One of the most talked-about experiences amongst Erasmus students in Valencia is the legendary annual ESN trip to Ibiza. Being wimpy -slash- hipsters -slash- 2 kool 4 skool, many of us made our parents (and their wallets) proud and decided not to go. Instead, me and the two Madelines decided to go to the Estrella Levante SOS 4.8 music festival in the nearby town of Murcia (which we kept misreading for ‘Murica!). I had toyed with the idea of visiting Rahul in Copenhagen this weekend, but flights were either ridiculously expensive or involved roughly 10 hour layovers. So, instead, SOS 4.8.
It was a two-day festival, so standard protocol was to camp out on-site. By the time we finalized our plans to go, regular camping spots had sold out, leaving “glamping” as our only option. Apart from the horrendously puny name, this entailed the provision of a tent, yoga mats, a lock, and a light. #glampalamp! With a setlist full of some of our favorite bands, we stuffed a few pairs of clothes and our weight in snacks into our backpacks and caught a bus to Murcia Friday morning, two days after the Ibiza-heads had left. We climbed abroad feeling woefully out of place as we drowned in a throng of über-hipsters and their excessive amounts of luggage, but we just #YOLO-ed it.
We reached the festival grounds to find that the campsite was a twenty minute walk and thirty minute metro ride away. Fortunately, this never really posed an issue for us throughout the course of the weekend. We checked in, squealed excitedly about our wristbands like the festival n00bs we are, and promptly napped to prepare for the night’s festivities. The festival consisted of acts from around 8 pm to 6 am, so sleeping during the day was a necessity if we hoped to survive the night. Friday’s lineup featured several bands for which we were excited – and literally everyone of those bands was back to back on the same stage. #winning
Our terrible trio started off the evening with Dorian, a chill Spanish band whose music fit perfectly with the stunning backdrop of palm trees and mountains and sunset that begged for comparisons to SoCal, except for all of the hipsters – oh, wait. By the time he next band, KAKKMADDAFAKKA, came on, it was dark and slightly more crowded. KAKKMADDAFAKKA (yes, it really is pronounced how you think it is) were a cheeky Norwegian group from Bergen that put on a ridiculously fun show. they had a cellist, two male background dancers in tuxedo shirts who periodically Charleston-ed, and a fantastically talented and insane pianist who progressively lost his clothes during the set, played proficiently with his toes, and at one point, ran into the crowd to bum a cigarette. We also had a lot of fun watching some of the more inebriated audience members around us.
We then made our way towards the front for my favorite band at the festival, The xx. While waiting for their set to begin, we met a group of friendly Malagan guys and chatted with them in a mixture of Spanish and English and randomness. One was a med student and another was a MechE and a third, a Bulls fan (whoo!). Instead of asking our real names, they decided to rename us: I was Elena (because I looked like one of their friends), Maddie was Alejandro, and Madeline was Juan Antonio (both named after guys in the group) – they told us that if guys in Valencia tried to bother us, we should tell them our names to stave them off. We lost this group as soon as The xx started, which was largely due to the fact that we were completely mesmerized by their performance. Romy Madley Croft was the epitome of cool while Oliver Sim would walk around playing the bass like a dinosaur and staring creepily into your soul, and Jaime Smith just chilled in the back – perfection. Even Madeline, who isn’t a fan of the band, agreed that they were her favorite act. We stood. near some boys that were literally in tears because they were so excited. So so so good.
By the time it was time for Bloc Party, the place was packed and we moved a bit further back. They definitely had the coolest lights and lasers, but the lulls in the setlist left something to be desired. Starving, we then made our way to one of the many food stalls and waited in line for massive pizza slices. While in line, we struck up a conversation with the two girls in front of us, who were from Madrid and were SOS 4.8 regulars. The audience in general was Spanish and surprised by our presence as foreigners; I guess Murcia isn’t the first destination for most exchange students. The guy behind us in line was from Dorst, England but had actually designed the website for a restaurant called Riviera in Arlington Heights – small world. He was definitely one of the coolest people we met and at one point told Madeline, “You’re wearing a bandana, you can do whatever you want.”
Heading back to the stage for Crystal Fighters, Maddie and I were surprised that this group of neo-hippies played a super high energy set, not the chill one we had expected. The lead singer was a long haired dude in a lacy, sparkly, tasseled shirt and the band had a great performance, but we several of the people near us really kicked us off with their rowdy drunkenness. We also got offered “candy” about halfway through but had a suspicion it wasn’t actually candy so politely declined and quickly relocated. We made final stop at the now-disgusting port-a-potties before heading back for Modeselektor, whose set induced seizure-like dancing from many of the audience members. This was exhausting but lots of fun, especially because we got to watch Madeline and this ridiculously blonde guy half dance battle. As we left, Madeline educated our ignorant souls about electronic music. Fun stuff. We ended up taking a taxi instead of waiting for the first metro. We got back to the camp around 6.30 and passed out on our yoga mats.
We slept for the majority of the day, waking periodically to munch on some of our snacks before falling back asleep. Around early evening, we got ready and walked into town, running into KAKKMADDAFAKKA as they were leaving their hotel. We said hi and got a photo and felt cool for the rest of our walk, haha. We scarfed down salads from McDonald’s before meeting up with Lennart and some friends who were there for the night. We joined forces with several international students we found and sat talking in the grass for quite some time. This group included Zoe from Northern Ireland and Danny Craig (Bond?!) from Scotland, our wolf pack for the rest of the night.
We walked in and instantly lost Zoe, then spent the next fifteen minutes looking for us, but gave up and made our way to the front for M83 – great lights, perfect crowd. Between sets, we got to the very front for Justice’s DJ set and armed ourselves with face paint from the group next to us. Danny, it turns out, while super friendly to us, was kind of an awful person to everyone else. He reminded us of Maddie’s roommate Sam on drugs and had a tongue piercing as a the trophy of a drunk dare. The three of us left soon after, exhausted, and randomly ran into a group of MBA students from Northern Illinois University, in Spain for a few weeks, with whom we ranted with about Spain (a common trend whenever we meet non-Spaniards :P). Regardless, it was a great night and a fantastic first taste of music festival for me, leaving me incredibly excited for Lolla in August.