With over 180 performances at this year’s Primavera Sound, it would be impossible to catch every fantastic show at Barcelona’s Parc del Fòrum last weekend.
That being said, here are a few of my favorite performances of the many sets I could catch at the Barcelona edition of the festival. To read more about my favorite non-DJ acts—including recaps of Rosalía and Baby Keem performances—check back at Nexus Radio for the next edition of “Post Prima.”
Colombian DJ Verraco Performs a Spine-Chilling Day 1 Set
Verraco was a bit of a discovery for me, a last-minute addition to a packed schedule of sets and performances during the first festival day—and let’s say I did not regret my decision to drop by the Pull&Bear stage to see him play.
Primed to make his Berghain debut later this month, Verraco—a native of Medellín, Colombia—delivered a spirited performance, twisting and bending classic reggaeton beats into his singular techno-house landscape. Verraco is a student of the genre, mixing classic samples into his at-once atmospheric and hardcore set, unafraid to pull the crowd out of the beat to a chaotic dimension of whirring and banging only to hurl them back at full velocity into a four-on-the-floor techno beat.
A co-founder of TraTraTrax and Insurgentes, two labels that have emerged as leading voices in Latinx electronica, Verraco released his debut album Grial in 2020. Grial—translation: Grail—is a clever mix of atmospheric IDM, acid house, and breakbeat and has been described as “Colombian electronica of the highest order. A bold, colorful, and inventive statement of polyrhythmic beat-making and lush atmospheres.”
In short: stop whatever you’re doing right now and check this young DJ out.
Legendary Four Tet Tears Up Amazon Music Stage
Quite possibly, my favorite DJ set of the festival, Four Tet’s performance at the Amazon Music stage during night two, surpassed all expectations.
Expectations, granted, were high to begin with, given that this English DJ’s recent projects have included a critically acclaimed collaboration with lighting artists Squidsoup and a viral Coachella set with Fred Again… and Skrillex.
Opening with selections from his most recent album, Sixteen Oceans (2020), Four Tet launched into a mix of “Baby Again…” his newest collaboration with those, as mentioned earlier, fellow Primavera performers. In classic Four Tet fashion, there were tons of lasers and confetti, not to mention a couple of surprisingly delightful choices mixed into the set—only Four Tet could fit Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” and Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” into a hard techno mix with such ease.
Before closing with a sticky remix of “Looking at Your Pager,” Four Tet played “Mango Feedback,” the artist’s most recent solo single and a standout amongst his expansive and excellent discography. Indeed, a 10/10 performance.
Skrillex Lights Up Mainstage During Night Two
Well, it’s the moment everyone was talking about.. Two songs into his set and at the tail-end of “Rumble,” the most recent Skrillex collaboration with Fred Again… and Flowdan, a strobe light along the stage’s lighting grid catches fire, dripping molten plastic twenty meters down to the floor of the Estrella Damn mainstage. Forced to pause his set, Skrillex steps away while the emergency is handled.
Ten minutes later, with the fire extinguished and all the necessary fire protocols followed, the DJ returns to an audience anxious to hear the rest of his set. What follows is a performance for the ages.
With a dubstep sound that defined the late aughts, Skrillex takes the Primavera Sound audience on a journey from the grimecore electro tracks of his seminal EP Bangarang to fresh tracks from his most recent 2023 releases, studio albums Quest for Fire and Don’t Get Too Close—the jokes write themselves, folks.
The eight-time Grammy winner also offered nods to fellow Primavera Sound headliner Kendrick Lamar, mixing in his reimagining of the rapper’s “Be Humble.” It’s a set that caps off the mainstage performances of Day 2, literally setting the night ablaze and reminding us exactly why the name Skrillex has become synonymous with electronica excellence.
Canadian DJ Jayda G Closes Out Night Three
It’s hard work to close out the final night of a festival that featured Rosalía, Calvin Harris, and St. Vincent all in the same night—and yet, Canadian DJ Jayda G completed this task with grace and palpable joy, spinning two hours of house music into an end-of-the-night blur of beats and good vibes.
The DJ—donning a mane of Donna Summer hair and gold platforms for her early morning performance at the Pull&Bear stage—played disco hit after disco hit for a crowd of revelers enjoying the last few hours of Primavera Sound, mixing in the gospel and house samples as well as some of her hits.
And as the sun rose behind us on the Mediterranean and the night slowly lifted, I couldn’t help but wonder: is there a better way to ring in a new day than with a Jayda G-backed dance party? No, no…I don’t think there is.
Purple Disco Machine Plays A Groovy Sunday Set
The incredible Purple Disco Machine is closing out the weekend at Sunday’s Brunch Elektronik x Primavera Sound event and among a lineup that included Ben Böhmer, Camelphat, and Diplo.
What makes this German DJ such a compelling performer is the connection he shares with his audience—i.e., at an event meant to offer a little respite and relaxation for an audience that more than likely spent the last 72 hours straight partying, he prepared a set that prioritized feel-good hits and electro-disco treasures. The set was perfect for grooving to or enjoying from afar while sipping an Aperol Spritz and recapping the festival with new friends.
There were several bangers: “Substitution,” his recent collaboration with Kungs, was a highlight, as was the live premiere of Purple Disco’s new single, “Bad Company.” However, it was the effortless remixes of crowd favorites, including classics like Lipps Inc’s “Funky Town” and The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me,” that took the German DJ’s set to the next level, cementing him as (dare I say it) the DJ of the Summer.
A couple of honorable mentions from the many DJ performances of the weekend:
- Fred again… delivered an impassioned mainstage performance that included hits from a recent Brian Eno collaboration and fan favorites from his Actual Life album series.
- Berlin-based DJ LSDXOXO joining forces with Polish-born DJ VTSS in a psychedelic set to close out night two.
- Anish Kumar brings the party to Primavera’s final day and mixes tracks from his upcoming debut, A Mixtape by Anish Kumar.
- New Jersey-native Daniel Fisher (a.k.a. Physical Therapy) entrancing the Boiler Room x CUPRA audience with his bongo-infused techno.
- Charlotte De Witte premiered her first Overdrive production to a crowd of 25 000.
- Calvin Harris ushered in the Summer with a high-energy set, the final mainstage performance by a DJ of the weekend.
Next up: a look at the highlights from the non-DJ performances at the festival, including recaps of Japanese Breakfast, Baby Keem, and Channel Tres.
To read more about my thoughts on the 2023 edition of Primavera Sound and keep up with all things electronic music, make sure to follow @nexusradiodance on Instagram and check back here for more coverage of your favorite music events!