24 July, 2017

[FESTIVAL REVIEW] FIB, July 2017

Sun, the coast and most importantly an incredible line-up - that is exactly what FIB (Benicàssim) 2017 offered all festival-goers this year. Taking place on the Costa Azahar in the Valencian Community of Spain, the ‘Festival Internacional de Benicàssim’ always exceeds expectations in terms of acts playing and festival atmosphere. This year’s headliners included The Weeknd, Foals/Deadmau5 co-headline, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kasabian, which proved to be phenomenal choices for those attending the festival. Unlike other festivals, FIB takes place over four days (Thursday - Sunday), and the general public can start setting up camp on the Monday of the festival, therefore, the trip abroad becomes an excellent combination of a week long beach holiday as well as a quality festival all in one. With this year’s line-up reaching the calibre of Reading + Leeds, FIB definitely pulled it out of the bag, and the weather is always an added bonus for all those in attendance.


FIB 2017 began on the Thursday evening, with doors opening at around 6.30pm. The later festival door time proves to be a valuable concept for all festival-goers, allowing all to be able to experience the tremendous Mediterranean sea during the hotter daylight hours and be able to gain that much needed revitalizing energy for the festival in the evening (which continues until the early hours each day). Thursday’s line-up was incredibly exciting for Day 1 of the festival, with New York indie rock trio Sunflower Bean opening up the prestigious Las Palmas Main Stage. Front-woman Julia Cumming sported a beautiful sequined dress which glinted naturally in the evening sun, she also exerted a mesmerising aura throughout the set and encouraged the audience to sing along to their tunes including the catchy single ‘Easier Said’. Sunflower Bean brought the perfect ‘festival atmosphere’ to their performance, establishing a connection with the audience as well as the band’s musical chemistry being evident throughout.


Following on from this, Chicago-based American indie band Twin Peaks brought their dynamic energy to the Visa Stage. This set was certainly one to remember, mosh-pits galore formed as the band quickly gained more momentum. With all three guitarists stood in a straight line at the front of the stage, keys player joining the row and the drummer propped centre stage behind, all band members were able to bring their own unique lively personalities to the performance. Twin Peaks are a band that evidently work as a team, allowing each member to sing their own song so there is no ‘frontman’ as such, which again adds another layer to their enthusiastic and high-spirited festival set.


Madrid-based electropop trio Ten Bears took to the more intimate FIB Club Stage and brought a new kind of positive energy to the festival. Front-women Chipi López and Lucia Ranz are undoubtedly stars in the making, managing to make people stop in their tracks when passing the stage and ultimately persuade them to enter the sweaty tent with their extremely memorable choruses and beats. Their positivity and joy for music was obvious throughout the performance and things are only at the beginning for this exciting new band.



80’s British rockers Ride took to the Las Palmas stage with a set like no other, performing hits old and new, there is a reason why this band were one of the pioneers of the Shoegaze genre that emerged in the late 80’s. Ride have made quite a comeback, with their first album in 21 years ‘Weather Diaries’ released last month, there is no stopping them from conquering the festival circuit once again. During their guitar instrumental section, the audience reciprocated with vivacity chanting ‘Hey, Hey, Hey’ on a loop, a Jeremy Corbyn chant even made an appearance!


Indie favourites Dream Wife took to the FIB Club Stage later on in the evening. Performing a high-energy set that got the entire audience going it is certain that this band are on the path to success. ‘Hey Heartbreaker’ was most definitely a crowd-pleaser, with all in attendance in sync with front-woman Rakel’s captivating chants and lyrical interpretation. Swiftly following on from this, Icelandic blues-rock band Kaleo graced the Visa Stage to perform one of the most anticipated sets of the entire festival. Being their first performance at FIB, the stage was packed before they started. Kaleo ensured that they brought the hits to their performance, ‘Way Down We Go’ went down extremely well with the crowd, as did singles ‘No Good’ and ‘I Can’t Go On Without You’. Lead vocalist, JJ Julius Son’s gritty, husky vocal is one of those that sounds even better live than on record, the emotion portrayed was outstanding, and effortlessly triggered magical spine-tingling moments.


British electro-soul music duo Honne brought their relaxing, chilled out but poignant tunes to the smaller South Beach Dance Stage. The entire audience were clearly big fans of Honne, singing every lyric back with passion and enjoyment to the band, it was definitely one of those festival sets to remember. People were on shoulders, smiling and experiencing the joy that FIB can bring to a crowd of people. New single ‘Just Dance’ proved to be as catchy live as it is recorded, and hit single ‘Warm On A Cold Night’ closed the set in style. Vocalist Andy Clutterbuck, continuously portrays each lyric with meaning and sentiment which always strikes a chord with the audience.


