In a debut several years in the making, Primavera Sound LA brought the Los Angeles summer to a cool ending with a weekend of music, featuring performances by Nine Inch Nails, Lorde, Arctic Monkeys and more. Split over three days, the festival had a relaxed, easy feel with a relatively small footprint and few issues with lines and plenty of amenities.

Friday was by far the quietest day of the festival, with fans slowly sprinkling in as the afternoon progressed. A big crowd gathered at around 5:00 pm for Clairo on the Primavera stage, and then spread throughout the grounds. The four stages – Primavera, Tecata Alta, Barcelona and Smirnoff Ice – were manageable and well spread out. The walk from the bouncey, dance-heavy Smirnoff Ice area to the main stage was just 10 minutes. Some confusion existed about which areas were 21+ and which were all ages, but fans seemed to navigate their way to their respective areas.

Giveon, Mitski and Current Joys brought good vibes to the park in the early evening, before Lorde took to the main stage just after 9:00 pm. Scheduled to play until 10:30, her set was just 15 songs with no encore. Naturally, “Ribs,” “Homemade Dynamite” and “Supercut” were big draws, but fans also reacted well to newer releases. “Green Light” and “Solar Power” were a great closing, but there was a strong riff of wanting more throughout the festival as the lights went off.

On Saturday, cooler weather drew in crowds early, with heavier musical stylings throughout the day. Kim Gordon, Tierra Whack (one of few hip hop artists on the bill) and Warpaint were among the highlights. Props to the festival for replacing Low, who withdrew due to health reasons, with an equally desirable act in Warpaint.

Nine Inch Nails were in many ways biggest headliner get, but also stood out amongst the indie flavors of the other two. Arranging the line up in a way that Saturday had a heavier feel made sense, and was well received. The headlining set on Saturday saw hits like “Head Like A Hole” and “Closer” mixed with some deeper cuts. It was a performance for the true fans.

On Sunday, our day started late with Girl In Red, before heading to Cigarettes After Sex and then back to the main stage for Arctic Monkeys. Arctic Monkeys contrasted Lorde’s shorter set by playing nearly twenty songs. None of the headliners had encores — likely because they were not truly closing the festival. Darkside, Bicep and James Blake had those honors on the three days respectively. I do like to see a headliner closing things out, bringing the full fest together for a singalong into the night.

Primavera had a few natural hiccups — the 21+ nature was a bit odd, and the Smirnoff Ice electronic stage seemed like a bit of an afterthought. There was not much going on besides the music and a few brand activations. The food offerings were good, if not a bit repetitive, and sometimes a bit hard to get to due to the aforementioned sectioning. Booking wise, all three days were full of music but few big names in the first halves of the days made things on the festival grounds a bit empty til around sunset or so.



Brian Benton

Brian Benton is a writer and photographer based in Los Angeles.