Campus festival finds a formula

Closing day of Dcode sees a decent turnout as The Kooks and The Killers play

The Killers headlined Saturday night to a rapturous response from the Dcode audience.
The Killers headlined Saturday night to a rapturous response from the Dcode audience.CLAUDIO ÁLVAREZ

Assistants to day two of the Dcode music festival in Madrid walked into a much livelier place than it was the day before. As though in a late attack of summer pride, the Complutense University campus' Cantarranas sports field was hotter, fuller (around 20,000 festivalgoers, many of them younger than the first day) and there was more dancing as well as a greater propensity for socializing. There were even more youngsters engaging in botellones (outdoor drinking in groups) right outside the gates: in times of crisis, one can always make do with the rhythmic sounds wafting in from the festival precincts.

Saturday's lineup had a lot to do with the change. If Kings of Convenience and Sigur Rós had brought audiences face to face with melancholy feelings on Friday, The Kooks, Django Django and The Killers took care to bring everyone up to speed with the latest in hedonist tendencies. This was especially true of Django Django, another one of those bands which, since Vampire Weekend, has discovered that the African beats of Graceland continue to be a musical gold mine 26 years on. Wearing the same shirt in blue and deep red colors, it was the first time that the Scotsmen offered Madrid the electronic psychedelia that has put the London critics at their feet. They are fun and unprejudiced, and reminiscent of such different artists as Syd Barrett, Beta Band or even The Proclaimers! True, the five stars they were awarded by The Guardian are hyperbolic, but not even the critics are free from sudden fits of euphoria.

The Madrid band Fira Fem deserves no less, really. This young quartet was a pleasant surprise for the brave few festivalgoers who dared stand outside in the six o'clock heat. Like Caribou, they too have discovered that electronica is not incompatible with melodies. The Spanish contingent also included Supersubmarina, a band from Jaén that everyone seems to like, and the even more interesting The Right Ons, who were admirable in their increasingly angry style of rock.

Organizers thanked the audience for coming "despite the 50-percent youth unemployment rate"

By the time The Kooks came on stage, Cantarranas was already steaming. The quartet fronted by Luke Pritchard makes music that is direct, catchy and as British as the scandals of its royal family. They began with a slow, deliberate version of Seaside, but from that moment on Pritchard never stopped jumping around and shaking his curls all over the stage. He may never be even half as brilliant as Ray Davies, but his initial hits (Ooh-La, She Moves In Her Own Way, Always Where I Need To Be) had his younger audience in raptures.

Right after that performance, the LA duo Capital Cities delivered Safe and Sound, the most danceable music pill in the entire festival. However, many of the 20,000 souls at Decode had bought their tickets exclusively to see The Killers. The band from Las Vegas delivered all their greatest hits with cold professionalism, and it was hard not to get a feeling that this was just routine for them, rapturously received as it was.

By the end of it all, Dcode organizers thanked the audience for coming "despite the 50-percent youth unemployment rate and the terrifically steep VAT hike." What about the future? "The festival is a success and there will be a third edition next year," asserted co-director Roberto Grimo.

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