You’ve all seen those articles: British Festivals vs American Festival, Reading Festival vs Coachella. And you’ve all seen that we are essentially gross festival-goers that enjoy taking things just that little bit too far - like when people think it's funny to shit in people's tents (saying that, we are by far more fun, though). When looking at the arguably mainstream indie line-up for Bilbao BBK Live, and with no previous experience of festivals abroad; pandemonium was expected. The total contrast to the premonition was, however, welcomed.
Arriving at Bilbao BBK Live is like entering a hippy haven: its tranquil camping area, the all night party at Basoa Space, the free-spirit of the festival-goers (they hand out free condom's) and the exquisite line-up makes it a complete place of paradise, that can only be truly appreciated if experienced first-hand. On top of that, the placement of the festival on a mountain makes it totally breath-taking. Less about that though, more about the music...
Years and Years have been all over 2016 so far, and for seemingly good reason. Their dance, chart hits translate splendidly well with the predominantly Spanish audience and the sea of arms in the air, bouncing up and down are a pleasant sight for an ex-Years & Years critic. Are they so pleasing because it’s Brits Abroad? Is the enjoyment stemming from just knowing a few tracks? Who knows. But frontman, Olly Alexander’s, vocals never falter and their hit electro-pop jam, ‘Desire’, resonates surprisingly well through the mountains of Bilbao. Olly's frolicking around stage and gratitude towards the receptive Spanish audiences is heart-warming, and proves why they're being cited as future headliners.
Another act destined for future headline slots are Scottish trio, Chvrches. It's been a fair few years since I've had the pleasure of seeing this act live, and their improvement and potential is beyond exciting. From someone who seemingly hid behind the synths when playing the NME Stage at Reading & Leeds in 2013, to parading across the stage; Lauren's delivery is now full of attitude and determination. “This is for Boris Johnson, I guess,” declares Lauren before launching into their sass and synth-fuelled belter, ‘Gun’. Rolling out tracks from their debut, The Bones of What You Believe, released three years ago alongside their most recent record, they go hand-in-hand. 'Under The Tide' hasn't aged and the energy reeling from 'We Sink' and 'The Mother We Share' make Chvrches a big contender in the battle for the next huge indie name.
M83; everyone knows M83. Whether it's through choice, through advertising or that bloody Made in Chelsea theme tune - pretty much everyone has heard at least one, or a bit of an M83 track. And it shows with the size of the crowd and the excessive lighting. To make up for the fact that M83 aren't really relevant anymore, the exceptional lighting display is really the only thing that stands out from the set.
A similar thing could be said for New Order, however their gravitas and reputation holds them in high regard. Obviously, 'Blue Monday' is the hit everyone was waiting for, but the hypnotising electronics and the fact that it's New Order keeps people dancing like there's no tomorrow. Showering everyone in blue lights, whilst spinning through the classics; these guys put on one hell of a show.
After such astounding sets from all the bands previous; Arcade Fire pull everything out the bag to ensure people leave knowing that they're the rightful headliners. The theatrical performance, chorus of voices behind and the keys, guitars and vocals all come together to create a stunning stage show. Not just focused on the lighting and the back-drop; the band show a real emphasis on a true performance that isn't over the top. Barraging from their indie rock days to their present flirtations with electronica comes at such an ease to to these guys and it sounds delightfully seamless. Arcade Fire aren't just a joy to listen to, but a treat for the eyes also.
For a day full to the brim of synths, electronics and pop; the thirst for guitar bands is high. Luckily, Blood Red Shoes arrive at 2am to quench it. Toeing and throwing through their four-album back catalogue, the Brighton duo keep the crowd hooked throughout, provoking an animalistic response that never repents. 'Cold', 'An Animal' and 'I Wish I Was Someone Better' are obvious highlights, as the duo fight with ferocity to remind everyone of great, honest guitar music, and sign off the first day good'n'proper.
Featured image also by Javier Rosa.