Scottish band Franz Ferdinand will be headlining 101 Sun Festival this July. :: SUR
This July, Malaga province will host three indie music festivals that will bring together some of Spain’s brightest talent and a number of internationally famous names. 101 Sun Festival (Malaga), Weekend Beach Festival (Torre del Mar) and Ojeando (Ojén) will draw 60,000 music fans between 4th and 12th July.
Some of the groups set to perform include: Franz Ferdinand, Crystal Fighters, Lori Meyers, Russian Red, Izal, Love of Lesbian, Fuel Fandango, La Pegatina, We are the Standard and La M.O.D.A. Just one week later, if funding goes ahead, the new edition of Fuengirola Pop will take place. Welcome to the independent music republic of Malaga.
Do not expect to see groups that perform on primetime television or that receive airtime on commercial radio stations. Large concert promoters who are used to working with pop groups have now shifted their attention to indie groups, but why? “Independent music has begun to make money through a series of festivals and a number of groups. This has woken up promoters and companies; those who were not interested before, now want you to perform,” reflects Antonio López, vocalist and guitarist of Lori Meyers. The group from Granada are a clear example of the indie phenomenon: a group of friends who started a garage band with no record label telling them “how to make chords or how to dress,” and who years later are performing at major international music festivals.
Lori Meyers is one of the groups confirmed to play at 101 Sun Festival in Malaga’s athletics stadium on 11th and 12th July. With a budget of over 1.5 million euros this new indie event was born out of the collaboration between three producers (Planet Events, Grupo Mundo and Musiserv). “We understand that it is a type of music that has an important place in the world of music,” highlights Daniel Rodríguez, from Grupo Mundo which has signed an industry expert to put together the line-up with which they aim to attract some 25,000 spectators.
A week before 101 Sun Festival, on the eastern coast of Malaga, Producciones Toro has organised the first edition of the Weekend Beach Festival. The event, located in Torre del Mar, is trying to fill a gap in the festival market by having a range of genres. There will be indie groups such as Love of Lesbian, Fuel Fandango and La Pegatina as well as rock from Rosendo, folk-metal by Mägo de Oz, rappers SFDK and house by John Digweed. The event will take place on 4th and 5th July, with three stages and 35 artists performing. It is predicted that 25,000 fans will attend the festival which is located on Torre del Mar’s Poniente beach and will include a camping zone.
These days there are many independent groups that “function” (i.e. they sell tickets) and entertain their audiences. “Indie fans used have to travel to other cities to see their favourite bands but now have the chance to see them in Malaga,” says Alberto Jiménez, producer of Malaga’s Velvet Club that hosts many alternative bands. It is a “faithful” fan base that would “without doubt” travel to the other end of the country to see their favourite group, adds Israel Olivera, from the communications department of Ojeando Festival.
This event in Ojén is the oldest on the Malaga indie agenda along with Fuengirola Pop: both were launched in 2008. They are also the smallest festivals, by capacity and budget, but over the years have built up a strong reputation.
For the second year running, the organisers of Fuengirola Pop have called on their faithful fans, who come from all over Spain, to guarantee its survival through a crowdfunding campaign. If the 12,000 euros they require is raised, the event will take place between 17th and 19th July. Headlining the festival will be American power pop group Paul Collins Beat along with Spanish pop-rock band La Granja. They will be joined by others including: Goodfellows, Kurt Baker, The Imperial Surfers, Los Tsunamis, Freddie DiLevi and Zombie Valentine.
“There is a bit of everything and that is why we like it,” said Antonio Sánchez, member of the association Fuengipop, the event organiser. Tickets will not be sold for the festival; those who donate will be the only ones given tickets. There is a capacity of around 400.
With funding of around 80,000 euros a new edition of Ojeando Festival has been set up. Groups confirmed to play include: Mendetz, Ley DJ, Royal Mail, Sidonie andThe Right Ons. Organised by Ojén Town Hall, Ojeando will bring 15,000 music fans to the picturesque mountain town that has a population of just 3,000. “It is unique and distinct. Ojén is the stage itself and this cannot be compared to anything else,” explains Israel Olivera.
Aside from these festivals, the second edition of SMS Malaga (Soho Malaga Sound) is also expected to return to the city at CACMalaga.
20 years of indie
It is not a new phenomenon. “For the past 20 years indie has been a mainstream genre of music ever since Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ album overtook Michael Jackson in the charts,” reveals Velvet Club producer Jiménez. But indie groups have never enjoyed the acceptance of the media or large music promoters. Something is changing now. Today indie groups sometimes sell tickets more than household names. “Groups sell records at an opportune time, giving the people exactly what they need,”analyses Gema del Valle, director of communications for Subterfuge Records.
Labels such as this, along with small festivals and hundreds of groups have, for years, been moving in a parallel direction to commercial music, but they are now more visible. Perhaps it is just a trend. For Gema del Valle, there is a generation that attends music festivals “because they feel like they don’t want to be left out of something; for some reason, they feel they have to be there taking ‘selfies’ of themselves to upload onto social networking sites”. In her opinion they go for the experience, not for the music, and this benefits the “promoter who only wants to sell tickets, but is a shame for true fans”. Antonio Sánchez, from Fuengipop, agrees that there are many who go in order to “socialise” rather than enjoy live music. “The indie tag is used as a commercial tool, even in larger festivals,” he adds.
Whatever it is, the truth is that Malaga is experiencing a boom or a bubble with regards to festivals. It is too early to say if they will be a commercial success, if this is just a whim or if they will be here to stay to boost Malaga’s cultural appeal. These questions will be answered in the summer.