It’s not necessarily rare to see a festival expanded to five days, but it is rare to see a five day festival boast fourteen headliners. Since 2016, Madrid’s Mad Cool Festival has asserted itself as one of the premiere music festivals not just within Europe, but globally. With a penchant for great rock music, rising local talent, and festival favorites, Mad Cool’s organizers are meticulous with their lineups, and this year is no different.
The festival feature some classic heavy hitters like Metallica, Deftones, Jack White, and Muse, as well as a major headlining performance from Florence + The Machine, plus sets from The Killers, Twenty One Pilots, Stormzy, HAIM, Phoebe Bridgers, The War On Drugs, Alt-J, Glass Animals, Wolf Alice, Foals, Carly Rae Jepsen, and CHVRCHES. Regardless of your music preferences, there’s something at Mad Cool for you.
Crafting such a comprehensive and stacked festival doesn’t come without its challenges: 2022 is indeed a year like no other, where touring musicians are dealing with massive industry shakeups and festival organizers are having to accommodate more last-minute changes than ever before. After the pandemic forced Mad Cool to cancel their 2020 edition, the organizers were planning on staging the festival in 2021 — but, as things often have in the last two years, it fell through.
Now, two years later, Mad Cool is arriving with an air of renewal. Cindy Castillo and Albert Juncosa, two of Mad Cool’s organizers, realized it was time to reinvent the festival altogether. “I would say during 2020/21/22, we have worked more and harder than ever,” says Castillo. “It was not only booking the lineups again but redefining the whole festival, the company and the way to approach such an unexpected circumstance.”
With a laundry list of unmissable bands, some trailblazing Spanish artists, and a unique festival environment, Mad Cool is blazing forward into the next era of their iconic festival. Check out the full Q&A below.
Ed. Note: Saturday and Sunday single-day tickets to Mad Cool Festival 2022 are still available to purchase!
After the 2020 edition was cancelled due to the pandemic, you had to start all over again with booking the 2022 lineup. What was it like going back to the drawing board during such an uncertain period of time?
Castillo: I would say during 2020/21/22, we have worked more and harder than ever. It was not only booking the lineups again but redefining the whole festival, the company and the way to approach such an unexpected circumstance. There has also been a generational change which brings a huge musical change with it. Therefore, I would say it has been a long process, but it has also been very interesting to start booking again each time, and realizing how bands have evolved, changed or risen during these (almost) three years.
Juncosa: I have the feeling that we never really stopped. Once the 2020 festival was cancelled, we started figuring out what the 2021 fest would look like, which artists would remain on the lineup, which bands would definitely cancel, how to approach the deals from then onwards, etc… until we realized 2021 was not possible, and we then started the same process once again for 2022. It has been a very long process of a lineup, which has been constantly evolving for three years.
What were some of the challenges when it came to booking the lineup this year?
Juncosa: Dealing with unexpected cancellations while trying to find suitable replacements on time… it’s been (and might not be over yet) a very crazy year!
There are a lot of really exciting local and Spain-based acts on the lineup this year! Did including local artists feel more important this year than others? Who are some of the local artists that you’re the most excited about for this year’s fest?
Castillo: Including local talent is always important, no matter the circumstance! I’m excited about Irenegarry, Bikoko, and Mori.
Juncosa: Always proud of the local representation! I would personally recommend b1n0, Viva Belgrado and St. Woods.
Mad Cool takes place during a very busy time in the calendar, with lots of other European music festivals happening around the same time. Are radius clauses really difficult for booking the lineup and competing with festivals? Which artists/headliners did you fight for the most from a booking perspective?
Juncosa: Spain has became a very competitive market in terms of festival bookings. We face competition on all type of booking processes, from headliners to tiny bands.
Castillo: I think all markets are competitive, no matter what you are selling, and I think somehow that is positive for all of us so it keeps us “in shape” and it makes us always want to become a better version of ourselves.
What sets Mad Cool apart from other festivals?
Castillo: I would say many things, from taking place in a city as welcoming and friendly as Madrid, to the feeling of being in an “oasis.” Each festival has its own personality, but I think Mad Cool is an excellent experience full of good energy, sun and music.
For a first-time Mad Cool attendee, what are some things you’re hoping people take away from Madrid and Spanish culture?
Castillo: Madrid is a city with the best lifestyle. We have good food, good weather, and good energy. We are a happy society in general. Also, not only does Madrid have some of the best historical sites like El Escorial, Monasterio del Paular, and Pelayos de la Presa, but it’s surrounded by beautiful villages that people should visit, like Aranjuez, Patones, etc. I also think Madrid is a city bursting with culture and music at every corner.
Do you have any general advice for fans attending Mad Cool for the first time this year?
Castillo: Bring sunscreen!
Juncosa: Mad Cool is a city festival, therefore, you should at least hold 24/48 hours before/after the festival to enjoy the city!
This year, like other years, features a big emphasis on rock music and rock bands. Are there any up-and-coming rock bands playing the festival that you particularly have your eye on?
Juncosa: Creeper, Fever 333, Brutus, Chubby & The Gang, PABST, Viva Belgrado, Gurriers, Higher Power, Sleep Token… to name a few.
Which artists are you looking forward to seeing the most this year?
Castillo: Tom Misch, Tove Lo, Sports Team, Mura Masa, Florence + The Machine, Alt J, Alina Pash, Nathy Peluso, and Wolf Alice.
Juncosa: Noga Erez, Sleep Token, Beabadoobee, Zeal & Ardor, CL, Bartees Strange, St.Vincent, HAIM and Phoebe Bridgers.
What can you tell us about the future of Mad Cool Festival?
Castillo: I can tell you the future is looking and sounding good!
Juncosa: We can’t wait to start booking a 2023 lineup full of new artists!
Editor’s Note: Consequence is the North American media partner of Mad Cool and will be on the ground during next month’s festival.
Mad Cool Festival 2022 Lineup: