Mad Cool Festival 2022 Day Three: Muse, Phoebe Bridgers, Alt-J and more are on sizzling form

The Madrid festivalgoers danced in the scorching sun to the sounds of Haim, Alt-J and Jamie Cullum (yes, really)

Mad Cool Festival 2022‘s third day was an absolute scorcher – and we don’t just mean the sizzling mid-30°C temperatures, either.

After witnessing the likes of Metallica and Twenty One Pilots kick off the Madrid festival on day one – before The Killers and Foals then took day two by storm – day three promised an array of big festival moments from the likes of Muse, Haim and Phoebe Bridgers.

Here’s NME‘s round-up of what went down on the Friday (July 8) of Mad Cool 2022.


Words by: Sam Moore, Hannah Mylrea, Andrew Trendell, Kyann-Sian Williams, Sophie Williams


IAMDDB at Mad Cool Festival 2022 (Picture: Andy Ford for NME)

In the blazing Spanish sun, Manchester’s IAMDDB tries her best to start a party during her set, despite the sweltering temperatures and obvious language barrier. After initially teasing the Madrid crowd (“I don’t think Madrid is shy, is it?”), some aggressive lyric chanting of cuts from her ethereal alt-R&B back catalogue do the trick, with the crowd warming to the occasion and starting to show her love.

Inhibitions shed, the crowd then follows IAMDDB’s lead by jumping around and making sure to shout all the swear words from her lyrics at the top of their lungs. Consider the Mad Cool party well and truly started for another day. KW


Jamie Cullum
Jamie Cullum at Mad Cool Festival 2022 (Picture: Andy Ford for NME)

This scorched Spanish desertscape has welcomed some of the most revered names in rock, along with their hordes of avid devotees. As we made our way to an early evening set on Mad Cool’s Region Of Madrid stage, we encountered one of the biggest crowds of the weekend – and you might be shocked to hear that the blood-curdling screams which beckon the act on stage are for “JAAAAMIEE FUUUCKING CULLUUUUM”.


Leaping from his piano during the feel-good jazz-pop of ‘Get Your Way’ before a loungey-but-lively cover of ‘The Man’ by last night’s headliners The Killers, we must admit our own shock at Cullum’s ability to return the gleeful abandon of the curiously vast and feral audience. During the cocksure ‘When I Get Famous’, the track’s rockstar ambition becomes manifest as Cullum invades the crowd, takes over filming from the stage’s cameraman, signs a ‘SIGN MY TITS’ placard in the crowd and even has a pop at Boris Johnson. “Lose your inhibitions,” he shouts, inviting everyone to dance like no one’s watching. Thousands oblige, gleefully lost to a barnstormer of wedding cheese on a headliner scale. AT


Haim at Mad Cool Festival 2022 (Picture: Andy Ford for NME)

The Madrid Is Life stage has undergone a quick renovation for Haim’s set – with the addition of a bevy of massive inflatable sausages which adorn the back of the stage. Inspired by the artwork from the sisters’ latest record ‘Women In Music Pt. III’, the array of swinging deli meat in the background thankfully doesn’t distract too much from the real action on stage.

Opening with ‘Now I’m In It’ as the trio enter the stage one-by-one, they proceed to blitz through a lively, career-spanning show. “I’ve been waiting for this day all fucking tour,” Alana Haim reveals to the audience early on, before later leading the throng of revellers in a sing-off between the two sides of the audience and competing with bassist Este to see who’s the better sister. Este herself takes centre stage for the squelchy funk of ‘3AM’, opening with a skit where she receives a phone call from a previous one-night stand before hopping into the audience to serenade the front row as she belts out the song’s chorus. Driven by the band’s trademark sense of humour, Haim’s sunset show is a lively triumph. HM


phoebe bridgers
Phoebe Bridgers at Mad Cool Festival 2022 (Picture: Andy Ford for NME)

As Phoebe Bridgers and her backing band walk out on to the Region Of Madrid stage, they look as though they’re heading to a Halloween party rather than their first ever performance in Madrid. Bedecked in skeleton costumes – sans masks, though – they don’t appear to be alone in sporting their signature outfits at Mad Cool: swathes of eager and excitable fans here are wearing exactly the same thing, despite the stupidly-hot temperatures.

It’s small, wholesome details like this that add to the feeling that Bridgers’ debut appearance at Mad Cool is all about the fans. The indie superstar spends much of her set partaking in audience participation: as the ambient pulses of ‘ICU’ wash over her audience, she sways her arms like an orchestra conductor, keeping a mass singalong in time. ‘Kyoto’ is dedicated “to all the dads out there”, while the thundering breakdown of ‘The End’ sees her encouraging punters to scream and let go of their pent-up emotions in unison. During ‘Punisher’, Bridgers offers her mic to a young woman on the barrier. Tears streaming down her face, the fan instead screams: “Women’s rights!” It’s a vital moment that reverberates well beyond the PA of this stage. SW


The War On Drugs
The War On Drugs at Mad Cool Festival 2022 (Picture: Jaime Massieu)

“We all excited for Muse?” The War On Drugs’ Adam Granduciel asks the crowd who have gathered before Mad Cool’s massive main stage ahead of tonight’s headliners. “Our keyboardist, Robbie Bennett, is the number one Muse fan. They’re gonna shoot him out of a cannon later…”

