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Dcode 2015: Contagious spirit

Madrid's biggest music festival brings fans together despite the cancellation of its main headliner and thanks to the brilliance of Foals, Suede and Crystal Fighters

©Christian Bertrand

What fortune to still count on a music festival in Madrid, which, though it has a way to go to reach perfection, gets better and better with each passing year. How great to be able to enjoy the last days of summer with concerts, beer and green grass. And what a fanastic line-up this year – even though the organisers kept things safe and didn't seem to take many risks, all expectations were met. And that's even when, two hours before his show, Sam Smith announced he wouldn't be taking to the stage. But let's break things down.

This fifth edition of the Dcode festival has been singular in various aspects, for example the longer hours starting from 11.30am, and also the venue, incorporating a food truck area that was bigger than in previous years, and a mini clothing market. Perhaps these reasons helped make it a sold-out event, with 26,000 people filling the  Complejo Deportivo Cantarranas at the  Universidad Complutense. That many revellers in one place could wear a person down, but you wouldn't have known it by the queues for the bars or the toilets, which were never excessively long if you planned your stops properly between performances.

Early birds got to see Wolf Alice, Flo Morrissey and Trajano!, among others, and could even leave the venue until 4pm, one of the biggest issues Dcode should sort out as soon as humanly possible for the well-being of the public, and to avoid hearing the same old complaints over and over. Around 6.30pm the main headliner announced he couldn't perform due to a respiratory infection. According to the organisers, they waited until they received the medical certificate to break the news that Sam Smith's concert was cancelled, which set off a wave of criticism about how late the announcement was made, fans of the English singer demanding refunds, and a last-minute reorganisation of concert timetables.

But the contagious teen spirit spread by the British band The Vaccines helped to alleviate the bad vibes. Justin Young and company know how to keep audiences dancing for an hour with hits full of optimism such as 'Wetsuit', 'If You Wanna', '20/20' and 'Nørgaard', among others. They were followed up by a good shot of local indie with Mallorcan band L.A., who pulled in a good number of fans despite playing a couple of hours later than scheduled. Then it was down to Andalusia with Supersubmarina who had no problem conquering the mostly female audience with their big hits – 'Viento de Cara', 'Ana', 'En mis venas', Cientocero', etc. – their confidence as voiced by singer José Chino, and an announcement that has been a long time coming: in spring 2016 they'll perform in the Palacio de los Deportes (now called Barclaycard Center).

After that came the charisma, vitality and brilliance of Brett Anderson in his splendour. The frontman for Suede didn't stop dancing and jumping around, and he even got down off the stage to sing with his fance for the whole concert. Other renowned groups with young singers who don't move their feet from the microphone stand even if it's covered in hot oil should take note of this kind of enthusiasm from a 47-year-old. 'Trash', 'Animal Nitrate' and of course 'Beautiful Ones' were naturally among the repertoire that the English band stretched into overtime (which nobody complained about). When it was their turn, Izal offered up a concert of light and shadows, bringing a big chunk of the festival-goers to the Heineken stage to sing along with their familiar hits including 'Despedida', 'La mujer de verde', 'Agueros de gusano' and 'Qué bien', among others, although they did take it a bit far with the presentation of new tracks. Polock, Second and Circa Waves were the best on the third stage, which this year was covered with an enormous tent that made it a bit difficult to get close to thanks to the staff at the two main stages.

The final stretch boasted Foals and Crystal Fighters, two of the best concerts of this year's edition. The band from Oxford brought along tunes from their exquisite new album, Yanis Philippakis was charming as ever, and their performance was a 10, with songs including 'Spanish Sahara' and 'My Number', and they topped it off with their most recent hit, 'What Went Down'. As for Crystal Fighters, there's little to be said about them that hasn't been already, but the Londoners got everyone dancing like crazy at one of the most biggest concerts of Dcode. A phenomenal finale.

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