Live Music + Gig Reviews

Benicassim Festival @ Benicassim – Day 2

20 July 2007


Storms in London? And we were so missing home. But even thousands of miles away, the British weather was having untoward effects, preventing Klaxons from making their opening slot on the main stage. Luckily, and with extraordinary forethought, there was a handy open slot in the FiberFib tent just an hour and a half later for them to slip into. It probably did them a favour, a packed’n’sweaty tent was an environment which fits them better than the dusty, wide-open spaces of the Escenario Verde main stage. Which proves, it’s best for all if the new rave in Spain falls anywhere but the plain.

But before all that, the first act to bring up the BPM of the FiberFib tent were Icelanders Gus Gus. A pair of daintily tiaraed girlies took to either side of the stage, frilling their garments suggestively while head honcho President Bongo started off in the guise of lead singer for the first few tracks. Each rolled neatly into the next without a huge amount of definition and it was only when the statuesque Earth appeared that the set ratched up a gear.

Her face covered with enough silver paint to suggest pass for part-Icelander, part-cyborg, shes a charismatic focal point, goading the audience on through a selection of tracks that paid as much attention to the band’s back catalogue as it did for latest album Forever. And good as it was given what was to follow, it was difficult to gauge whether the swelling of audience numbers during their set was about their music or about securing a place.

Dancing before Klaxons were even in training glowsticks, The Rapture showed them exactly how it should be done. House Of Jealous Lovers was a two-line masterclass of how to write a song it is impossible not to shimmy to, while Don Gon Do It and Sister Saviour were hip-shaking enough to dislodge teeth. Oh, Klaxons, take your Golden Skans and shove ’em up your arse, The Rapture have a saxophone and they ain’t afraid to use it. Whoo! Alright – Yeah… Uh-huh!

With the legendary Dinosaur Jr labouring through their set to a smallish crowd, The Horrors were a gothic siren song calling from the FiB Club tent. Besides, we wanted to see if they were going to keep the none-more-black look going despite the thirty degree temperature. The answer for which was, of course. It’ll take more than incredible heat to get Faris Rotter and cohorts out of brothel creepers.

Didn’t quite work though. They threw most of the same moves that normally make a Horrors gig endlessly exciting: Faris stalked the stage mumbling incoherently, grabbing lights and smacking glitterballs with his mic stand, while the rest of the band of freaks and weirdos make all kinds of swampy surfabilly rock’n’roll, but it just never really got properly going. Sheena Is A Parasite briefly sparked, but that was the closest they came to igniting.

Maybe all they needed was some funny hats. Because are we not men? No, we are Devo! The post-punk pioneers were unexpectedly brilliant. Ok, the five middle aged men in bright yellow overalls now look far more like a team of sanitary engineers then a subversive pop band, but you really couldn’t fault the quality of the songs.

A deliciously non-PC Mongoloid had every jittery guitar band from the past three years begging for forgiveness for every stolen idea, the synth crack of Whip It sounded borrowed from a Saturday night at Cargo, not replayed from an album twenty years old, while the the appearance of the simian faced Booji Boy was enough to drive a large proportion of the crowd into thinking they’d been stood out in the sun too long. A giant baby chucking superballs into the arena? It’s enough to drive anyone toward a pure and clean lifestyle.

Just how many people can you cram in to a tent to see a little bald bloke scarcely move? Ask Pascal Arbez, aka Vitalic. Lurking behind a bank of electronic whatever, he crafted huge basslines, building crescendos and pumping anthems from the off. Tracks from his debut album OK Cowboy gave the set solid foundations, with My Friend Dario and Newman both sending the place into a frenzy and La Rock 01, the signature piece that made his name, getting a wild reception as green lasers zapped away at his devotees. At the close, a tent load of beaming grins stumbled out into the night.

By 4am the stumbling is getting worse and the crowd is rapidly depleting as festivalgoers either retire to their canvas hotels or, worse, collapse face down in a field of empty beer cups. But Benicassim being Benicassim, the night is never over – at least not till the morning and despite the sunrise approaching their was still time for French electronica outfit Digitalism.

Who netted a crowd large enough to ensure that a veritable horde were left unable to get into the tent and in the less than wholesome position of having to dance by the toilets. At least they were rewarded with the site of a naked man stood proudly on top of the unpleasant smelling loos bearing his, uh, gifts to the world.

Those that squirmed inside were rewarded with gifts of a more appealing kind, as the German electro merchants provided a body blasting turn through Homezone’s distortion spitfest, Pogo’s salubrious rhythms and the jerking shoulder rub of the Jupiter Room.

A canny way to end day two of Benicassim. But while today may have brought cocks, tomorrow we would get to see some Monkeys.



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