As the night progressed, the bigger acts took to the Las Palmas stage. Stormzy took over the space and performed to a crowd that acted upon his effortless energy and passion for performance. Stormzy’s rendition of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’ initiated a sing-along from the entire FIB crowd of over 30,000 people, old and young alike - the entire set went down a storm! As the set progressed, Stormzy’s appreciation for his fans and support was evident, and the ‘mosh-pit’ and ‘energy’ crews spurred on by the man himself increased in number each time. Stormzy’s year has been a whirlwind to say the least, and seeing his performance at FIB 2017 was undoubtedly a career highlight for sure.
The Weeknd headlined the Thursday night and what a performance he put on. The Canadian singer-songwriter/producer rightfully established his place as festival headliner, playing crowd favourites ‘Starboy’ to commence the set and hits such as ‘Earned It’, ‘Often’ and ‘I Feel It Coming’ making appearances throughout the slot. The Weeknd closed the Las Palmas stage on a high and brought the star quality to FIB Day 1.


Day 2 started off in full force with South Yorkshire indie lads The Sherlocks playing the Las Palmas main stage. Having previously received support from BBC Introducing and playing SXSW Festival in Austin, it is clear that this band are doing all the right things to achieve success. They managed to get the entire festival crowd to form a large number of mosh pits throughout their set, as well as encouraging the Brits in the audience to participate in a ‘home-coming’ chant as such. Their debut album is due for release next month and their most recent single ‘Chasing Shadows’ was certainly a singalong moment for the crowd.


One of the highly anticipated acts for Friday was none other than British psychedelic indie band Temples who played the Visa Stage. Temples brought a set that was extremely tight, immersive and brimming with perfection. The sound that the band produced live, replicated the record almost exactly. James Bagshaw’s vocal enveloped the intricate instrumentation to generate a combination of sounds that engaged with the audience instantly. Temples ensured that they played a mix of new (Certainty, Strange Or Be Forgotten) and old favourites (Shelter Song, Colours To Life), pleasing the crowd even more. With the sun slowly setting, the atmosphere for this set was truly special and Temples helped the audience go back in time back to the times of the ‘summer of love’.



Shortly after, it was time to see Stockport alternative five-piece Blossoms take to the Las Palmas stage for an hour-long set which was due to be impressive even before it started as all festival-goers rushed to the main stage to find a good spot in the crowd. Blossoms played the majority of their hugely successful Number 1 self-titled début LP, as well as the much sought after B-sides (Polka Dot Bones and Across The Moor), which always trigger the audience to sing/dance along. FIB was certainly a special gig for Blossoms, as charismatic frontman Tom Ogden dedicated heartbreak tune ‘My Favourite Room’ to himself due to the fact that his girlfriend at the time broke his heart at FIB a few years ago and he said, ‘Look where I am now, playing the main stage at FIB!’ It was a truly special moment for the band and the audience alike. Crowd-pleaser Charlemagne finished a flawless set with high energy and non-stop singing, it was incredible.


A particular highlight of the festival had to be Blaenavon’s performance on the FIB Club Stage later on in the evening. The Hampshire-based indie rock band evidently have a fan-base that expands across all areas, with numerous Spanish and British fans alike invading the front few rows in order to get a good view for the stunning set ahead. The trio have a musicality about them that truly strikes a chord with the audience. The deep, emotional lyrics penned by frontman Ben Gregory are enriched through the instrumentation, with catchy guitar hooks, driving bass lines and a drum beat that encourages each song to flow naturally with flair. As the set progressed, the ambience within the small tent positively correlated with dynamic energy. Reaching a high point during their closing song ‘Prague’, an eclectic drum solo took over the entire space, bassist Frank Wright joined in on the drums and the sound produced was magnificent. Ben meanwhile took to the front of stage and presented a striking image of him flicking his hair back and forth and playing the guitar with so much passion that the whole room could feel it. Blaenavon conquered their set at FIB and it is exciting to see what is next on the agenda for this incredible band.


Foals took to the Las Palmas stage at around midnight, the first of the co-headliners of the night. Foals never disappoint when playing live, Yannis’ energy holds the performance together whilst the talent of all the musicians involved also reaches an entire new level. The British indie band performed to a packed-out crowd, with each person singing every lyric back it is evident that Foals are one of those bands who are going to be remembered in years to come. The set was a healthy balance of memorable tunes from every era, from beautiful tunes such as ‘Spanish Sahara’ to the catchy hit ‘My Number’ and closing the set with the heavier ‘What Went Down’ and ‘Two Steps, Twice’. The vivacity of the band bounced off the stage into the audience to trigger a response like no other and Yannis jumping into the crowd in the encore proved to be a memorable moment at FIB 2017.


