I don’t know if it is just us but this year feels like the year people have finally had enough of slopping around in wellies in the rain. It might be the perpetual winter we have suffered this summer, it might be the fact that wellies are not actually comfortable (no matter how much Hunter wearers protest) or it might be that no matter how hard they try English festivals never really have that sense of luxury that their European contemporaries manage to pull off. Stages on the beach, siestas, cloudless skies, the mediterranean sea, BBQs and the promise of a tan instantly makes a festival more of a holiday and the Festival Internacional de Benicàssim, well it offers all of these things and, importantly, a whole host of amazing artists.
Taking place from 12-15 July on the East coast of Spain between Valencia and Barcelona the 18 year old festival promises appearances from the legendary and the local to the recently reformed and the newly founded, catering to a relatively casual music loving crowd. As with most European festivals the music starts as the sun goes down and fittingly finishes when the sun rises, avoiding the inevitable scramble to find after hour entertainment elsewhere – if you’re still awake at 6am it is a good bet the only place you’ll need to go is to bed or to the beach.
Even before At The Drive-In joined the bill we wished we were going but they definitely sweetened the deal – Spain seemingly on our door step when compared to Palm Springs and Coachella Festival therein. The Cedric Bixler Zavala led El Paso post hardcore five-piece reformed recently after an 11 year hiatus, sparking a ridiculous amount of excitement in all those that have ever lost their shit to ‘One Armed Scissor’. A nostalgic outing for the band and fans alike then, their set is likely to be one of the highlights of this weekend, let alone the summer. We’ll be sat at home, hopefully consoling ourselves with tickets for the Brixton show.
On a completely different, yet still nostalgic, level will be Bob Dylan unmissible headline show. Everyone knows that Bob’s performances in recent years have been unpredictable, with feelings airing on the side of disappointment. But we all know by now that Bob’s voice is a little grizzly and, no, he won’t play his hits in a manner you’ll recognise, but he is still undeniably a legend and one who, if you’ve not already made your own mind up about, you should take the opportunity to experience.
Picking you up out of your back catalogue and hurtling you, willingly or not, into 2012 will be Bat For Lashes whose eagerly anticipated third studio album The Haunted Man is due out in October. We’ve not heard anything off the album in its recorded form yet, but she debuted three new songs when she stopped off in Cambridge last month and they sound just like everything we’d hoped for.
Crystal Castles‘ paranoid, nervous, punk infused offerings will give revellers their much needed dose of wild frenzy while Little Dragon‘s taught, slinky beats will entice you into the lighter side of electronic experimentation. None of this will of course prepare you for The Antlers, who will ensure you don’t get too caught up in the weekend’s euphoria with their beautiful, warm but heartbreaking efforts.
Holding down the blockbuster side of things The Stone Roses and Florence & The Machine will be headlining but to be honest we’re much more excited about New Order‘s top billed show or earlier performances Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, The Horrors, Django Django, Kurt Vile, Katy B, Zola Jesus and SebastiAn than those. So if you get a moment in between sipping on cocktails, sun bathing and dipping your toes in the sea maybe try and see some of them, you won’t regret it.