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It’s another buzzing year at Primavera Sound’s Parc del Fòrum; a must-see festival with an incredible line-up to match. If you’ve not crossed paths with the annual festival, you are truly missing out. While last year the event entered its experimental era – a one-off trek to Madrid offered a brilliant showcase of talent in the Spanish capital – it’s now back, home safe and settled in its usual stomping ground of beaches, scorching heating and outstanding acts.

This year, there were a number of amazing acts to catch: Arca, Amaarae, Chloe Cailet, Mannequin Pussy, Clementaum, yeule, Troye Sivan, Ethel Cain, SZA and more. Primavera guaranteed a three-day mega run of headliners and must-see upcoming stars. In other words, there was something for every kind of fan, from an early AM set by Brat icon Charli XCX to midnight dance parties with British DJ Romy. However, it wasn’t just the incredibly strong line-up that made Primavera the place to be, it was the inclusivity. Queer cult acts (Ethel Cain, 070 Shake, Mistki) successfully showcased the variety of music coming from our community and, as always, proving their commitment to die-hard LGBTQIA+ stans. 

And, it doesn’t end there either. Spotted across the site, the festival’s promotion of making Primavera a safe, representative space continued. Before sets, across the three days, ads addressing homophobia ran on the big screens. Elsewhere, you could find signs promoting a running ‘nobody is normal’ campaign, letting the festival’s message of queer acceptance be felt across the event — and not letting the responsibility of inclusion and diversity fall solely on a line-up. 

Primavera is more than a place to feel at home, it’s a festival alight with spots creating immersive subcultural spaces. From their Red Sound Studio by Etnia Barcelona hosting a live recording studio to the industrial stage-meet-rave Boiler Room x CUPRA set up, sonic escapism was available everywhere.

So, what about the best bits? Well, Parc del Fòrum has plenty of those. First day (30 May) festival goers experienced the versatile artistry of Ghanaian-American singer-songwriter Amaare who rolled off a seamless set, proving why she’s one of the best in the industry right now. Later in the night, Brazilian DJ Clementaum got the party going with heavy beats and zapping strobe lights that felt like back-to-back caffeine shots. Elsewhere, as midnight rolled in Singaporean act yeule – known for their shifting, fuzzing glitch pop sound – took over luring on-lookers to the Plentitude stage with killer guitar hooks, Avril Lavigne-esque vocals and outstanding vocals. Other highlights included early AM sets from Peggy Gou and A.G Cook for those who wanted to keep dancing until the early hours.

While some clashing sets made it difficult to see indie faves (a moment of silence for the Ethel Cain and The Last Dinner Party fans), Primavera’s second day was a full-throttle queer celebration. A hauntingly brilliant set from American artist Ethel Cain got the afternoon going for many of us late risers, Scowl rocked out on the Steve Albini stage while, later Omar Apollo proved his star quality on the Estrella Damm mainstage. But, of course, the flocks of LGBTQIA+ fans didn’t stop their music pilgrimage there. The gays and theys packed out the mainstage waiting for Troye Sivan, whose hot set wasn’t just down to the weather. Provocative and joyous pop — the Aussie set left us feeling the ‘RUSH’ in more ways than we could count.  While many hung around to catch Lana Del Rey’s set (which did start later than scheduled), Hannah Diamond lit up the smaller Steve Albini stage, showing Primavera has space for the melancholy acts and the melodic hyperpop hits. Early morning Arca stole the show (or so we heard – we made up for missing it the next day.) 

As the final day came through (1 June), Primavera gave us the ultimate headliner to kick off Pride Month: Charli XCX. The day was dotted with must-hear artists like 070 Shake, PJ Harvey, Eartheater, Mitski, Bikini Kill and Dorian Electra. Our highlights – which could not be dampened even by the non-stop Spanish thunderstorm – were SZA, Romy, Arca and, of course, Charli XCX. While some clashes made it difficult to see full sets, each artist brought their own imprint to the stage, even if the rain threatened to do its worst (including menacing lightning strikes). Arca pushed through her incredible DJ set at the Boiler Room x Cupra stage, SZA wielded knives in her choreography and Charli kept us swinging from side to side until 4am. 

All in all, Primavera is a festival to fully surrender to. It’s for late nights and even later mornings with friends to soak in music and whatever Barcelona weather comes your way. From an outstanding line-up, a surprise pop-up beach-side Charli XCX DJ set nd a constant feeling of being welcomed as part of the queer community, Parc del Fòrum really gave us an unforgettable Brat summer.

GAY TIMES rating: ★★★★★