Glastonbury, Coachella, Benicassim - what do they have in common? Well they're festival landmarks for a start, rites of passage for festival-goers, both young and virgin (and sometimes both, but never fear, if you choose the camping option and wander into the wrong tent in a drug-induced haze, you may lose both your virginity AND your youth). And as such they're mass marketed via the kind of headline acts that you may have to pay for six months in advance in your home town, all playing on the same stages one after another.
Benicassim actually starts when it's already dark, which means that it's only your ears that end up burning. And if you decide to stay in a hotel, like me, then you can actually have a fairly comfortable experience, allowing for the flying beer, obstructed views and improvised mosh pits fully of teenaged boys trying to prove their manliness.
This year, Benicassim featured the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Kasabian, Weeknd, and Biffy Clyro - familiar names on the festival circuit all. And the sets were short enough to be spared their "essential" album tracks. The crowd were here for the hits and frankly after a full day of music no-one, myself included, was in the mood to differentiate between the more subtle material. At a certain point, Stormzy could have been singing Californication. Speaking of Stormy, it occurred to me that British grime is the new gangsta-rap - full of aggression, energy and swearing. Everything except music, that is.
So yes, I got drunk plenty, had a good time, and got bored quite a bit, surrounded by people mostly quite a lot younger than me. A typical festival experience. And so here's my playlist!
No this isn't a drum n' bass festival, headlined by Meghan Trainor, or an orchestra of didgeridoo players. The Low stands for "low cost", which is what it is - 50 Euros for 3 nights of music (giving a wide berth to that word because you know, there's a lot of time to fill and not that much money to spend filling it).
It's set in Benidorm, a favourite for British tourists, but there are almost no Brits here - it's very much a Spanish festival and the bulk of the acts are Spanish.
There are fewer world famous names here, of course. But you still got to see the Pixies and Franz Ferdinand - and the Hives!.
In truth it could just as easily be called Low Key Festival. Everyone is well-behaved here and the music is not that loud. And yes the bands were mostly singing in Spanish but it's a worthwhile reminder that every country in the world plays almost every style of music and not everything revolves around England and America. I found it a relief in a way not to have to train to hear the lyrics, as I usually do. Because it's all about the good vibes man.
I'm actually thinking of starting my own festival, calling it Under the Radar and limiting it to unknown bands. It will cost nothing and my dog will be the headliner. Ok, I've said enough.
So here's the playlist:
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