“After two years of not being able to celebrate the festival, we wanted our return to be spectacular,” he tells Worship Joan Pons, spokesperson for Primavera Sound, on an objective that, at least in the first part and until the pandemic says otherwise, seems to be fully achieved.
After delaying its realization on two occasions, the one in 2020 and the one that would be held this year, the gigantic festival of Barcelona, probably the most important of the events of this type that emerged in this century worldwide, bet all its chips to return in full form and with an XL edition in June 2022, with a poster revealed this week which includes -so far- about 400 artists capable of awakening the appetite for party and massiveness even the most incredulous or fearful.
The Strokes, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Dua Lipa, Tame Impala, Tyler, The Creator, Gorillaz, Beck, Megan Thee Stallion, Lorde’s return to the stage -Apparently with a new album- and the Pavement meeting are some of the high points of the mammoth grid, in addition to Massive Attack, Jorja Smith, Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, C. Tangana and the Chilean Paloma Mami, among other names that were confirmed for last year and that they assured their presence for 2022, along with another 200 that join the appointment. An announcement of such magnitude that it had repercussions in several corners – in Chile it became a trending topic – and generated an immediate effect on the ailing global live music industry.
But in addition to the ambitious poster, it is the model implemented by Primavera Sound 2022 that feeds the illusion and seems to show the light at the end of the tunnel for the world of entertainment in the Covid era, with a festival design that expands to two weekends in the Parc del Fórum -its usual epicenter- during the first two weekends of June; an innovative circuit of shows that involves more than 10 venues and closed venues in the city, which will host concerts during the week and will be reactivated receiving income from the sale of food, food and a percentage of tickets; an important leap in environmental commitment and a once again parity grill – as in 2019 – with the same number of male and female artists, among other aspects that are in tune with the needs of the present.
“There is a romantic part, which is to give back the illusion of seeing live music, something that we think is worthwhile. Look ahead and see that the future that is to come is exciting, that cultural events will be held like never before. Because the public will have the enthusiasm reinforced, we will all try to celebrate a live cultural event again in the best possible way, ”says Pons, Primavera Sound Communications Director.
To get to this point, the production actively worked on the implementation of a reopening protocol for the sector in Spain and in two commented clinical trials carried out in Barcelona in recent months: one in the Apolo room for a thousand people and another for 5 thousand attendees at the Palau Sant Jordi with Love of Lesbian as the protagonists. And although the promising results are not necessarily extrapolated to an open-air festival design, they did pave the way for the reopening of Spain to shows with audiences in closed venues, for a cycle of recitals that the same producer will do in theaters in the middle this year and also for the shows that Primavera Sound 2022 will have in roofed venues.
“There is an element of responsibility to the city. We have been making an effort for years to be a festival integrated into the city, in this case Barcelona, but also with Porto and with the version that we were going to do in Los Angeles that was postponed. We want to be integrated into the city and for the city to be a participant in the festival ”, explains Pons, who assures that the involvement and coordination with the Catalan authorities was key, as well as the willingness of the local council to agree on the return of the event.
“We have always followed the sanitary measures decreed by the authority and that is why in fact we are not holding the festival this year. Because we know that in 2021, within the phase of the pandemic in which we were, a festival like Primavera Sound adapted to the limitations that the authorities demand of us would not be Primavera Sound, it would be something else, or a festival model that would look little like to us, ”he says.
“So what we asked them and they asked us was: if we pass this to 2022, what happens? Nobody has seen the future, nobody knows what measures there will be in June 2022. We understand that the measures that exist we will comply with. If you have to keep going with a mask, it will be done. Or maybe there will be a vaccination card, we don’t know, but we will adapt, ”adds Pons.
How have the conversations and negotiations with the artists been? Understanding that many of them were scheduled for 2020 and that sanitary conditions have been changing and are still tinged with a certain amount of uncertainty. There were even groups, like Pavement, that postponed their reunion for two years to materialize at Primavera Sound 2022.
There was a great predisposition on the part of the artists and the artist bargaining agencies to help us in whatever way. Because the main affected are them. If they don’t play, if they don’t go on stage, their proposal remains partial, it loses part of its appeal. I am convinced that some artists have not released new material because they cannot present it. They are just as affected as we are.
