Festival Internacional de Benicassim 2011 review

Overall: 7/10

Surrounded by mountainous hills, water parks, go-karting circuits and only a stone’s throw away from a sandy Spanish beach, Benicassim a.k.a. Fiberfib Festival is fast becoming one of Europe’s most popular and diverse events.

Despite the unconventional concrete arena setting, Benicassim has much to offer anyone looking for a holiday with a great nightlife. Many enter this strange and wonderful place unwillingly knowing that night is day and day is night. Be prepared to develop a serious case of insomnia: bands start at 7pm continuing through until 7am, with headliners playing well past midnight.

Plan B (7/10) fools the crowd at first with a set of bouncy jazz songs before launching into a full-scale attack on the audience’s ears with a beat boxing remix of Seals ‘Kiss From A Rose’ and screaming mosh choruses of: “I remember when I use to feel something, I remember when I use to feel something!” The guitarist pelts himself into the drum kit, destroying both his instrument and his trousers.

The Streets (7/10) follow and despite their best efforts to keep the crowd going, many are swayed by the clash with Chase and Status, which finishes around 4am.

Becoming creatures of the night results in many being made homeless by the greenhouse heat of their tents in the morning. Revellers seek refuge on park benches, pavements and the shady comfort of palm trees. The streets of the town are littered with bodies like a festival massacre has occurred.

Those who can’t make the 20-minute walk into town can be found in the small on-site swimming/paddling pool amongst the fake grass and deck chairs.

Festival-goers all manage to come round in time for the Friday night as teenage girls go crazy for a certain Mr Brandon Flowers (5/10), who fails to entertain until he plays The Killers’ hit ‘Mr Brightside’.

It’s The Strokes (8/10) who rock the hardest after a slow and steady performance by Elbow. Julian Casablancas is a man of few words but what he has to say is very insightful and observant behinds those oh-so-cool black sunglasses: “There are muchos fucking people here”.
Halfway through Saturday sees Mumford And Sons (9/10) test the water with some new unreleased tracks. Fans of the folk band respond well and they really get everyone jumping and line dancing with their fun and heart-wrenchingly sad songs including ‘Little Lion Man’.

Alex Turner may not have given a shit about being here but the Arctic Monkeys (6/10) pull off a electric set blasting out hit after hit, ticking all the boxes for the Benicassim crowd.

What really makes it a year to remember above all is the epic Sunday night headline performance of Portishead (8/10) followed by Arcade Fire (9/10). Portishead’s overwhelmingly intense show results in shy singer Beth Gibbons waiting until the sixth track to utter a single word. Even then it’s a quiet: “thanks”.

However, it quickly become clear when Arcade Fire walk on stage, that no other headliner will do. They give it their all to the crowd and the hoards give back it back as both tears and sweat are shed over the epic sing-a-long songs of ‘Rebellion’, ‘Wake Up’ and ‘The Suburbs’.

After surviving four sleepless nights, hours of dancing as well as sunburn and drinking, the ultimate act for this remarkable journey proves to be Arcade Fire. 

Benicassim takes you from insomnia to euphoria and from hellish tents to glorious music within a matter of days. There is no sense of time or space but where else would you want to be stuck in Limbo?

By Sarah Kerr