Live Review Benicassim 2012 (Day Four)

You’d be an idiot and a fool not to make the music lovers’ pilgrimage to Benicassim.

Waking up as bedraggled, revolting, sand-covered messes we drag our aching limbs straight down to the beach, where we eat cold paella full of dubious looking seafood we can’t identify. This pathetic state of affairs can only mean one thing – it’s Sunday morning, the last day at Benicassim. Whilst previously we would’ve keenly leapt to the pedalos like sprightly young sailors, today we stick to lying down under our umbrellas like less dignified Jane Austen heroines, where we continuously moan that it’s too hot and that we’re sunburnt.

The mood lifts as we get our mitts on some criminally cheap ready-mixed mojito, which looks like a bottle full of stagnated water infected with dissolved fungus, but tastes, remarkably, tolerable. As the facepaint comes out, Campfest adopts a true fiesta mentality, and from the nearby main stage we can here the tell-tale yelping of Juanita y Los Feos. It’s a shame that Spain’s answer to Los Campesinos! are on so early really– other than the exertion of a quick sitting-down-jig to ‘500 Muertos’ it’s still far to hot to even contemplate moving.

Uncharacteristically, though, we are soon organised, although cannot bribe others to head to the festival ground early with free mojito. Managing to rally a grand total of zero extra gang members, we hurry to The Antlers, who are playing on the miniscule Fibclub stage, at an unfathomably early time. It seems like scheduling madness, and when we get there the dedicated standing fans go back for just 4 rows or so, with the remainder of the audience sat on the floor. Still, Peter Silberman isn’t one for huffing and puffing about it, and he delivers a flawless, emotional vocal performance worthy of a headliner. It’s a particular pleasure to experience the new EP material in a live setting – ‘Drift Dive’ is just spellbinding with swelling melody and gentle guitar waves custom-made for the Spanish evening. This may just be one of the sets of the festival, so it’s a shame only a scattering of keen-eared connoisseurs got to see it

Next we move to the neighbouring Marravillas where The Vaccines have a booming audience, in stark contrast to The Antlers. Between us we represent the crowd response very well – I am wearing a permanent expression of nonchalance, only animating when my arm is nearly wrenched out of its socket by my accomplice. Watching Justin Young and co. in their slightly embarrassing matchy-matchy denim outfits is, for me, like the football stickers fad at primary school – it sounds like a great idea, most people go crazy for it, but I just can’t grasp the attraction of a band that only plays 3 chords at a time. I suspect I’m just being a miserable, cantankerous old so-and-so, though, because everyone else, bar a few fellow moody sods, seems to be having a great time. Previewing new songs ‘Teenage Icon’ and ‘Ghost Town’, The Vaccines do undoubtedly deliver exactly what their fans want, playing an energetic and admittedly entertaining live show. I’d also be lying outrageously if I claimed I didn’t sing along to ‘If You Wanna’ with newly mustered enthusiasm, too.

After The Vaccines it’s back to Fibclub, which is the busiest it has been all weekend. The waiting crowds go well back beyond the bar, and there is a hum of people murmuring about fancy outfits and this man being (shock) better than SBTRKT. My merry partner in crime, like most of the gathering observers, is getting very rowdy and over excited, spitting limited edition blueberry red bull all over people’s shoes and wildly gesticulating when Orlando Higginbottom takes to the stage dressed as, apparently, a potted plant. He is, in fact, sporting an elaborate dinosaur costume modeled on a stegosaurus, and hands down wins the prize for on-stage effort. As the trademark intro of ‘Garden’ comes to life, making way for fidgety Nintendo bleeping with a house persuasion, things get very closely packed and sweaty around Fibclub. Unlike many ‘producers’ of our day, Higginbottom is singing his heart out into the mic rather than just hitting ‘play’ on the sampler - and he sings very well indeed. The atmosphere during ‘Trouble’ reaches carnival levels, as scantily-clad girls are welcomed to the stage in equally ornate outfits. They proceed to flounce around stage as excitedly as the audience, with occasional interludes for gyrating and getting down low. This is smooth dance music with a warm heart, no bells and whistles bar the incredible outfits. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaur is a perfect flagbearer for what this Spanish shindig is all about. People complain that festivals are either dying out completely or that they are suffocated by corporate sponsorship – it’s clear to see from this weekend in Spain that the good old festival is here to stay if you do it properly. With no hint of pretension to be seen and oodles of good music, Benicassim has more than just blissful weather going for it. If you think you can hack the endless heat (those ice-cold showers do help) then you’d be an idiot and a fool not to make the music lovers’ pilgrimage to Benicassim.