New Bomb Turks’ frontman Eric Davidson reports back from the front lines of the raucous fourth annual international rock ‘n’ roll Fuzzville Festival, held in a Spanish family fun park
Full disclosure: I was one of the many yalpers on the two stages that roared throughout the weekend of April 20-22 at the fourth annual Fuzzville festival in Benidorm, Spain. New Bomb Turks have a hard time saying “No” when asked to play with a bunch of wild rock ‘n’ roll upstarts and vets in a beach town in eastern Spain, whose perks include free crappy beer, decent wine, stuffed buffets, and nutty r’n’r fans from all over the world. And so we said “yes,” and ‘twas a wild weekend indeed.
The numero uno characteristic of this festival is its oddball location — an aging family fun park called “Magic Robin Hood.” The decor is massive high school musical-level Medieval castles plopped down around a sizable water slide menagerie, pools with dragons guarding them, and small cabin-lined walkways with names like “Sheriff of Nottingham” (or “Sheriff Off Nottingham” — New Bomb Turks have a deep affection for European misspellings).
Bands and fans were set up in the cabins, perfect for stumbling back to after all the hooch’n’noise, which in Spain is usually a lot of hooch’n’noise.
We landed Friday, and missed the pre-party, with two bands and DJs, on Thursday. As Fuzzvillers straggled in on Friday, slowly getting used to the funny weirdness of it all, and digging through a long market way of regional record and T-shirt vendors, the noise started wafting out around 7. Inside one large warehouse in the middle of the compound, they had set up a small stage at one end, and the larger stage at the other. Turnover lasted about one hot minute, and bands played constantly throughout the whole weekend.
Highlights on Friday were Los Chicos’ junk boogie; ’80s Aussie garage vets The Stems; Detroit Cobras’ endless covers party; and especially crunchy was King Khan’s Louder Than Death (featuring members of the great Magnetix), that returns the garage revue ringleader back to his dirtiest, punkiest roots. They also did a quick set for a regional radio show, outside by the merch market before the sun went down. An album’s coming soon…
On Saturday “morning,” it was fun to watch shirtless or pants-less partygoers sprawled across cabin porches or wandering around wondering what constitutes “breakfast time” in Spain. Absolutely beautiful sunny weather all weekend helped get things going/tamp things down throughout.
Originally from New Zealand, now based in London, The Cavemen started things off Saturday night on the big stage, and should’ve been slated later, as they were maybe the most action-packed band of the fest. Their new sophomore slab on Slovenly is the best trash punk record of the year so far.
Jacuzzi Boys did their fun picnic rock thing to louder effect on the light show-shot stage. Downtown Boys from Providence, RI, offered up their big mix of ’80s anthemics, now-times indie twists, and singer Victoria Ruiz’ between-song politico musings.
I’d like to think us New Bomb Turks did our punchy part to add to Sunday’s ear-buzzing. And Les Lullies from France finished off the night with a searing MC5-like gang-garage blast.
I’d be remiss if I did not mention the creepy way-backstage — a dark and dusty back room called, very un-Medieval-y, “The Adult Room.” Strewn with half-assed guillotines, electric chairs, and royal thrones, we assumed it must’ve been meant as the place the parents could go get drunk while the kids ran around the water park. But it seemed to have been retired as a seedy storage area. The main backstage action was in a plain, over-lit bar area above the main stage, where King Khan played the room like an emcee while carajillos flowed.
Such imbibement meant oftentimes I had no idea which cool band I was watching on the back small stage, so I ask their forgiveness, but there were a few who threw some needed doo-wop (Heatwaves), house show fury (Las Jenny’s de Arroyoculebro), and two-man blues or indie rock quirks into the proceedings to keep things interesting.
For many, Sunday meant gathering up your shit and getting to the airport. But for about a third of the attendees, there was the fabulous pool party to make. While the slides were shut off, the pool water was clean and very cold, the temperature hot, and many hungover loons did their best to replicate some ’60s beach movie, with wobbly Watusis, dopey Twists, and dropped drinks. Cult Spanish garage band, Sex Museum, did a fine reunion set, blasting loud monster garage pounders that flirted with psych jams and be-swimsuited ladies and gents down front. Main sponsor Jägermeister dolled out drinks.
The Cavemen were bound and determined, and drunk enough, to keep testing the patience of the meager security staff all day, until they eventually threw up their hands as the band snuck past, stripped to their skivvies, and tried to slide down the water-less slides, which was as hilarious as it sounds.
Once Sex Museum ended their set, the sad goodbyes started, and the reality of this whole shebang having to end set in, as it always must…
These kinds of fests — like Funtastic Dracula Carnival (also in Benidorm), Gonerfest, Burger Boogaloo, Atlanta Messaround, We’re Loud, and Debauch-a-Reno (just a week before in Reno, NV), and more — do an honorable job of attempting to wrangle a wide-array of those crazy combos left in the world who are devoted to the trashiest, sleaziest rock ‘n’ roll sounds of the end of the last century, burning louder and looser while working to keep it all alive in the face of seemingly declining mainstream attention.
So how come these fests are always thousands-packed and sold out in days?
The staff was super kind and ran around the grounds all weekend, some even dressed in something like Medieval garb. Pals old and new toasted, hugged, laughed, rocked, and only occasionally scuffled. For one big, hot weekend, in a pretty corner of Spain, rock’n’roll was alive and well and searching for more drink tokens.