Festival Review – Bilbao BBK Live 2018

Bilbao BBK Live is set in a picture-perfect location at the very top of the beautiful Basque mountains which provide a gorgeous view to wake up to in the morning and a pleasant change to the dreary view you become accustom to seeing first thing in the morning at a grey British festival.

The bash gets into full flow on Thursday with Temples opening up the Bilbao Stage at 7:30 which gives punters plenty of time to head into the city centre earlier in the day and see what Bilbao has to offer. Kettering’s finest were on terrific form with a mesmerising performance to a hungry crowd who were in fine voice for the stellar set.

Next up was the tranquil sounds Cigarettes After Sex who brought their heavenly self-titled debut to the Heineken Stage just as the sun began to fall. As the sun disappeared it was time for the man of the hour Childish Gambino – who proved exactly why he is currently one of the most talked about man not just in music but in entertainment at the moment.

Glover spread his powerful aura that gravitates from him to the 50,000 plus crowd who all were there to witness a talent at the peak of his powers. He treated the crowd to live debuts of new tunes ‘Feels Like Summer’ and ‘Summertime Magic’, classics such as ‘Redbone’ and ‘3005’ before closing on the politically charged global smash hit ‘This Is America’. The backing band were as immense as the man himself and elevated the sound to an even greater level than you hear on record.

Following an undeniably stunning show from Glover and co. on the Bilbao stage it was time to head back to the Heineken stage for the immersive Alt-J who were also on incredible form.

Now three albums in, the band have built up a real repertoire of top class material as well as a more than impressive stage show with each member of the band holed inside a prison cell. Thanks to the band for pretty much the entirety of the weekend I had the line ‘I’m a Female Rebel’ stuck in my head from ‘Hunger Of The Pine’ which was one of many highlights from a magical show. As well as that the band’s keyboardist Gus Unger-Hamilton also spoke to the crowd in fluent Spanish throughout so Donald Glover wasn’t the only man of many talents performing at BBK Live on Thursday.

South London’s Florence and The Machine headlined the Bilbao Stage with a euphoric set which heavily relied on their massive new record High As Hope with Florence Welch’s voice sounding impeccable and the whole performance felt like a real headline worthy set with old songs like ‘Dog Days Are Over’ and ‘Ship To Wreck’ going down particularly well with the Basque crowd.

 

Friday was home to King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard on the main stage with a high energy set that flew by although their sound may have been more suited to a more intimate stage than the festival’s main stage to get the full King Gizz experience.

My Bloody Valentine were bloody good and bloody loud with Shields and co. being that loud that they managed to break the entire sound system of the Heineken Stage during the huge final song ‘You Made Me Realise’. It really is great to have them back gigging and on the festival circuit, hopefully, we don’t have to wait too long now for that record that they have been busy cooking up.

Another night in Bilbao means another South London headliner with The XX taking up the mantle on Friday evening with an epic set just like they did at Manchester’s Parklife little over a month ago. The three-piece really are a special talent who create a unique warm atmosphere like only they could and manage to make a headline performance to over 50,000 people feel like an intimate show.

After spending the day enjoying what the many bar’s that Bilbao has up its sleeve and wandering around the city, it was then time to enjoy a night of unbelievable live music starting off with my act of the weekend Young Fathers who were a pure delight to watch in the tent and even had Noel Gallagher of all people smiling away watching at the side of the stage.

The harmonies that the Scottish outfit produce are unlike anybody else which makes them a truly stunning live act who are impossible to imitate. The energy that Kayus Bankole generates especially get the crowd off their feet for the full show as well as the tent providing an intimate stage which works to the bands favour.

After winning the coveted Mercury Prize with their debut, the three-piece have since gone from strength to strength with their flawless third record Cocoa Sugar which a lot of their set derived from with ‘Holy Ghost’ and ‘In My View’ being personal highlights.

Jungle was an unexpected high point of the festival who sounded like on top form with their long-awaited material such as the gorgeous single ‘Happy Man’ which makes me think their second record will be well worth the four-year wait. The vocals of Tom McFarland and Josh Lloyd-Watson blend together poetically and they are accompanied by an uber-talented band who bring Jungle to life.

The final act of the night is Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz who come on stage at 1:45am with the legendary icon going all out and deciding to rock double Stone Island for the occasion which heavily drew from their brand spanking new record ‘The Now Now’. The performance felt like you were watching a movie with the Gorillaz cartoon characters on the screen behind the band for skits between songs which made the gig like no other. They were even joined on stage by Benjamin Clementine to perform a beautiful rendition of ‘Hallelujah Money’ which was the song’s live debut. There aren’t many better bands around than the Gorillaz to close a festival especially when they save ‘Clint Eastwood’ until the end and you’ll struggle to find many better landscapes around than where Bilbao BBK Live is situated which makes it a truly special Basque party.

Weezer have already been confirmed for next year’s event and if you want to get your hands on early bird tickets then click here.

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