Primavera Sound fans: ‘No water’, ‘massive lines’, ‘money grab’, and ‘dangerous’

Festival-goers criticize event on its return, while organizers claim "no overcrowding" recorded beyond first night

Primavera Sound 2022 crowd on Friday June 10, 2022 (by Pere Francesch - Quim Vallès)
Primavera Sound 2022 crowd on Friday June 10, 2022 (by Pere Francesch - Quim Vallès) / Guifré Jordan & Gerard Escaich Folch

Guifré Jordan & Gerard Escaich Folch | Barcelona

June 14, 2022 07:43 PM

One of the biggest music festivals in Barcelona, Primavera Sound, has come to an end after a two-weekend return following the Covid-19 pandemic. On the first day, June 2, dozens of complaints were raised online, and while organizers fixed some of the issues, the event continues to generate controversy even after its conclusion, judging by the festival goers who got in touch with Catalan News to complain.

"I don’t think they should be allowed to continue in the same way next year, " Tom told Catalan News. He bought tickets for the two weekends of the festival. His tickets included entrance to the Brunch on the Beach event on Sunday 12. 

Brunch on the Beach

This was the last event of the festival after three long nights of concerts each week from Thursday evening to the early hours of Sunday morning. 

Tom did not receive any "notification" that said he needed to register for the final event. His friends did get emails, "but only after the event had been sold out". "Organizers should never have been able to include the Brunch event as part of the festival," Tom said. This was his fifth time attending the Primavera Sound festival. 

Other Catalan News readers have also commented on the fact that they could not book their entry tickets to Brunch on the Beach "even though it was included in the weekend price," Juli, an Argentinian who has been living in Barcelona for the last four years told us.

"Primavera Sound tricked everybody into paying a very expensive ticket and so many of us saw one day taken away from us and we will never get refunded," Eleonora said.

Right before the festival ended, Primavera Sound organizers announced they had scheduled more concerts on Sunday 12 across the city. This was one of the proposals to compensate fans. In fact, they claim they had the capacity for up to 30,000 people on that day, but the Sant Adrià de Besòs city council limited the number of attendees to 15,000 at the last moment. 

The mayor of the city, adjacent to Barcelona, where this event took place in the 'Primavera Bits' area, denied the comments from the organizers as they "never had" a license to welcome up to 30,000 people. "We do not expect to increase the number of people in future editions, if anything, we would reduce it," Filo Cañete, the mayor of the city, said during an interview with Catalan radio station, RAC1.  

'Massive lines' and 'overcrowded'

One of the main complaints during the first day of the event was the "massive lines at every stall," as Fizza, who attended the first weekend of concerts, said. "I think I spent more time in lines than I did at the concerts itself," she added. 

Sarah said that there "were very long queues for beers and toilets." "It was practically impossible to get water on the first day," she added.

On the second day, organizers installed several more water fountains.  

One of the other problems that arose during the first night, was a "dangerous situation" as people said on social media the festival had been "oversold." 

Even going from a place "to go to the toilet or get water or even go to another stage would take so long that it was impossible to see all the bands one wanted to see," Shaymaa explained to Catalan News. 

"The blockage to get from one stage to another meant being stuck in a massive crowd and not being able to move for ages." 

Despite the claims from attendees and social media users, Primavera Sound organizers told Catalan News that "we do not observe massive lines in the Parc del Fòrum venue, except on the first Thursday, and flows of people were regulated when detected, or even before creating any problem," a press statement sent to this media outlet read. 

"There was no overcrowding, considering the number of attendees in comparison to the overall capacity of the venue," the press statement continued. 

According to officials, the busiest day saw 81,000 people, while the Parc del Fòrum area had a capacity of up to 95,000 "for optimal mobility according to responsible engineers of the space and safety measures," organizers added.

But attendees saw things differently. "The overcrowding was the main problem. The site just isn't big enough for the number of people they tried to squeeze in," Tom said.

Crowds "were not managed at all," Sarah explained, relating her situation during the Tame Impala concert.   

"The entrance to the Estrella Damm/Pull and Bear stages area was first blocked one way." People couldn’t go from the left side to the right side to get in, and then the other direction "was blocked," she said of the first Saturday. 

To avoid these situations, organizers rearranged the venue during the long pause between the first and second weekends of the event. A new bar area was set up to make it easier to allow for people to order a drink. 

'Luck avoided a tragedy'

"The only reason the Tame Impala concert did not end in a tragedy was pure luck," Sarah said.  

"There were some concerts with larger audiences than other ones, as happens every year," organizers said. 

Big crowds, however, with "no security around," led to Lynsey being "seriously injured," she told Catalan News. A man crashed into her and caused serious damage to her leg "potentially needing surgery," she explained. "I can hardly walk," she added, sending this outlet a picture with a bruise in most of her leg between her knee and her ankle.

She will be "seeking legal advice about the situation" after spending €500 for a VIP ticket and spending "perhaps four hours at the festival."   

Something similar happened to Shell, as she got crushed in the crowd and had to jump over the fence to the VIP area. She was then escorted out on Saturday night. "This year could have been dangerous in Primavera Sound," she said. 

Security and VIP area

But the Primavera Sound team confirmed "there was much more security than that required," and in some places that could even be "clearly seen." 

They do not have "any significant problems of indecent treatment, a lot of complaints on social media but of doubtful veracity after being reviewed," the press statement to Catalan News read. 

Regarding the new changes in the VIP area, "they worked fine" the team said. The problem now for many international festivals is that a lot of artists and security request for the VIP area to be moved away from in front of the stage. 

"Some artists have even rejected performing if the 'golden ring' in front of them was empty and the general public was not allowed into the VIP area," Primavera Sound said.

After some concerns received by Catalan News about some VIP ticket holders having access to toilets but not general ticket festival-goers, the team responded by saying "toilets are a service included not only in the VIP ticket, obviously." 

'Fantastic' festival but never returning

"The festival was fantastic, but the organization and security left a lot to be desired," Sarah said.

On a similar note, Tom, who has been to five Primavera Sound festivals in total, said "it appeared the festival was, in general, a cynical money grab to try and appease investors who had been promised that the festival would make its money back after losses from Covid."

"Primavera only cared about making money and nothing else," Tom added, before saying he and his friends will "not come back in the future."

But not all complaints came from people who attended the festival. In fact, Keith, a Catalan News reader living in Tiana, seven kilometers away from the Parc del Fòrum venue, was also put out. 

"I have to shut my windows just to hear my TV or have a conversation with the family," he said. "It’s outrageous that we have to put up with it for no fiscal reward."

He recommended festival organizers find "a new venue out in the sticks like Glastonbury!"