The horror stories just keep coming flooding in from yesterday’s act of God. Tents blown away, tents stuck in trees, hundreds of passports scattered across the campsite and tales of near decapitations as tent poles flew through the air and violently pierced through neighbouring tents. Kudos though to the organisers who were quick to act as thousands of people were evacuated to sleep in a nearby school. Again, a festival in Spain – who would have thought so much could go wrong weather wise?
The morning began with rumours that Kings of Leon and Maximo Park were to reschedule their main stage slots for the early afternoon. Punters frantically texted friends back home for any online updates before a tweet from Nathan Followill confirmed that there was to be no Kings of Leon at Benicassim 09. ‘I’m sad to say that we aren’t playing Benicassim’, the drummer said. ‘We are so sorry and bummed about last night. Our gear is already headed to Switzerland.’
Maximo Park will however stick around for some scissor-kicking action on the Main Stage, where they will fill in for Lily Allen who, along with Foals, has pulled out due to illness. The headaches just keep coming for festival promoter Vince Power in what was meant to be a year of celebration to mark Festival Internacional de Benicassim’s 15th year in business.
When Day Three does kick off proper however there is much good-natured banter amongst the audience who have taken yesterday’s events in their stride. Some have even made custom-made t-shirts with the slogans -Kings of Leon: Blown away by Benni 09′ and -I’d rather be watching Kings of Leon’ scribbled across them. One suspects that the Nashville four-piece will have already put pen to paper on a return to the Costa Azahar next July.
State’s first port of call of the day is with Bell X1 who draw a sizable early evening crowd on the Second Stage. Paul Noonan is in fine fettle, bouncing from one side of the stage to the other with -Rocky Took A Lover’ and -The Great Defector’ highlights in a strong set. The Kildare natives though probably don’t fully realise how apt set-closer -Flame’ is, given yesterday’s huge fire by the festival’s perimeters.
It’s then to the Main Stage where – as mentioned – many Lily Allen fans are perplexed to see Maximo Park’s Paul Smith stride on stage with no sign of a revealing frock. Greeting the crowd with an ‘Ola! We’re not Lily Allen’, it’s all meat and two veg indie with the Park, whose batch of tunes muster little in the way of excitement or disdain. Though we could take them or leave them, you can’t fault their effort. Having stuck around an extra day, they get down to business with huge gusto – Smith egging on the crowd at every given opportunity whilst scissor-kicking his way through the set. A healthy dose of the set is made up from their third album, -Quicken The Heart’, though it’s of course -Apply Some Pressure’ and opener -Graffiti’ which has us all scissor-kicking in unison with the sharply-dressed frontman.
Elbow follow and it’s oddly moving to see the huge warm-reaction that greets their arrival on-stage. Consistently brilliant and only now garnering mainstream recognition, -Starlings’ is a perfect opener with its slow tempo punctuated by huge violent bursts of sound. Seeing the Mancunians live, you’re reminded of the wealth a great tunes in their back catalogue from 2005’s -Leaders of The Free World’ to 2001’s -New Born’. Last year’s -One Day Like This’ makes for a real festival moment with inebriated wails of the song’s closing refrain -One day like this a year would see me right’ from the audience. An epic set-closer.
If there’s love in the air on the Main Stage then it’s all lust, sleaze and eroticism on the Second Stage where Peaches is entertaining with her musical sex show. Donned in a silver leotard, Merrill Nisker’s continuing desire to try and shock is shocking in itself. By now her Schick is beginning to grate, and though -Boys Wanna Be Her’ from 2006’s -Impeach My Bush’ and the electro-punk-disco-funk of recent single -Talk To Me’ impress, we leave her with her lap dancers and gender-bending backing band for Day Three headliners Franz Ferdinand.
Like Maximo Park, Franz give it all live and tonight they reap the returns with huge receptions for -Do You Want To’, -Take Me Out’ and -Michael’. Having missed out on mass sing-a-longs last night, the Benicassim crowd aren’t going to pass on an opportunity to holler back some modern indie anthems. An extended dance version of -Lucid Dreams’ closes proceedings with Alex Kapranos finding his way into the front row of the crowd and pointing the way for some more lunatic dancing to 2ManyDJs. The mash-up pioneers rarely fail to impress and tonight unleash their standard mash of Destiny’s Child and Nirvana with new remixes of The Gossip, Michael Jackson and – most impressively – Dizzee Rascal’s -Bonkers’. The brothers’ 4am finish leaves just enough time for some odd Spanish electronica from emerging DJ and producer Tadeo for a set that moves from minimalism right into dark and powerful techno before State calls time to return to a pleasingly sedate campsite.
Photos: Ã“scar L. Tejeda, FranÃ§ois Ollivier