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I've always wanted to head abroad to go to a festival; friends of mine returning from Exit Festival and the likes of Benicàssim always made me madly jealous with their tales of monster hangovers, late nights, and their glorious suntans.

This year I was lucky enough to visit northern Spain (well, technically not Spain; it's actually located in the Basque Country) for three days of fine music, enormous measures of spirits and the chance to watch The Prodigy with a cold G&T in my hand.

I will confess to not roughing it (yes, we stayed in a hotel - don't judge us), so I can't speak for the camping area, but the main arena was a dream to behold. Large enough to accommodate the thousands that arrived from all over the world and small enough to be able to leg it from one stage to another without missing most of another band's songs. Bilbao BBK also impressed me by not selling a huge amount of shit; yes, you can get food, and there was that car display that everyone displayed lewd poses in, but it's such a joy to not see stand after stand of luminous legwarmers, flowered headbands and spiky wristbands for sale.

Expectations were high for night one - and were duly smashed. We headed off to Stage 3 (otherwise known as the Sony stage) to catch Allen Stone at 7pm, then ran to the VIP area to load up on cheap booze and watch the sun go down. We caught the tail end of White Lies' set; hearing To Lose My Life live was a highlight, and I'd like to apologise to everyone that I threw my drink over. John Newman followed suit ("He was on the flight? Really?" I kept rasping), and then we bided our time until Franz Ferdinand. They were worth waiting for. Taking to Stage 2 a little after midnight, they wowed the crowd with their well-known hits. I would like to say I remembered every second of their set, but all I can recall is getting nostalgic when The Dark of the Matinee was played, and seeing someone act out a bullfight in the crowd, playing the part of both bull and matador. They must have been confused.

Day two began for us with huge, monstrous hangovers. After deciding it was the sugar in the drinks that had crucified us, we headed back to the arena at 5pm to drink more and recover to the sounds of The 1975 and Bastille. Watching Bastille live is something I hope to recreate at Latitude later on this week. I'd always skipped them on Spotify, but live, they're fantastic. 

Jack Johnson failed to win us over (as I recall, at that point we were very close to throwing our drinks and kept shouting fairly unkind things at him, which he probably didn't hear), and then left the cosy, cheap booze-addled VIP area for Foster the People. They kicked off with Helena Beat, and played Pumped Up Kicks near the end of their set. A clever trick designed to make us stay to listen to their other songs? Maybe. Either way, it worked.


Festival Review: Bilbao BBK Live 2014
Digital Mag

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