Thursday was a slow start in my eyes. Florence and her Machine could not perform because the poor old ladyface had lost her voice (news I was completely indifferent to). Bat for Lashes, who was due to play material from her new album, also dropped out because of ‘nightmare’ transport issues. However, the festival really got started when The Horrors, looking rather sweaty in their usual leather jacket and skinny jeans combination, took to the stage playing a set composed entirely of their latter two albums. Would it have been too much to ask for one or two from ‘Strange House’? Though every song they did play was brilliant, closing with ‘Sea Within a Sea’, ‘Still Life’ and a 15-minute long version of ‘Moving Further Away’. Also performing on the day was At The Drive-In who played their first gig in Europe for over 10 years in a set featuring songs primarily from the ‘Relationship Of Command’ album. Any perceived lack of enthusiasm from earlier reunion gigs was not present here as they raged through a set that culminated in the song that everyone came to see – ‘One Armed Scissor’. The rap segment of the bill also did their bit on Thursday with De La Soul, who were filling in for absent Florence, and Example taking to the main stage. Both did their bit to get the crowd involved, even Example who was rumoured to be in a very bad mood about the late timing of his slot on the bill, and we did hear that later on after his set he became very much involved in some of the festival’s night time activities scouring the premises for molly with his entourage.
On Friday the music really got into its flow though there were rumours of further line up changes, namely Bob Dylan being moved, leading me to attempt to ask (in Spanish) a couple of concerned looking toilet attendants what was going on. I don’t think they knew either. Anyhow, Bob Dylan made it through his set showcasing once again his iconic voice. There were however a few classics missing, it’s all good having sets for the dedicated fans but this is a festival crowd we want those anthems. Though he did in squeeze some crowd pleaser, notably ‘Demolition Row’ and ‘Like a Rolling Stone’. Following Dylan on the Maravillas main stage were The Maccabees, Bombay Bicycle Club and finally Chase & Status, the latter perhaps drawing the biggest, most energetic (or most inebriated) crowd of the entire weekend. A set that I watched out of nostalgia more than anything else proved to be a hit. They opened strongly with ‘No Problem’ and ‘Eastern Jam’ and then went on to [pullquote_right] “Benicàssim could be one of the best things that you’ve ever done”[/pullquote_right]play a rendition of ‘Killing In The Name Of’ among other crowd pleasers. What more could I have asked for? ‘Saxon’! The songs off ‘No More Idols’ are definitely better heard live than on disc although I’m a bit annoyed though that Chase & Status clashed with SebastiAn, I would have thought they’d have drawn in similar crowds, and he would have been great to see live.
It’s a fight between Saturday and Sunday for the best night of the festival. Saturday night featured some major clashes the first of these being Jessie J and Buzzcocks. Yeah that’s a really tough choice, Punk legends or mediocre talent show judge. Hmm. Anyhow Buzzcocks demonstrated old-school Punk at is finest it’s a shame though that the crowd departs after ‘Ever Fallen In Love’ to catch the beginning of Noel’s set. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds generated one of the biggest crowd’s of the extended weekend, a crowd that bellowed back nearly every word to the former Oasis man. The set culminated with ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ and most likely I will not. The proportion of lemon bearing t-shirts to non-lemon bearing t-shirts was quite high this evening and there was a Manchester buzz in the air. Before The Stone Roses took to the stage ‘Stoned Love’ by The Supremes bleared out the Maravillas speakers uniting the crowd for what was about to come and I can tell you that there’s not many better openers than ‘I Wanna Be Adored’. The set continued with acid visual effects and classics such as ‘Sally Cinnamon’ and what felt like an hours long version of ‘Fool’s Gold’ as Ian Brown kind of milled about as John Squire and co did some serious jamming. Towards the end of the set Ian Brown held little figurines of himself up to the camera staring at them in what appeared to be a vision of both the past and of the future. The set ended fittingly with ‘I Am The Resurrection’, then the band united on stage to show their gratitude in what was not only a special moment for the crowd but for the Roses themselves also. Anyone who missed this for Dizzee Rascal must surely feel foolish now. The Stone Roses, what an act to have to follow. Fortunately, up next were Crystal Castles, although they do know how to keep people waiting, turning up half an hour late and only playing half their set. Anyway, half of a Crystal Castles gig is pretty much better than half of any other gig. Alice debuted another new hair colour, I think I preferred her hair black, but she’s still fucking cool having it blue, kind of looking like some sort of manga bitch. Luckily, for me, they played their new 90s rave inspired song that was a great exhibition of the new material that has been promised in the coming weeks.
On Sunday, Spector took to the Trident Senses stage displaying their catchy riffs, playing a set comprised of recent hits ‘Celestine’ and ‘Chevy Thunder’, but also displaying how much of a twat front man Frederick Macpherson is. Almost immediately after Spector had finished up the majority of the crowd began to head to the Maravillas stage where The Vaccines were about to perform. The London band played all the crowd pleasers from their first album; ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines’ although I am never sure which song is which on that album, as they all sound alike. On the plus side, songs dropped from their upcoming sophomore album ‘The Vaccines Come Of Age’ such as ‘No Hope’ and ‘Tiger Blood’ sounded very promising. Next, to the FIB Club stage, where Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs took to the stage dressed as a funky stegosaurus displaying his unique style of dance music to the a rather sizable crowd (some themselves dressed in dinosaur onesies), who had indeed made the correct decision and steered clear of a certain Mr Sheeran. He played a thrilling set made up of tracks from his debut album ‘Trouble’ which was released last month on Polydor, although it wasn’t until hits ‘Tapes & Money’ and ‘Household Goods’ dropped that the crowd really got into it.
And then finally was the band that I had been waiting all week to see. New Order. The Manchester legends opened with Elegia in Memory of their former front man Ian Curtis upon whose birthday tonight’s gig fell and played a blockbuster set featuring all the best New Order songs ‘Ceremony’, ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ and ‘True Faith’ and even featured an updated version of the Joy Division song ‘Isolation’. New Order finished with ‘Blue Monday’, which was possibly one of the best songs I’ve ever heard live thanks to the great sound quality at the Maravillas stage and then ‘Temptation’. After the latter the crowd began to disperse as no other act had yet performed an encore at the festival. How foolish, as they returned to the stage to perform ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ and those remaining in the crowd were ecstatic. Could there have been a more perfect song to bring an end to such a great festival? I think not. It was a shame that New Order probably played to the smallest headline crowd as many had already left the festival to catch earlier flights home. And then why would you ruin a perfectly good evening by then going to see David Guetta? I did not!
The music continues long into the night at Benicàssim even when the headliners have finished with music continuing until 6 am, and the sound quality all around the festival is amazing. This is great if you’ve still got your buzz, but when you’re at your tent trying to sleep this can be a little annoying. Luckily the music being played is the best and you’ll probably be up anyway with late night DJ sets on the FIB Club stage featuring everything from 50s Rock ‘n’ Roll onwards. There was also a really cool Indian themed tent are in the centre of the arena that was a great place to and listen to tunes between acts. The DJ sets all around the festival are amazing and paired with the bands that you go there to see and the amazing weather, you really couldn’t ask for much more from a festival.
Though Benicàssim is a bit of an endurance test and there are many inconveniences to the week as a whole, Benicàssim could be one of the best things that you’ve ever done. I know I’ll always remember it as such. If you’re looking for hot weather, incredible beaches, sexy time, wide eyes and crazy jaws, bangin’ tunes, great bands and a whole lot of fun, I could not urge you more strongly to go to Benicàssim. Es lo mejor.