These are the acts you have to see at Madrid’s Mad Cool festival 2019

Also featuring Bon Iver, Noel Gallagher, Smashing Pumpkins, Vampire Weekend, The National, Greta Van Fleet, Mogwai, Teenage Fanclub, The Twilight Sad, Robyn and Years & Years

Well, would you look at that? It’s only one of the greatest festival line-ups imaginable. The acts at Mad Cool don’t start until around 6pm, which in theory leaves you free to explore the city, taste a little tapas, knock back a sangria or three, sunbathe or simply sleep off your hangover. Then again, this line-up is so eclectic, so stuffed with the world’s best musicians and hottest emerging talent alike, that you might just sit in your hotel room, absolutely wired, eyes wide, unable to relax or turn your mind to anything but the thought of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.

My friend, you won’t be alone. We at NME share your devotion to acting the whopper at a far-flung festival. Here, then, are the must-see acts we’re most looking forward to at Mad Cool 2019.

Sharon Van Etten

Sharon Van Etten

Her latest album, ‘Remind Me Tomorrow’, released in 2019, is a one of the year’s best (so far!). A rock’n’roll record shot through with pop hooks like a stick or rock, it also makes for the New Jersey singer-songwriter’s most satisfying live show to date. We’ll be at the front, screaming along to that bit in ‘Seventeen’ when she goes, “I know you’re gonna beeee…!” Also: bonus points if you shout “Sharoooon!” like Ozzy Osbourne and shake your head disbelievingly at the rest of the audience, muttering, “You’re all bloody mad!”

Pip Blom

New school NME favourites Pip Blom, the Amsterdam band named after their lead singer, have earned their place on the line-up alongside the world’s most famous acts. Why? A) Because their college rock anthems, as we’ve said excitedly recently, “make you fall in love with guitars again”. And B) Because they’re determined to become of those world famous acts. “I think it’s really important to aim very high,” Pip said in NME interview. It’s a mantra clearly shared by the Mad Cool bookers.


Funk, soul, R&B and jazz coalesce in this electronic duo’s moody rhythms, which boil those influences down into minimalist beats and taut grooves. Consisting of Sandra Delaporte and Sergio Salvi, they’re a Madrid band, so anticipate a heroes’ welcome as they play a packed home crowd.

The 1975

The 1975

Are they the hottest band in the world right now? Well, let’s see – countless awards, from Brits to an Ivor Novello? Check! A five-star NME review and Album of the Year? Check and indeed check, thanks to 2018’s bonafide instant classic ‘A Brief History Of Online Relationships’. An outspoken singer who looks and acts like a proper pop star, wildly charismatic onstage and endlessly quotable in interviews? Check and double-check! If you don’t go see the 1975 at Mad Cool 2019, I’m afraid we can’t be friends (but don’t let that tempt you to sack them off).

The Cure

The Cure are celebrating 30 years of ‘Disintegration’.

Robert Smith and co. are one of those bands where you forget just how many absolutely amazing songs they have. And I bet you can name five off the top of your head right this second, so imagine how good their set is going to be. The band will have headlined Glastonbury by this point and have a massively anticipated new record on the way, so they’ll be riding higher than Smith’s backcombed hairdo, and their recent shows have combined oddities (‘The Caterpillar’) the kind of songs your Auntie Sarah played at her third wedding last summer (‘Friday I’m In Love’, ‘Inbetween Days’, ‘Boys Don’t Cry’). Sick of phoned-in festival line-ups? Mad Cool has The Cure.


More moody, atmospheric electro here – this time from London, as producer Will Phillips (he’s worked with the likes of Sam Smith, and co-wrote the singer’s mega hit ‘Stay With Me’) steps out from the shadows to create layered, moody soundscapes that will take to a higher plane.

Vince Staples

Vince Staples new album FM

Vince Staples

The Cali rapper’s most recent album, ‘FM!’, is jam-packed with summer anthems laced with a dark edge. Snippets of songs drift in and out of the actual tracks, as though someone’s twisting the radio dial in a car on a long, hot drive through the city. So Vince Staples is the sound of summer 2019™ – and a must-see act at Mad Cool. But there’s so much good stuff at the festival this year that you basically can’t go wrong. So make like Vince, twist the proverbial radio dial, and hear as much as you can.