Saturday, Day 3 was established as the sold-out day of FIB, with over 53000 people in attendance, the hype and excitement could be felt immediately through the festival crowds. Irish four-piece rock band The Strypes owned the Las Palmas stage, performing a solid 45 minute set brimming with tunes that effortlessly got the crowd going. The band even included a cover of Talking Heads classic ‘Psycho Killer’ which triggered mosh pits, non-stop chants and crowd enthusiasm. The set culminated with ‘Scumbag City’ where frontman Ross Farrelly managed to get the entire audience in attendance to ‘get down’ onto the floor to prepare for the beat drop which again, reached a climactic point when the everyone shot up and jumped to the last song. It was a truly spectacular sight.
Next up was British indie singer/songwriter Marika Hackman on the Visa Stage. Showcasing her most recent LP ‘I’m Not Your Man’, Marika provided the more chilled, but emotional vibes throughout her set. Her wholehearted performance and flawless vocal carried the tunes throughout. Marika’s clever combination of dark folk with indie qualities enables a unique connection with the audience, the spectators were all captivated by the singer’s spellbinding music. The more recent tune ‘Boyfriend’ received great response, with people singing along, and the harmonies bringing a sense of poignancy to the set. It was a significant moment of the festival, encouraging a calm ambience but establishing  more intricate musicality to the festival.

 

Following this, an influx of festival-goers rushed towards the Las Palmas stage to arrive in time for none other than the man himself, Liam Gallagher’s highly anticipated performance at the festival. Liam approached the stage with the personality and eagerness that was expected of him. This was a genuinely exciting moment for him, the band and of course the whole festival crowd in attendance. The set commenced with Oasis classics ‘Rock’n’roll Star’ and ‘Morning Glory’, which evidently hyped the crowd even more, the atmosphere was electric! Coming as no surprise, Liam wore his signature Parka in the 32 degree heat accompanied with some weather-suitable shorts. In the lead up to the release of his solo record ‘As You Were’ in October, Liam played numerous songs from the upcoming LP which all sounded incredible. ‘Wall of Glass’ and ‘Chinatown’ are already modern day classics themselves, and the other tunes are definitely catchy to say the least. The hour long set during the festival sunset was magical and ended with ‘Wonderwall’ which again, received a response like no other with every other person on shoulders, everyone old and young singing the lyrics back - it was truly spectacular.


Saturday night was just getting started when California headliners, Red Hot Chili Peppers took to the Las Palmas stage for an unforgettable set. Surrounded with circular screens on stage, the band ensured that their high energy, dynamic performance was reflected visually as well as through the medium of quality sound. The main stage crowd was exceptionally packed, this was the set that everyone had been waiting for and what a show it was! Brimming with numerous instrumental jams and solos, it was clear why the Chilis are a band of such calibre and talent, their musical aptitude was unbelievable. As the set progressed, the drum solos got more elaborate, the bass lines more complex and the overall atmosphere was thrilling. The 16 song set was simply tune after tune, with the whole audience singing every lyric perfectly, dancing non-stop and having a moment of elation with everyone around. ‘Give It Away’ ended the encore on a euphoric note and everyone exited the area with ecstatic smiles on their faces, it was a moment that will not be forgotten at FIB 2017 for years to come.


Lastly, Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro took over the Las Palmas stage for the second consecutive year, and performed a set at 2am like no other. Playing all the favourites as well as hits from their most recent LP ‘Ellipsis’, Biffy never disappoint. Simon Neil’s compelling vocal engulfed the entire festival arena, establishing a sense of belonging and meaning to the exceptionally emotional lyrics. ‘Many Of Horror’ was a particular highlight in the early hours of Sunday morning, the uplifting instrumentation and moving vocal brought the perfect festival atmosphere to FIB.

Day 4 had sadly arrived sooner than expected, the atmosphere had become one of union and happiness - FIB 2017 was coming to an end but the line-up was one that would close the festival in style. The day commenced with Madrid-based alternative rock band Captains on the FIB Club Stage who performed a set filled with passion and enjoyment. Singing their songs in English, Captains’ front-woman had a very unique stage presence, feeling the music and portraying every lyric with sentiment to ensure a familiarity with the audience was built. The more punk-rock aspect of the band was displayed through the more provocative lyrics in certain songs as well as the attitude of the entire band reflecting those of the 70’s British punk era. Captains have an exciting air about them, in terms of performance and music, their presence was gripping and they established their place at FIB like no other band would, definitely a band worth keeping an eye on.


