I saw something on a facebook post recently than someone made to Gene Taylor. It went along the lines of “it’s all about the hang”. And with regards to the Funtastic Dracula Carnival that is entirely the case. Of course there’s a lot of music too but as a social event goes that I have ever attended, this is the greatest gathering of any given calendar year. If only we could have taken the Wurli crew en mass then I could quite happily have keeled over in the KU disco. I realise that could be problematic for everyone else but I’m deadly serious.
Funtastic X marked 10 years of throwing the biggest party on earth. There was something very poignant about The Sonics headlining too. Being that their music is a total cornerstone of this rock’n’roll malarkey. The fact that they existed to appear was something the cosmos was surely working toward this past decade. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. I’ll hopefully soon be able to post a link to every set so you can make up your own mind as to who was good or not. I’ll deal with my favourites and try to explain a little about the Funtastic phenomenon.
It was earlier than usual during what were school holidays across Europe. This meant that we had to co-exist with beered-up Britons . Many of these individuals are less than attractive and appear to require at least 5 pints to even get on the plane. And that’s just the women... ha ha. Wee joke (kinda).
My billet for the first night in town was right down on the beach, next to the old town. Some of the sights I saw soaking up the sun were verging on the nasty but let’s live and let live I suppose. This would later be put into further perspective on the flipside of the opening festivities.
After some aimless wandering and an attempt at a siesta, it was time to saunter up to the UFO. The revellers were beginning to gather and I met a few familiar faces. This is what I mean about the social aspect. Although in many ways this is a wild, wild weekend – there’s an affinity with the attendees that is truly rare these days. Now I could live up to my curmudgeon status here and suggest that people wearing Pixies or Str*nglers t-shirts not be allowed in. Maybe like a high class restaurant, the punk rock maitre de could offer something more suitable... ha ha. More than one person extolled the virtue of it being important not to bring a shirt that anyone else may be wearing. In that case, it seems the same as any outfit for an auspicious occasion.
Once inside, it’s time to change Euros to Draculin, the FDC bar currency allows you to score a tipple of choice. In no time, the venue was packed and the action kicked off with The Lie Detectors.
The fundamental beauty of Funtastic is that you can dip in and out of the acts. As I’m keen to point out, bumping into old friends and meeting new like-minded crazies is really what this is all about. For three days we get aboard the ship for the closest thing to a weekend on mars that I’m likely to experience in my lifetime. And if a band comes along that you never expected to blow you away then that’s a bonus. Last year it was Autoramas, this time out it was Gino and the Goons from Fla. They just battered through a selection that brought to mind a perfect melding of The Oblivians and The Heartbreakers via a Ramonic rush. I bought all their records, that’s how much I dug them.
Bloodshot Bill and The Masonics with Ms Ludella Black were next. The Medwaytastic latter closing with a rousing version of "New Rose" that approximated the closest there is likely ever be to a Milkshakes reunion.
The crowd was suitably energised. Interspersed with the bands and in several locations, there are Funtastic DJs. Lutz Soundflat and Iñigo Munster both hit the throngs with hit after hit. That’s hit as in floor filler. The dancing never stops. After Inigo was done, I toddled off back to my billet. It was a blessing and a curse to not be staying directly across the street this year. My liver is likely breathing a sigh of relief though. There was hardly anyone on the street. The throngs of loud, pished Brits (and other nationalities) had disappeared. The schlep along the deserted boardwalk was magical and I stopped for a minute to watch the waves roll in before disturbing the hotel porter guy to let me in.
The really big adventure would start the next day when the kids from Madrid and Barcelona arrived.
A couple, maybe three hours later I was back out on the pavie. Once again the hordes had descended upon the beach and just as well one wasn’t about to eat for a bit. Letting it all hang out is one thing but c’mon... nobody should have to see so many varieties of beached whale.
We met at a restaurant called La Familia that we’d tried to get into last year but it was closed. My predilection with not eating seafood is problematic and a nuisance I’m sure but the paella that Francisco had them concoct has made me want to adapt the recipe at home. Note to self also... get some Pacharan.
From there we went to our digs along the coast in Finestrat. This place looked fancy in the photos but I’ll be darned if it didn’t look even better in real life. I don’t recall having have stayed in such a swanky spot ever before. A bar right next to the apartment too that served gin tonics like those in WEIRDO! BAR. In these big goldfish bowl style glasses and those set the scene just nicely.
We just missed The Monsieurs and much time was spent just bumping into folks that you just don’t see often enough. Nikki Corvette and the Romeos included Sir Morten of Henriksen or Morton Yum Yum as he signed in “The Billy Book” and they just flew out of the traps. A nugget of pure pop amidst a sea of gritty punk rock. The Pagans had to follow them and it didn’t really work for me. Reminded me of the last time I saw The Saints. A bit lumpy. But the party was raging out on the terrace with some fine DJ action. At one point I heard “Johnny and Dee Dee” blasting forth, then The Records “Starry Eyes”. Bliss. No “Glad to See You Go” though.
Listening to records in this environment is like having a few hundred friends over for a record party and Russ Wilkins even spun discs that he had custom-cut himself specifically for this auspicious occasion.
Sunday saw a return visit to Villajoyosa and a bustling restaurant (Hogar del Pescador)for lunch then back for another attempt at a siesta that never manifested itself. We never caught Los Ass Draggers sadly but Muck and the Mires were pretty good in a jangly kinda way. It made me think how amazing them Young Fresh Fellows would be in this setting. Lo-Lite didn’t hold my attention and I don’t get Les Grys-Grys at all. Estella reprimanded me for this but I call it as I see and hear it. They’re the Paisley dress-up Jim Jones Revue for my money. I dig the fact that that kids seem to like them and that they do good business for mi amigos that pilot Dirty Water Records but I never need to see or hear them ever again. This old git is not for turning.
Yummy Punk Rock Girls - Maite, Maria and Ruth plus an old git.
Flat Duo Jets on the other hand just effortlessly emoted cool. It was just Dex and “Crash” but this was one two-man combo that really hit the spot. Rousing instro-mental stylings and skewered Americana was served up and I really thought that they might have played a bit longer. My hit pick for Day 2.
It was then time for The Sonics, as mentioned before, this is the very bedrock of the Funtastic aesthetic and nobody can deny the anthem status of their catalogue. As you can imagine, the place went totally bananas.
The Sonics at full tilt!
A relatively early flight meant that there was no wee hours action for me. A cab would be coming to collect me all too soon that would take me to the bus stop. When I got there I planked myself on the bench and watched some of my fellow Funtastic attendees file down the Avenida de Europa into the 24 hour cafes. I was jealous. As the bus rolled out toward Alicante, I passed yet more revellers and wished I could have joined them. Hanging on to every last second.
I have no idea what or how Paloma and Sr Varo get this thing together but may they never EVER lose the will to serve up this annual helping of the beat that just can't be beat. They’ve cut and shut quite the hot rod monster and they’re just gonna keep on souping it on up. As curates, they deserve some kind of rock’n’roll canonisation. They do incredible work, year after year. A tireless and passionate example to us all.
The honour and privilege of being able to attend and be a tiny part of the celebration is something that I am never about to take for granted. And, as I sit here in the bunker kitchen, contemplating that I need to go out and tidy the drive, the dates for next year are anxiously awaited. Stand by for set links, coming your way just as soon as they appear.
All Funtastic Photos by Ms Ruth López-Diéguez except the paella and
yonder sunset by Francisco (Fran the Man) Santelices