Benicassim 2009 - The Warm Up
Finally. Touch down. One thousand miles courtesy of the wallet-friendly Ryanair. As we hit the tarmac the speakers let out a fanfare which sounds more like a sigh of relief that we´re still alive than a glorious welcome, but we´re here! Only 300 miles away there are blanched beaches, silky seas and thumping speakers. Also waiting are plenty of old school friends. It feels like a festival with a sweet Spanish holiday aftertaste.
This is now the 15th Festival Internacional de Benicassim (FIB), a festival that is rapidly gaining in popularity - something I attribute to a number of things:
1. The ridiculously good weather, which judging by the amount of stripped-red skin around, people are lapping up.
2. The line-up- last year's glorious combination of My Bloody Valentine and Leonard Cohen showed that Benicassim know exactly how to pull crowds.
3. The length. Camping opens on the Monday, music doesn´t start till the Thursday and it´s four days long. A true holiday.
This last point means that for the true Benicassim experience, you need to get there at the beginning. So we arrive, trek up to the camp next to the arena, set up shop, sweat the Niagara Falls - the usual. The camp has been set up with the good intention of keeping us cool, but the result of draping cloth canopies between the trees turns our habitat into a colossal greenhouse.
Cue more sweating, though soon we´ve pitched round an old tree stump like pagan worshippers. Suddenly I feel something is odd, like when you know your mum looks different and you only notice she´s had a haircut when she screams at you for not noticing she´s had a haircut. Or something like that.
Then, eureka: they´re all English. Benicassim feels like a Gibraltar youth camp - strain your ears for a foreign accent and you´ll only get sore ears. I´d expect to stumble upon a Gala bingo if it wasn´t for the heat. A few things helped seal this conviction: half of Leeds imitating an out of order Oasis jukebox in the tents next to us; groups of lads swaggering down the street chanting random football scores, and the hordes that physically remove your underwear if you fancy an evening swim.
Despite these examples it´s mostly good natured, and sure, Benicassim reaps huge profits from this Brit surge. Furthermore, who can blame anyone for going to see their favourite bands in the sun? I just hope that after we leave, the locals aren´t left with "yob" stamped on any Brit they meet again, and occasionally it looks like it might swing that way.
Maybe this is because the music hasn´t started yet, and the Spaniards will soon arrive in their masses. An eclectic musical mix arrives soon, with everything from Brooklyn hipsters Telepathe, recent Skinny front-pagers TV On The Radio, post-punk revivalists Gang Of Four and intriguing folktronica pioneer Fourtet.
Furthermore, I expect many arms spread-eagle for headliners Oasis, Kings Of Leon, Franz Ferdinand and The Killers. It´s a clever mix, with headliners drawing the masses, but acts further down keeping the festival up-to-date and varied. The music speaks volumes, and I hope it will drown out any worries that the Brits are here just to cause chaos in such incredible surroundings.