It was now time to catch 18-year old indie sensation Declan Mckenna and his band on the Las Palmas stage, their first main stage slot at a festival. Declan’s thought-provoking lyrics and catchy melodies have become a staple quality of this young musician’s career and it is evident that this young talent is undoubtedly going to go far. Performing with his exceptionally accomplished band, Declan’s personality shone throughout the set, coming down into the crowd, giving high fives to the audience - he definitely identified with the predominantly young festival-goers. New tunes ‘Humungous’ and ‘Listen To Your Friends’ were particular highlights, as was the energetic and vibrant tune ‘Brazil’ at the end. Declan’s début LP ‘What Do You Think About The Car’ was released this week and his FIB main stage slot definitely lived up to expectations of what’s to come with this exceptional young musician.


Next on the agenda was pop songstress Dua Lipa who put on quite a performance on the Las Palmas stage on Sunday evening. Sporting an interesting outfit to say the least (mermaid style silk trousers) one could wonder how the young musician could dance and sing without difficulty. However, Dua Lipa’s professionalism, poise and perfect vocal established the singer as one of the most exciting pop stars of the 21st century. Opening with hit single ‘Hotter Than Hell’, the vivacity of the crowd intensified and everybody danced and sang to their heart’s content. Every tune in the set was an excellently written pop-song which would impress a festival crowd within milliseconds. Dua’s connection with the audience added another layer to the flawless performance and culminated with the singer standing on the barrier with her fans during the popular tune ‘Be The One.’ The set went by in a flash and Dua Lipa’s impressive performance left the entire crowd in good spirits.


Continuing the pop euphoria, British electronica trio Years and Years took over the Las Palmas stage just before midnight. Frontman Olly Alexander was covered in gold glitter, fitting perfectly with the festival theme as well as hit tunes ‘Shine’ and ‘Gold’. Following on from the success of their Number 1 début album ‘Communion’, Years and Years embraced the festival spirit by playing the majority of the LP as well as bouncy deluxe tracks such as ‘I Want To Love’. The entire audience was radiant, the band’s positivity and passion for music was evident early on and their excitement for playing FIB for the first time was also extremely clear. Bassist Mikey Goldsworthy came forward from behind his platform, as well as keyboardist Emre Turkmen to showcase particular instrumental sections from particular tunes which emphasised how elaborate the band’s musical arrangements are. Olly’s dynamism was constantly reflected through his phenomenal dance-moves and twinkle in his eye, the charismatic frontman encouraged the entire festival to move with him and that was achieved in an instant. The overall show was colourful, captivating and spectacular.


The headliners of the night were none other than Leicester rock band Kasabian, and their headline set drew the festival to the perfect close. The light show was astounding, laser beams flooded the audience and stage to produce an effect of beams bouncing off one another, it was incredible. Tom Meighan’s determination to put on a stellar headline set was distinct, through his on-point vocal as well as stage presence which took over the entire festival crowd. Guitarist/vocalist Sergio Pizzorno’s liveliness worked in perfect tandem with Tom’s, resulting in a performance that was brimming with exuberance and drive. The set included new upbeat tracks ‘You’re In Love With A Psycho’ and ‘Bless This Acid House’, as well as older favourites ‘L.S.F’ and ‘Fire’. The eighteen song set seemed relatively short as time seemed to fly by, Kasabian put on quite the show and the audience were engrossed and hypnotised by it all, it was a special moment. Tom resulted in saying that the FIB crowd was one of the best the band had ever had, and was truly appreciative of the support and non-stop chanting by the audience. People were on shoulders, t-shirts were swung and drinks were thrown. Overall, Kasabian never cease to get the crowd going and bring the festival to an impeccable finish.


FIB 2017 certainly booked one of the best line-ups it ever has for this year’s edition, the varying genres of music and mix of acts old and new ensured that it catered for all in attendance. Every act put on a performance which elevated the crowd’s energy, and boosted the positive festival excitement even more. The calibre of the line-up was inspiring and it is encouraging to see festivals booking acts from all aspects of the indie spectrum, from more established acts to the emerging national and international acts. FIB’s four days were outstanding and the atmosphere became even more thrilling as each day passed. FIB 2017 will be a memorable experience for all present and only makes us even more excited for next year!


FIB 2018 takes place from the 19th-22nd July and earlybird 4-day tickets plus camping for are available now for £99 via the following link : http://fiberfib.com/en/tickets/tickets-2.php