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Review: Fuengirola Pop Weekend

Cooper, Airbag, The Right Ons, The Fortune Tellers, The Silver Beats, The Mockers, a retro-mod ambiance and a castle. Chadd Ritenbaugh visits the 2009 Fuengirola Pop Weekend.


By:  Chadd Ritenbaugh
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Pop music festival in Fuengirola
2009 programme
Birth: 2008
Location: Fuengirola (Malaga)
Directed by: Antonio Sanchez
Stands out for: intimate size and unique setting

A love of their hometown and a passion for pop, rock, surf, garage and soul inspired Antonio Sanchez and friends to organize Fuengirola Pop Weekend. The four-day popular music festival was held last weekend featuring bands and deejays from both Spain and abroad. “I had been to many great music festivals in Spain and throughout Europe and realized I could do something special here in my very own town of Fuengirola,” explains Sanchez. By incorporating two of its biggest attractions - a superb beach party atmosphere and the 11th-century Castillo Sohail as historic centrepiece - they have created a vibrant music festival that celebrates music and their city.

Nearly two thousand people attended this year’s festival, now in its second year. Thrilled at the turnout and rapid success of the festival, Sanchez has no plans to turn it into the next Benicassim. “This is about our love of pop and the desire to share this music with other fans in a brilliant summer setting. At this point we are still a relatively intimate festival and have no intention of competing with those monsters!”

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Through word of mouth and good publicity, the festival is swiftly gaining a reputation as a quality music festival on the Costa del Sol (Malaga). This year saw the scope of the festival transcend not only the town of Fuengirola, but also the regional level, as a significant number of attendees came from places as varied as Salamanca, Vitoria, Madrid and Castellon.

The weekend’s festivities began with an opening party Thursday night at the Mod Café. The free concert featured the sixties rock and roll of The Silver Beats and Malaga deejay Toni Fontana. Each day offered free parallel activities and events as part of the festival, including a pop-art exposition and a scooter rally sponsored by the Fuengirola Vespa Club.

Friday’s concert highlights included the upbeat surf-rock of The Bikini Lovers from Almeria and the northern soul grooves of The Teenagers from Granada. American power-pop veterans The Mockers headlined the Bikini Beach venue and got the crowd dancing in the sand.

Things came to a crescendo Saturday night as the performances moved into the majestic Castillo Sohail. Madrid mod-rockers The Fortune Tellers set the tone for the evening and delivered a blistering set; while Cooper, the headliners from Leon, ignited the swelling crowd and kept them moving until the early morning hours. Alex Diez, singer and leader of the band, extols: “We have really enjoyed being a part of this festival. It’s a buzz to play the huge crowds but there is a warmer vibe at festivals this size and this historic castle is an amazing venue to connect with the fans.”

Within the Castillo Sohail there was a retro-mod ambiance reminiscent of ‘guateques’, the music-listening parties fashionable in Spain during the sixties. The inside walls of the castle were lined with vendors selling vintage clothing, vinyl LPs, and other mod accessories. Between performances, fans cruised the mercadillo for sixties paraphernalia or climbed the summit of the Castillo, to take in the stellar views of the Mediterranean Sea and coastline below.

The weekend festivities ended Sunday with a final closing party at the Mod Café and free concert from Malaga’s Bud Spencer Band. Don’t worry if you missed this year’s Fuengirola Pop Weekend. Based on the feedback gathered from the organizers, bands and audience, this festival will return for a third incarnation. Beach parties, live music and the splendid Castillo Sohail will make for another fantastic summer weekend music festival in Fuengirola.

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