Big Red Machine played a free show to open the Barcelona festival
Primavera Sound mix it up with their curtain-raisers. While the full programme doesn’t get going until Thursday evening, the run-up is scattered with shows across Barcelona, including this appetiser – a free night of music on the main Parc del Forum site, and a thanks of sorts to the locals for putting up with the tens of thousands of revellers descending on their city. In the past, that’s meant prelude performances from the likes of Albert Hammond Jr., Belle & Sebastian and, last year, Spiritualized. Tonight, it’s a similarly woozy entrance to the weekend with a rare appearance from Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and Aaron Dessner’s (The National) project Big Red Machine.
It’s not just the duo on stage, but a handful of interchanging guests including Aaron’s twin brother Bryce Dessner on guitar, and vocals from Julien Baker (ingratiating herself by wearing a Barcelona FC shirt).
And, frankly, given they haven’t performed an enormous amount of shows as BRM, the pair, facing each other behind laptops (Aaron’s with a DIY sticker saying ‘BRM’ – a reminder not to accidentally take the ‘TN’ laptop, perhaps?) seem very relaxed. Maybe it’s the familiar surroundings, given both have headlined Primavera Sound in the past. Vernon is so chill he fires up a cigarette and swigs from a succession of beers mid-set. “It’s nice to be in a place and play new ideas and feel like you all are with us,” says Aaron Dessner towards the end.