Sunday 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

Have I mentioned there are showers at Benicassim? No? Well that’s because it took me four days to actually realise that there are showers here, situated quite blatantly in the middle of the campsite, which I’d blissfully ignored for the duration of my stay and had consequently adopted the delightful aroma of a tramp dragged through a sheep dip.

Standing outside the showers I was faced with an extremely problematical question; one of those awkward social dilemmas we dare not speak of. Naked or not naked? Strip and everyone’s wearing trunks and you end up looking like a flasher whose about to get done for indecent exposure. Then again – go in wearing shorts and everyone’s naked and you look like you’ve got something to hide. You think I’m gonna tell you which one it is? Find out yourself – I’m not the only one who should have to endure this paranoia-induced social awkwardness that makes me so British.

around the site

After spending most of Sunday queuing up outside a tourist information, then a train station, then a travel agent, I’d finally sorted my transport back home. It can be done – but I’d strongly advise against leaving it to the last minute or you will give yourself a lot of unnecessary stress which could be avoided by simply booking your transport before you go.

By now the site is beginning to stink somewhat, with a lingering smell of acrid, stale urine hanging over the festival. Talking of urine, I never had a problem queuing for the toilets – which were always pretty easy to get to in the daytime, and most of them are fairly logically positioned. Well, mostly...

The Pipettes

Onto the bands...and The Pipettes are a dreadful summery powerpop group who have had a 60’s American diner throw up all over them. These are girls that never grew out of that hairbrush singing, ‘stars in yer eyes’ karaoke thing that preteen girls seem to indulge in.

The Pipettes

It’s dated, insipid rubbish, predictably similar to the likes of The Shangri-La’s, The Ronettes, and that terrible ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’ song by The Crystals. Manufactured pop is one thing, but rejuvenated rip-offs of a style of music so dated just makes it all appear frightfully clichéd, especially songs like ‘Your kisses are wasted on me’. Yeah, and your music is wasted on me.

Dressed in polka-dot getups and bludgeoning their way through sickeningly happy retro pop numbers, The Pipettes offer absolutely nothing original, other than being one of the few groups to take this music away from theme diners, and project it to a festival audience. It’s about as novelty as a family planning clinic condom - except this band won’t last nearly as long.

Animal Collective are at a completely different end of the scale. They’re inventive, intuitive and spontaneous, yet they seem to lack an essential ingredient. Their music is a dissonant, undecipherable cacophony of sounds and noises, all seemingly disjointed to one another. It’s quite good, and the spontaneity of it all would make it interesting to watch if it wasn’t for the fact they’ve got their heads buried in their instruments, and seem largely unresponsive to the crowd.

Animal Collective

Calexico get both the music and the performance right, and were another of the festival’s highlights. The Arizonian group have some great melodies and while their older material is by far the best, their extensive back catalogue is now brimming with fantastic material that they can pull from at will. An interesting mix of instruments, a full backing band, with trumpets, guitars, stand-up bass, accordion, male and female vocalists; very enjoyable to watch.

Calexico

Now here’s a quick guide to what happens when you book the most entertaining band in the world today. Love them or loathe them, you can’t fault The Hives for giving their all in a brilliant compelling set. Lead singer Pele Almqvist, in his usual arrogant banter, can’t stop climing things, swinging from a camera crane at one moment, then climbing high up onto one of the amps, and then getting up on the crowd barrier to join the audience.

“This is a song about what will happen if you don’t do as I say” before exploding into ‘Tic-Tic-boom’, then onto the classic ‘Die Alright’, possibly the best trip through power chords you will ever have.

The Hives

“Everyone applaud while I drink this beverage” demands Almqvist. The its onto another classic ‘Main Offender’, and the slower, woozy cabaret tune ‘Diabolic Scheme’ where everything comes to a complete halt and the band are left in mid-song poses for what seems like a ridiculously long time, prompting the crowd to start chanting ‘Ole, ole, ole, ole!!’

Their set seems to keep getting longer, as they announced their departure about five songs before they did actually leave the stage. Still, when the band are this tight, and this entertaining, the last thing you want is to see them leave. “This has been a great night” yells Almqvist “The Hives are great. You are great. What do you think? The other bands are gonna have a hard time following this one!” And, he was quite right.

It was just after this that I managed to find the only place in the whole of Benicassim that would actually fit my completely non universal universal plug adaptor, and in the process completely ruined some Spanish TV crews interview. I do apologise for the sunburnt eFestivals journalist that wanders into the back of their shot and shouts “You absolute beauty!” at a large, unused and helpfully accommodating plug socket. But at least it gave me enough battery power to take the next few photos.

Kings of Leon, who had recently won me over during a brilliant T in The Park performance looked dutifully boring today, and as they went through the motions I really found myself losing interest quite quickly. The short, sharp attention grabbing performance that The Hives gave didn’t quite match Kings Of Leon’s more serious set, and although the singing was again faultless, they just seemed boring in comparison.

Kings of Leon

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club don’t cut it either and that brilliant grungy bass driven sound they generate is lost on the main stage – far better suited to smaller venues. ‘Aint No Easy Way Out’ is stripped of its folk routes, and the guitar is far too quiet to give it that old saloon feel. ‘Love Burns’, ‘Spread Your Love’ and ‘Whatever Happened To My Rock N’ Roll (Punk Song)’ are all included, as is the fantastic ‘Weapon of Choice’, the highlight being a nice bridge that gets everyone clapping along to the sound of a very Apollo 440 ‘Stop the rock’ segment.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

The only press conference I attended over the weekend was for tonight’s headliners Muse, and I really wish I hadn’t bothered. All they really said was "we’re from Teignmouth". Nobody knew where that was, so they said “it’s in Devon” and nobody knew where that was either. They did mention they will have a new DVD out soon, and that they’re big fans of Does It Offend You, Yeah?

Their performance was familiar Muse, and anybody who has had the pleasure of seeing them will no doubt already know they are one of (if not the) best live acts in the country. It seemed like a less dramatic affair than what I’ve heard about from their Wembley shows, but needless to say it was dressed up in that overblown pretentiousness that Muse can get away with just because it all seems so rightfully spectacular. Bellamy’s effeminate wailing, bollocks caught in the car door of a speeding taxi vocals are superb as ever.

That resonating pitch shifting sound effect that seems to flutter around in the background of the majority of Muse tracks was ever present, and a swirling dramatic light display all emphasised the grandiose effect of a typical Muse gig, in all its ostentatious glory.

Muse

‘Knights of Cydonia’ opened proceedings, but I missed the first three songs as there were so many members of the press clambering to get the chance to photo Muse, that they had to operate a half in / half out system.

‘Time Is Running Out’, ‘Starlight’ ‘Newborn’ ‘Super Massive Black Hole’ were all present, as was their cover of ‘Feeling Good’, new single ‘Invincible’ and the immortal ‘Plug In Baby’, drafted in for the encore.

Muse

And then it was all over...and as I disconnected my non universal universal plug adaptor, downed my litre cup of nicely chilled beer, packed up my tent, pocketed my old dog eared phrase book and joined the rest of the weary travellers on our way back home, I asked myself ‘would I go back?’

Well it certainly is a good festival if you like your sun, your heat, you feel relaxed in the environment of a commercial festival and you have an aversion to sleep. But personally I think this festival would be great if you wanted to book a trip away with a bunch of mates on a stag do, or a final-exams-over celebration. Benicassim is a great idea if you fancy a holiday away, but as far as festivals go it doesn’t really have much of a soul.

around the site
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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