Our guest writer, Jake Kelly, went to Festival Internacional de Benicàssim. This is his personal account of his time there and the events that occurred…
Sun, Sea and Sound. Who would say no to a week in Spain seeing bands such as The Horrors, The Stone Roses, Crystal Castles and New Order. Mentalists. That’s who. 7 of us packed up bags and departed for the seaside music festival in Valencia, Spain from the 9th to the 16th of July. The following is an account of what happened over the last week and general advice for those considering going in the future. You can make up your own mind but I know what I’m doing next summer!
We’ve just arrived at the train station in Benicàssim and the atmosphere is unquestionable with people buzzing to set up camp and get the week underway. I’d say a split of around 70% British, Irish and Australian to 30% Spanish. Those with us at the train station were either, like us, Benicàssim virgins, or, sophomores that had come prepared with smaller bags. Only those who had been before could know how the walk that we were about to endure in the smouldering sun carrying god knows how much luggage from the station to the festival site would make Frodo look a bit ridiculous, and it was about to get worse!
By no means should you bring wellies to Benicàssim! This is not like camping in England. Upon arrival at the Benicàssim campsite naïve premonitions of green grass quickly fade into the realisation that you will be spending the week in a dusty refugee camp being closely monitored by the festival’s wardens who ensure that, by any means, you have as little room to pitch your tent as is physically possible. I won’t get into the details but there was a lot of swearing. I would have loved to see how the girl with the blonde extensions, six-inch heels and pink suitcase got on. I think she may have boarded the wrong plane.
Anyhow, advice for the future, don’t bring tent pegs, as they are about as useful as a squishy boot with hole in it. [pullquote_right] “If you’re looking for great bands and a whole lot of fun, I could not urge you more strongly to go to Benicàssim”[/pullquote_right]Just tie your tent to surrounding trees, it does the trick. Also, bring as many comfy sleeping mats and sheets as is possible because the ground is ridiculously stony. Oh yeah! And there are ants. Fucking thousands of them. And they are huge (like xenomorphs crawling around under your bed)! Do not leave tasty snacks anywhere near or on top of your designated camping area else you’ll come back to an ant sandwich and ain’t nobody got time for that!
Food-wise, get ready to eat your own body weight in crisps, pizza and ham. Vegetarians, that just leaves crisps and pizza, and most of the crisps are ham flavoured! And don’t even get me started on four-cheese pizza! Who the hell thought that was a good idea? If, unlike me, you aren’t a freaky eater, there is a whole strip of restaurants that may tickle your fancy (if you like ham). Drinks are expensive in the arena and some idiot thought it a good idea to sell tickets that themselves could then be traded for alcohols so you have to queue twice just to get one measly beer. I’m all for thinking outside the box but, seriously? So drink plenty at your tent. I found that make shift fish bowls are the way forward and will get you nicely Amy Winehoused for the night ahead.
Fans don’t only travel Benicàssim for the music; there is a lot to do in the day also. From the lengthy beach to Aquarama water-park, Benicàssim offers all the perks of a beach holiday. Whilst the slides are great fun (there’s this massive one that literally goes on for about 10 minutes, I thought I was in a time machine) and the beach is cotched, there’s nothing better than a pool to cure your hangover. This can be sought out in the water-park itself or alternatively we were able to find a pool directly opposite the campsite which was great at €18 for the pool for a whole day, a beer, a pint of sangria and a sandwich, although they were playing really loudly, 90s techno – possibly the worst music known to mankind, clearly they didn’t know their target audience.
It’s great doing stuff in the day but it does mean that you have to shower just under 5 million times over the course of the week. I would definitely say, bring two towels otherwise; if you’ve been to the beach, you’re going to get sand all up in your hair every time you wash. Also bring a pair of shoes friendly of nipping to the shower, I’m not suggesting flip-flops, but maybe err flip-flops. Showering twice a day is essential, dry shampoo and deodorant will just not do the trick so definitely try and camp as close to the showering facilities as you can. I didn’t wear flip-flops OK!
The opening 3 nights are the town’s opportunity to cash in. There are many nights put on around the town as well as warm up gigs for many of the featured DJs. These were mixed. Monday night’s adventure led us to a club that was essentially Oceana nappy night in year 9, playing ‘212’ by Azealia Banks. We left shortly after arriving. Tuesday night’s entertainment faired a little better, that is, if you like the idea of a load of what can only be described as inbred orang-utans doing what I’m sure they would call skanking whilst obnoxiously screaming ‘YOLO’ in your ear. Although I did like the DIY setup of this venue, situated down a little side street away from the main strip. There was also a great sounding band that I wished whose name I’d caught playing the Red Bull tour bus in a little plaza that had a really good atmosphere.
By far the best evening in the build up to the festival was the Arenal Sound pre-party on the Wednesday featuring a headline DJ set by Peter Hook. The influential bassist, supported by The Glimmers, Jeff Automatic, DJ Dan and Maadraassoo, literally banged out tune after tune. There was not one weak song in the entire set and therefore we did not stop dancing from the time that we arrived until 6 o’clock when we left. Hooky was inspired managing to fit ‘Bangarang’ into the same set as ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ (twice). Genius. And I don’t even like Skrillex. Playing on a balcony in an open-air terrace, the atmosphere was electric. It was going to take a lot for any night of the festival to top this!