Benicassim 2009: Rated!
Benicassim, Spain - 16-19 July
Oasis: disappointing at Benicassim
- Photographer:Bob Rose
Shelley Jones - 10 August 2009
Overall – 4/10
Hammered-up on a piece of tarmac in the middle of nowhere, Benicassim used to be the destination for rat-tailed Europeans and tanned backpackers with all five fingers on the musical pulse. People cooler than you, basically, and that was sort of the appeal. But like all good things, those days have come to an end and the locusts of the festival world survive, fresh from Costa Del Sol or Camp Wanker.
I could tell things were going to be different this year when we arrived in Barcelona Sants station and a less-than-lovely group of alco-poppy teens wearing “Let’s Get Inebriated: Benicassim 2009” t-shirts were waiting for our train. But things only got worse.
The great thing about Benni is you can camp for nine days and get a beach-break for your well-spent 170 euros as well as seeing some kick-ass bands. The artists play well into the morning and everyone looks hot and exotic in a dirty hippy way due to the inevitably glorious weather.
That is, everyone used to look hot and exotic. We camped next to a lovely Spanish couple, Maria and Jorje, and they told us they don’t like British tourists much as a chorus of “Three lions on a shirt” simultaneously peeled across the campsite. Even a few “I love England” tattoos are sported on the beach, which made me want to scratch my eyes out with a better-economy-than-ours Euro.
It is fair to say that Oasis probably accounted for a lot of the festival-goers this year and on Friday night when a forest fire broke out in a field adjacent to the campsite I heard Jorje shouting, “burn Oasis, burn Gallagher.” The fire, however, wasn’t funny. It was actually pretty terrifying being caged in a dry field full of flammable tents, but luckily some sweaty Spanish fire fighters built like bulls put it out.
The site – 8/10
The site is really very good. The showers are efficient and the portaloos are cleaned regularly with this coconut stuff that makes them smell like “sweet shit” according to my fellow campers.
There are canopies and trees providing extra shade from the sun and a tent that sells freshly squeezed orange juice, beer, tent paraphernalia, food and hats. However, a pint of beer is three tokens - 7.50 euros - which is crazy expensive. You can drink your own booze in the campsite but not in the festival site and they search you quite rigorously for stowaway bottles.
Getting there and back – 4/10
The nearest airport to Benicassim is Valencia but most people fly to Barcelona because it’s cheaper and then get a three-hour train to the festival. There is a twenty-minute walk from the station to the FIB campsite (the beach campsite is an hour away) and getting a train back on the Monday is like trying to fit bananas in an egg box so make sure you book everything in advance to get a real seat and not the luggage compartment.
Atmosphere – 5/10
The atmosphere would have been great but there was a hurricane on Friday night and everything got cancelled. No Kings of Leon, no Horrors and no Boys Noize to name but a few. Apparently there aren’t 75 kmph winds in southern Spain often but the organisers were still a little unprepared. The canopies tear apart; marquees flip over, tents fly off and the fences around the showers collapse. The Civil Guardia evacuate a lot of people to a sports hall in town but we rode out the night in a tent about as stable as Mr Blobby and got no sleep. There were people screaming and banging bins like it’s the apocalypse.
Russian Red – 8/10
This cute-as-a-button darling from Madrid is the first artist we see on Saturday following Friday’s hurricane. She plays as the sun sets behind mountains to the west and her beautiful yodel-style tones roll over the hills like sunshine. Her version of ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ is goose-pimply melancholic and the sweetly tempered ‘Cigarettes’ rises and twists like smoke.
The Wave Pictures – 9/10
It is amazing to hear such earnest yet absurd lyrics from this eccentric English band that seem to stumble upon their infectious regatta-pop with more surprise than anyone else. David Tattersall leads the band like a hat-tipping troubadour and you cannot help but jig, bop and shake to his dusty ditties.
Mystery Jets – 8/10
The boys from Eel Pie Island play the main stage with chipper quiffs, pastel suit-jackets and killer riffs. The crowd is peppered with lighter flames for the beautiful ‘Flakes’ and they play out to a haunting version of final album-track, ‘Behind the Bunhouse’.
Peaches – 9/10
There is nothing sweet about this gimp-masked performance by Canadian sex punk, Peaches. She stomps on stage in a puffed hooded top and loses layers systematically throughout her set until she is left wearing nothing but a skin-coloured leotard with a bright light bulb on the crotch. She gets the audience similarly exposed screaming “Take it all off” until there is a crowd of people swinging tops above their heads. ‘Fuck The Pain Away’ is rambunctious as to be expected and her Iggy Pop collaboration ‘Kick It’ is performed with the keyboardist emphatically. The more conventional ‘Talk To Me’ exhibits Peaches’ creamy side as it rings out melodically.
2 Many DJs – 9/10
One of the most impressive things about the 2 Many DJs set is the incredible animation that accompanies the mixes. Huge images of famous album covers by the likes of Michael Jackson, Prodigy, David Bowie and Dizzee Rascal come to life and dance in time with the relentless, heavy dropping beat.
Oasis – 5/10
I am quite excited to see Oasis but I find them a bit disappointing. They don’t really perform and I know that’s their “thing” but it’s a bit boring and there is a power cut during ‘Wonderwall’ that totally wrecks the atmosphere. A horde of people clamber up a 60-foot speaker tower during the gig which looks fun but also like that horrible advert on TV where the guy thinks he can do anything, then falls and dies. This makes me nervous and completely undermines any enjoyment I might be having from the band. That said, it IS Oasis and they’ve got some pretty cool songs like ‘Roll With It’ that the crowd lap up like milk.
Four Tet – 5/10
Four Tet is a really awesome DJ and his set is only a bit of a downer because he doesn’t play any of his own remixes. Tut tut.
Kings Of Leon – 0/10
The Kings don’t play at all. And unlike Maximo Park who hang around until Saturday to satisfy their sunburnt and dehydrated fans they fuck off back to Nashville or wherever super cool guys with leather jackets hang out without so much as a “so long suckers”. Off with their heads!
Paul Weller – 4/10
Paul is doing okay until the hurricane/fire/God’s wrath forces him off stage. He doesn’t even get to play any Jam songs and the whole performance is about as exciting as porridge.