Since its inception in 2001, Primavera Sound has drawn some of the biggest names in indie pop, rock and dance music to Barcelona, outgrown its original venue, been named ‘artists’ favourite festival’ at the European Festival Awards and spawned a spin-off event, NOS Primavera Sound, in Oporto in neighbouring Portugal. The 2015 festival, featuring a guitar-heavy line-up that included The Black Keys, Patti Smith, The Strokes, Sleater-Kinney, Antony and the Johnsons, Alt-J and Interpol (main pic), marked 15 years of the festival – and, with it, 15 years of a long and fruitful partnership with Barcelona-based audio provider Twin Cam and its L-Acoustics PA inventory.
“Although our company was significantly smaller than [it is] now, we were already the largest company in […] Catalonia, known for our high standards of personal and equipment,” explains Twin Cam owner and director Rafael Campos, reflecting on the inaugural festival – headlined by Armand Van Helden – in April 2001. “At the time of Primavera's conception, Twin Cam was in the process of a huge leap forward. We were still using Meyer Sound, and we actually did the first edition using our MSL-5 system, even though we were already starting the transition to V-DOSC and L-Acoustics.
“The first festival was only one stage, in a far smaller and less demanding location than now. Then, Twin Cam only had a fraction of the capacity that we have today. We could say that the festival and us grew in parallel since then. This year the festival comprised seven stages – of far greater scope than that single stage 15 years ago – and we were able to supply […] first-generation L-Acoustics sound systems for the entire festival.” (Twin Cam supplied five of seven stages in 2014.)
With Twin Cam newly responsible for sound for the entire festival, the 15th outing of Primavera, held from 28 to 30 May with an attendance over 190,000, was no ordinary event for Campos and his team. “Not only was this a significant increase – because it included the addition of the second principal stage [the Heineken stage], which last year was done by PRG with Adamson – even more important for us was the fact that they deposited their faith 100 per cent in us and stopped looking elsewhere,” says Campos (below right).
Twin Cam’s relationship with L-Acoustics dates back to 1999, when it purchased its first V-DOSC system.
As in 2014, system designer Juan Cid – also a certified level-1 L-Acoustics trainer – specified for the main Primavera stage a combination of L-Acoustics K1, K2 and KARA, with an identical set-up on the Heineken stage. The core system comprised left/right arrays of 12 K1s and four K1-SBs per side, with two hangs of eight K1s and two K1-SBs providing outfill, four KARAs for frontfill, two stacks of eight K2s on L/R delays and 24 SB28s subs for low-end reinforcement.
Four ARCS II with a pair of SB28s were used for stage sidefill, and the entire system was powered using LA8 amplifiers. “I believe that we presented [the festival organisers] with a solid, reliable coherent package for the whole festival, maintaining the L-Acoustics sonic signature throughout the seven stages,” Campos comments.
Twin Cam is also providing sound for four other major Spanish festivals this summer (Sonar, Barcelona Beach Festival, Hard Rock Rising Barcelona and Cap Roig), as well as “12–15 large gigs” in the same period (“Murphy’s law never fails when it comes to dates,” laughs Campos. “We had Andrea Bocelli at the Sagrada Familia the second night of Primavera!”) It is also “constantly re-renting gear” to and from the rest of L-Acoustics’ network in Spain – “There is a fantastic relationship between all […] L-Acoustics users,” says Campos – and is involved in two Spanish-language TV programmes.
How does Primavera compare to, say, Sonar? “Unlike many other Spanish festivals, where volume is the [primary] requirement, [at Primavera] we have a very strict 102dB limit,” explains Campos. “This said, our client demands this level – no more and no less. Everywhere there [are] spectators – on each and every one of the stages – they expect a very similar sonic experience as well…”
This consistency in sound was helped, says Campos, by Twin Cam being the only audio provider on site, “as opposed to other years where, for better or for worse, there were significant differences where different companies were working. I believe Primavera came out ahead by having one technical standard controlled by one design and production team.
“Additionally I must add that this year we came much closer to having all our technical needs satisfied – ie tower heights, choice of materials to cover PAs, etc. – which helps the end result tremendously…”
But enough audio geekery – with 15 years of Primavera experience under his belt, Campos must have some tales of debauchery from festivals past? “Sorry to say that every day there are less juicy stories: The kit works better than ever before, trucks show up on time and our venues are modern and very well built. The crew rest, eat well and don’t have the same [bad] habits as before.
“So, things sound great, the team works well, the shows finish flawlessly day after day… there just aren’t any surprises – or disasters – any more!”
(All pictures: LOUIS AUSTIN)