The NATO summit caused the delay of the LGTBI Pride, which has ended up coinciding in time and space with Mad Cool. While the streets of the city were filled with colors, chants for equality and parties free of prejudice, in Valdebebas the closest thing to a day of ‘straight pride’ was experienced. The image inside the venue contrasted with the one outside, and not only because of the lack of diversity, but also because of the political approval that one event has received over the other.
Mad Cool 2022: the rebellious but favorite son of Madrid starts after two years of clashes
The obstacles that the City Council has placed on the celebration of the country’s largest Pride – with impossible sound limitations, for example – are out of tune with the red carpet that has been rolled out for Mad Cool, whose concerts resounded in different parts of the city. In this aspect, the macrofestival has become the reflection of the Madrid that the Community government wants: ultra-sponsored, normative and a paradise of the private over the public.
On Saturday, groups of young people with shorts, shirts and Pompeii sneakers (also boat shoes, although not as many as on Metallica day) flooded the space. Some bumped their heads as they listened to their groups; others took off their shirts to show off muscle and sweat. Foreigners, for the most part, made the stage chosen for the rock band The Struts to remain small. The Derbyshires played all their hits to a dedicated, heated, British crowd. It looked like a Bristol room instead of the Mad Cool.
It’s ironic that the only day a woman headlined (Florence + The Machine) there were so many long-sleeved shirts in 40 degrees in the shade. Clothing can be a way of marking territory, especially at a festival. The day before, the kings of the place were Muse fans in their worn-out 1999 jerseys.
In addition to Florence, on Saturday the Pixies played, interpreters of the final fight club and Kings of Leon, which caused a general high with their sex on fire final. The little diversity of the venue was concentrated around Zara Larsson, who did not leave any of her hits in the inkwell, as LushLife either symphony.
And, finally, the priestess Florence (+ The Machine) appeared, who doesn’t change a comma from the show she always offers, a kind of ceremony – that’s what her second album was called – mystical but immense. The singer did not stop running from end to end, she went down to greet people and even hugged fans in the front row. She was the only one who achieved an iconic stamp when she asked that the entire audience move away from her cell phones, stop recording the concert and enjoy the collective experience of being there. She cost, but for a few minutes something similar to a concert of yesteryear was experienced.
It was a brief show, where the band’s greatest hits were not lacking, such as Dog days are over, Shake it out, Spectrum or the singles from the new album, Dance Fever. Also never let me go, a song that has not been in his repertoire for more than ten years because it was too painful for him, but which once again sounded full in his voice. An almost witchcraft experience and a parenthesis between so much testosterone shot up.
Muse imposes its metaverse
Beyond the festival audience, Mad Cool has brought together true music lovers and mythomaniacs. From a simple glance at the atmosphere you can guess which groups have played each day and how the style of the audience changes depending on the headliner. On Friday, without a doubt, Muse fans swept. The day began quietly with a fun concert by the Haim, who have skyrocketed their fame with the performance of one of them from Licorice Pizza. and some outstanding The War on Drugs, although his coincidence with Phoebe Bridgers prevented them from marking a full house on the track.
The early party was offered by the Danish MØ, who proved to be much more than the choirs of Lean on, the hit of Major Lazer. The artist displayed all her vocal power and her energy to compete with Incubus from her stage, which was joined by fans who had just had dinner or who were returning from the bathroom attracted by this Viking with red-haired braids. She thanked him with short speeches mentioning how hard the pandemic was and how lucky they are –we are– to enjoy live music again.
But between lyrics and diatribes, neither MØ nor The War on Drugs nor Incubus could avoid mentioning the kings of the night at their concerts: “Who wants Muse?” asked the former. A few minutes later it became clear that the 70,000 souls in the room had only one destination on Friday and for all of them it was the same.
The esplanade in front of the stage began to fill up an hour before the concert, which began at 00:15. The lights of Uber, Tous and other sponsors finally went out and the mass melted into a scream. A huge sign with the initials of Will of the People – the title of Muse’s new album – went up in flames as the three band members came out dressed in leather and masked. That was the first topic, later they would arrive Supermassive Black Hole, Pressure, Hysteria, Psycho either Madness.
But for hysteria, psychosis and madness, the one caused by Matt Bellamy with his guitar solos. An alienation that reached its peak when the singer made his two electrics fly around the stage, smashing them against the ground, like the great glam rock star that he is. The audience also responded in ecstasy when a giant metallic mask, symbolic of his new job, appeared on stage like a futuristic deity or a V to pay homage to.
The production of the screens was minutely measured and during interludes they projected “a fictional story set in a fictional metaverse on a fictional planet ruled by a fictional authoritarian state run by a fictional algorithm manifested by a fictional data center running a fictional bank. .”, as Bellamy himself described. He did not need to interact with the public – to whom he appealed with a brief “Madrid” on a couple of occasions – to star in one of the most memorable concerts of Mad Cool, if not the most.
The chaotic ‘exit operation’
Mad Cool played a lot in these five days. Next year will no longer be the only macro-festival in the capital and the 2022 edition marked its power against Primavera Sound, which has decided to expand through Madrid to dispute the throne. Behind closed doors, Mad Cool comes out stronger than ever. If there was a button to freeze the image just when the concerts end, the balance would be outstanding: five evenings of good music and a great organization of 70,000 people, which is said soon. But that button does not exist and outside the Vladebebas rectangle there was a lot mad and few cool.
Having the City Council and the Community eating from their hand, it is striking that the festival has not pressured them to better organize public transport. The first mistake was giving Uber the big piece of the pie. It has been seen that it was too large for a service that, at most, has 7,000 cars in Madrid (4,000 own and 2,000 taxis). Despite the complaints on Wednesday and Thursday, the return operation did not improve for the next two days.
Thousands of people have been left “thrown” out in the open every morning with no alternatives to leave an enclosure that is an hour’s walk from the main points of the city. The frequency of the night buses was derisory and the Metro, being the best option, was not a panacea either.
The Mad Cool has played a leading role in the taxi war against the VTC in Madrid. The festival sought the enmity of the taxi drivers by favoring Uber, which also took the opportunity to make a killing with rates that reached 100 euros per ride. They had five days to try to solve it, ask the City Council to put more shuttles or ask the Community to open a minimum Cercanías service. Not only was it not done, but the municipal police dedicated themselves to issuing parking tickets left and right. The surroundings of the enclosure were flooded with sheets of cars parked in any way by those who, desperately, bet on the only means that guarantees arriving home at a decent hour.
It hasn’t all been mistakes: the festival’s restrooms have endured spotless every day, with light queues and ease of getting in and out. The same was true of the drinks bars, where no crowding was seen. It was a little more difficult to get out of queuing in the food court, despite the wide range of food. To highlight the placement of water sources, a simple and necessary resource at this time of year that was conspicuous by its absence in Primavera Sound. In short, with its lights and shadows, Mad Cool starts with a privileged position for next year if it gets people to press the pause in your head and turn a blind eye to the final odyssey of each day.