Benicassim for Beginners
December 21, 2011
As a young person growing up in Britain, or almost anywhere else for that matter, there is one season that causes all others to pale into insignificance: Summer. Unfortunately for us, our sandy beaches are few and far between and you are more likely to sight a mermaid basking off the coast of Cornwall on a devastatingly cold and wet July afternoon than any variety of bathing beauty. This harsh reality has inadvertently lead to a revolution for the young, party hungry youth of Britain, realized in casting off the shackles of the gloom and doom of Old Blighty to pay an annual pilgrimage to the most sacred of all places: the European music festival.
As I had never been abroad to a music festival, opting usually to visit Leeds or Reading festival due to the logistic convenience I was unsure as to which festival to choose. My more seasoned friends assured me that for a first time traveler there was little choice in the matter, as in order to earn your wings in the festival scene, Benicassim is a must. Where else can you enjoy an eclectic mix of the biggest bands that the planet has to offer twinned with a friendly atmosphere and an immaculately blue sky at all times of the day?
As a first year student my initial worries were financial, as what with air travel, transfers, camping and insurance to think about before I even purchased my ticket it seemed to be a hugely costly procedure. Luckily I discovered a cost effective and easy solution through the services of a business named Music Festival Holidays, who organize every aspect of the trip for you at an incredibly affordable price. My only reservation was that their method of transport to and from the festival was by coach, but as I subsequently discovered, what better way to meet 50 new friends who all share similar interests and attitudes before the festival had even begun.
Each day that I spent at the festival seemed to trump the last. We arrived at midday on Thursday ready to see the Streets, perhaps one of Britain’s most groundbreaking urban acts, play their penultimate gig and it is safe to say that they did themselves proud. The atmosphere in the arena was jovial to say the least. I felt as if I was a part of a free thinking, expressive mob joined together by a passion of music and hedonism.
The next night embodied the reason that I had ventured to Benicassim, to witness a display of pure musical prowess in the form of The Strokes, a band who I believe to be the closing thing to the Beatles that we as a generation have been privileged enough to observe. I cannot express the feeling of pure bliss that I experienced whilst listening to Julian Casablancas serenade a stunned crowd, all I can say is that if you were lucky enough to be there you will understand.
Saturday night offered an all encompassing mix of genres, ranging from the youthful indie sounds of Bombay Bicycle Club to the seasoned spectacle that was headliner Primal Scream. Both truly played out of their skins, with spectacular visuals to boot and yet again I was at a loss to decide which night I had enjoyed the most.
The final day of Benicassim lacked the usual ‘last day feeling’ of a festival, as the hangovers accumulate and tempers flare as cabin fever sets in having spent a long weekend living in what is essentially a large plastic cage. These kinds of gripes have no place in the Spanish vocabulary or attitude, so despite the fact that we were all upset about having to pack up and leave in the morning, the fiesta continued! We embraced the fact that this special time was coming to an end in the only way that we saw fit, by partying from dusk until dawn. Believe it or not after 4 days of the most intense dancing, drinking and socializing that is humanly possible I welcomed my accommodating seat on our coach and braced myself for the journey home. Unfortunately for my bank manager this trip has not appeased my lust for exploration, in fact it has stimulated it. Next year I intend not only to repeat my trip to Benicassim, but also to visit the sandy shores of Croatia for Hideout festival and Outlook festival.