Archive for the 'music' Category

Summercase 08

This is the first July I’ve actually spent in Madrid despite having lived here for three years. As such, it only seemed right to attend a hometown music festival this summer. The two-day Summercase was my and a friend’s choice and it all went down this weekend.


Blondie! Total crowd pleasers. What energy, what style! And lead singer Debbie Harry is over 60 and knows how to seriously rock. We loved her dancing.

CSS or Cansei de Ser Sexy. This group was a personal discovery of mine at last year’s festival in Benicàssim (FIB) and I was psyched to see them at Summercase. They did not disappoint, playing a 45-minute set in which they didn’t even pause between songs nor did the crowd stop bouncing around to their crazy ditties. The lead singer is a riot: she donned a floral-print full bodysuit for the show.

Foals. Previously unknown to me, I listened to a couple of their songs last week and liked them enough to know I wanted to see their set. Definitely one of the coolest bands there. The singer’s voice reminded me a bit of Kele Okereke’s from Bloc Party, but the music is like an electronic dance-rock jam—the kind of music that’s great to see live. The band members were totally into it, too. Guitarist Jimmy Smith, a tall lanky dude wearing what looked like orange swim trunks (it was hot!), hopped around bent over his guitar, keeping the beat by rocking his whole body forward and back.

The Scotsman Edwyn Collins. Rocked out on “A Girl Like You” and a number of others from his seat on stage. The guy suffered two cerebral hemorrhages three years ago and still has difficulties with his right arm and leg. Impressive!

The Verve were not my favorite, but Richard Ashcroft’s lovely “The Drugs Don’t Work,” followed by “Bittersweet Symphony” definitely deserve a mention.

The Breeders. Those sisters rock! They were pretty badass in their t-shirts and baggy jeans. Remember their hit “Cannonball“?

Maximo Park. Another energy-filled set backed by thoroughly enjoyable music and some very attractive band members. Must download.

Shout-outs go to:

The organizers for the rent-a-cup system. Pay a euro and rent your cup for the night or nights. Return it, along with its “leash” (a plastic ring with a clip to attach to your clothes), and get your euro back. I admire the “green” initiative.

Amnesty International, who had a stand with information and a great incentive: bring them five empty water bottles and get a free bottle of water. During the two nights R and I probably collected upwards of 50 water bottles off the ground and reaped the benefits with free hydration.

Public transport. We got there and back from Boadilla del Monte for less than 3 euros each day. Olé!

Spanish radio doesn’t completely suck!

I have spent the last two years believing that Spanish radio sucks. And it does, mostly. The problem is that it’s full of commercial pop with hardly any variety. There’s even a “Kiss” station in Spain, which I’ve since learned is synonymous worldwide with “terrible music.”

But, finally, I’ve seen the light. I recently commented on the dearth of good radio in this country to one of my students and then my Spanish profe, both of whom I believed weren’t lovers of the Spanish pop that pollutes most of the airwaves here. The response, from both of them, was, “Radio 3!”

So I’ve started to give my iPod a break and instead I listen to Radio 3 on my cell phone on the bus on my way to class. It’s the third channel of Spanish public radio (Radio Nacional de España): the first is general talk/news, etc. and the second is classical music.

Radio 3 has been a revelation. It is, of course, how radio should be: different programs at different hours of the day with hosts who are knowledgeable and entertaining. And, being public radio, there are no ads. Which is fantastic. My favorite programs thus far are Música es 3 and Siglo 21, which are on in the mornings (8-10 and 10-12, respectively). There’s also a lovely jazz program Saturday nights: ideal accompaniment for an evening at home with a good meal and a bottle of vino.

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