For someone who’s into music but never actually been to Primavera, over time the festival accumulates a near-mythical cachet. It’s the music lover’s Mecca, the meticulously ordered idyll, and the luxurious fantasy, ever trapezing between artful prestige and self-indulgence depending on who you speak to. It’s true, there’s crumbs of pretension couched in, but when something is this well-baked and sumptuous pretension is a necessary evil to qualify greatness.

After finding an obligatory Irish bar in Barcelona’s gothic quarter on landing, I caught the bulk of Russian minimal techno alchemist Kedr Livanskiy’s set at one of the central city venues, the Apollo. It was radically different to her studio work, no longer primed by muted beats and distorted vocals but an exhibition of dagger synths and ethereal pads, an enthralling cross of Karen Dreijer and Alice Glass. Given ample flight delays and travel fatigue this was my only gig of the opening day, but it invigorated the pilgrimage towards the main site early Thursday.

Primavera’s main site is greyly beautiful, framed by peculiar bridges and spotless seawalls against cloudless sky and thick ocean, the kind of location those studious brutalism fans froth themselves over. With the exception of the two “main stages,” Mango and SEAT – which themselves, given each slot on one stage immediately follows the end of the other and so mass crowds simply swing back and forth, becomes a lemmings journey from Lorde to The Arctic Monkeys – every move between stages is a stroll up or downhill, instilling an almost fairground quality to navigating the site, a pleasingly disorienting verticality. The lack of sound bleed helps, or rather the transitions between sound bleed helps, where the fading breakbeats of DJ Python dwindle as you trudge uphill towards the dilating orgiastic house thumps of The Black Madonna.

Across the bridge at Primavera Bits, the dance-music specialists, there’s a daytime beach stage for early risers (those zombies who drag themselves on-site before 6pm); a deceptively minimalistic bamboo-hewn, Desparados-sponsored club which housed blitzing DJ sets from Peggy Gou, Levon Vincent, and Call Super to name three; and the Bacardi Stage, the Bits’ hub, immaculately designed for the most throbbing bass and twirling treble levels of immense live bands like James Holden & The Animal Spirits or the disc-spinning kinetics of Ame II Ame.

An all-too-brief set from sympathetic indie rocker Vagabon enlisted a surprisingly sombre mood for Thursday’s first few hours, before (Sandy) Alex G’s gentle-guitar-in-the-streets, venomous-lyrics-in-the-sheets alt-folk bopped some knees and smoothly banged some heads. The Twilight Sad, those longstanding purveyors of sturdy angst, delivered an hour of sturdy angst and closed their set with a cover of Frightened Rabbit’s ‘Keep yourself Warm’ as a tribute to that band’s recently passed Scott Hutchison, five minutes which genuinely broke me; standing there in my performatively suave buttoned-down denim shirt, with my shoulders circuitously sagging like a steam engine as I audibly sobbed into my Heineken. A lovely sight. The War On Drugs lightened things up by invalidating any theory that “classic rock is dead” or “The War On Drugs are boring actually,” combustible guitar solos and elegiac saxophone clamouring a pre-emptively enthusiastic crowd into an uproar.

Björk was Björk, beautiful and eloquent with a fantastically designed ensemble but nearly unanimously adhering to recent album Utopia, which evidently alienated some of the audience. Jlin brought her elaborate footwork to vivid and feral life, an hour of its viewers – its participants – lost inside a primitive compulsion to absorb the breakbeats and disorienting thuds. Sylvan Esso and Four Tet brought idiosyncratic electro stylings to their particular shades of pop and chilled house, though the latter was more low-tempo than some of the crowd anticipated. DJ Koze, just starting to crown his Song Of The Summer victory tour with ‘Pick Up’, closed the first full day with a ballooning round of techno and sample house.

Friday was less bloated with acts I desperately wanted to see but proved even more enjoyable. It began with easily one of my festival highlights; Essaie Pas, as spearheaded by the indefatigable Marie Davidson, this husband and wife pair trade in truly exhilarating French Canadian melodic techno, compelled even further by their stirring live vocals. The National generously contributed a delightfully populist setlist that concluded with Matt Berninger dedicating the plaintive ‘About Today’ to Scott Hutchison. Once more, I was not in a good way. Charlotte Gainsbourg was another standout of the weekend, her charismatic melancholy completely filled the Primavera Stage as she played slow songs, fast songs, love songs, sisterhood songs, songs about not much at all and songs about everything, as is her discography, and every second was hypnotising, heartbreaking, electrifying.

Tyler The Creator was also outstanding, and played (I think) only post-coming out tracks – so essentially Flower Boy – which supplied his hour a wistfully redemptive quality. It was seamlessly paced, with bass-loaded darts like ‘I Ain’t Got Time’ interspersing the more thoughtful and off-kilter tracks. Confidence Man were very much my Band I’ve Not Heard Of Before But Fell Instantly In Love With of the festival, an unabashedly camp, flagrantly crude, subtly shrewd onslaught of burping funk and EDM that’s going a long way to fill the Die Antwoord-shaped hole in my heart.

Saturday kicked off with that most “angular” of “angular” rock bands, the “angular” Car Seat Headrest; who opted for a Shut Up And Play The Hits approach rather than the new album tracks-only take many expected. As the sun fried our cream-barren necks, Will Toledo incinerated every anthemic chorus he’s written. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever sustained the riff-centrism, inventively exploring every imaginable angle one can interpret with “surf punk”. Lykke Li was solid, her intransigently powerful vocal chords outweighing a slightly demure stage energy. Then Lorde arrived, and condensed a year’s worth of joy into 75 minutes. From the opening ‘Sober’ to the mutual ecstasy of ‘Green Light’, by way of a heartfelt cover of Frank Ocean’s ‘Lost’, it wasn’t just happiness but repair, a communion of cathartic joy that ended becoming damn close to a natural high.

Oneohtrix Point Never played a set derived entirely from new record Age Of, which was released the day before. While the tracks still suffer from the unenviable comparison that they’re not off Garden Of Delete, their loud intricacy oscillated between protracted, inconsequential familiarity and mystical beauty; particularly with Anohni’s translucent vocals curtsying through the Bacardi Stage’s imperious soundsystem. Jon Hopkins played the most throbbing techno cuts from Immunity and last month’s Singularity, inspiring borderline religious fervour in the crowd as they moshed, leaped, frothed and stood perfectly, devoutly still with eyes closed, before closing with his thrashing remix of Disclosure’s ‘Magnets’. Donato Dozzy’s electro-focussed DJ set at the club closed my Primavera.

As befits a festival of this scale, reputation, and maturity, everything was impeccably organised and punctual; with the exception of Migos, whose plane was delayed and so cancelled, but were ably (improvably?) replaced by Skepta. You get the impression that everything the showrunners do is now second nature, that a seeming disaster that might ruin any other festival is acknowledged and swotted aside with indifference.

Primavera is almost a mirage, a platonic ideal of a festival whose unfailingly exceptional curation and fastidious planning imbues its experience with a surreality, an intuition of too-good-to-be-true. If there’s a whiff of Instagrammable oxymoron to product placements’ sponsoring of anti-capitalist messaging, as epitomised in “partying for your right to fight” spiralled ten feet high on the Primavera Stage, then on balance it’s justified because its result is so obscenely fun, while feverishly moaning about corporations on a Mediterranean beach during a Daphni disco set isn’t fun, and we’re also not fucking Banksy. I say, fair play!