Saturday overview

Festival Internacional de Benicassim

published: Sat 18th Aug 2007

Thursday 19th to Sunday 22nd July 2007
near Valencia, Spain, Spain
4-days £105, or £97 for a 3 day pass
last updated: Thu 17th Apr 2008

I’m back on the beach, and an incredible thing just happened. It rained. Well I wouldn’t really call it rain by our standards, as it was more a thin spray of welcome mist that had just appeared as if from nowhere. I was pretty relieved as, other than the sea, the only source of water I’d discovered was a small puddle I’d momentarily splashed around in to get some sand off my feet. Before realising it was a pool of human urine.

Despite the fact it was noticeably cooler today, and that walking barefooted across the beach wasn’t like stepping over heated coals, people were still desperately seeking any available shade they could find, and the town was full with those trying to avoid the sunshine.

the town & beach - Benicassim

The town of Benicassim seems to struggle with the influx of tourists. Every cash machine has a constant queue, hungover Brit’s can be found frequenting the oversubscribed restaurants that flank the roads through the town, and every spot that bares shade is being closely guarded.

Back on site, and an unfamiliar name in the guise of Chris Aliano was entertaining those who didn’t quite make the beach in the earlier hours of the day. I say unfamiliar as I was quite surprised to discover that Aliano was British, not Spanish, as his continental surname suggests. Breezy and relaxed guitar picking firmly rooted in the acoustic folk variety. Obvious influences will more than likely come from early Dylan, and it’s a less produced sound to the likes of Seth Lakeman, far more closer allied to the likes of Fionn Regan. To make a mainstream reference point you could easily use Jose Gonzalez, who uses the same soft rambling style of narration that works so well with this genre.

Chris Aliano

As with most genres you either like solo signer /songwriters offering their musings through an old acoustic guitar, or you don’t, but while Aliano’s soothing records don’t have the gravelling vocals of a Dylan track, or the inventiveness of say Devendra Banhart, it’s still perfect music for this Saturday afternoon. Aliano even managed to slip in a cover of ‘Blackbird’, that’s a song that we don’t hear enough these days.

Keeping with inoffensive summery music was The Clientèle, whose beautiful airy pop was the perfect follow on to Aliano. Sweeping melodies and chilled out vocals epitomise a band that have retained a retro 60’s surf tone without sounding particularly dated. Belle & Sebastian, Air, Magnet, and Zero 7 are all masters of this soothing chilled out sound that isn’t sombre, nor upbeat, just a simply ambivalent grace that ushers you into a false sense of security. Lovely, dulcet tones – one to check out I reckon.

The Clientele

I spent a little while watching Dorian perform some hackneyed camp electro/indie. It’s the type of music that’s always accompanied by shit lyrics, and I probably would have enjoyed it a lot less if the vocals were in English. Since I’ve got back I’ve actually had the songs translated into English for me (not by my phrase book – that would have taken all year) and now I can safely say the lyrics are as uninspiring as their music. I’m hoping they stay in Barcelona, and with music as dull as this I doubt they’ll sell enough records to afford the flight over to the UK.


Jamie T swaggers on stage with a fag and a bottle of JD, before informing us all that 65% of ticket buyers were from England (an unconfirmed rumour that seems to have spread round the entire site by tomorrow morning). It’s not long before Jamie and his gang are delivering the satirical ‘Pacemaker’, and the style and performance all sounds surprisingly like The Arctic Monkeys; odd for a group whose influences seem to transcend reggae and rap, as much as they do indie.

Jamie T

“This is our first time in Spain. Hopefully it won’t be our last” announces Jamie, to the cheers of this completely English crowd. Anyone spot the irony? The tent had quite literally burst at the seems, showing just how big Jamie has become, and the crowd had gone to extremes to watch the show. This lead me to thinking that this whole staggered stage line-up thing was a bad idea. Shoving Jamie T on the third stage when there was hardly anything going on was never going to be a particularly smart move, and surely a switch around would have been in order.

Jamie T

As a result of Jamie’s large crowd gathering, the audience was noticeably dwindled for 60’s psychedelic rockers OS Mutantes, who incidentally released their first album 18 years before Jamie T was born.

CSS did much of the same as when I saw them at T in The Park a few weeks earlier. Lovefoxx stripped from catsuit to catsuit once again, but encountered a few problems with the undressing part, leading to a highly entertaining, yet slightly embarrassing struggle between woman and cat suit. It wasn’t the only problem the band encountered, as a power cut on the fourth song brought it all to a premature close. A bit of a technical twiddle around and they were back, dancing among their brightly coloured assortment of balloons that they had brought with them.


I nipped over to the main stage to catch The Magic Numbers, who were also carrying on today’s theme of happy breezy 60’s pop. I for one, had had enough of this and marched off towards the second stage for a long overdue !!! (Chk Chk Chk) performance (I have a habit of always missing them).

Please skip the next paragraph if you hate excited school girl chatter and hero worship. !!! were awesome. Like amazing. They made me so happy, they changed my li...well now we’re going a bit far but you get the point.

Opening with an extended drum solo, and some weird fiddle-less celtic tune, !!!, the most ridiculously pretentious named group in the history of the world are one of the few bands who have actually succeeded (take note Calvin Harris) in taking 80’s synthesisers and dodgy backing tracks, and turning them into the grooviest, funkiest, disco tracks you’ve ever heard.


Nic Offer took to the stage in a pair of worryingly uncool blue shorts, and entertained the crowd with a stockpile of awful, yet at the same time brilliant, dance moves. His peculiar dancing is backed up by a fantastic assortment of genre fusions, and most importantly introducing indie kids to the concept of house music, and doing it with flawless style.

The high I was on was quickly reduced by novelty act The Human League, who just reminded me that on the whole 80’s music was rather crap, and there’s nothing !!!, CSS or The Killers can do about it.

The main pull of the night was the The Arctic Monkeys, and I perched myself on a VIP viewing platform to watch the first few songs before I realised I was sitting among the posers and the poser’s posing poserfriends, all the while pretending I was more important than everyone else, and enjoying a rather atmosphere-less Benicassim as I did. Needless to say, I made a beeline for the crowd, who seemed to be embracing the Monkeys with unbridled enthusiasm.

Arctic Monkeys

There was fun being had by all, except the steward guarding the disabled platform who had half the platform fall on her and subsequently limped off for medical attention, to the amusement of those who had actually pushed the platform over.

We heard all the classics (it seems a little too early to call them that) with ‘I Bet you look good on the dancefloor’, ‘When the sun goes down’ and recent hit ‘Fluorescent adolescent’ all resulting in mass sing alongs. In comparison the new songs from ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’ don’t sound nearly as interesting as Arctic Monkeys original releases, all coming across as slightly less exciting imitations of their debut album. The band are still a worthy headliner and as a night of heavy drinking, dancing and general partying begins, it certainly doesn’t feel like we’ve been short changed of good acts today.

Arctic Monkeys

On the way back to the campsite I had to cross a railway bridge packed with various unscrupulous looking individuals, selling either drugs, or weird looking wouldn’t-touch-it-if-you-paid-me burgers, or probably a cocktail of both.

Day four
review by: Scott Johnson

photos by: Scott Johnson

Thursday 19th to Sunday 22nd July 2007
near Valencia, Spain, Spain
4-days £105, or £97 for a 3 day pass
last updated: Thu 17th Apr 2008

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