belated write up for the Screamin’ Festival last month… It was the first time we’d been to the new venue, only a mile or two up the coast from the small town of Calella, now in the smaller town of Pineda De Mar. I wasn’t sure what to expect though a couple of reviews I saw online made me laugh…
The main thing we noticed about the resort is that there is graffiti everywhere! All over the walls and along the beach front. The beach is a shingle beach, which is no good for kids as it shelves steeply as you go in. The main square is about a twenty minute walk away, which is nothing to write home about. We decided to take a trip into Calella, which everyone had told us had load of shops and was nice? it definitely had a load of shops, but most certainly wasn’t nice. Lots of dark streets, bit like Manchester on a bad day…
Another mentioned that the town was nothing but brick buildings, graffiti and that it was ‘like Beirut’ and not safe to be on the streets at night. Taking that with a large pinch of salt we arrived and set out to the first night of the festival…
To the sound of loud bangs going off all around, cars screaming along the darkened streets with folk hanging out of the windows and large groups of men running up the high street chanting loudly… Luckily this all turned out to be something to do with FC Barcelona winning somekind of sporting related contest and, apart from one overly merry chap in full football kit who kept breaking out into his own songs, when he wasn’t falling over, during The Hot Rails excellent set everyone had a grand old night.
The resort was pretty nice, we only saw the one piece of graffiti, Calella is certainly more developed and offers more to do in the daytime. However the town of Pineda De Mar seems to have really embraced the festival with several free events happening around the town and in local hotels which in the end pretty much made the festival for us. The Auto Show in Plaça de les Melies was a fantastic afternoon, with some very nice cars and bikes and live bands playing out in the sunshine. The Bands playing at night and the pool parties in the daytime at the Hotel Koopers we’re also really nice events.
Our hotel, the Golden Taurus Park Resort, was quite nice for a big holiday hotel, I’ve not stayed in a hotel quite that big for a fair few years, apart from the New Yorker and that goes up rather than along so it doesn’t count. Reading through the ‘Bienvenidos brochure the general concenus seems to be that you don’t really need to leave the hotel at all on your holiday and should be able to have a grand time without steping foot outside. In fact maybe this is why they placed the ‘way in’ right at the back of the hotel, leading out into the wilds of nowhere. The funniest line in the brochure ‘suggests’ that you don’t need to bring any ‘outside food’ into the complex as there are a wide range of vending machines offering ‘anything you may require’ at any time of the day. Hmmm, true if you want to live on beer, fizzzy drinks, crisps and a rather impressive cheese toastie machine. Unfortunately the impressive vending machines throughout the complex were completely over shadowed by the ’24 Vend’ shop front just two doors up form the hotel, one machine there I was particularly impressed with offered a variety of sex toys – in the same machine as an even wider range of cup-a-soups!
A particular mention must also go out to the Thompson Kids Club which would be broadcast throughout the hotel via a distorted PA system, with occasional feedback, from ten am till about three pm. All for the benefit of the twenty or so people standing right in front of the person on the PA. So loud you could still hear the untrained essex anouncers tones whilst in the shower, this meant that despite the profliteration of fine vending machines we we’re generally forced to leave the hotel/complex at this time. One suggestion I might make though having witnessed the ten people involved in the ‘games’ have a bit of a to-do and have to be calmed down by the reps, maybe calling the game ‘Killer’ Water Polo is going to lead to some aggression between the players?
Unfortunaetly the Taurus was also a good two mile walk to the main Screamin’ venue so if nothing else we got plenty of exercise. I was mostly impressed with the new venue, it lacked the character of the old factory space with its nice wooden roof but was well laid out with about the same size stage, cooler and with better[more] toilets, a decent outdoor seating area and a new food area.
The timetable for each night had changed too, the old festival used to run with bands from about eight pm till two in the morning, with DJs and dancing following. This year bands didn’t tend to start till about ten pm and would generally finish about half four am. There was also a gap of forty five minutes to an hour between each band which seemed a little odd. All in all it meant, for me at least, the night was a little hard work. I’m not used to going out at ten o’clock these days, though I know some people do, I wouldn’t have minded but the waiting around between bands meant that as the night got later time did drag a little. Another little gripe was that after about three songs of watching each band a large number of the crowd would generally stop watching and go on to chatting amongst each other. I’ve no problem with that, some of the bands I saw this year I felt I’d got their act in three songs, but if I wanted to chat I wouldn’t do it three rows back from the stage in front of people trying to hear the sound. This, and the chain smoking going on in the venue, don’t know what the laws are in Spain these days but smoking in the venue was fine and there was a smoking bar in the hotel, was a bit annoying for me, someone who doesn’t smoke and wanted to watch/hear the bands [I didn’t know smoking in venues bothered me, didn’t used to when there waere smoking venues but after a few years without them it seems, yes, it does.]
During the headlining acts I’d say there we’re probably about thirty percent of people watching the band and the rest chatting, catching up, trying to take pictures of themselves with the band behind them[?] comparing hair oil purchases et… I think maybe the festival has changed a little since we’ve been going. It seems much more popular now, and more so for the social interruption [I think the spell check did this, was supposed to be interaction but I like it.] and the fashion** aspect of it than for the music side of things. Thinking back to the Wipeout Festival of a few years ago, we saw some fantastic bands every night, this year, and last actually, I only saw two bands I really enjoyed. Those bands, and definite highlights we’re WhistleBait from Finland who we’re excellent and also co headliners The Blasters who put on a fantastic high energy show – I didn’t know anyone could sweat as much as Phil Alvin and still deliver such a spot on set.
All in all though we had a great break, if a little more expensive due to the Euro this year. The highlights we’re definitely the free events at the Beach Bar in Calella, the Square in Pineda De Mar and the Hotel Koopers. Would I go next year? Yep, probably will, but I’m not sure I’d buy a weekend ticket, I’d maybe tend to go along a couple of nights and spend a couple around the town and in Calella.
*I meant to call this post ‘A load of Bull’ due to the holiday starting with us being chased by bulls on the Isle of Wight, staying at the Golden Taurus and attending a festival run by El Toro Records. But I forgot.
**could the vendors of records and clothing at the festival not provide some kind of ‘retro’ based packaging for their products? How about some paper sack bags or something? Theres nothing worse than seeing some guy or gal whose clearly spent hours getting themselves authentically 1950’s, as well as much of their spare time tracking down clothing of the period, to be wandering around with a cheap white plastic bag tied to their belt. Its just plain wrong.