Bilbao BBK 2017: where The Killers brilliantly broke all the rules, Depeche Mode were the sultans of sleaze, Cage The Elephant danced like they were wired up to the mains of the Cavern Club in 1962 and Phoenix brought the biggest mirror ever seen outside of Mariah Carey’s shoe closet. This weekend’s northern Spanish shindig will undoubtedly go down as one of the best festivals of the summer – here’s how it looked from the pit.
100,000 clearly excitable BBKers made the trek up the mountain outside Bilbao for a weekend of thrills, frolics and some of the strangest onstage dancing any festival has ever collected together in one place (see also: Depeche Mode, Cage The Elephant).
2Cage The Elephant
Cage The Elephant’s Matt Shultz set the stage move bar high from the off, resembling a berserk beat era idol or Beck with rabies. Luckily, the band had manic Kinks tunes to match.
The Bilbao pop kids crammed into the Heineken field to catch The 1975 whipping up a storm with their phase pop and ambient surf hits, climaxing with a field-wide frug to the none-more-disco ‘The Sound’.
Thursday night headliners Depeche Mode lured us in with an hour of sordid blues, insectoid Evil Jagger dance moves from Dave Gahan and a gorgeously fragile rendition of ‘Somebody’ by Martin Gore before hitting us with a bolt-from-the-blue half hour of solid smashes, from ‘Everything Counts’ through ‘Never Let Me Down Again’ and ‘I Feel You’ to a ‘Personal Jesus’ that set hips swivelling halfway to Madrid.
Come Friday, Fleet Foxes lulled the crowd into the day with their sublime dreamfolk epics. Pure hammock sounds…
The French synth-poppers brought their gigantic angled mirror to Bilbao, reflecting the dot matrix stage floor out to the crowd so it looked as though they were playing on their own visuals. Book these guy a gig at the Guggenheim.
Headlining Friday night, The Killers were absolutely phenomenal, opening with ‘Mr Brightside’ and tearing through a setlist ripped from the monitor of God’s own greatest hits tour. By the time ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ and ‘When You Were Young’ were finished with it, Bilbao BBK must’ve thought it had been rocked to the bone, until…
…Royal Blood demolished the second stage, and probably compromised the geological integrity of the entire mountain, with their monolithic monster blues.
Aaaand relax. We wish they all (i.e. final day early evening sets) could be Brian Wilson gigs. The Beach Boys legend brought his 50th anniversary tour of ‘Pet Sounds’ to Bilbao and swooned BBK into submission with ‘God Only Knows’, ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ and a smattering of additional classics like ‘Good Vibrations’ and ‘Help Me Rhonda’.
10Two Door Cinema Club
Eighteen months touring their third album ‘Gameshow’ have turned Two Door Cinema Club into one of the most celebratory alt-pop bands on the planet. A rank of doorway-like screens firing out crazed ultra-HD psychedelic visuals made them look like they were playing in some inter-dimensional teleportation hub, and songs like ‘Next Year’, ‘Are We Ready? (Wreck)’ and ‘Someday’ were equally as mind-squelching.
The heavens opened as Primal Scream took to the stage, but Bobby Gillespie roused the sodden crowd with his own storm of electrified bangers, crashing ‘Loaded’ into ‘Country Girl’ and ending ‘Come Together’ saying “come together for the many, not the few”. We wonder if that went over the heads of the thousands who spent the weekend chanting the riff to ‘Seven Nation Army’ between songs without really knowing why.
Bilbao BBK was closed – or should that be destroyed? – by the feral candy rave of Die Antwoord, who brought along dancing dinosaurs, a demonic DJ and visuals of an ejaculating Casper The Ghost. If anyone needs us, we’ll be cowering under this bush until next year…