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Bilbao BBK Live: The festival on a mountain

13 July 2017, 18:27

When the best music is at the top of a mountain, will you go up? The answer is yes.

The twelfth edition of BBK Live Festival shows why this is one of the most important festivals of Spain and why everyone who loves music should leave the city and head for this melomaniac forest.

The festival is located at the hillside of Mount Cobetas, south of Bilbao and starts on Thursday, ending on Saturday night. While most things hapepen at Mount Cobetas, there are are also free shows around the city running to 3pm each day. The festival begins at 6pm with people arriving around 7pm.

BBK Live has have five stages - Bilbao and Heineken (the main stages) Starman (the third most important), Basoa (with a focus on electronic music) and Matusalen. Around the city bands such as Delorean (one of the first Spanish bands that played at Coachella) played a free who at Kiosko del Arenal while Kaixo, RRUUCCUULLA and King Cayman performed on a boat.

The headliners at Bilbao BBK Live

Depeche Mode was the first major act of the festival. This electronic band does not need any introduction - and the 50,000-strong crowd was crazy. . Justice, The Killers, Die Antwoord, Primal Scream, Brian Wilson and !!! were also amongst the main headliners. Of course, not everything is mainstream and there was also electronic music on the Basoa Stage with the likes of Black Madonna, Nicola Cruz and Daphni (aka Caribou). Fans of the Spanish indie scene were kept happy with performances from The Parrots and Los Punsetes - one of the most important pop bands in Spain. Other appearances included underground rappers like Dellafuente & Maka, and Kaixo.

Our tips for Bilbao BBK Live

There are many ways to get at the festival, with free buses from the centre of the town or the cheap regular buses. The Bilbobus (€1.50) on Line 58 goes every 15 minutes, from Monter Caramelo to Atxuri, to the door of the festival. Line 28 goes every 20 minutes, from Altamira to Uribarri and leaves you almost 100m from the festival. Line 48, every 20 minutes takes you from Santuchu to Leceaga, 150m from the festival. Free buses travel form San Mamés stadium, close to Termibús (bus station) amnd run a 24h service every 5-10 minutes, and from BEC, Baracaldo on the same schedule.

Taxis cost from €15 and take around 20 minutes. You can travel direct to the festival entrance if you take the taxi before 6pm - after that the crowd will force the taxi to drop you off five minutes away.

Eating and drinking at Bilbao BBK Live

Food and drinks operate on a cashless system so you have to charge your wristband with card or cash. Plastic cups cost 2,50€ and you have to hold onto them if you don´t want to pay every time you get a drink.

Being a tourist in Bilbao

Between shows and hangovers, you will have time to visit some parts of this amazing city. It's not so big but it is really beautiful and the downtown area - “El Casco Antiguo” - is amazing. You can walk around and eat pintxos - like tiny tapas - for very little money. You can also follow the river and see the amazing architecture - but the most important thing to visit is the Guggenheim. This amazing building, designed by Frank Gehry, is a must-see if you're in the city. You can go for free or pay if you also want to see the special exhibitions, for just €14, you can see some amazing exhibitions. In the last months there have been exhibitions on Abstract Expressionism and Francis Bacon.

How to survive at the festival

It depends on the year and the weather but you can be sure that it's going to be cold up there on the mountain - so take something waterproof like a jacket, a raincoat or an umbrella. And of course, for the girls, some flats, like sneakers or boots because the ground is muddy!

How do I get to Bilbao?

You can fly from any city in Europe to Bilbao, with direct flights from Stansted and Gatwick. If you're in Spain, you can go by plane, bus, car or train - all options are cheap and convenient, as long as you book them one to two months in advance. If you choose to fly, the taxi to the city will be €25. A €1.30 bus takes 40 minutes and runs every half-hour.

Where can I stay at Bilbao BBK Live?

Camping for wristband holders is just €10 for a camping spot close to the festival and had amazing views and a supermarket and a coffee machine.

If you prefer to have a regular bed and pay, check Air BnB - and the sooner the better, because one week before the festival, it gets extremely expensive. Hostels are not so fancy but are clean and cool.

What we saw at Bilbao BBK Live

Nicola Cruz

This producer/musician from France was raised in Quito, Ecuador and is one of the most talented South American producers. A few years ago he created the concept of Andes-step - electronic music influenced by the sounds of the Andes. His first album, Prender el Alma was a complete success and you'll hear it played at any cool festival in South America. His DJ set at Basoa was an intense three-hours long and includes tracks by Dengue Dengue Dengue, Rodrigo Gallardo, Chancha Vía Circuito, Begun, El Búho, Matanza, and the label Multi Culti. The mix of Latin sounds is the perfect niche for lovers of electronic music and avant-garde. Basoa was the perfect stage for these vibes with the stafge surrounded by forests and nature.

Die Antwoord

While the South Africa legends may not be the force they once were, sometimes you just have to see a band that you can't see in a club or on a regular stage - and that's Die Antwoord, closing out Saturday night at BBK. Twerking dancers flank the stage for eveyrone song, with the DJ on a huge platform of lights with Ninja and Yolandi below. They were intense, crazy, liberating, and fun with hightlights including “Baby´s On Fire”, “Ugly Boy” and “Enter The Ninja". Their set came with weird visuals like jelly babies with giant penises or surreal cartoons with rainbows and pills. A must see.

Joe Goddard

Goddard's album Electric Lines sounds better even in a live show. He played Friday night at Starman, with a set including favourites “Music Is The Answer”, “Home” and “Children”. Maybe the stage wasn’t full but it didn’t matter; a great live performance with good matching visuals (sometimes geometric, sometimes psychedelic) .

The Parrots

The Heavenly-signed Parrots are the most important garage band in Spain, and if you don’t believe it, go see them at their next gig. They´ve been playing almost for ten years as a threesome but now they are four. They are getting better and better and the fourth member allows greater interaction with the audience - crowdsurfing and more. They played their now iconic “Los Niños Sin Miedo” and ended the show with “No Me Gustas, Te Quiero”. Inside the Starman stage the crowd was crazy, with many fans crying and saying “Alex, I Love You”.

Dellafuente & Maka

Spain is currently living through a golden age of urban music with Dellafuente & Maka heading up a new generation of rappers/reggaetoners/flamenco singers in this country. Their set is stripped back with only the performers - no visuals and a DJ.

Jens Lekman

Leckman played one month ago at Primavera Sound in Barcelona and his return perfomance on Friday night at the Starman stage saw him play as set that included recent favourites “What’s that Perfume that You Wear?” and “Wedding in Finistére”. Lekman was shy but then the stage was very far from the audience so no one could talk very much with their audience.

When is the next Bilbao BBK Live?

Earlybird tickets for next year are already on sale from €75 and the festival runs from 6-8 July.

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