Have the conditions or clauses in contracts with artists changed since the pandemic?
Well, there is a very clear one, which is that in the contracts there was no cancellation clause due to a global pandemic. It is a joke but it is not a joke. Causes due to force majeure were foreseen, but no one had contemplated a global pandemic. Now it is there but it is still a small letter that we hope will not repeat itself with the gravity that has happened now. But we have not set any limitations. We have artists who come from New Zealand, from Sri Lanka, from Chile we have Paloma Mami. From all corners of the planet. How do we trust that within a year there should be no quarantine problems in those countries, of restrictions on flights? We think it will be easier. And if it is not, we will apply the regulations that apply in each case.
How much did the success of the clinical trials organized by the festival’s production influence this return and this new model of the event?
We were pioneers and promoters of these clinical trials. We wanted to find solutions and one that we came up with was the antigen test as a tool that allows people to be in a concert without social distance. We did a test in December at the Apolo hall for a thousand people, and then we contributed to a larger concert for 5 thousand people at the Palau Sant Jordi with Love of Lesbian. There we put all our logistics, because in reality a group of festivals and promoters came together under the umbrella of “Safe Culture” to try to take this test model. It was an investment to see what could be rescued to continue making music. In festivals we saw that it was very difficult to apply it, because there are many variables that made the results of the Apolo or Palau not applicable to a festival, but to a gastronomic fair, to a sporting event, to any event in closed spaces.
The Primavera Sound announcement, coupled with the return of events in the United States for this summer – with Lollapalooza Chicago set for the end of July – reinstates questions about the possible reopening of live events in Chile, where although the vaccination process is progressing at a much better pace than in almost the whole of Europe, the contagion figures of Covid-19 are on the rise again and a mobility card debuts for those vaccinated , configuring a somewhat contradictory and still uncertain panorama.
The social and political situation, the withdrawal of sponsors and the contagion figures exhibited by other countries in the region further complicate the equation for the eventual return of live activity in Chile, which until now has the only milestone still standing. the Santiago Lollapalooza next November. Added to this are the claims of the concert producers -grouped in AGEPEC- for the lack of response from the authorities to the proposals and protocols that they have sent since last year to coordinate a path to reopening, similar to that of industries such as the football, airlines or gastronomy.
Even a concert producer – who prefers to keep his name in reserve – says that in recent months offered to the health authority to implement in Chile at no cost the clinical trials that were carried out in showrooms in Spain, by the same professionals who led the experiments in that country, although their messages would have been unanswered again.
“The bet of AGEPEC and other unions is to push for a protocol focused on traceability and entry control, which also serves for other economic activities,” Francisco Goñi, of the trade association that brings together producers of shows in Chile, in March. “We have all the technology and tools to do it, but we have an authority that has neither the intention nor does it see the need for the sector to operate again,” he added.
“I think (the authority) is not having a macro vision, they are reluctant that a reactivation of the industry could mean a source of contagion,” complements Felipe Araya, from the Rock Santiago production company, who has the agreement to make the first version Rock in Rio venue, originally announced for this year and currently postponed and no official date for its completion yet.
“If today we had the clinical studies that have been done in the United States, in England, in Holland, in Spain, clearly the authority would have a tool to define protocols to open up different areas. From soccer to the creative industries, which are super damaged, “adds the promoter, who reaffirms that the Rock in Rio landing in Santiago will still be in place for 2023 or 2024, while highlighting the model implemented by Primavera Sound for the sector Worldwide.
“What Primavera Sound is doing, due to its importance, is to lift the industry in Europe and that is why they opted for a 2×1 edition. It’s a tremendous example that with preparation you can make bigger and bigger events, ”says Araya.
Regarding the potential expansion of Primavera Sound to other territories in the future, such as Latin America, Pons points out: “We already have editions in other countries, such as Portugal or Los Angeles, that we have not yet been able to celebrate. For us, to be able to do a festival like Primavera Sound in Latin America would be a dream and Chile would be an ideal country in that sense ”.