19 years old is a tender age to be hurdling life ambitions, and this one has taken just the mere 3 years to tick off, or at least next week it will have done. When Bob Dylan, New Order and The Stone Roses headed up a festival on the Spanish East Coast in 2012, I was looking for an ambition to replace seeing the latter of those live the month previous. The Festival Internacional de Benicàssim, has taken place every year since 1995, and this weekend I’m packing for an outdoor music event for the first time without having to contemplate wellies. Festivalling abroad is hardly a rarity, and 90% of Beni’ next week will be flying out from the UK and a small seaside town, populated by less than 20,000, will see the arrival of thousands of revellers turning that total towards 6 figures.
For those who aren’t already out there, or heading this weekend (we fly early Tuesday morning), the main festival starts on Thursday and runs through to the early hours of Monday morning – well, I say early, the headline acts are on until near enough 2am; so breakfast time maybe.
We’re hoping to arrive (cheap flights, you never quite know) in Alicante some time around mid-morning, and a transfer to the province of Castelló, on the Costa del Azahar, will take us to the gate of Spain’s most popular music festival. We’ll pitch up on the campsite with the tent we haven’t got yet, and begin taking in the atmosphere for about 10 minutes until we have a walk into the town for supplies like cheap Spanish lager and more cheap Spanish lager. The following day also comes before the festival has begun, the beach is close and it’ll be paid a visit during the daytimes. The nights could be spend anywhere, and it being my first time at a festival abroad, I’m kind of unsure what to expect; which is incredibly exciting.
Thursday, for me, will start at 8pm with Swim Deep; the first of the bands I’ll be seeing for the first time. They’ll come off the back of a superb set at Glastonbury and will fill my Friday evening slot. Headlining that night is Florence and The Machine. Florence has been consistently brilliant since breaking through in 2007, she heads up a band that make put a crowd in a place where they’re in limbo; dance/jump/sway/observe – it’ll be interesting, and I’m really looking forward to seeing her prove to me that baroque pop is still very much relevant and that “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful” deserves its’ high critical acclaim.
Friday will see the first semi-clash of the weekend. Jamie T, making a return with his latest album last year. He entertains the BBC Three/Radio 1 stage this Sunday at T In The Park. He’s on at Benicassim at 9:45pm, and Palma Violets are on the Radio 3 stage at 10:30pm. Palma Violets were a few years ago one of the most exciting bands around, they’ve made a resurrection this year with their second album. “Best of Friends”, which was voted NME’s song of the year in 2012, still remains their party-piece and the song I’m really looking forward to hearing. The main event of the night is Noel Gallagher’s set, having seen his brother a number of times Noel has always been one that I’ve never been able to tick off the list. His album, Chasing Yesterday was released in February, and he now has two solid albums to work from with the addition of the evergreen Oasis songs – it may be the highlight of the week for me. The Prodigy follow him, an act that in daylight hours I’ve been unable to listen to for a number of years, I might find a place for them at 1:30am on Saturday morning.
Saturday afternoon again is open-ended, but it wont be spent drying out my tent. I’d like to come away having found myself in all sort of corners of the festival and also the town just down the road, before Reverend and The Makers beat Frank Turner at 8:20pm on Saturday night. Following them are a band I’ve seen numerous times, never having really intended to, Kaiser Chiefs always put on a good show and they’ll no doubt repeat before the biggest band of the weekend. Blur formed in 1998, squared up their Northern counterparts in 90s Britpop and they ended 12 years without a studio album this year with “The Magic Whip”. ‘Lonesome Street’ stands out from their 2015 outing, but it is ‘Beetlebum’, ‘Charmless Man’ and especially ‘Tender’ that could bring the single best song of FIB.
Whichever way you look at it, Sunday ends the festival a touch weak. Portishead are at the top of the bill backed up by Bastille which combined won’t be able to touch The Cribs on the Radio 3 Stage in the early hours of Monday morning. A band I’ve seen a criminally low amount of times, ‘Be Safe’ will top of a week of brilliant entertainment in a beautiful part of the world before a flight back home on Monday evening.
¡No puedo esperar!