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Primavera Sound Co-Director on What the Barcelona Festival Can Bring to Los Angeles

The debut Primavera Sound LA will take place Sept. 16-18 at LA State Historic Park with headlining sets from Lorde, Nine Inch Nails and Arctic Monkeys.

In Barcelona this June, Primavera Sound celebrated its 20th anniversary with close to half a million music fans. After two decades of providing reunion shows (Pavement, Pixies, The Avalanches, My Bloody Valentine) and debut album sets (Radiohead, Brian Wilson’s rendition of Pet Sounds), the festival Spanish festival has expanded to two weekends and incorporates 150 shows across Barcelona in-between.

Primavera Sound co-director Alfonso Lanza tells Billboard the 20th anniversary edition was the festival’s most anticipated event ever, especially since it (and most festivals around the world) were postponed for two years due to the pandemic.

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“For many, also for us, it was a kind of a very exciting collective reunion,” he says of the festival that included sets from Dua Lipa, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Strokes and Megan Thee Stallion. “To get used to going to festivals is to get used to living normally, to share emotions in a collective way and, in short, to be happy. If you asked any fan at the end of the festival, the answer was obviously on their face of satisfaction after two years without live music.”

But the Primavera Sounds brand has grown beyond Barcelona with events throughout Spain and Portugal. In 2022, festival organizers are betting big on expansion with events coming up in São Paulo, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina and Santiago, Chile. All three will follow the brand’s entrance into the U.S. with Primavera Sound LA running from Sept. 16-18. Festival headliners will include Lorde, Nine Inch Nails and Arctic Monkeys for its first foray into America.

Despite 2022 being a lighter year for festival ticket sales than 2021 – when fans returned to droves to big events following nearly a year of live event closures – Lanza is ready to take on Primavera LA.

“We announced our LA edition on the last day of our Barcelona festival in 2019. So, the initial plan was to start in 2020 and, unfortunately, it couldn’t happen,” he says. “Now, little by little, everything seems to be back to normal and we will finally be able to debut in the U.S. as we are so excited about.”

The U.S. event will take place at the LA State Historic Park with additional performances from Girl in Red, Paloma Mami, the Mexicans Little Jesus, Drain Gang, Mitski and more.

Lanza continues: “If we continue to do other PS in the world… it is because there is obviously demand from the public. You can see it at the Barcelona festival: more and more people are coming from all over the world. So, it makes more and more sense for us to go to other parts of the world as well.”

What do you think Primavera Sound brings to the LA music scene?

What Primavera Sound brings to a city like Los Angeles is the same as it would bring to any other city in the world: a musical selection criteria, an angle, from the music lovers, the music heads, or whatever we want to call it, that can hardly be found in any other festival. Our festival model can be enjoyed and admired anywhere in the world: a meeting of music from the past, present, and future, of classic and cutting edge artists, of international names and representatives of the local scene. The key is always in the selection.

What are you most excited about when it comes to Primavera LA?

L.A itself. It’s the nerve center of the music industry and it’s very exciting to do a festival from the heart of the music. Plus LA is a city we love. In all modesty, we like to think that on a small scale Barcelona has a lot to do with LA The beach, the climate, the personality of the people, and the passion for music. So this is our chance to prove ourselves right.

There is a heavy rock/alternative presence on the LA lineup. Why did you choose to go that direction for the U.S.?

It’s a direction we have always taken in Barcelona as well. Since 2006 when Motörhead played at Primavera Sound, there has always been room for metal bands (Mayhem, Slayer, Venom, High On Fire, Abbath, Napalm Death, Voivod and Sunn O)))) so we think it’s one of our hallmarks.

Besides, metal fans are a very grateful audience. Regarding alternative rock/pop, we have always said that we started as promoters to bring live music to Spain and the artists we loved in the 90’s (Pavement, Pixies, Sonic Youth). So it’s part of our DNA. We’re not going to lose it. We believe that in the U.S. both one trend and the other, as well as the combination of both, will be well understood and enjoyed.

How did you tap into the Latin music scene in LA for the lineup?

The Latin music scene, not only in LA but all over the world, is becoming more and more relevant on a planetary level. It’s almost a natural step to incorporate it in an unforced way in our lineup. In the case of LA, moreover, it is much easier because of the strong presence of both the community and Latin artists with fandom in the city. So rather than an obligation, it’s a pleasure to pay attention to the Latin scene if you do a festival in LA.