dancing in the warm summer night on Friday at FIB was so much fun

Festival Internacional de Benicassim 2011 review

published: Tue 26th Jul 2011

Friendly Fires

Thursday 14th to Sunday 17th July 2011
near Valencia, Spain, Spain
£165 for 4-days (only no camping available)
last updated: Fri 1st Jul 2011

I think it's fair to say that after the last Killers album, when Brandon Flowers announced that he'd be releasing a solo album, more than a few people let out a groan of boredom. The album wasn't well received, but at Benicassim the popularity for the Killers frontman was impressive, playing to one of the biggest crowds of the weekend, and he delivered a superb performance. As a frontman, in recent, there's few that have proved themselves better than Flowers. He walks around the stage, commanding attention from the audience, but still retains and endearing awkwardness to himself, but as a singer, he's also pretty good. Playing every track from his album, Flamingo, tracks such as Crossfire and Only The Young demonstrated what Flowers is all about, strong, commanding vocals, over the top of Tears for Fears styled 80s pop music. On record it may sound a bit timid, but live, they're given a whole new dimension. Unsurprisingly however, it was the two Killers track in the set, Read My Mind and set closer Mr. Brightside that really shone and received the biggest, especially the latter.

Elbow
Elbow are one of the few bands present today that seem to fit more comfortably on a big, massive stage rather than inside a small club, and that's quite simply because Guy Garvey & co. are fine producers of big indie pop records. Their music is far from the most exciting thing in the world, but what they do, they do very well. The strings of Grounds of Divorce and the anthemic One Day Like This see a mass of arms a loft in the air, all singing along word for word. There's a real sense of community during the Elbow set at Benicassim, and the band only seem to thrive off it.

As a very late addition to the bill, the Art Brut performance wasn't even listed in the official stage times. Resulting in, as expected, a very small crowd. But everyone of those people present, were huge Art Brut fans, resulting in one of the best atmospheres of the weekend. Front man Eddie Argos was typically and suitably on form with his on stage jokes and presence, only adding further to what an excellent set it was.

Art Brut
Going through all of the Art Brut albums, the set had a really punk edge to it, which is what Art Brut have always been so good at. As the band reached the climax of their set, ending with Bad Weekend, I think everyone walked away with a smile on their face. They're a band that are able to find the right balance between fun and relevant, and they do it very well. Opening with the two-chord guitar clash of Formed A Band we remember why we all fell in love with the band in the first place, and why they're still a draw so many years on, even if they play in secret.

One of the most anticipated bands of the weekend was The Strokes, playing their first festival in Spain in a very long time. Quite simply, The Strokes are one of the best bands of recent times (if you needed reminding). From the musicianship, to Julian Casablancas' ability to command a stage, it's very impressive to watch. However, it all seems to go over in a flash. Despite playing for 90 minutes, it quite simply isn't enough. There's too many songs that you want to hear, and those that make it into the set, you sing along word for word and it's over in flash. From Last Night, to Someday, Hard to Explain, to newer songs such as Under Cover of Darkness, it all came into place. Ladies went hysterical to just seem them in the flesh, guys wanted to be them, it was as if it was 2001 all over again. As the opening chords of Take It or Leave It ring out, and every single audience member sang back the sound of the guitar, there was really no other place you wanted to be. There was no encore, no fuss, and with that, they stole Benicassim and made it theirs.

Friendly Fires
To follow on from that was some feat, but something which Friendly Fires thrived off. With their second album, Pala, relieving late 80s rave culture in sound, their stage time of 3am was more than suitable. Combing rave elements, with soul/funk and even Brazilian samba beats, the party was created. With 'Live Those Days Tonight' demonstrating the bands new sound, heavily programmed synthesisers and hectic drums, sliding straight into their set with songs from their debut album, including Paris, Jump in the Pool and Skeleton Boy, it seems as if Friendly Fires have been around an age. Dancing in the warm summer night never seemed so much fun.

However, the party didn't stop with Friendly Fires. DFA head honcho and former front man of LCD Soundsystem, James Murphy, provided one of the best late night DJ sets I've witnessed at a festival. With a real New York vibe and feel to it, it was all disco, not cheesy wedding disco, but real 70s and 80s disco, and as the sun began to creep up, it seemed a shame that the party had to come to an end.
review by: Anthony Hetherington

photos by: Charlene Carr

Thursday 14th to Sunday 17th July 2011
near Valencia, Spain, Spain
£165 for 4-days (only no camping available)
last updated: Fri 1st Jul 2011


latest on this festival