Mad Cool 2022: the rebellious but favorite son of Madrid starts after two years of clashes
Three years and multiple threats later, the Mad Cool festival opens its fifth edition in the Madrid neighborhood of Valdebebas. It starts this Wednesday, July 6, and will last for five days until the 10th, a deployment of resources and time that few can afford. That is why Mad Cool has become in five years – and two of the pandemic – the flagship of the Community and the Madrid City Council. An event that has given as many headaches as profits to the council and who is interested in keeping it happy.
Although the festival born in 2016 is much younger than others (Primavera Sound started in 2001, Benicàssim in 2005 and BBK in 2007), its leader is no rookie. Javier Arnáiz has been in the industry for twenty years and has 50 festival editions behind him. The Mad Cool 2022 poster is proof of this: Metallica, Muse, Florence + The Machine and Kings of Leon will perform in front of thousands of people. The unknown is knowing how many.
The capacity has been one of the festival's Achilles heels, especially in 2018, an edition marred by crowds in the sun, queues at the bars and lack of control. They had moved to Valdebebas from the Caja Mágica –a much smaller space– and their ambition played a trick on them.
To remedy this, in 2019 they reduced attendees from 80,000 a day to 60,000. That caused more fluidity and fewer controversial headlines, but it also had an impact on the collection (from 22 million to 14 million). In addition, that year, the Madrid City Council announced that they had to leave Valdebebas and return to the Caja Mágica, something that Mad Cool was not willing to tolerate.
This week it has become known that, indeed, 2022 is the last year of Mad Cool in Valdebebas. Its sixth edition will move to Villaverde, where the council has announced the creation of the City of Music as a counterpart to the City of the Image, located on the Boadilla del Monte road. Mad Cool will be the key piece of the project announced by Deputy Mayor Begoña Villacís, but this phase of the idyll is new. To reach it, the City Council has made real efforts to retain the festival in Madrid.
In 2020 the organizers threatened to leave the Community of Madrid after the City Council evicted them from the venue. The district of Hortaleza put pressure on the mayor, José Luis Martínez Almeida, to remove the Mad Cool from Valdebebas because the noise was "nonsense." Mad Cool said he was leaving, but from Madrid –he even received an offer to do it in Valladolid under the name of Vad Cool– and the threats began to have an effect. Fear was felt in the Cibeles Palace.
They also asked the Department of Culture for a grant of 16 million euros to execute it in five years, which was initially denied. "Our public cultural policy is not only focused on the big festivals," said Andrea Levy, delegate for Culture. Two years later, they have managed to repeat in Valdebebas one last time and that the City Council and the Community inject more money than ever. They have received 1.2 million euros through the City Council's public company, Madrid Destino, and 900,000 from the Regional Ministry of Culture. Double the public funding of 2018.
Madrid was the only big city in Spain without a festival to match and, once it was achieved, it was not going to let it go so easily. In exchange, Mad Cool has relocated the orientation of the stages, has improved access to the venue and has advanced the end of the concerts to 3 in the morning to reduce noise. The Metro will keep the 8 line open until 2 am on Wednesday and Sunday and until 4 am on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. There will also be a network of shuttles offered by the EMT.
The capital has managed to retain its favorite musical event, just when Mad Cool is in the middle of a war against the rival company, Last Tour, which organizes Bilbao's BBK Live on the same dates and another festival in Malaga that coincides with a version Andalusian of the Mad Cool that have been removed from the sleeve. These are two festivals with the same audience, although Mad Cool has a better lineup and that will be its main asset.
The 2022 poster bears little resemblance to what was offered in 2020, although it is now longer and has more popularity. Mad Cool has swapped out Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish and Mumford and Sons, which attract a similar audience to the one that went to see Bon Iver and Dua Lipa in previous editions, for a conservative line-up, which is what sells tickets.
The star is the British band Muse, with which festival organizers and leaders are showing muscle. They will not only play at Mad Cool next Saturday, but also at the Andalucía Big Festival by Mad Cool, in September, and later in Galicia, where the concert has caused a political struggle after the Xunta paid 1.2 million euros for him.
Wednesday's highlight is Metallica, who will give a two-hour concert eclipsing Canadian singer-songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen, author of the hit Call Me Baby. Before the thrash metal band, attendees will be able to choose between Placebo and the SFDK rappers. To finish, Twenty One Pilot will coincide with another regular at festivals in our country, Chvrches.
On Thursday it's between the Deftones and London Grammar at the start of the night. The itinerary becomes pretty clear afterwards: Imagine Dragons, The Killers and Foals. Although there will be those who prefer something more indie during the seconds and for that there is St. Vincent. On Friday the clocks stop at one for Muse, although before that some very worthy acts Jamie Cullum, The War on Drugs and Mo. The party will end with Alt-J or, failing that, DJ Paula Temple.
On Saturday, Leon Bridges, the Pixies and the Kings of Leon pave the way for Florence + The Machine, who will present their newly released album and will be doing the same-scheduled Editors no favours. The rock duo Royal Blood will put an end to the day. For those brave enough to hold out, Sunday's lineup doesn't overshadow the previous ones: Nathy Peluso, Natos y Waor, Two Door Cinema Club, Jack White and La MODA are the main attractions.
Despite the hit of the pandemic, Mad Cool has not increased prices, which remain as in 2019: 65 euros for one day and 170 for three. Instead, the novelty is that they charge an extra for press accreditation and invitations, 30 euros for the first and 15 for the second. The official reason is that it is a mandatory "donation" to the CEAR NGO, refugee aid.
ElDiario.es has contacted the latter, which has confirmed that "the decision and application criteria corresponds exclusively to the organization of the festival, as well as the tax relief, since it is the one who applies this charge". That is, no one will be able to deduct the donation of their ticket, but it is a benefit that will affect the organizing company. Mad Cool has not responded to questions raised in this regard.
The Madrid festival is not the first to apply this collection technique to invitations. Primavera Sound, held a few weeks earlier in Barcelona, has been doing it for years and for a higher price: 50 euros. The difference is that the Catalan event admits that this charge is intended to "promote the working conditions of the accredited media." BBK Live, for example, proposes a voluntary contribution (yes) of one, three or five euros for organizations that support Ukraine.