it straight up in the air).

For someone dressed so fancy, he sure causes a lot of chaos.

After mastering public transportation the first evening, we were able to leave the late night partiers (this festival goes until 6am!) behind and hustle home before sunrise.

RR