Behind the Scenes at the Iboga Summer Festival

Music festivals have become increasingly common in Spain in the last few years. A decade or so ago, there were a few, but nowadays, there are almost a thousand festivals scattered throughout the country, most of them in the summer. As a musician, it’s a trend I can get behind!

If you are a music lover and you enjoy seeing live music, you are in luck, because there are all kinds of festivals on beaches, in villages, in big cities, or even in the middle of nature, featuring today’s hottest national and international bands.

Iboga Summer Festival is a cool festival. Although maybe not the most famous, plenty of people mark the date on their calendars several months in advance. Many people say it stands out as a festival with especially good vibes, and in my opinion, they are right.

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A number of intriguing performers have graced the Iboga stages, bands such as Balkan Beat Box, Goran Bregovic, Alpha Blondie, The Skatalites, Emir Kusturica who is also a well-known filmmaker. In addition to the music, though, it’s a very interesting venue in which to discover new bands. It’s also probably one of the most crazy festivals in Spain.

Balkan, Swing, Ska, Reggae, Gypsy Jazz, Electro Swing and Ska Jazz are some of the rhythms that you can dance during the five days of the event. There are also dance workshops, batucadas, an artisan market, and a stage for the children called Iboga Kids. All of this is located just 2 minutes’ walk from the beach in a coastal town, Tavernes de la Valldigna, very close to a place that you may remember from a recent post, A Day in Cullera.

My band, Gypsy y los Gatos Rumberos (video) , is a six member band and our music is mixture of several rhythms including gypsy jazz, swing, and rumba which fits perfectly with the spirit of this festival. We were really glad when the production staff asked us to play there–since the musical styles are similar to our own, it is a great benchmark for us as far as live music is concerned.

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Gypsy y los Gatos Rumberos on stage

The performances took place on two stages, the main stage and the Circus. Our performance was on the Circus stage the last day of the festival. We decided not to attend the festival until the day of our gig since some might consider it inadvisable for a band to spend the 72 hours before their important performance partying at a crazy festival.

We woke up early in the morning and headed toward Tavernes de la Valldigna. The sound check was at 3 o’clock, but we wanted to take advantage of the day and to make sure we were in place far enough in advance. I think we did the right thing because after we got our backstage passes, we had enough time to go to the beach and swim for a while before lunch.

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Sunday, the last day, after lunch is not the ideal moment to play in a festival because people had already been there 3, 4 and 5 days dancing and listening to music, and they were very tired. Furthermore, that day, the performances started at 6 a.m, just when Saturday night’s concerts had finished. As I told you, it’s a crazy festival!

We had 45 minutes to perform and we wanted to show the people the most representative pieces of our repertoire, so we played several songs from our first album such as “Punki Suite” and “Typical Spanish,” as well as the three singles from our recent trilogy, and covers like “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga and “You Know I’m Not Good” by Amy Winehouse, played in our characteristic Rumba/Swing style.

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Photo provided by Ana Cian

In the end, we really enjoyed our performance, we had been rehearsing a lot for this event and the result was satisfactory enough for us. People in the festival lived up to expectations as a very cool audience and we could feel the good vibes the festival is famous for. We hope to repeat our performance at the Iboga Festival next year, but if we can swing it, we’ll try to take the stage earlier, before the fatigue of days-on-end partying sets in.

Thank you to Ana Cian https://anacian.com/ for the photos of the festival.

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