Arriving in Alicante the day everything kicks off adds a degree of urgency to proceedings but it also provided another glimpse of that small world syndrome. I met Rafa, a Madrid native that has lived in Edinburgh forever. We must have been at the same shows dozens of times but never met and share a whole bunch of friends and acquaintances. It’s always great when this happens so we went straight to the pub after getting off the bus to raise a glass (or two). That set us up well but in the topsy turvy FUNTASTIC world, time doesn’t travel in a straight aligned line like it does much of the rest of the time. Like when you go out to eat at 9pm and all of a sudden it’s midnight and you realise you may well have missed Shock Treatment. That’s the band, not the electroconvulsive therapy however much you think that I might benefit from such a jolt or three.
As we boarded the UFO to head on out of this world entertainment wise, I wondered what the denizens of “The Benidrome” must think of the annual influx or do they even notice? FUNTASTIC XI was packed with even more activities than ever. Meaning that if you could keep up with the pace then it was perfectly possible that you could have no sleep for something like 50 hours straight. Not including the extra hour for the clocks going back. So we arrived just before The Phantom Surfers busked their way to the stage in order to close the opening party to leave the floor open to the death-defying DJs.
It makes my heart soar to see so many “weel-kent” faces. The social aspect is perhaps more important than the bands but the sheer scope of music delivered is mind-boggling, something for everyone and a wee bit extra just for good measure. If you don’t care for what’s going down on stage then the DJ’s will provide the soundtrack for whatever devilment you choose to get up to out by the pool. The Pound to Draculin exchange rate was a little rough for we Brits abroad because of the Brexit numbskullery but that didn’t hamper the fluid intake none and you can’t put a price on this level of feeling that you left that shitty old world behind for a bit. There are those that you really wish were there too though. Those who could sure use a hit of this kind of crazy.
|Photo by Tom Ahawk|
Saturday began quietly enough. A leisurely wander prior to meeting La Hembra Alfa, Raccoón Robledano and the gang. I dunno, it seems to me that these kids must feel like they have their grandpa hanging around but they say not. I love them for that and a ton of other stuff.
|JC3 / Photo by Tom Ahawk|
The Johnny Casino Three were the best of the early evening rock action for me. It tailed off a wee bit but I was too distracted with everything else. It’s very hard to focus in this environment. The notion is to just not try and retain what’s going on but then how would anyone find out that they need to get their arses across to this annual blast.
I wasn’t too thrilled with The Ar-kaics records but live they’re much more full blooded. From that point, they were the biggest surprise to me. A really solid outfit that bear re-investigation and one that I would definitely see again.
|Zelatorrific! / Pic by Oklahoma Watt|
Las Munjitas Del Fuzz were next and they put the Mediterranean into the Medway Sound and had Brother Russ Wilkins join them onstage.
Guitar Wolf is a worthy concept in terms of performance art but for me, “musically”, that’s where it falls short. They sure know how to kick up a dirge but the density of the noise is something I find utterly charmless. I’ve tried. You might call it endurance but it just strikes me as thunderously dull. Visually spot on but lacking any tangible substance. I like heid-boggling volume as much as the next maniac but I find this lumpy and nowhere near as amusing as I wish it was. I’m aware that many will disagree, that is of course your/their perogative.
|Photo by Tom Ahawk|
What can I say about those Young Fresh Fellows. One of my favourite bands since forever ago. I reviewed their first album for Sounds in October 1985 – before many FUNTASTIC attendees were born – and have never looked back. They are also my dear friends and they wedged a version of "THE NEXT BIG THING" into their set dedicated to me. I had no idea they were going to do that. These past three years that I have been fortunate to attend this wonderful gathering of the clans, a band from the Pacific Northwest has been the epicentre. I wonder who it might be next year?
So much drinking and dancing ensued following the Fellows. La Hembra Alfa alerted me to this that Nacho de la Cruz had posted somewhere...
"Sí pero finalmente abrazasteis los cantos de sirena del moderneo y en esas andáis aunque naturalmente reneguéis de ellos como San Pedro a Cristo, pero compartís fiestas, festivales y demás codo con codo. Yo pensaba que había dejado de molar desde hace años, pero viendo el sábado subido a la tarima de la ventana del Funtastic a Lindsay Hutton con su esposa o pareja bailando como si no hubiera mañana las putas canciones de toda la vida que estaba pinchando parece que no, bueno sí, pero eso que me llevo."
It was nacho's DJ set what caused it. Possibly the greatest review I ever got. Viva Patricia!
|Las Jennys - Photo by Isa Risa|
It was already the wee hours of Sunday and nowhere near enough sleep later, bound we were for Las Jennys de Arroyoculebro at Rockstar Bar. A total highlight that just hit the spot. That wee wummin with the beard and the singer could cause a row in an empty hoose. Come to think of it "she" looks a wee bit familiar, don't you think?
Sunday evening was billed as Hallowe’en Pandemonium. To say that the collected throng was up for all of that and more is an understatement. How Paloma and Varo continue to be able to outdo themselves is nothing short of miraculous. People come to this because they are fans of the organisers just as much as they might dig any band that's playing. They trust the curation and they want to be in attendance of the biggest party thrown in any given year. Cruising at the altitude FUNTASTIC flies at, experiencing is believing.
The Freaks of Nature were perhaps my hit pick of the final run. Like The Manfreds channelling The Fleshtones Blast Off period. Paul Manchester is convinced that The Cavemen are the greatest band in the world and he even dressed up like one. I’m closer to the age of an actual caveman and it was all a wee bit overwrought but the kids loved them. Like Les Grys Grys, they ain’t for me but if it opens up a way for youngsters to discover this hooch then I’m fine with that. Let me know when if ever they get anywhere near being as wild as Las Jennys.
|Mummified / Photo by Isa Risa|
The Fuzillis oeuvre is all over the shop but it really works as the atmosphere cranks up. An archetypal party outfit that get extra brownie points for shoe-horning a version of Tommy Ridgley’s “Jam Up” into their repertoire. The Mummies were way better than I expected and the ideal way to close the band action on the eleventh edition of FDC. There was still mucho dancing to do after that but I wasn’t able to stay til the death because I didn’t want to feel like death on the drive to Madrid later that day. In this fucked up world, there is no escape that can equal the outright pleasure that is part and parcel of the FUNTASTIC experience.
|The kids and some old daftie / Photo by Isa Risa|
To all of the folks that congregate from all over to make it what it is, I salute your stamina and ability to rage. To all of those who couldn’t make it this year due to illness or whatnot, I hope that circumstances are different come 2017 and you can beat a path back to the vessel that annually carries us on out of this world. When on terra firma, we could be found in an excellent wee tea room adjacent to our accommodation.
Florentine Salón de Te was often the place to be and they do the most scrum-diddley-umptious mini jam doughnuts amongst much other delights.
|Photo by Tom Ahawk|
These serve as field recordings and shouldn't necessarily be indicative of how it sounded in the room or as a backdrop to the shenanigans taking place around any given performance. So don't judge any of the acts based on these. See them for yourselves should you ever get the chance.
Monday 31st October was the day we hit the road and headed for Madrid. More about that end of the adventure in due course... Howlin’ at the Hallowe’en Moon in my favourite rock’n’roll city in the world. What could possibly go awry?
I'm not sure who took this but they sure captured a great moment...