Benicassim is probably my favourite place in the world. It is incomparable to any other music experience I've ever had, and 2017's edition of FIB was surely up their with the best. The lineup itself was mouthwatering, 4 days of the best rock and alternative acts around would take their turn to perform in front of a 'Spanish' crowd that was overwhelmingly British.
By Thursday, sunkissed visitors to the festival had already experienced Beni culture. Blur's Dave Rowntree appeared at Buddha over the road from the festival, and The Libertines' Gary Powell was in Benicassim town for a DJ set at Casablanca nightclub. These were the Off-FIB parties, the 6th year they've taken place, and they go hand in hand with a campsite that is full before a song has even been played at the festival.
For many, it would be an artist whose rise to fame has captured the attention of music fans of any genre. Stormzy is a proud Londoner, and he mentioned his hometown a number of times to a packed out Las Palmas stage. He's turned heads alright, my opinion of his music has remained the same, but as a person he surely epitomises the vibe of Benicassim. He is humble and loves what he does. I'm sure a Stormzy fan would have similar premonitions about The Courteeners on the Visa stage. Divisive geographically, misunderstood perhaps – both acts drew their respective crowds. Liam Fray and co. ripped through an 11-song set, the return of 'Summer' to fit a warm night on the Costa Azahar. It was sweaty alright, but an early highlight as the festival kicked off.
The second big main stage act, The Weeknd, were less impressive. Despite having more recognisable songs to the earlier Stormzy, his appreciation of the Las Palmas crowd was barely noticeable. A note to US and Candadian artists, there is nothing more irritating than coming to the UK, playing Manchester, London and Glasgow and addressing crowds alike as "the UK". Equally, Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, referring to Benicassim as "Spain" for the duration of his performance was a shame. A tale of two popular artists, it seemed.
Day 2 of music at FIB, and Sheffield's The Sherlocks appeared at Las Palmas followed by a small but cult crowd. The reception of their new album won't be make or break for the band, but instead how they follow it up. They've played it well, and their dedicated following will buy into 'Live For The Moment', released on August 18th. Another band who have struck a chord with a young and partisan crowd are Blossoms. Stockport flag in attendance, Tom Ogden's white trousers standing out on the stage, they played songs from their popular debut album. A cover of Wham's 'Last Christmas' in 30 degree heat was different…
Two popular picks for Friday night were Foals and Deadmau5, one after the other at Las Palmas, the latter playing until 4am. A relatively short Foals setlist did tick boxes, the usual suspects appearing, or at least more usual than Charlotte Church's Pop Dungeon at Visa later on – figure that one out.
Enter Saturday, and perhaps the best day lineup you could wish for. The locals flooded in for this one, the hottest ticket in town. Acts that are internationally recognised, or at least members from them, had been on the lips of FIBers since the lineup was completed. Enter Liam Gallagher, jokes about a parka jacket in red hot heat were only just shy, a waterproof and shorts would suffice as he strutted onto the main stage soundtracked by an Oasis classic before throwing the crowd into two more. 'Rock n Roll Star' and ' Morning Glory' sent them into ecstacy, but Liam will be most pleased with how new songs were received. New album, 'As You Were', will be released in October, and the likes of 'Wall of Glass', 'Chinatown' and 'I Get By' sound like instant hits as LG's voice remains impressively strong. Oasis tracks 'D'ya Know What I Mean?' and 'Slide Away' are followed by a quick word, "I wish we could keep doing 'em, but we've got to look forward into the future…"
Clash alert, Red Hot Chili Peppers vs. Pete Doherty. A couple of early sound issues might have hampered The Chilis, though, and a couple of alcohol issues might have hampered Pete Doherty's performance. In truth, they were both blown out of the water by Biffy Clyro. Red trousers, naked upper bodies, they are the ultimate live band. Simon Neil leads 20-songs, relentless rock sprinkled with swaying arms in 'Re-arrange' and 'Machines'. There were Scottish accents everywhere, their band gave a lesson in festival headlining.
Knowing Sunday's headliners, they will have admired Biffy Clyro's performance, but also seen this as motivation to rip Las Palmas up further. There was, of course, more music to be had before Kasabian though. Biffy's compatriots The View were on the Visa stage, having recently toured their 'Hats Off To The Buskers' album, it was refreshing for Kyle and co. to shuffle the pack. 'Sunday', '5 Rebeccas' and 'Tragic Magic' and Kieren Webster taking over for 'Skag Trendy'. Kyle is well, The View are on fire.
10 to 1, Monday morning, how do Kasabian sound? 'Ill Ray (The King)' kicks them off, from their new album 'For Crying Out Loud'. Tom Meighan took the crown for out of place jacket of the weekend from pre-race favourite Liam Gallagher – he and Serge lead a unique live performance. It wasn't until song number 14, 'Put Your Life On It' that the Benicassim crowd were able to breathe, an onslaught of songs throughout their exceptional career from 'Shoot The Runner' to newbie 'Bless This Acid House'. They closed with 'Fire', of course, it would be the last song for many of those at the festival, and for some it left the best until last.
In truth, Crystal Fighters played Las Palmas stage until 4am, and the party continued further than that at South Beach. But it was Kasabian that put the cherry on the icing on the Benicassim cake. From there, FIBers headed out of the campsite at all hours and back to normality.
The inevitable Beni blues are kicking in, a comfy bed is a shock to the system compared to dust and rocks, next time you have a beer it feels odd to be so cold. For first-timers, I've no doubt Benicassim lived up to expectations and more, the unique combination of a festival and a holiday in the sun. Leaving behind days at the beach, the daily trip for ridiculously cheap booze, the sunset to the sound of some of the biggest names in music. I'll miss Beni, until next time at least…