It’s Sunday in Madrid, it’s sunny and a group of young people in the Plaza de Legazpi are waiting for something that a year ago would have been inconceivable: a bus to go to a music festival. “Do you know where the bus stops?” Asks one of the attendees, puzzled. A priori there are not many people waiting, but the small groups of festival-goers with tote bags and sunglasses indicate that, indeed, this is the collection point.
This has been the first week that the hours of the nightclubs in the capital have been extended until 6:00 in the morning. It was also the week in which Chapineria, a small town about 50 kilometers from Madrid, has been transformed for three days into a stage through which groups such as Panda Bear or Maria Arnal have passed. Los Planetas also headed the poster, Los Planetas, one of the most important indie rock bands in our country that is back on tour after the stoppage due to the coronavirus and that has caused them to hang the sign of sold out. Its about Bright Festival, Born from the same production company that organized concerts in different theaters of the capital when the capacity reductions and the curfew were not as friendly as at the moment.
Its preparation actually started a long time ago. The Bright Production Company is a company formed in the midst of a pandemic, among others, by those responsible for Sonido Muchacho, Mont Ventoux and La Castanya and three independent record labels. “Madrid Brillante was born to show that music continues to be more alive than ever”, reads its slogan. And, the festival in Chapineria, is the sample that tries to fulfill it. “We set up the cycles with the intention of helping the sector and the natural continuation was to organize a festival that, saving distances, would go the old-fashioned way: three days in which musicians and the public share space in the same place,” he explains to elDiario.es Nacho Ruíz, one of the organizers of the festival.
The spokesperson for the meeting emphasizes the need for these events for the recovery of a sector as damaged as live music, since a wide chain of workers, ranging from technicians to transporters, depends on that industry. “When people think of musicians, they do it in the stars, but it is not like that. That is only the tip of the iceberg and the rest of us are people who work and who have to make it to the end of the month,” he claims.
About 40 minutes later, the bus stops in front of a small orchard with cabbages and a welcoming scarecrow. Although the air feels cleaner than in the capital, it is by no means an uninhabited area. The small town has been transformed into a musical theme park. There are signs indicating the different scenarios, stands merchandising and foodtrucks. The streets and squares are occupied by young people who walk with plastic cups in hand and T-shirts of different music groups.
Chapineria seems, for a moment, to be a time tunnel into a not so distant past. The perspective changes when entering a concert: a poster alerts to the limitations of the capacity and the obligation both to wear a mask and to remain seated. All this despite the fact that the distance of 1.5 meters can be saved without problems, contrary to what could happen in other venues such as the Madrid Book Fair. For this reason, perhaps taking advantage of the fact that while consuming it is allowed to lower the mask, it was common to see attendees with their faces uncovered.
“The measurements are fine up to a point, although I see some things a little ridiculous, like sitting with a mask and then not having to wear it on a terrace,” criticize David, Quim and Belén. The first two have arrived from Barcelona, attracted by the line-up and by the desire to enjoy live music again. “The concerts on-line in the end they were a substitute. It was like asking you for a cane with lemon when you want a drink “, they confess with a laugh.
Health policy for culture is different in other nearby countries such as the United Kingdom or France, which since June 30 allow concerts with standing audiences. “We feel that in Spain these measures are being a bit random and that they have a cosmetic point. Nobody knows what is correct, but if 20 people can be in a restaurant eating without a mask, I think you could be standing outdoors “, says Ruíz. For this reason, those who are near the stage try to set the rhythm by raising their hands and shaking their hips while others, the stragglers to the sides of the stage, do take the opportunity to jump as in the old days. This is what, for example, happened with the Chill Mafia concert, which culminated with a full-volume machining by the same speakers that shortly after recalled the measures against COVID-19.
A hiking trail before seeing María Arnal
One of the peculiarities of the Brilliant Festival is that the musical offer is also combined with nature and heritage plans, such as the hiking routes organized by the town’s nature center. The intention, as Ruíz points out, is also to value one of the most forgotten areas of Madrid, such as the Sierra Oeste. “The artists are walking through the town, they come to other concerts, people are in the squares, there are activities in the countryside, routes are made … There is a cocktail of things that I think are worth keeping,” he adds.
Because, despite the initial skepticism of some neighbors about how the occupation of the public space was going to be managed, in the end the organization has also been concerned about working on that relationship. “We knew the town and it seemed to us that it combined the logistics of services with a different offer outside the city. It was also important that it be a sustainable event that can grow sustainably with the town and bring economic wealth without posing a problem. “, assesses the organizer. In fact, he anticipates that they are already preparing the next edition and that they would like to make it an annual event.
With the last rays of the sun comes the concert of María Arnal and Marcel Bagès, in charge of putting the finishing touch to the Brilliant Festival. The staging is minimalist but neat to the millimeter: simple spotlights and white dresses that contrast with the black background. A game between light and darkness that becomes even more evident when night falls over the western mountains of Madrid. If all goes according to plan, it will shine again next year.