Salitre had by default become our haven of refuge late at night after leaving the festival grounds and catching a cab back to Oropesa Del Mar. A small bar that reminded me of backpacker places in Asia sitting right on the beach with friendly staff and late night burgers. You could just sit by the ocean and process what had happened during the day, and rest up for another go at it tomorrow.
Saturday. The final day of Benicassim for us, plodding back to Norway to start work again Monday morning like regular folks. We reached the festival grounds while the clouds still spared us from the true bite of the Spanish sun, and set about heading for the main stage to watch The School of Seven Bells. Rather pretentious name, if you ask me. When the band appeared they looked like extras from a Vampire flick. Guitarist impossibly pale, hidden behind the veil of sunglasses, singer thin and intense watching out over the crowd with peering tension, keyboardist (well, part-time since most of the keyboard parts were on tracks) stood with her thick, luxurious raven hair spilling down over her heavily made-up face) and Mr. Drummer hidden behind cymbals.
They slanted into songs borrowing heavily from pre-recorded parts and only adding flourishes from live instruments, something that annoys me immensely. Rather tedious songs wrapped in too many effects and no real punch. Left early up to see Robyn Hitchcock enter the stage with the same spotty shirt he wore at Revolver almost a year ago (hope he washed it). The band were accomplished, played superbly and for a short hour we were transported back to the 70’s where fans of GONG could dance with their eyes closed and sing along to lyrics about acid trips. Robyn was enthusiastic and caused a minor stir with his wealth of Spanish, something different from the usual “Ola”, “Gracias” served by most bands.
Straight from there to catch a bit of Fujiya & Miyagi, the British modern day version of Neu!. Bands like this shouldn’t namedrop legendary bands that were part of changing the musical scenery forever. All they managed to do was change my mood from elated to severely bored in a matter of seconds. With stupid lyrics such as “teach me japanezy” the only thing they did right was spell their own downfall with a song titled ” In One Ear and Out The Other”. Surely bands like this don’t sell records? Who buys this stuff?
A much needed drinks break was afforded, and the timing was perfect as the tranny? Jessie J, bowled onto stage looking like a whiter version of the one from Black Eyed Peas, but with the same gaudy dress designer and a shoe shop that deserves to go bankrupt. Her music was the lowest pile of shit on the sick dog veterinary school stool test. Vapid, without meaning, tossed with cliches, fisted with annoying vocals and a stage presence that would make Kelis seem credible. Naturally she drew the greatest cheers from the crowd and it all started falling into place why there were so many deranged people at the festival. They listen to Jessie J.
Further up the timetable we made it to the first 30 minutes of Buzzcocks who didn’t seem to have aged a year since their show at Garage in 2009. They brought back some much needed punk attitude to a festival struggling to offer much in terms of alternative music. The crowd loved it. the band seemed up for it, and they motored through hits and non-hits alike in quick succession. Further down the festival area on the main stage, mr Comedy-hour himself, Noel Gallagher took to the stage with his High Flying Birds. Apart from not knowing a single song from his last album, he performed well and even threw in a crowd pleasing (to say the least) rendition of “Don’t Look Back In Anger” as the final song to end a well played set. The crowd went bonkers.
Bizarre doesn’t even come into question when I have to describe the next band. A band who formed millions of memories growing up in London. A band that performed soundtracks for most peoples teens. Of course, The Stone Roses. The reunion. Not so glamorous anymore considering everyone is doing it, but nonetheless, a happening. We shuffled over to the stage that was probably still ringing from Noels tones, and the skinny outlines of the Roses came into view. They launched in with the hits. The only problem was, that the volume was on 3. Whatever soundman Noel had employed, or even fucking Dylan for that matter, should have been at the helm, cause this was shambolic. People stood around looking like vacant ghosts. Nobody knew quite how to react. You could hear people breathing next to you. It was SO quiet.
I never thought in a million years I would do this, but I left after 5 songs. It was ridiculous to try and watch the Stone Roses playing at a volume your grandmother would not oppose to. Where was the rock n roll?
Last up before kissing farewell to the mixed emotions attuned to Benicassim was Dizzie Rascal. Fresh faced and with bags of energy he launched into hit after hit as the crowd swelled beyond proportions and looked as though they were going to implode. Furious dancing erupted along all the peripheries of the stage area and the sound bellowed out far past the mountains. He did an exceptional job. Probably one of the top 2 shows of the whole festival. Absolutely committed and rabidly spitting out his words behind fat beats. An absolute joy to watch, and managed to put a smile back onto my shabby face.
For me Benicassim was a phenomenally run, well thought out, well organised, super friendly, festival in a fantastic location, amazing weather, decent eating options, and a perfect VIP area. What will seriously sway my decision in ever returning is the fact that the wonderful Spanish festival is literally overrun by Brits abroad who happen to be some of the worst people on earth to share a shadow with. Violent, blind drunk, bumbling, sunburnt hooligans that I had to swerve to avoid during the 3 days running between stages. If the financial crisis hits Britain and they book some more underground bands next year, then I might be tempted back. If not, I think Benicassim can remain in the clutches of Man City supporters, no place for a Gooner.