They call it -Glastonbury in the sun’, but in truth Benicassim bares little resemblance to Europe’s premier festival. For a start there’s apparently little too worry about on the weather front. Nestled along Spain’s east coast, Benicassim usually basks in constant sunshine. Mid-thirty degree heat marks the day and the festival’s 7pm to 7am running time means punters are afforded plenty of beach time. The line-up is also incomparable. While Glastonbury prides itself on its diversity, Benicassim is targeted at lovers of mainstream indie with Oasis, The Killers, Kings of Leon and Franz Ferdinand this year’s headliners. If the festival does hold any comparison to Michael Eavis’ summer soiree, then it’s in its audience. White, middle-class English swarm to the Costa Azahar in their droves and the general lack of natives at one of Spain’s largest festivals is bizarre in the extreme.
Smaller than most other European festivals, State kicked off Day One with the sub-Libertine’s Schick of The View, Kieren Webster and Kyle Falconer trading vocal blows over a triumphant -Wasted Little DJ’s’ and an early -festival moment’ in -Superstar Tradesman’. The material from the Dundee quartet’s poor second album -Which Bitch?’ just doesn’t cut it however, and so it’s on to emerging Spanish chanteuse Anni B Sweet on the tiny Fib Club stage.
Sweet – aka Ana Lopez – does a neat line in pop folk that slides between simple Joan Baez-esque folk and vocal experimentation, which brings Kate Bush to mind. There are moments when she is truly sublime, such as on -Motorway- from her fine -Start, Restart Undo’ LP. Further evidence of a strong Spanish music scene comes in the form of instrumental surf quintet Los Coronas, whose breezy heavily Californian surf influenced sound is perfect festival fodder. Anyone Spanish is crammed into the Fib club tent for one of Latin music’s biggest acts.
The other 95% of festivalgoers are however packed around the Main Stage for Oasis‘ headline set. Plagued by organisational problems at Slane and sound disasters at Manchester, the Gallagher brothers could be forgiven for thinking that their current tour is cursed. From the off the sound is atrocious. Low to the point of being nearly inaudible, Liam’s signature rasp is but a whisper, while Noel’s guitar may not as well have been there. It’s a pity, because in front of a lairy British audience singing each tune word for word this should have been a crowning moment. An annoyed Noel Gallagher comments on the poor sound before becoming suitably unimpressed when a pissed up group of revelers climb one of the speaker stands. It all makes for one hell of a let down.
If Oasis exit with a whimper, Glasvegas enter with swagger, bravado and a bang. Scotland’s finest ever band are on fire tonight with James Allen totally in control of the big stage less than a year after the release of their debut album. This is a coming of age set, with the four piece confident enough to sing a’capella versions of Oasis’ -Live Forever’ and The Ronette’s -Be My Baby’. It’s -Daddy’s Gone’ and -It’s My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry’ though which has the predominantly male audience singing in unison. Show stealing stuff.
It’s Spain again however who throw forth the night’s finest band. We Are Standard are the nation’s best-kept secret, blending Franz and LCD Soundsystem into a mesh of sound, which can’t stop State’s feet from moving. The Bilbao-based band get bonus points also for having two drummers. And that’s Benni on Day One. Not the most diverse or engaging line-up ever, but enough.
Photos: Ã“scar L. Tejeda / Javier Rosa