There’s not long now until the third edition of Madrid’s Mad Cool Festival gets underway. Despite still being in its infancy compared to most of Europe’s big festivals, Mad Cool has already asserted itself as a major contender for your summer plans, as evidenced in the astonishing line-up organisers have pulled together this year. One look at the bill and the question you’ll be faced with is not whether to go, but how you’re going to choose who to see. Here are our recommendations for Mad Cool 2018.
Why:South Londoners Goat Girl have made one of the most interesting debut albums of 2018 so far. It’s a record that pulls you in and wraps itself around you via murky guitars and deadpan lyrics about politics, creepy men, and more. Immerse yourself in the four-piece’s world and let them take you on a journey far from Madrid.
When: Thunder Bitch Stage, Friday 13, 9pm.
Why: If you’re looking to dance, look no further than Sofi Tukker. The New York-based duo (Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern) are pros at crafting big dance-pop songs you can’t stand still to. If you’ve seen Ocean’s 8 you might recognise ‘Best Friend’ – Cate Blanchett struts across the club to it like a total badass early on in the film. Recreate that moment in Madrid (but maybe leave the heisting for home).
When: The Loop, Friday 13, 7:20pm.
3Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails Getty Images for FYF
Why: Nine Inch Nails celebrate their 30th anniversary this year, but they’re showing no signs of ageing just yet. Trent Reznor is still one of the most intense, compelling frontmen around, and the band’s ability to move from abrasive industrial rock to eye-wettening poignancy will keep you hooked.
When: Mad Cool Stage, Saturday 14, 12:40am.
Dan Kendall /NME
Why: Former Mercury Prize winners Young Fathers are revered by musicians and music lovers alike. Why? Their songs are inventive, innovative and visceral things that make you really feel something, while their gigs take that force and magnify it a hundred-fold into an artful, breathtaking show.
When: Thunder Bitch Stage, Friday 13, 11:40pm.
Wolf Alice's Ellie Rowsell Getty
Why: The ever brilliant Wolf Al have barely left the road since their debut album ‘My Love Is Cool‘ came out three years ago. Now, they’ve got a second under their belts in last year’s ‘Visions Of A Life‘, and they’re one of the slickest, most ferocious live bands on the planet. Why would you be anywhere else?
When: Madrid Stage, Saturday 14, 6:15pm.
Arctic Monkeys' Alex Turner Getty
Why: If you didn’t make it to TRNSMT, then you’re gonna have to wait until September to catch a bit of ‘Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino‘ action. Or you could just hop over to Madrid and watch them in the sun instead. What odd dance moves will Alex pull out at Mad Cool? What film will he change the lyrics of ‘Star Treatment’ to? There’s only one way to find out.
When: Mad Cool Stage, Friday 13, 11:50pm.
Why: Soulful Texan Leon Bridges would make a perfect Sunday wind-down watch, but seeing as there’s no Sunday at Mad Cool it makes sense that organisers have put him on on the first day instead. Warm up gently for the action ahead with his smooth tunes and caramel voice.
When: Koko Stage, Thursday 12, 8:50pm.