The US musician says this all with a knowing wink, of course. But there’s no need for any bombast or theatrics during The War On Drugs’ glorious sunset set, as the band very much let their music do the talking. Big reverb-y riffs are naturally the order of the day, with cuts from the band’s 2021 album ‘I Don’t Live Here Anymore’ (‘Old Skin’, ‘Victim’, ‘I Don’t Wanna Wait’) nestling in nicely with the still-sensational fan favourites ‘Red Eyes’ and ‘Under The Pressure’ (the latter’s ending is particularly electrifying). It’s a perfect soundtrack to a quite-spectacular summer’s evening in Madrid, with Granduciel, toasting the end of the band’s current European tour, aptly describing this performance as “one for the ages”. SM


Incubus at Mad Cool Festival 2022 (Picture: Andy Ford for NME)

Over on the Madrid Is Life stage, veteran Calabasas alt-rockers Incubus attract the masses during their 15-song set after stepping in to replace Queens Of The Stone Age. Spanning their sizable discography, long-term favourites such as ‘Wish You Were Here’, ‘Pardon Me’ and ‘Drive’ are gobbled up by the Mad Cool faithful.

The crowd seem much more hyped up for the occasion than frontman Brandon Boyd and the rest of the Incubus gang, who deliver their set with a trademark cool. The songs do the talking, and Mad Cool bring the energy.  KW


MØ at Mad Cool Festival 2022 (Picture: Jaime Massieu)

Phoebe Bridgers’ mountain stage set on the Region Of Madrid stage has gone and been replaced with a small, circular platform for Danish artist to perform on. Well, some of the time, anyway: MØ doesn’t miss an opportunity to jump down into the crowd, do a bit of a crowdsurfing and – during ‘Live To Survive’ – even get in among the audience for a dance.

It’s the performance of somebody who’s evidently thrilled to be back on stage. As she says before the grungy alt-pop of ‘Blur’: “Oh my god, it’s just so wonderful to be able to go to festivals again, don’t you think?” Yes, yes we do, MØ. HM


Muse at Mad Cool 2022. Credit: Andy Ford for NME
Muse at Mad Cool 2022. Credit: Andy Ford for NME

Putin’s war, attacks on women’s rights, BoJo’s endless twattery: it’s hard to imagine having someone at the top who you can trust these days. So why not rock your way through the madness?

Enter Muse. Arriving on stage wearing hoods and the metallic mirror masks of the rebel militia from their recent music videos, they make good on the title of their new album ‘The Will Of The People’ by giving the thousands gathered at Mad Cool’s main stage exactly what they want, all while sticking it to the man. From the new album’s title track to a silhouette-backed ‘Hysteria’, a gnarly outing of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ and the arena rock gems of ‘Time Is Running Out’, ‘Madness’, ‘Supermassive Blackhole’, ‘Plug In Baby’ and ‘Starlight’, the Devon-via-another-galaxy trio provide a shamelessly daft delivery of endorphins.

Returning for an encore, frontman Matt Bellamy teases “this soft acoustic number from our new album” before ripping into the riff-heavy beast ‘Kill Or Be Killed’. The band then close with the ever-reliable pomped-up rock odyssey of ‘Knights Of Cydonia’, ending a supermassive party political broadcast from a band who are certainly among the contenders for the 21st century’s best festival headliners. They certainly got our vote for tonight, at least. AT


Parcels at Mad Cool Festival 2022 (Picture: Jaime Massieu)

Earlier on in the day, NME spots one Mad Cool punter proudly sporting a Parcels shirt amid a sea of Muse merch-wearing festival-goers. It’s an early indication of the Aussie five-piece’s somewhat daunting task of going up against Matt Bellamy and co., but Mad Cool has space in its heart for both Muse and Parcels. Plenty of the festival’s Friday night crowd are clearly up for a dance anyway, and Parcels’ rave-tinged indie-meets-electronic set is just the ticket.

The shimmering likes of ‘Lightenup’, ‘Comingback’ and ‘Tieduprightnow’ draw more and more punters towards the Region Of Madrid stage, with Parcels’ non-stop disco taking us twirling into the early hours. “Let me hear you scream!” yells Parcels’ Patrick Hetherington at one point, and his request is very much fulfilled. They may be outnumbered on-site by Muse fans tonight, but Parcels have more than enough here to create their own very special Mad Cool moment. SM


Alt-J at Mad Cool Festival 2022 (Picture: Andy Ford for NME)

“Good morning Madrid!” shouts Alt-J keyboardist Gus Unger-Hamilton at gone 2am as a wide, Cheshire Cat-like grin begins to spread across his face. The London-based band are closing out the third night of Mad Cool on the Madrid Is Life stage, delivering their intricate and percussive sound – an eclectic mix that throws up far-ranging elements of indie, Afropop, South Asian bhangra and hymnal funk – into the wee hours. Vocalist and guitarist Joe Newman releases groove-laden rhythms with his eyes closed, immersing himself in these adventurous sounds. It’s a slow-burning and occasionally dry live spectacle, but there’s surplus appeal in watching a trio of musicians who demonstrably love their work.

However, when they don their party hats, Alt-J are unstoppable. ‘Taro’ feels transcendent, Newman repeating the title like a hypnotic mantra. ‘Dissolve Me’ skips along gorgeously and ‘Hard Drive Gold’ sees Unger-Hamilton flit between bass and electronics, before the thumping outro of ‘The Gospel Of John Hurt’ transports the crowd to clubland. Sublime stuff. SW

Check back here at NME for the latest news, interviews, photos and more from Mad Cool 2022.

NME is an official media partner of Mad Cool Festival 2022

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