Pop Culture

15 Must-See Acts at Primavera Sound 2024

Barcelona’s Primavera Sound Festival is just around the corner, bringing some of the most exciting names in rock and pop to the Parc del Fòrum from May 30 to June 1. This year’s headliners include Lana Del Rey, Pulp, the National, FKA Twigs, SZA, Disclosure, Justice, Mitski, Phoenix, PJ Harvey, and Vampire Weekend, and with over 150 artists on the bill, it’s not easy picking even just a tenth of them for our list of the must-see acts at the festival. Obviously, you should see those headliners if you have the chance, especially with Lana Del Rey, Mitski, and Vampire Weekend having put out some of their best material in the past year, but we’re narrowing the list down to non-headline acts. Even then, there’s some notable names we’ve had to leave out, including Clipse’s only European show and a rare live performance from Jai Paul. But to help you navigate this year’s program, here are 15 acts we’re excited to see at Primavera Sound Barcelona 2024.


Beth Gibbons

Portishead’s Beth Gibbons is supporting the release of her debut solo album, Lives Outgrown, with a rare tour, and Primavera Sound is one of its first stops. Portishead haven’t put out any music since 2008’s Third (which they showcased at the Barcelona festival that year), and Gibbons hasn’t toured solo in over 20 years, but the two singles that have been released from the record so far – ‘Floating on a Moment’ and ‘Reaching Out’ are mesmerizing. The whole thing comes out May 17, and whether or not you choose to spend time with it beforehand, seeing the legendary vocalist live is sure to send chills down your spine.

Bikini Kill

In 2019, Bikini Kill reunited after a 22-year breakup, and they’ve been playing shows regularly ever since. Kathleen Hanna, bassist Kathi Wilcox, and drummer Tobi Vail were set to play the festival in 2021, but the performance was cancelled last minute, which I hope doesn’t happen this time – it’s the first stop of the European leg of their 2024 tour, so excitement will be high. The influence of the riot grrrl movement they helped lead can be felt on many of the acts on the Primavera lineup – another band on this list, Mannequin Pussy, opened for Bikini Kill last year – and according to reviews, the band hasn’t lost any of its live ferocity. They’re bound to put on a powerful performance, and whether you grew up on them or not, hearing their anthems live should be an absolute thrill.

Chelsea Wolfe

Over time, Chelsea Wolfe’s sound has leaned into neofolk, electronica, and doom metal, but her core aesthetic – one of dark beauty and aching vulnerability – has remained intact. Her latest album, She Reaches Out to She Reaches Out to She, is marked by her signature melancholy, but blends these different elements into one of her most confident releases yet. The songs are visceral and hypnotic, but Wolfe’s voice never drowns in the atmosphere she creates, her vocals mixed higher than usual, and I’m curious how Wolfe will cast herself at the center of them in a live environment. Regardless of what sort of theatrics she’ll use to amplify them, her songs swell with emotion, and hearing them should be a cathartic experience.

Ethel Cain

Aside from a few stray tracks, Ethel Cain hasn’t put out any music since her debut LP Preacher’s Daughter, which we named our album of the year in 2022, but she’s an unmissable act at any festival she’s played since, including this year’s Coachella. Unsettling, hypnotic, and defiant, her songs abound in doomful, spiritual imagery that’s informed by her strict religious upbringing, touching on themes of love, murder, abuse, and intergenerational trauma. A live show might be the purest and most compelling way of grasping the persona Hayden Anhedönia has built around the project, and if her stage presence is nearly as gripping as her storytelling and performances on record, you have no excuse not to be there.

Jessica Pratt

Jessica Pratt just released Here in the Pitch, her first album in five years and one of the best records of the year so far. It contains some of the singer-songwriter’s most entrancing and evocative songs to date, with melodies that have been swirling in my head since the moment I heard them and lyrics that speak directly to the soul. In some ways, it’s hard to imagine any of its songs, or even Pratt’s earlier material, being performed in front of me – so hypnotic and dreamlike in their logic, so ghostly and timeless in their intimacy. But in a festival setting – Pratt will play her first show of the year at Primavera before touring Europe and the UK – it should also be a quiet marvel, providing an opportunity for pause and gentle introspection. Even if you’ve traveled a long way just to get there, Pratt’s music will transport you somewhere else entirely.

Joanna Sternberg

Joanna Sternberg’s music is spare, idiosyncratic, and tenderly affecting, earnings fans in everyone from Jeff Tweedy to Phoebe Bridgers, who has called the singer-songwriter “emo Randy Newman.” Another frequent comparison point, brought up Primavera itself, is Daniel Johnston, who played the festival back in 2013. Last year, Sternberg followed up her debut LP Then I Try Some More with I’ve Got Me, an album that’s a joy to revisit: heartbreaking, brutally honest, and playful, like a friend helping you soldier through the toughest emotions. “No matter how many times I sing these songs, there might be another time I sing it where I have a new catharsis,” Sternberg said in our Artist Spotlight interview. You wouldn’t want to miss it.

Julie Byrne

The Greater Wings, Julie Byrne’s most recent album, is mesmerizing, gorgeous, and elegiac, focusing on themes of grief and transformation – around half of the record was written with her friend and collaborator Eric Littmann before his untimely death at the age of 31. Dazzling in their aliveness, the songs were also informed by Byrne’s life on the road, so singing them to a crowd of people must be particularly special. Her performance might be stripped-back and delicate, but expect it to also be breathtaking.

