Nine Inch Nails at Primavera Sound LA - photo by Sandra B. Olinger
Nine Inch Nails at Primavera Sound LA – photo by Sandra B. Olinger

After nearly two decades, Barcelona’s Primavera Sound brought its edition of the festival to Los Angeles marked at Primavera Sound LA with more than 50 artists from around the world and, boy was it exciting.

Words & Photos by Ana Baca

Only several sunsets left of summer and I’m trying to take it all in as much as I can – it’s golden hour on a Friday evening, walking from Union Station to Los Angeles State Historic Park with my water bottle in hand, headphones on, and trying my best to keep my heart rate at a steady pace so I won’t break out a sweat. Too late, I’m already sweaty, but when I walk past security and into the gates of the park, the sweat becomes the last of my worries. I stop to observe my surroundings; In the distance to my left, I hear Acemoma going off at Smirnoff Stage, Clairo finishing off her set to my right, and all around me I see nothing but smiling faces.

Before committing to a spot, I walk around the park to get familiar with the walkways and distance between stages. The sun is setting behind the Downton Los Angeles skyline which only means there’s about an hour or so to grab something to eat before going to a stage.

The festival had various selections of food from burgers, tacos, grilled cheese sandwiches, pizza (if it’s not Spicy Pie, I don’t want it) and the best, and most basic of them all – chicken tenders and fries – which is what I settled for. These chicken tenders and fries have been the best I’ve had at a festival. Why? Well, because they were fresh out of the fryer, the fries were crispy, and well, because I was hungry.

After devouring the chicken tenders and fries, I made my way over to the Primavera Stage where Giveon made us all sway and wish we were with our significant other with his soulful voice and performance.

Across from the Primavera Stage was the Tecate Alta Stage where Mitski gave us all her energy, while Current Joys was shaking down the Barcelona Stage with a wild performance. Breaking a sweat again walking back and forth between stages, a blonde Lorde was set to perform at the Primavera stage. She performed a 15-song set that included a cover of Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer,” and fan favorites like “Ribs,” “Supercut” and “Green Light.” You could tell in her face that she was excited to be there and perform for us as we are all excited to see her perform.

As Lorde was finishing off her set, and Day 1 was ending, Darkside was providing the soundtrack with their electronic sound as the fans were exiting the park.

Without a doubt, Day 2 of Primavera Sound LA was dominated by the intense performance that headliners Nine Inch Nails laid on us. A sea of fans rolled up and down, hands in the air to hits like “Closer,” “Head Like A Whole,” “The Hand That Feeds,” and many more. While our fists flailed in the air to these ferocious NIN classics, our heart rates began to simmer as Trent Reznor serenaded us with “Hurt” before Nine Inch Nails bid us farewell. It’s was glorious.

artist to watch in 2023
Nine Inch Nails at Primavera Sound LA - photo by Sandra B. Olinger
Nine Inch Nails at Primavera Sound LA – photo by Sandra B. Olinger

While Saturday at Primavera was gleamed by Nine Inch Nails, lest not forget the smooth funky greatness that was Khruangbin. All eyes were on bass player Laura Lee as she strut the stage in a fitted leopard mini dress with thigh high boots to match. Cool, calm and collected – Lee and her bandmate Mark Speer owned the stage dancing with their guitars with the illest poses. Fans danced along to the slick beats of drummer Donald “DJ” Johnson while our eyes gazed in complete admiration of this oh-so-cool band.

The Fontaines were also a special treat on day 2 at Primavera Sound LA. With a golden hour set, the LA-based, Irish post-punk band gave us all those old school CBGB feels.

Day 3 of the festival seemed to be different. There seemed to be a lot more people for Sunday than on Friday and Saturday, albeit Nine Inch Nails had a massive crowd. It was easier to maneuver as there was a gameplan already in hand. First on the list was Boy Harsher at the Barcelona Stage who brought the house down with a dance party and special guests; Cooper B. Handy, and Mariana Saldana of BOAN.

Walking back towards the Tecate Alta stage was the view of the Downtown Los Angeles skyline and sunset, which only meant it was perfect time for Cigarettes After Sex to take us away on a dream. After the lovely dream came to an end, the rumble that was Arctic Monkeys began. The Primavera Stage was crowded as far as the Primavera Sound Sign. Arctic Monkeys opened their set with the sexy, 12-string guitar strumming of Alex Turner to “Do I Wanna Know?” and quickly jumped to a fan favorite “Brianstorm”.

Closing the Tecate Alta stage and last day of the festival was James Blake with his sundry beats and gentle vocals. Ending his set with a Frank Ocean cover, “Godspeed”.

The inaugural of Primavera Sound Los Angeles was a success. Despite hearing about the will call fiasco that happened Day 1 (crazy long line) — the artists, the venue, and all-around good vibes made it all worth it. Hoping for its return next year.