Benicassim 2009 - Day One
The day begins at 9am with a sudden surge of panic that you may incinerate in your tent if you don´t rip yourself out of it. Down at the beach, every space is filled with people grabbing what sleep they could. We finally find a rare remaining spot on a stony outcrop and get a few much needed hours. And as we approach the arena, a reassuring amount of Spanish accents float through the crowd- the locals are arriving.
The View stride onto the stage with their well known swagger, guitars displaying the Saltire with pride. They fill the large stage impressively, and the classics take the crowd into the air. The outright chantalong pop of 'Wasted Little DJs' and 'Superstar Tradesman' are delivered with finesse. However, the only new number which attracts any attention is the jangly guitar anthem 'Double Yellow Lines', as all others fall on deaf ears. By the end of the set, the biggest cheer doesn´t come for the hard work of the band but for the particularly pervy cameraman who found the topless girl propped up in the crowd. It's tough competition.
Meanwhile, La Bien Querida attempts to form a crowd on the FiberFIB.com stage, and unfortunately fails. This is a shame, because the Spanish indie-pop songstress should have drawn a mob. Like a Spanish translation of Belle & Sebastian via some sharp-edged flamenco rhythms, such beautifully understated pop should not go overlooked.
Post-View, we are left waiting in the dying sun for Mystery Jets. Gradually, a siren swells from the speakers, grumbling from grass roots to a sea-parting roar. Everyone has already forgotten that previous band of youths as the wail brakes down into a glorious version of 'Undercover Lover'. New song 'Ever Grey' is met with the same ferocious cheer as every other, sticking to the 80s revivalist path they forged with previous effort 'Twenty One'. Their greatest moment comes when lead singer Blaine pipes up "We´re gonna play an old song, only ten of you will know it", before launching into 'Diamond In the Dark'. It's a reminder why this band deserve their place on the festival circuit- their quirky prog-pop that fits comfortably on any stage.
Via Los Coronas, occupying the curious niche of "Spain´s most popular instrumental surf-pop band", Oasis hit the main stage. Moody as ever, Liam sticks to his pose like a statue and they begin. Nearby, people begin climbing a huge scaffold which looks about as easy as ascending a greasy pole. I´m left wondering whether Oasis are seriously worth risking your life for. Well, maybe for the classics.
'Roll With It' is pounding, 'Songbird' is anthemic, and the acoustic version of 'Don´t Look Back In Anger' had the crowd swaying in beautiful unison. Elsewhere, the set is patchy, particularly with 'Wonderwall' and 'Champagne Supernova', both of which are marred by technical difficulties they should have solved after a similar situation in Manchester. But overall, a dark Spanish night lent itself to such world-conquering appeal.
In the Vodafone tent nearby, The Walkmen are proving to their crowd why they were right to ditch their mates at Oasis. Playing tracks from recent acclaimed album You & Me, lead singer Hamilton Leithauser´s unique and soaring voice caresses the crowd into a worshipping stupor (though the 1L beer on offer could have aided this). It was clear by the end that American hipsters had a home in Spain.
Which brings me neatly to Telepathe, Brooklyn´s brutally cool synth duo. They play with the typical nonchalance we expect of such a band, which resulted in a vaguely bobbing crowd. 'So Fine' is by far the greatest song, turning a few more heads than others, though unfortunately they fail to hold wrapped attention.
Back on the main stage, Glasvegas stroll onto what has to be one of the most intimidating stages they´ve ever attempted. Illuminated from behind by a giant showbiz billboard, they prove that it´s perfectly possible to follow Oasis. The tactic? Be extremely arrogant. This peaks when James Allen adopts a pornstar pose for 'Daddy´s Gone', head rested neatly on palm. He laps up the thundering singalong from the audience. Such nerve pushed taste almost to bursting point, but the sheer talent of the band kept them deserved of such adoration.
Then the night gets blurry for everyone, as the DJs take over the early hours. Considering Fourtet are usually incredible, Kieran Hebden´s set is a crippling let down for this scribe and all whose pupils are in correct proportions. Follow-up Justus Kohncke does little to change this, so it´s back to bed for a few hours naptime before the morning's panic attack.
The beauty of today is that with the arrival of music, it thankfully feels less yobbish, less "Brits On Tour". There are no longer inane chants, there are singalongs; we all have a purpose to be here now. Though a problem not totally solved, this incredible night of entertainment proves that Brits can occasionally prove their sterotype wrong with a nudge in the right direction.