Thousands descended upon the sun-baked banks of Barcelona this past weekend for the 17th edition of the Primavera Sound Festival, an outing that has now grown to be one of the music world's essential summer stops. And though initial lead-up to this year's iteration was overshadowed by headliner Frank Ocean's last minute cancellation, stupendous sets from the likes of Arcade Fire, Solange, The xx and Aphex Twin said all there needed to be said about the festival's fantastical remaining line-up. That said, one of Primavera's most inspired and whimsically engaging offerings was one that a mere fraction of its attendants even knew about.
On all five of the days in which Primavera held sway over Spain's seaside metropolis, a highly selective smattering of the festival's numerous secret gigs took place at 1pm sharp. Guests had to apply to these shows, with only a handful of these prospective applicants selected to attend. If you were among the lucky few chosen, you were provided with the location of the show only hours beforehand. The catch being that said locations were far from the festival grounds; in fact, they weren't held in traditional venues at all.
These performances were a brand new series created by adidas Originals entitled 'A Casa Teva,' which roughly translates to 'at your home' in Barcelona's mother tongue of Catalan. They were---quite literally---takeaway shows from acts in the festival's line-up that were held in residential homes, ones that people currently live in. Think of it as Airbnb, only instead of your flat becoming a guest's crash-pad it becomes a studio space for a live band, with a few dozen guests and an open bar added for good measure.
The result were concerts truly like no other, immediately assuaging the common fan complaint of a festival setting being too vast, erasing any of the intimacy provided by a smaller-scale show. But the highly informal nature of the 'A Casa Teva' series immediately dispelled that notion; you simply could not get more up close and personal than this. Indeed, some attendees would have found the series too intimate, offering the ability to see a rising artist play next to a refrigerator still full of an actual family's recent groceries. Though it seemed fairly obvious that those actually selected to take part in the series had no qualms whatsoever about the unorthodox setting. In fact, it was quite the contrary.
Keeping with the breadth of scope of Primavera's line-up, the five artists chosen to take part in the series were an extremely well-curated group that reflected the festival's diverse array of genre. Day one placed rising DJ Romare on the lush balcony of an equally lush apartment. He was followed by electronic artist Kelly Lee Owens, who played the majority of her exquisite self-titled debut (a favorite of ours at HS Music) in a decadently-decorated marble gallery overlooking the bustling street of La Rambla. Third came Canadian synth-rock upstarts Operators, who performed close to the aforementioned well-stocked refrigerator, while the following day featured indie-rock mainstays The Wedding Present playing to a fiercely loyal following on a rooftop with an ocean view. The fifth and final day belonged to Songhoy Blues, whose punk rock cum traditional Malian music proved an inspired pairing with the terrace setting of the stately borough of El Borne.
While it certainly took a few moments to adjust to the hilariously personal location in which we were suddenly thrust, it quickly became apparent just how invigorating the 'A Casa Teva' series was in a festival context. For those of us who felt cabin fever from being cooped up in a roped-in festival ground entirely separated from the ornate European city just beyond reach, it was a rare treat that provided both an authentic travel experience and an extremely unique festival opportunity. For many, journeying to a music festival is enough of an adventure in itself, but 'A Casa Teva' was a remarkably well-conceived alternative to those hungry for something a little more surreptitious.
For the hordes of concert-goers now settling back into their daily lives far from the inviting glow of the Mediterranean sun, it is a no-brainer that Primavera Sound is a dazzlingly bright gem amongst the treasure trove of summer festivals. But anyone who caught an 'A Casa Teva' show now has yet another reason to book a ticket back to Barcelona next year. The intimacy of a house show, the stellar selections of rising artists and the top secret planning all wrapped into one is just too good for a music-nut to resist.
Stream a playlist of the featured artists below via Spotify.