Festival Internaçcional de Benicassim : Valencia, Spain, Thursday August 4-Sunday 7 August
Leave your wellies and canoe in Blighty and pack the factor 50 suntan lotion instead – as Kaiser Chiefs, Oasis and Kasabian welcome you to the sunniest festival in the world!
Welcome to FIB, the Hispanic pop paradise of myth and legend where everything they say is true. Imagine Glastonbury with an outdoor swimming pool instead of a stone circle, or a five-day-long Duran Duran video where even Basement Jaxx are brilliant. The idea behind FIB is that if you hold a rock festival in the blistering sunshine just off the coast at Valencia in Spain, run it through the night instead of the day, and throw a dirty great beach party at the end to thank the locals for their cooperation, then it just might be the greatest music event on the planet. On the evidence of the 7,500 British fans who’ve abandoned the factory farm conditions of festies at home, and a line-up that puts them to equal shame, Benicàssim is some way towards reaching festival utopia in its 11th year.
Offering just as much rock as it does roll, FIB has become an annual jolly for the Britpack. It must be the only place in the world you can see Maximo Park skinny-dipping at daybreak, or Athlete throwing their bass player in the pool as punishment for losing his passport and nearly missing the show. Britpoppers of the weekend, though, are Kaiser Chiefs. There were no guarantees that a band so English would convince anybody else, but from the opening “Na na na na naaa”s right up to Ricky Wilson’s ascent of the lighting rig for ‘Oh My God’, somehow the vital connection is made in bucket-loads.
The legends this year were represented by The Cure, who showed the new boys how it’s done with magical hits ‘Just Like Heaven’ and ‘Boys Don’t Cry’, and Saturday’s college rock face-off, in which The Lemonheads narrowly edged out Dinosaur Jr since this is the sunshine weekend and they have ‘The Great Big No’, ‘Confetti’ and ‘Big Gay Heart’ on their side.
Sunday is stolen by Britain’s two most geezerish bands. First, a back-on-form Oasis roll out everything you’d want them to and give respect to ‘Rock’n’Roll Star’ Robin Cook. They’re completely upstaged by Kasabian though. Always a band of the people, Kasabian have absorbed all the love flung their way in the past 18 months and turned it into white-hot kinetic energy. Where Tom Meighan used to look like his routine was punching above its weight, now he looks indestructible, finally vindicated in borrowing the spirit of Liam during hits ‘Cutt Off’ and ‘Processed Beats’. The rest of the band play at five times the strength of before, while new tune ‘Stuntman’ points toward a bright future. Even Noel is impressed. “ ‘Some Might Say’, that was when Oasis stopped being a kind of punk-rock thing and we went all out to be the biggest band in the world,” he says, as Tom, Serge, Chris and Karloff stagger about their heroes’ dressing room barely able to speak. “That’s where these guys are at now. They can do it and they have to do it, because if you fuck it up, you’re a twat.” Watch this space…