Culture / Music

48 Hours in Barcelona during Primavera Sound: Music Editor Alys Hale explores the city with CUPRA

In partnership with CUPRA Australia


There are so few festivals that can rival the lineup of Primavera Sound. Since 2001, this Barcelona-based festival has been on almost everymusic fan and musician’s wish list. Who better to explore the city with than Barcelona’s own CUPRA, who sponsor the festival and who gave us special insight into the art, design and music culture of the city?  This year’s lineup was as exceptional as always, with Pulp, PJ Harvey, Bikini Kill and Beth Gibbons demonstrating Primavera’s commitment to ‘indie’ and guitar-based lineups, and with hip hop, pop and dance acts like 070 Shake,  Lana Del Ray, SZA and Peggy Gou adding different sounds and more diverse fans to the experience. Primavera is also a festival for lovers of late-night dance fused with art and the avant-garde, so of course, dancing to Arca’s DJ set at the Boiler Room x CUPRA stage is mandatory. But with only 48 hours to absorb as much culture and music as possible, we needed to hit the ground running.  

Having just finished my first European tour and been on planes and trains, getting into a car was the ultimate luxury, especially when that car was the fully-electricCUPRA Tavascan. Having never driven an electric car before, or a left-hand drive for that matter, I was incredibly excited to get behind the wheel. Our first stop was a celebratory moment at the rooftop bar at Hotel ME, with accompanying jamón, naturally. The view of Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia against a Spanish sunset was a truly romantic moment and a chance to scheme our upcoming adventure. 

Before Barcelona, we had been touring predominantly locked cities, so it seemed like the best thing to do was take the Tavascan for a drive along the coast, listening to the artists at Primavera we were most excited to see. The Sennheiser speakers allowed for complete passenger immersion as we cruised by the ocean, through the hills and even tackled some exciting hairpin bends. 

After a quick pit stop at CUPRA HQ, to discover more about CUPRA’s design, ethos and unique voice, we changed vehicles into the Born VZ. As someone who has been described as a ‘cautious’ driver, I definitely felt sexy (and safe) driving something slick that felt like a race car. It is hard to believe that both the Tavascan and the Born VZ are both completely electric cars with so much force behind them, you hit the accelerator and it really goes. As an aesthete, I loved their attention to detail in terms of design, including the CUPRA logo sitting in the back of the car amidst the brake lights, like the beating heart of the car and their repeated triangle motif in the headlights. The Born VZ got us back to the city in time for some serious music. 

We grabbed festival essentials (lip balm, layers and cameras) and headed straight to the CUPRA Stage to see Beth Gibbons. Ever the effortlessly cool icon, she held space just as you would have imagined: her voice as commanding as in her Portishead days, but with that intriguing vulnerability that lures in her listeners. After contemplating her complexities over a quick beverage, it was time to head to see Pulp. It’s no secret how much of a Pulp fan I am, having maintained the ability to recite the lyrics to the entirety ofHis N’ HersandDifferent Class. Jarvis Cocker was an artistic awakening for me, so my levels of anticipation were slightly palpable. Needless to say, they were incredible. I cried at least three times with a range of emotions as Jarvis danced his way across the stage amidst his live strings, and almost Gainsbourgian set, descending lit staircases and showing less experienced front men how it’s done. Having exhausted myself singing along to Pulp’s punchlines, it was time to collapse in a little heap and get ready for the next day, after a little dance to Peggy Gou of course... 

I am far too pathetic for an ocean swim below 30 degrees so a quick dip in the pool was a bracing start to the day, which truly began with Keanu Reeves playing bass with his band Dogstar. Whilst the songs were a little ‘battle of the bands’, I cannot fault the enthusiasm in his playing, the band and audience were clearly having fun. Having witnessedTroye Sivan enter what I will deem his ‘provocateur era’ I needed some serious music. Jessica Pratt was the solution. Tucked away in the incredibly dark auditorium, was a room full of rapt Pratt worshippers, listening silently to her beautiful and strange breathy voice, set on top of very minimal instrumentation as she harmonised with her second guitarist. Back, Baby was a personal highlight for me before we re-entered the chaos of the festival to get a glimpse of Lana. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many audience members with tears in their eyes before on the big screen. Ms. Del Ray spoke to her audience and moved them, as she nonchalantly swung from her silver hoop in incredibly sparkly boots. 


Whilst Lana owns the hearts of many, mine truly belongs to PJ Harvey. The heavens decided to open and drench Harvey’s audience but lightning could strike before I considered moving. She remained ethereal perfection in her white dress with her white Fender whilst stagehands threw white towels about trying to keep her, and her incredibly handsome band of silver foxes, dry. Having worked with the late great Steve Albini, she dedicated The Desperate Kingdom of Love to him, and commanded reverence through the rain. Real PJ nerds were treated to the 2nd ever performance of Black Hearted Love. Wow. Needless to say, my 48 hours had to become 36… 

For those who love design, sustainability and performance, CUPRA will be launching the fully-electric Tavascan SUV and Born VZ in Australia in 2025.  Register your interest for the Tavascan today.


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