Clash Does Benicàssim – Day One

With Everything Everything and Elly Jackson...

Clash is at FIB, aka Benicàssim, over in that Spain. Every day: a round-up of the day before’s best acts and interview activity. And here’s the first.

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Thursday

After a drive along the coast from Barcelona through thick rain and an electrical storm that etches the surrounding landscape into the night sky like a celestial paparazzo’s flashgun, Clash awakes after a few hours sleep ready to do battle with Benicàssim’s opening day.

Kick off isn’t until 8pm, but there’s a full day ahead of important things to be done. Boning up on the latest news and gossip about the acts on the line-up. Locating the pool. Explaining to the heavy-pouring lady at the hotel bar that perhaps the proportion of gin to tonic should err on the side on tonic, at least before lunch.

For the uninitiated, Benicàssim is a small and unremarkable town that lies a little north of Valencia on the road to Barcelona. Eighteen years ago the Festival Internacional de Benicàssim put down roots in a car park behind, and has since hosted hundreds of thousands of sun-drenched revelers from Spain, Britain and all over Europe. Pulling in more than 50,000 punters last year, alongside Sonar and Primavera Sound it’s one of Spain’s biggest musical events.

Brits have to get used to playing on Spanish time, of course, snoozing and lounging during the fierce sun of the day. Music on the main stages ends at 4am, and DJs play until close at 7am.

First in line for an interview with Clash is big-haired psychedelic rockers Temples, adding their weight to the undercurrent of 1970s revivalism with a heavy, proggy sound, as baked into their textbook psychedelic video to ‘Colours To Life’. Clash learns that Noel Gallagher came to one of their gigs recently and dispensed some advice: “Don’t try and dance on stage. You look ridiculous.” Apparently.

The backstage area looks big and empty in the daylight, before the hordes of VIPs, fans and blaggers turn up. At the moment the sofas are draped with the occasional sprawled body boasting a rock ‘n’ roll haircut, lying spark-out in the heat, presumably having been flown in from somewhere else recently and unable to stand before the bar opens.

Wandering around are Jonathan and Michael from Everything Everything, who sit down with Clash for a chat. Second album ‘Arc’ has struck a chord with critics and fans, a slicker, more polished, less cryptic record than ‘Man Alive’.

Jonathan explains the slightly apocalyptic feel of tracks like ‘Cough Cough’. “I think there’s definitely a sense that everything could spin out of control the way things are going at the moment,” he says. “In relationships, the environment, politics… you can’t help but feel it.” In breaking news: the woman Jonathan had singing lessons from was not, in fact, the singer from the Bodyform adverts. So could everyone please stop asking him about it.

Clash picks off a few more acts as dusk settles in. Elly Jackson of La Roux says she’s not doing interviews, but then does anyway. With their first live shows in years and first new material since 2009, La Roux’s return brings with it a warmer, more varied sound.

Elly’s ice-maiden demeanour has softened somewhat and the songwriting has emerged from the shadow of the stark 80s synth sound of the Eurythmics and The Human League, which underscored their debut. One of Brixton’s more well-known residents, she won’t be drawn on gentrification and the emerging battle for the suburb’s soul that has seen the local branch of Foxtons vandalised.

“But I did appear in The Bill as a child,” says Sergeant June Ackland’s daughter.

Electrifying the Fibclub stage in their headline slot, Everything Everything’s sparky melodramatics sound very modern faced off against Queens Of The Stone Age’s heavy rock-of-ages on the main stage. When the lights come on an ocean of hands are raised to meet QOTSA’s towering frontman Josh Homme’s raised fist salute. Reckon it’s going to be a vintage year – and it’s only Thursday.

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Words and photos: Michael Parker

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