Mandy, Indiana

Blending club rhythms and industrial noise, Mandy, Indiana – the Manchester quartet of vocalist and lyricist Valentine Caulfield, guitarist and producer Scott Fair, synth player Simon Catling, and drummer Alex Macdougall – make punishingly loud, enthralling music, as showcased on their 2023 debut i’ve seen a way. Caulfield’s vocals range from whispering to singing to screaming (all in French), while the band pulls you into their chaotic world with grooves it then distorts with eerie, ferocious sounds so you’re never sure what they signify. It leaves you with the urge to see them live just for a glimpse of how it all comes alive, even if you still won’t be able to crack the code. To quote Fair: “Just so you know, you might want to wear ear defenders for this.”

Mannequin Pussy

Mannequin Pussy’s latest album, I Got Heaven, is as intense and hooky as anything from the Philadelphia band’s back catalog, but it’s also their most collaborative and adventurous album to date. It’s a potent expression of the band’s multi-dimensional sound, which channels rage and hope by careening through indie rock, hardcore, power pop, and tender punk. Showcasing it alongside highlights from records like the Perfect EP and 2019’s Patience, Marisa Dabice, Kaleen Reading, Collins Regisford, and Maxine Steen are set to put on a dynamic show that’s equal parts chaos and catharsis.

Militarie Gun

In 2023, Turnstile were the hardcore band to see at Primavera. This year, it’s Militarie Gun, the Los Angeles band whose take on the genre is incredibly melodic and catchy. You might have heard their song ‘Do It Faster’ on a Taco Bell commercial, but you should really listen to the whole album it’s taken from, Life Under the Gun, which refines and tightens the sound Ian Shelton built on their early EPs. It’s full of relentless energy, and there’s no doubt their live set will be, too.

Slow Pulp

Slow Pulp put out one of the best (classically) indie rock albums of 2023 with Yard, which is packed with great songs that are warm, gauzy, and emotive. It might not be the flashiest set you’ll catch at the festival, but when you’ve got those great songs, you don’t need to do much more than simply showcase them. More than just pleasurable, there’s also something distinctly summery about the nostalgia and longing baked into the band’s music, making it the perfect fit for a festival like Primavera. Pulp might be right at the top if this year’s poster, but Slow Pulp should be on your itinerary, too.

The Last Dinner Party

The Last Dinner Party managed to live up to the hype with their debut album, Prelude to Ecstasy, and Primavera is an incredible chance to see them live – the band embarked on an entirely sold-out tour of the US last year before the reocrd even came out. Given the band’s theatricality, maximalism, and unique blend of influences, which range from ABBA to Kate Bush, it’s no surprise they’re known for delivering exciting and dynamic performances. Prelude to Ecstasy is stacked with memorable songs, but they’re almost guaranteed to end their set with their most popular song, ‘Nothing Matters’, turning it into a cathartic singalong that’s not to be missed.

Water From Your Eyes

There’s so many layers to unpack when you’re listening to Water From Your Eyes’ latest album, Everyone Crushed, which is admirable in its approach to both dissonance and pop melody. But as much as I (and so many critics) loved that album, something tells me that seeing Nate Amos and Rachel Brown live is the only, and certainly the best, way to appreciate their music’s jagged intensity. The more their sound evolves, the more its cacophony feels like a journey worth following, one you’ll want to bear witness to.

yeule

Yeule is the musical project of Nat Ćmiel, who was born in Singapore and is currently based in London. Named after a Final Fantasy charater, yeule falls into the category of what the Primavera page calls “avatar-artists,” comparing them to acts like Yves Tumor and Grimes that have previously performed at the festival. But yeule is a unique case – a self-identified “cyborg entity” whose music embraces the boundless freedom of the digital form: “Don’t you feel so pure when you don’t have a body anymore?” they asked on ‘bloobunny’. My guess is that Ćmiel has a lot of fun embodying both the physicality and fluidity of the songs in a live environment, especially when delivering the more alt-rock-influenced, shoegazy cuts off their latest album softscars (much like Tumor did at Parc del Fòrum last year).

Yo La Tengo

There’s no shortage of indie rock veterans on the Primavera lineup this year, but Yo La Tengo, not quite at the top of that bill, certainly deserve a shout-out. They’d be an act worth seeing at any point in their career, and simply running through highlights from their beloved catalog would make for a rewarding performance. But the band’s latest LP, This Stupid World, is one of their sharpest and most dynamic albums in a long time, and I would not be disappointed if it ends up dominating their set. The title track is what I’m aching to hear the most; Yo La Tengo songs may not be the kind you sing along to the way, say, Vampire Weekend’s hits are, but hearing, maybe even humming along to, that refrain – “This stupid world/ It’s killing me/ This stupid world/ Is all we have” – should be a totally cathartic moment.

Articles You May Like

Matthew Perry’s Death Being Investigated by United States Postal Service
A New Anita Pallenberg Documentary Sheds Light on the Style Icon’s Private Life
Broadway 2023-2024 Season Box Office Hits $1.5B, Holding Steady With Post-Pandemic Era But Lagging Behind Pre-Covid Heights
Ratatouille’s Patton Oswalt Explains How Inside Out 2 Is Influencing Him Not To ‘Rush Out’ A Sequel To His Own Pixar Movie
Crumb on How Astrud Gilberto, Afghan War Rugs, Pitch Shifting, and More Inspired Their New Album ‘AMAMA’