It’s the first day of this year’s Bilbao BBK Live and, nestled away in the ordinarily quiet mountains of Northern Spain, things are about to get a whole lot louder. Kicking the annual event off on this late Thursday afternoon in July are the likes of Franz Ferdinand and Phoenix, who are topping this evening’s bill, but there’s undoubtedly some other treats in store at this Basque music festival.
With mountain tops and rugged scenery stretching as far the eye can see, one could be forgiven for thinking that proceedings should begin with something a little more serene. Nevertheless, that’s not how this weekend is set to start: Future of The Left emerge on the festival’s second stage as loud as ever. Thrashing and screaming their way through the set, they quickly ensure that any work-weary punters instantly have the cobwebs of their day jobs blown away.
Whilst things get off to a somewhat slow start, the Welsh band’s riotous set bleeds perfectly into today’s first Main Stage performer. At first, there’s something ever so slightly strange about watching Parquet Courts in the Spanish sunshine. Yet, as they settle into their slot, it becomes all the more clear that this is just how they’re meant to be watched. While, undoubtedly, their sweaty, raucous performances in dark-n-dingy clubs are enigmatic in their own unique ways, there’s nothing quite like watching the Brooklyn-based quartet play against a sky blue backdrop.
Even on a stage as large as this one, the four-piece look and sound tight, their energy fluid and contagious, as they stand together centre stage. Whilst there’s a furious energy to their ‘Light Up Gold’ cuts, the set is sliced with the certain lingering laziness of their seven-minute ‘Instant Disassembly’, which seems to personify today’s mid-summer feel perfectly. Paced, punchy and powerful throughout, Parquet Courts breathe a whole new life to the phrase ‘Sunbathing Animal’.
Across the site, West London’s White Lies are greeted by a legion of fans, singing along with every word. Their volume is incredible, their excitement is tremendous, with fans cramming themselves in to catch a glimpse of the band showcasing the likes of ‘Fairwell to the Fairground’ and ‘Bigger Than Us’. Meanwhile, Hercules and Love Affair are celebrating the recent release of their latest full-length, ‘The Feast of the Broken Heart’ by putting on a more-than-compelling show for their packed out Sony tent.
When it comes to the fact that this evening’s headliners aren’t actually the closing act, the thousands awaiting the arrival of Franz Ferdinand seemingly couldn’t care less. The reaction they get, stepping out onto the stage to the chords of ‘No You Girls’, is indescribable. There are girls squealing, glow sticks flying, voices singing. There’s a touch of hysteria in the air, as thousands of fans rush towards the stage while the four-piece ring out the hits. Whether they’re debuting some tracks for the first time, or simply kicking back and playing some oldies, you’d think this was less of a Franz Ferdinand show, and more of a One Direction affair; and it’s brilliant.
Following suit on the excitement scale, Phoenix begin just as a new day creeps in. Whilst in any other country, beginning a set at twenty past midnight would be sacrilege, here, it’s complete normality and there’s nothing stopping crowd members from hoisting themselves up onto nearby portaloos to get a better view of Thomas Mars and co. Luckily, the French gang give as good as they get, running through a multicoloured array of tracks from their five gem-filled records.
Closing proceedings this evening, however, has been left in the rather capable hands of some local heroes. The welcome for Crystal Fighters this evening is like no other: the crowd dance their way closer towards the front, electrified with every change of song. Each note sparks unified movement, and the sound of however-many-thousand people singing along to a band who share their very own culture is awe-inspiring. On stage, Sebastian Pringle et al are dressed to the nines: donning head-dresses and leaves galore, with traditional instruments at the ready, they’re pulling out all of the stops tonight. After all, there’s no place like home to do it.
Check back to diymag.com for more updates from Bilbao BBK Live 2014.
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