Hot Press was lucky enough to find itself jetting off to Madrid to experience Rock in Rio in full swing. The festival, which as the name suggests originated in Brazil, shifts venue year on year. This was the second time it was held over the same stretch of four days in both Lisbon and Madrid, with the acts shuffling between the two Iberian capitals.
The festival hosted a stellar line-up, including the likes of Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Smashing Pumpkins, Bruce Springsteen, David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia, Stevie Wonder, Deadmau5 and Calvin Harris, to name but a smattering. Rihanna was the only absentee, due to the death of her grandmother Dolly Brathwaite.
Taking place on a plateau that’s located about half an hour south-east of Madrid’s city centre and sponsored by Corona, the festival is a phenomenal organisational achievement. The site, which for most of the year is little more than a desert, is totally transformed with a layer of roll-out artificial grass covering the majority of the enclosure. I’m not sure how it’d handle the mud, but it could provide the perfect answer at the soggier Irish festivals.
Combine that with temperatures in the low to mid-30s and add some of the most idyllic scenery imaginable to the fact that it’s the only place in the world, outside of Mexico, where you can buy Corona on tap (or Coronita as it’s known in Spain), and you have the recipe for an incredibly atmospheric event.
We were there for the Friday night, when the emphasis was on dance music. As with most things in Spain, the music kicked off a bit later than it would in Ireland and continued till well beyond 5am (licensing authorities, please take note!). Aside from the music, there are a number of other activities accessible to the fans. In what was one of the most exhilarating experiences imaginable, I personally had the opportunity to zip-line right across the Main Stage at about 150 feet above the ground with the show in full swing. It’s certainly one of the most unusual ways to experience a concert.
The night sky was regularly peppered with the most astonishing firework displays, beginning after crowd-favourite David Guetta and returning between our two favourite performers of the night: Miami-rapper Pitbull and Dutch D.J., Afrojack.
Among those who travelled from Ireland for the event were D.J. Ivano Cafolla, who was researching for the up-and-coming Movida Corona International D.J. competition, as well as Corona’s Irish marketing wizards, Kieran Quinn and Rachael Gillmor Murphy of Barry & Fitzwilliam.
The buzz throughout was brilliant, with absolutely no hassle or trouble. Again, Irish licensing authorities should take note: our obsession with curfews does us few favours. Here, the weather, the music, the atmosphere and the location all combined to create a fantastic, memorable event. With Buenos Aires tipped as the next host city for Rock In Rio all I can say is – bring on 2013!