Ten things we’re looking forward to at Bilbao BBK

The Killers, Depeche Mode, The 1975 and Royal Blood all play the Spanish cityfest

The wine, the food, the sunshine, the rock; Bilbao BBK, the five-stager set on a small mountain overlooking Bilbao on the northern Spanish coast has got to be one of the most idyllic and picturesque festivals in Europe – really, other weekenders look like Download’s most frequented lavatory compared to this place. So, as the Basquerock frolics kick off this evening, here’s what we’re looking forward to the most.




Bilbao BBK is one of those continental festival where daytime temperatures would hospitalise the average member of Circa Waves, so sets start around 6pm and run late into the night. That means it makes for the best festival citybreak on the circuit, as daytimes are free to explore Bilbao feasting on the finest pintxos and rioja and pretending to understand what the hell anything’s about in the Guggenheim. Word to the wise though: don’t fly here on the local budget Vueling airlines, unless you’re a fan of having a battery chicken’s legroom, the customer service of a Roman slave galleon and hidden charges that make Ryanair look like George Michael at his most magnanimous.

The Killers


Fresh from tearing the John Peel Stage a new secret set, the ultimate Vegas showmen are the biggest Bilbao BBK draw as they strut cockily around the European festival circuit ahead of hitting Hyde Park this weekend, touting their none-more-Kool And The Gang new single ‘The Man’. It seems unlikely they’ll be previewing any other tracks from their forthcoming fifth album thought to be titled ‘Wonderful Wonderful’, but it’ll be quite wonderful enough bawling along to ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ in the meantime, thanks.


Depeche Mode



Officially the band with the most reason to wonder why the hell they’ve never headlined Glastonbury, the devil’s own S&M cowboys of Depeche Mode bring the carnal cabaret of their Global Spirit tour to BBK in all its leather-waistcoated glory. They’ve been cracking out acoustic versions of ‘Judas’ of late too, which is a delight for all lovers of quasi-Biblical balladry.


The 1975


Yet to reach the same giddy arena heights in Europe as they have back home, The 1975 are on an intense fan recruitment drive around the continent, and are set to play a tight attack gig at BBK designed to pummel the Spaniards into alt-pop submission. Plus, playing opposite rehab rockers Depeche Mode, Matty is duty-bound to be the most wasted man on site.


Royal Blood



Rwoooyal Blyoooeeeaard!, as we’re contractually obliged to call them, are back with a second album ‘How Did We Get So Dark’ that builds on their globe-buggering debut to plug all the gaps in their live set – i.e. having a few seconds that don’t feel like a workman is trying to jack-hammer their way into your skull to fix a major filthy blues riff leak. They’ve also managed to beat off Nickelback and Lorde to get their second Number One, so spirits (and probably flumes of Cava) will be sky-high.


Brian Wilson


Wilson’s performances of ‘Pet Sounds’ have been known to reduce grown men to blubbing wrecks, so his last run of European performances of these teenage symphonies to god will be unmissable. The sunset slot over Bilbao? It’ll feel like the mountain was made just for this.


Fleet Foxes



With their old drummer Josh Tillman suddenly the star of every festival under his new guise of Father John Misty, Fleet Foxes have got a lot to live up to. But no doubt the amorphous folk pop of their new album ‘Crack-Up’ will chime perfectly with BBK’s heavenly haze as they not so much warm up for The Killers on the main stage on Friday as gently simmer.


Primal Scream


As the world goes to hell in a golf cart, where better to try to make sense of it all than at a Primal Scream show? With a clutch of return-to-form recent albums under their belt and a current propensity to knock out the hits like there’s no tomorrow – and let’s face it, there might not be – The Scream will undoubtedly knock it out of the park, right down the mountain and half way to San Sebastian.


Sundara Karma


Bilbao BBK has an impressive gaggle of rising rockers – The Parrots, The Orwells, the jury’s still out on whether we’re allowed to like Cabbage anymore – but Sundara Karma are the androgynous indie rock wonders to watch (now that we’re definitely not allowed to like PWR BTTM anymore). Their debut album ‘Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect’ is an inspired mash of classical art and literature, youthful ennui and shadowy politics and, live, they’re amongst the most captivating bands of the age.


The Lemon Twigs


Speaking of captivating bands – which Lemon Twigs will turn up at Bilbao BBK? The 18th Century artistocratic dandy Lemon Twigs? The neon Buggles Lemon Twigs? The 70s sitcom geek Lemon Twigs or the Lemon Twigs who look like Ziggy Stardust chose the Spiders From Mars from Earth, Wind & Fire, The Bay City Rollers and The Wurzels? Whichever one it is, we want to see it.


Two Door Cinema Club


With Ally Pally at their back, TDCC are winding down their ‘Gameshow’ tour with a run through the summer’s festivals, so as a band who had a lengthy hiatus to stop themselves killing each other before making their excellent third album, this is an essential gig to catch – there’s always the lingering risk of this cinema shutting both its doors for good.