While half the country was raising a horned hand at Knebworth or sloshing about in Tennents, piss and mud at T In The Park, I just spent three days in Bilbao, fuelled by two Euro mojitos, to see why so many people are turning to the Spanish festival instead of a homegrown weekender. This is what I learnt.
Festival sites are more epic abroad
As you might deduce from the shot above, Bilbao BBK Live takes place on top of a mountain, surrounded by lush slopes and low clouds. It joins Norway's Oya (Medieval ruins), Sziget (on an island) and Iceland Airwaves (erm, Iceland) in the beautiful festivals club.
Kasabian's new stuff is pretty big
'Velociraptor', dedicated to the "the Leicester lads", led the pick of the new songs and it had as much "ooosh" as any of their early tracks. The band enjoyed one of the most rapturous receptions of the weekend. Here's a pic of them, possibly shouting "ooosh" to the punters.
Jared Leto is an embarrassment
Not only did he ban photographers from the pit, and not only did he run up the central strut to preen and pose for a really flat solo section, and not only did he scale the mixing desk for a cringeworthy singalong, but he instigated the least spontaneous stage invasion in the history of live music, by inviting a selection of gibbering fans up to a very cordoned off area to watch 30 Seconds To Mars' drivel up close and personal.
All festivals should start with a pub crawl
Especially when they involve lager, Rioja, pintxos (Basque tapas) and groups of elderly men playing accordion. The whole town comes alive from midday onwards as families and friends join the drunks and aforementioned oldie musicians for an epic piss-up.
TV On The Radio are the perfect mid-afternoon band
'Wolf Like Me', 'Caffeinated Consciousness', 'Repetition' - their set was just the thing to settle everyone back into Day Two, even if The Noisettes' Shingai was bouncing all over the side of the stage trying to take the attention away from the band, praying to the gods (of music?) and telling everyone who'd listen the "music speaks to me". More bands should hang wind chimes from the neck of their guitar, a la Dave Sitek.
Staggered stage times work a treat
As seems to be the case at many Euro fests, the Main Stage and second stage worked alternately, so there was never any two acts on at the same time (except for some weird stuff like the "Oink! Oink! DJs" in the third phone-sponsored tent). And if you were missing one band to get prime position for another you could still see and hear the action from the main stage.
Amy Winehouse let the festival down
Her no shows are probably being felt by fans and promoters across Europe, but this weekender was really excited about having her - there were images of her all over town on posters and flyers. Get well soon girl.
Brett Anderson is a Kasabian fan
Well, he claimed to "not know many songs" but he still clambered all over a sheer rock face - in smart brogues no less - to self-administer a dose of the ooosh.
Campsites don't need to be hellholes
There are places you can pitch up with an epic view, instead of rubbed up against an Oasis soundsystem in the shadow of Portabog city, apparently.
The festival featured Coldplay (epic), Suede (sweaty, but epic) and The Black Crowes (old, but epic) and numerous other bands. It's just under a hundred quid for a three day ticket - find out more on next year's bash on their site.