In 2015, when the Primavera Sound celebrated its 15 years of life, offered a program headed by the following names: Patti Smith, The Replacements, The Strokes, Damien Rice, Sleater-Kinney, The Black Keys, Antony & Johnsons, Interpol, Belle and Sebastian, Battles, Panda Bear , Ride, Alt-J and Foxygen. All of them powerful representatives of indie-rock -or indie-pop if you prefer-, that abstract and varied concept but that the Barcelonian macrofestival both helped to define and consolidate in the psychology and taste of the Spanish public.
He was not the only one. Also, in his own way, he was promoted by the Benicàssim Festival (FIB), the Bilbao BBK Live or the Mad Cool of Madrid, the most recent of all in his three years of life. However, times have changed. The great Spanish festivals, for audience attendance and business volume, they have broken with any concept of the past. Much more than any year, styles such as electronics, rhythm and blues contemporary, the trap, the hip hop and reggaeton have settled on their stages.
"We try to be a thermometer of current music," says Joan Pons, head of communication at Primavera Sound. The Barcelona event gave the bell to announce a programming full of urban sounds and headliners such as Solange, Charlie XCX, Cardi B or James Blake. But none made as much noise as the Colombian J Balvin, current king of reggaeton and a star of global success. "If the program is like that, it's because reality is like that. Tastes change, "argues Pons.
Rosalía is headlining the Primavera Sound, but also from Bilbao BBK Live, which includes among its main attractions Nicola Cruz, Vince Staples or Princess Nokia. The fusion of flamenco with electronic sounds of Rosalía has become the last great musical phenomenon in Spain. For Marc Ventosa, in charge of hiring BBK Live, it is a paradigmatic case to reflect the current panorama: "Rosalía has released one of the best albums that have been published in this country, but it has many haters They tend to be the same ones who stayed stuck in their vision of music in the past, maybe in the nineties. " And Ventosa adds: "Some want to have a vision as if they lived in the series The secret of Puente Old, but the musical situation is very different and has evolved a lot. "
This evolution has been proven in recent years, as the people responsible for the festivals emphasize when they say that they have already added electronics or rap to posters previously dominated by rock and pop. However, the trend has changed to a new landscape, which is little like that of years ago with festivals with very marked identities and more closed niches. "If you look at the posters of Primavera Sound, the key is that these artists rise from the small print to the big one. The momentous moment for us was the year that Kendrick Lamar was headlining. It was a step forward, "says Pons.
One reason to explain this current radiography has to do with another reality: the Spanish macrofestivals look at their foreign counterparts, who assumed these changes before. This is recognized by Javier Arnaiz, director of Mad Cool, an event that opens more than ever to electronics: "We have always been eclectic. We look at the European model of large formats. " Festivals such as Glastonbury in the United Kingdom, Sziget in Hungary or Coachella or Lollapalooza in the United States took on the taste of the young attendees, who are less prejudiced due to their way of consuming music, with more possibilities to listen to many more artists and styles than generations previous thanks to streaming.
Another important reason is that the Spanish macrofestivales have been nourished of foreign public. The percentage of attendees from outside of Spain was 55% in the last edition of Primavera Sound. In the Mad Cool the figure stood at 30%, while in the BBK Live was 31.8%. Some data that are expected to grow and, as Arnaiz states, "condition" the programming of festivals that no longer want stylistic boundaries.
Many still rub their eyes when they see J Balvin on the Primavera Sound poster, once the great contest that safeguards the indie But the Barcelona festival is not worried about the commotion. "We have never seen ourselves as a festival indie We do not agree with that assessment, "says its communication director. "Anyway, if we are safeguarding the indie, Do not worry nobody: there is. There are several festivals in our festival. This is like choosing your own adventure, but choosing your own festival. " The Mad Cool, on the other hand, assures that there are "red lines" that they do not want to cross like reggaeton. "We want to be coherent with the idea of business and image we want to create. And reggaeton does not fit into our idea, "says its director.