Rebirth of the Cool: Coachella meets Urban

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The Mad Cool Festival, located in the middle of vibrant Madrid offers the feel of legendary festivals like Coachella and Glastonbury with a slick, urban twist. Running only for the second year, its impressive line up, featuring music giants like Kings of Leon, Foo Fighters and Green Day and clever setup has made it an experience worth travelling for.

Mad Cool’s line-up was a colourful array of legendary bands (Kings of Leon, Foo Fighter, Green Day), newer, yet firmly established artists (Alt-J, Foals) and promising local musicians (Quique Gonzales) across the indie, folk and rock world all the way to metal and electronic. What stands out is the careful selection of the line-up, with some of the best moments happening across from the crowds that swept in for the main acts at some of the smaller gigs such as Jagwar Ma and Foster the People. This is not to diminish the unique atmosphere the headliners created. After all, there is a reason Foo Fighters was given possibly the greatest testament to a band’s legacy this year: headlining at Glastonbury. It felt like witnessing the writing of musical history when Dave Grohl lead the audience through the Foo Fighters gig with his legendary wit and Green Day’s Billie Armstrong, a born showman navigating somewhere between genius and madness hypnotised the crowds. Kings of Leon and Foo Fighters demonstrated the timelessness of an astonishing legacy and sheer musical talent with generations standing side by side in the audience to hear their music. The prominent British delegation including Foals, Alt-J and Catfish and the Bottlemen also brought fantastic performances to the stage; swept away by the Madrid spirit they were extremely energetic and seemed to be having the time of their lives performing.

If Foo Fighters and Kings of Leon have long set standards in the music scene, Mad Cool should be the new standard in the festival organisation scene. There were no hour-long queues, astronomical drink and food prices and knee-deep mud all too familiar from UK festivals. Security is quick and efficient, prices are reasonable and the use of astro turf on the festival grounds guaranteed a mud-free experience despite heavy rain.

With its urban location, just a 15-minute commute from central Madrid, Mad Cool presents itself as a great opportunity to combine city getaway and festival in one trip. In true Spanish manner, gigs at Madcool kick-off around 7 o’clock with headliners only playing around midnight. This leaves plenty of time during the day to explore the vibrant city, which proves as the perfect setting for a festival as it is bursting with passion, music and soul. Madrid’s eclectic streets seem to breathe life, providing a perfect ecosystem for it’s inhabitants’ unique rhythm. It is the kind of spirit of life that will embrace you if you embrace it; the saying ‘If you’re in Madrid, you’re from Madrid’ rings true. The main credit for this must go to Madrilenians, whose openness finds no equal in Europe. No matter where you are from, you will quickly find yourself chatting to locals eager to share knowledge about their beloved city.

It has long been known that no city knows better how to live than Madrid. Mad Cool is testament that they also know how to festival.

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Emilia Pilss is Publicity & Distribution Officer at bathimpact (2015/16). She writes about international politics.

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