28 jun 2012

Music festivals in Madrid

Headline show at Rock in Río Madrid

From Calvin Harris to The Kooks, Madrid has something to appease even the most obscure of musical palettes. Throughout the year Spain’s captivating capital plays host to some unmissable festivals, showcasing the finest musical talent we have here on God’s green earth. Spanning across all genres: Pop, Rock, Indie, House, Techno, Electro, Hip-hop, Soul, Funk and Blues, in 2012 Madrid has seen (or is soon to see) names like Rihanna, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Maxïmo Park, Fritz Kalkbrenner, James Blake, The Killers and Lenny Kravitz.

First on the agenda, and with the summer season in Madrid in full blaze by this time, Rock in Rio arrives. With a plethora of stellar names announced for this year, it’s hard to find a good excuse for missing out on this one. The festival originated in Rio de Janeiro, and (the Rio de Janeiro edition) is the single largest music festival to date, with an attendance of 1.5 million in its first year.

Día de La Música 2011
Probably the biggest single musical event to grace Madrid, or indeed Spain, it all goes down at Ciudad del Rock, way out in the south-eastern outskirts of the city, a few miles from the metro stop Arganda del Rey. Below you can see a plan of the perfectly laid out festival park.It kicks off for a “preliminary” round on June 30 with Lenny Kravitz and 2manydjs, to name but a few acts, takes a few days rest and returns for July 5, 6 and 7, when the fun really starts. Rihanna, Calvin Harris, Swedish House Mafia, David Guetta, Pitbull, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Deadmau5 are all set to give us the largest and loudest festival of the summer.

With only about a week to recover, next up is Mulafest: Madrid’s international festival of contemporary and urban arts. This is the ultimate alternative festival, with contemporary dance, music, art, tattooing and BMX shows.

The Red Chili Pepper - Live in Madrid, Spain
Further to these festivals, you can cap off the summer in style in mid September (14th and 15th) with the DCODE festival. 2012 will hear massive anthems like Mr. Brightside and All These Things I’ve Done from The Killers, the captivating power of Sigur Rós’ post-rock sound, and the raw, earthy, untamed beats of Parisian duo Justice.

Already this year we’ve been spoilt with musical treats.

If you like your electronic dance music, then the annual Klubbersday festival which takes place in March is what you want. It is regarded by some as Madrid’s answer to Creamfields, and is certainly the biggest annual event for lovers of house and techno. Located at Madrid Arena in Casa de Campo, what is normally used as a sporting venue transforms into a thumping power house of feel-good beats, with the groovy Fritz Kalkbrenner, the hypnotic Clockwork, and the awesome 2000 and One part of a hugely impressive lineup which blew the event away this year.

As we made our way through Spring and the hot Madrid sun started to find a comfortable spot in the sky, it was time for Musicland festival, which took place this year on April 27 and 28. Like Klubbersday, the focus here is on the rave scene again, though this slightly more diverse show comes with hip-hop and rap infusions, such as Violadores del Verso and Duo Kie.

Armin van Buuren at Klubbersday 2011
For those looking for a more soulful experience, wait only one more month and you have the funky Black is Back festival: “Soul in its purest form” its subtitle boasting. And with a bill including legends like The Impressions, it has every right to do so. Black is Back finds its home in Matadero Madrid, a cutting edge contemporary arts centre right near Legazpi metro stop, which is undoubtedly one of the coolest music venues that the city has to offer. It also hosts the incredible Día de la Música festival at the end of June. This festival (which actually spans four days) has a definite indie rock flavour, with an alternative after taste. The 2012 edition just finished with unforgettable performances from acts like Maxïmo Park, Two Door Cinema club, and Berlin’s Apparat.

This of course is only a glimpse of the festival activity going on in Madrid. Packed full of bars and clubs - and those bars that think they’re clubs – there’s musical fun to be had every night of the week here.

So with parties going on all year round, bars that never want to close, and streets that are filled until dawn, Spain’s capital graciously assumes its rightful seat at the head of the European festival dinner table.