Shygirl debuted an incredible new single produced by Arca at Primavera last night

Big pyro, bigger tunes

Lead photograph by Eric Pamies

“This is beautiful, you’re all beautiful, I’m beautiful,” Shygirl purrs to the adoring crowd at Primavera Sound’s Tous stage. Everyone loses it, obviously. In her own casual way, Shygirl has this audience in the palm of her hand.

Against a shimmering backdrop of her unmistakable logo being twisted and melted continuously, Shygirl and her DJ deliver a properly amazing set of slippery, bass-heavy hits whose colliding aesthetics – UK garage, trap, PC Music, hyperpop, road rap, R&B – make impossible sense. The likes of ‘Cleo’, ‘BDE’, ‘SLIME’ and recent single ‘Firefly’ have so much weight and groove, topped off with twisting, dizzy hooks; this is music that would feel as at home in a sticky, bass-saturated club as in an arena-sized pop show.

The highlight might just be the debut performance of an as-yet-unnamed new single produced by Arca. Thundering beats and upside-down bass dogfight each other artfully as Shygirl’s vocal slinks through the gaps; like the best of Arca’s work, it constantly sounds right on the verge of collapse, yet somehow holds together as a shivering rush of motion and melody. It’s really special.

Like her DJ voguing behind her throughout, Shygirl looks utterly comfortable as she manipulates the gyrating crowd in front of her. Pyrotechnics are thrown in for good measure at various points, but she doesn’t really need them; by virtue of her songs and performance alone, this is a remarkable spectacle already.

By Sam Walton