For the 22nd summer in a row, the small Spanish coastal town of Benicassim welcomed thousands of music fans from across the world for its annual four-day festival.
The festival kicked off on Thursday and the stand out performer was undoubtedly Stormzy who brought his energetic set to the Las Palmas (Main) stage. His interaction with the crowd and passion on stage showed just why he is one of the biggest names in the ever expanding world of Grime.
The man from Croydon rocked the Fibians (the affectionate term for attendees of the festival) in the crowd with some of his top tracks including Big for Your Boots, Shut Up and Cigarettes & Kush. As well as his own songs, Stormzy also included his special remix of good friend Ed Sheeran’s’ song Shape of You. His rendition of ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’ got the English crowd members reciting back and no doubt confused the hell out of their European counterparts. That’s the thing with Benni; there are so many British & Irish people in the crowd that it feels like home away from home.
Friday saw Blossoms take to the Main stage. Now they may have only had one record released, but it’s clear this group is set for a great future. Don’t let their lack of material fool you; their crisp indie rock sound was slick and the crowd loved it. They played all of their most loved tracks, including Smashed Pianos, Blown Rose and culminating in the group’s biggest selling single, Charlemagne. Various Indie acts appeared at the festival over the weekend, however very few came close to Blossoms, they’ve surely won many new fans off of the back of this performance.
The third day of the festival was always going to be the stand out day. Liam Gallagher brought a mix of classic Oasis tunes and some of his own solo work. It was a fine balance, opening with Oasis tunes Rock ‘n’ Roll Star and Morning Glory followed by recent solo single releases Wall of Glass and Chinatown. It was fantastic to hear the gritty sound of Oasis back, it’s just a shame we’ll probably never hear the finished article live again. Wonderwall topped off a superb hour long set in the best way possible.
Alternative/ Funk Rock giants Red Hot Chilli Peppers were the next instalment of the evening. It was an insane start to the set, with All Around the World, Dani California, The Zephyr Song and Dark Necessities one after another as The Peppers reminded the crowd that they are still heavyweights at the top of their game. It wasn’t the cleanest of performances; however it was a rugged throwback to early, rawer Chilli Peppers shows. Under the Bridge flowed into By the Way (no pun intended) to combine two classic Chilli Peppers songs almost into one. The only real disappointment was the absence of Can’t Stop from the set list, but anyone who appreciates quality music wouldn’t have minded too much; especially when they ended with classic, Give It Away.
By this point, it was 12:45 am and you’d think that would be it for the day, right? Well, not in Benicassim. Last but by no means least, Biffy Clyro entered the arena and they were truly worth waiting up for.
The Scottish rockers exploded on stage with Wolves of Winter; if anyone was feeling drowsy beforehand they certainly wouldn’t be now. Front man Simon Neil had the sweaty, rough, topless appearance which we have all come to associate with the band, the sounds and sights of Biffy’s rough aesthetic showed that rock and roll is far from dead. The setlist was scattered with the classic songs which we’ve come to love the band from Kilmarnock for. Biblical, Bubbles and Black Chandelier were all welcomed by an expectant crowd and every other song was interjected with welcome interaction from both Neil and bass guitarist James Johnston. The acoustic intro to Many of Horror has yet to lose its impact and when it began the crowd knew just how special the following minutes would be.
There was one more flagship band to come; a little group known as Kasabian.
The rock band from Leicester played all of their most renowned songs, as well as a sprinkling of songs from their latest release ‘For Crying Out Loud’. Opening up with Ill Ray (The King) from this year’s album, it was the perfect record for getting the crowd into the swing of things. Front man Tom Meighan asked ‘how many people are from Leicester? How many are from England?’ and out of the thousands who duly responded, thousands more were waiting eagerly for the quintessential Kasabian songs such as Shoot the Runner, Fire and Club Foot which filled the early morning Spanish air with the sultry sounds of a British rock band in its element. And with that, Benicassim 2017 was drawn to a close. Four days of avoiding the sun, experiencing top quality bands and struggling to keep your drinks from practically boiling had come to an end.
The three-hour coach journey back to the various airports around Spain have been made that much more bearable thanks to the many memories made over the weekend. It’s a festival which combines a quality line-up with beautiful beaches and a town filled with locals who are always more than welcoming to Fibians from far and wide. It’s obviously very different to any festival in England; however, it is very much worth the trek over on the Mediterranean coast. A week of enjoying the best acts music has to offer and red hot temperatures are waiting in this sleepy Spanish town.
Written by Patrick Hollis