Wednesday, 15 July 2009

BilbaoBBK Festival

Well another festival i can notch on my belt of festivals has been completed, this time i journeyed to Bilbao in Spain for BilbaoBBK Live 2009.

With my stupid fear of being blown from the sky i decided to take the ferry with my mate Callum. "A ferry Neil, are you serious"? Well yes i am, well was. Ferry from Portsmouth to Bilbao = 33hrs. Not long considering there was cheap beer and even cheaper entertainment ( In the guise of the P&O Players, a cabaret team singing tunes from the West End and Broadway) and to be fair they weren't half bad.

Along the way if you were lucky enough you could spot whales and dolphins in the Bay of Biscay, but the bar was a greater site in my eyes. Anyway we left Portsmouth on Tuesday around 11pm and got to Bilbao in the morning of Thursday (Festival starts on the Thursday), so we trekked and got a tram to Bilbao Abando (Central). Found some lost looking souls and came to the conclusion that like us they have entered into the unknown all for a good time of music, sun and sangria.

Free shuttle bus to the festival led us up a winding road to the top of this hill overlooking Bilbao and there is where the festival sat, atop a hill. Brilliant view of the city.

We sat around drinking and headed into the main arena. The arena itself is tiny in comparison to say Lowlands in Holland or the Reading Festival in the UK but equally impressive layout. There was Stage 1 and Stage 2, with acts playing one after the other allowing fans to walk between the two and not hear overlapping sounds. There was a hill facing Stage 1 which you could chill on in the shade of trees while watching music from either stage really. They had vendor stalls selling t-shirts and the like and two main alcohol tents. A litre of beer set you back €7 as did a Jack Daniels and Coke, though for €11 you got a litre of JD & Coke and the Spanish don't measure their spirits so sometimes you get just enough, others you get more for your money.

A dance tent was also available to those who didn't want the party to stop, and i was there till the mornings most nights, dancing like a drunken Englishman till sunrise.
The festival has only been going on for about 4 years now and the acts that come through and play such a tiny festival are not tiny themselves. This year i had the enjoyment of seeing:

The Ting Tings
The Kaiser Chiefs
Depeche Mode
Janes Addiction
Primal Scream
The Editors
Dave Matthews Band
Echo and the Bunnymen
Ama Say
Vetusta Morla
Basement Jaxx

As i said most nights of music were followed by two of us staying in the dance tent till sunrise, which with 30 degree heat turned your tent into a sauna, stepping out into an oven. Can't really complain as if you had that weather over here it would be a HEATWAVE and you would be fanning yourself with old magazines.

The toilets left a bit to be desired (holes in the floor that you squatted over) but being the weary traveller that i am, i knew the nearby bus terminal would have proper toilets, which they did. Showers were a welcome comfort, though by the time i got round to using them they were ICE cold, which again wasn't too bad considering the heat.
Camping was slightly disheartening, the campsite we stayed in was basically a car park, but considering the festival is held in a park, you cant complain.

Unlike with some European festivals in Spain the language barrier is massive. So i really should have brushed up on some phrases rather than using broken Spanglish which the majority of foreigners use these days.

All in all, regardless of the long travel or the heat or the toilets etc, BilbaoBBK Live has to be one of the best festivals i have been to in a long time. The planning, the price (£40 for the camping ticket), the layout, the view and the general atmosphere was excellent. The fact we could walk up to the front of the stage about 20Min's before a major act and still get to the front is amazing. With most festivals you have to wade through hundreds of people and watch 2 or 3 bands just to get to the front.

Anyhoo enough of me talking, if you've managed to reach this far here is my FlickR page, though only have Ting Tings up at the moment. More to come.


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