New Order closes a depleted Benicàssim
Attendance down 20 percent at 18th edition of music festival
The Benicàssim music festival (FIB) turned 18 on Sunday and celebrated with concerts from what is left of the legendary New Order, big name producer and DJ David Guetta and young British indie rock band The Vaccines. Not, arguably, the greatest line-up for such a landmark anniversary, but it’s perhaps best not to ask further at an event that, according to organizers, saw its attendance down 10,000 visitors a day this year.
As they did at Sónar in Barcelona less than a month ago, New Order — the band that rose from the tragic ashes of Joy Division — couldn’t resist the temptation of paying tribute to its former frontman Ian Curtis, who would have been 56 on Sunday. Led by a tubby Bernard Sumner — bassist Peter Hook wasn’t invited — the group culminated their performances of hits such as Crystal and Blue Monday with a rendition of Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart in the encore.
Following them at the end of the night was the direct, rapid rock of Londoners The Vaccines. Their hits worked to perfection on a grand festival stage now officially given over to Britons — according to organizer figures, 70 percent of the audience came from the UK and Ireland, with another four percent from the rest of the world. And this time round they were a total of 10,000 fewer of them each day than last year’s record 50,000. When there is a bigger queue for beer in the VIP area than in the main enclosure, it’s a bad sign.
The line-up undoubtedly has something to do with it, as does the fact that the Bilbao BBK Live festival, with Radiohead and The Cure, also took place this weekend. And the VAT hike from eight to 15 percent on FIB and the other festivals doesn’t augur well for their chances of attracting line-ups to compete with their European rivals. The event’s Irish director Vince Power says he’s angry — and now hardly seems the best moment to upset foreign investors, even if they aren’t in the mega-casino business.