10   +   5   =  

bilbao bbk liveEarlier… the shuttle bus spirals upwards, up and around the twister lolly hills of Bilbao. Legs bounce happy bodies in dancing shoes down the path towards the arena, arms lift wrist bands in the air to get through cheerful serious security, quick check. Mumford and Sons’, Marcus Mumford, emphatically bashes on a large drum, forcing legs and arms to move in time, Ben Howard belts out for his adoring spanish fan base, The Kooks remind us how naive she is (so naive), people jig up and down outside and on top of portaloos, I’m not sure if it’s allowed but no one’s trying to get them down. A kind of ironic (but I suspect not really) mosh pit relives its youth in Sum 41, misplacing limbs, friends, a left shoe and a passport… meh, we don’t want to go home anyway! Tired bodies slump contently in the bean bag area, refusing to go back to their tents, trying to put themselves back together before they fall apart at the dance stage – basically bits of people scattered all over … Or perhaps that was later? Anyway.

Now, I sway sleepily in the midst of The Cure’s three hour set, in a kind of semi-conscious trance, semi-hearing the impressive sounds cutting through the air and half letting my thoughts wander… This is a lull in the night’s euphoria, a time to regroup, catch a breath in the dark above the lights and wait for a note to stir us back into action… My thoughts amble into the blue-tinted crowd… The Brits haven’t invaded BBK Live yet, however, the Aussies seem to be moving in swiftly, and the BBK community has yet to embrace the opportunity for a carefree excess of bizarreness (for the most part) that you might find at Secret Garden Party or Boomtown. I’m not saying it should embrace it, there’s a reason why those festivals stand out. A bit like how we stand out in The Cure crowd, with giant plastic flowers in our hair, dressed head to toe in tie dye. I look fondly over to my friend who has gone one step further and set her forehead aglow with fairy lights and created something resembling Damien Hirst’s ‘Spot Paintings’ over her face and down her arms. Yes, we definitely stand out. The absolutely everythingness of those eccentric British festivals will rub up against you, maybe lick you on the face, and stay with you long afterwards, but BBK isn’t in that mind set. BBK is just about the music and so be it. It’s a music festival.

I can hear a new riff and hope this might be one I know… No. Another song from the extensive discography that I’m not familiar with. We all need to turn it up, this lull is starting to effect my mood. I mustn’t flag and droop too low… just make sure the swaying is constant. We sway some more, something really needs to draw us in and drive us forward. I take a sip of my San Miguel which goes down my throat, flat and warm from inside the bucket, sorry, cup. There are no pints at BBK festival, no half-pints, no singles, no doubles, only LITRES. No hands are left free as the bucket-cup requires two on it at all times. My fingers are pruney from the condensation. Extremely minor issues. At least I won’t have to queue up at the bar for a good few hours. New riff now, the acoustics are amazing on top of this hill, who would have thought… I know this one! I know this one! Is it? Yes… Yesterday I got so old, I felt like I could die. Yesterday I got so old, it made me want to cry! Gowan gowan jus wargaway! All the bodies, shaking off the last half hour, move automatically, more enthusiastically, everyone has their chin in the air, shoving buckets in the sky like awkward tankards, no, I don’t know every single word either, it’s ok we’ll keep it up, keep it up, stick your chin in the air and try and sing louder than Robert Smith! The song, the voice spills into the bowl-like shape of the arena that holds the main stage. People overflow from the base up onto the slopes, pretty much everyone has a good view of Rob’s crazy dark hairdo and everyone’s happy within this song.

OK it’s been another hour, I can’t sway in this spot for much longer. The Cure sound amazing, distinctive, exactly like listening to one of their records. I wonder if this is a good thing. Perhaps they should offer something out of the ordinary, personal, something unexpected. I wonder if the campsites have completely emptied to watch these musical giants. The campsites, thousands of people sharing all of four toilets, maybe due to some dodgy planning. I know a lot of people found other less official places to squat – I saw some pretty suspicious plastic bags hanging off the tree branches. Apart from that the campsites are grassy, friendly and well-shaded, with an amazing view of Bilbao, and a canteen/ bar area around the corner which will satisfy your chip butty and beer keg needs…

… Three hours is too long, surely. Someone next to me sighs and says, ‘shall we go and watch Bloc Party on stage two?’ I think, Yes thank you! The crowd allow their stiff legs to become lose, they just go crazy for Bloc Party. So, this is where the bands of indie rock past come to get their mojo back? And actually, Bloc Party have never sounded better, louder, than they do right now, on top of this hill in northern Spain. This may be because there is no volume control, no angry neighbour to worry about on this spanish peak. And there is still everything to look forward to – Thom Yorke’s beautiful lungs, Radiohead are never disappointing. There will be time for a weary but enthusiastic visit to the Guggenheim and maybe a wander around the traditional/ ultra-modern city of Bilbao, caught between the rolling hills. I look at those green hills and can’t help but think of The Sound of Music, if The Sound of Music was set in the Basque Country. And I suppose I’m Maria, running over the hills and singing… if Maria wore tie dye and flowers in her hair.

★★★★★

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