My first thought was that it would be strange to see this band perform without the members of the group hanging from various parts of the ceiling, as they typically do-- a seemingly impossible feat on a festival stage. The Trash Talk shows I've attended in New York have proven that they do extremely well in tiny spaces, where the band can take their violent hardcore and compress its energy to the most potent point of explosion, banging their testosterone-laden crowds around and climbing on whatever's in reach.
Sometimes when bands are taken outside their element and thrust onto massive festival stages it can be strange, even awkward. But Trash Talk made the best use of stage-space I've seen yet at Primavera, stomping and lunging and kicking and flailing as if they'd been caged inside for years and just now let out.
One of frontman Lee Spielman's defining characteristics as a performer is his emphasis on engaging (re: punching, terrifying) the crowd in a communal sense, and he of all front-people would not let something like a barricade inhibit that. He spent much time standing on the metal divider, with his fans in his face, screaming cuts from the band's excellent 2011 EP Awake. At a particularly doomy musical moment, he did not crowd-surf but crowd-walk, upright, in a slow, drawn-out fashion that looked physically excruciating for those beneath him.
But while Spielman took the ground floor, one of his bandmates moved upward: he climbed to the top of the overhead stage scaffolding, the sight of his body blurred by a thin layer of fog. And so my last thought during Trash Talk's set: I can't believe they actually did it.
Wavves [MINI Stage; 11:15]
Wavves' set yesterday at Primavera's massive MINI Stage, just before M83, was almost the direct opposite of their infamous and ill-fated 2009 non-performance. After slowly taking the stage with a disorientingly strange kind of booming entrance music, Nathan Williams and his band cut through several top-shape King of the Beach tracks, as well as "In the Sand" from Life Sux, and "No Hope Kids". While many of the bands from 2009's noise-pop explosion have revamped their identities by cleaning up significantly or shifting gears entirely, there's something to be said for how Wavves have continued on, sharpening their live show while still remaining true to unpolished form. At one point, Williams entertained the idea of covering the Offspring but thankfully opted out; later the group covered Sonic Youth's "100%".
Williams' only strange pieces of stage banter came a good while in. Fans near the pit-- far more violent and dude-dominated than any I've seen at a Wavves show Stateside-- had been unabashedly screaming song lyrics as well as repeatedly shouting "I LOVE YOU WAVVES" and other things, when the band noted that they did not understand Spanish. "I think they think we're the Backstreet Boys," Williams' bandmate said, to which he replied, "I'm Lance Bass and we're in space, bitch." (Lance Bass was actually in *NSYNC, not the Backstreet Boys.) Later, he noted: "Smoking weed's bad for you man. It's really not cool." My guess is that the latter was riddled with sarcasm, but it was hard to be sure. Regardless, the fact that he said it seemed in keeping with the band's improved on-stage demeanor. I guess this is growing up.
Milk Music [Pitchfork Stage; 6 p.m.]
Before arriving at this year's Primavera festival, my concept of European fests was colored largely by bootleg footage from the 1990s that I've watched online. If any new band I've seen here could have been playing back then, it's the SST-sounding Olympia, Washington four-piece Milk Music, whose stoned guitar noise had me thinking of Dinosaur Jr. throughout. (The majority of the group also look like Kurt Vile's long-lost brothers.)
The long-haired frontman Alex Coxen-- who last year told Pitchfork, "We're like the ultimate outsiders. Too straight for hippies, too far-out for punk"-- often engaged in eyes-closed, head-back extended guitar solos that somehow never felt redundant. Despite the relaxed pose, at one point he noted that he'd cut his finger, presumably from shredding too hard, but he just shrugged it off and kept playing. Later he blew sarcastic little kisses at the crowd, which grew quite sizable, a number of front-row fans visibly and manically head-banging in bliss.
Towards the end of the set, bassist Dave Harris approached the mic: "We've been playing all over Europe and everyone says people in Barcelona don't know how to get a band high after a show. What's up with that. Let's get high." A couple of straggling festival-goers came to eagerly meet their request immediately following the set. Another enthusiast asked guitarist Charles Warring for his pick. The fandom felt real.
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