Bilbao BBK Live: Five Iconic Headline Performances

Bilbao BBK Live: Five Iconic Headline Performances

Bilbao BBK Live 2021

Despite its relative infancy, only launching in 2006, Bilbao BBK Live has already become one of the leading festivals that Spain has to offer each summer, sitting alongside some of the finest in Europe.

Set amongst the stunningly scenic surrounds of Kobetamendi, a mountain that overlooks the eponymous city, the festival regularly welcomes an array of favourites from the worlds of indie and alternative music (as well as an increasingly impressive offering of hip hop, electronic music and more). This year sees indie rock icons like The Strokes, Liam Gallagher and Suede on headlining duties, as well as sets from other stars including ROSALÍA, Vince Staples, and Nils Frahm.

So with just a month left before the 2019 edition begins, we've looked back over the 13 years since the first edition, picking out just a handful of the memorable headline performances that have shaped the festival to this day.


Now more readily associated with indie and alternative music, there was a time when rock and metal ruled the roost at Bilbao BBK Live. The second edition in 2007 saw Iron Maiden, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Metallica top the bill; the latter storming through their extensive back catalogue in characteristically ferocious fashion.


2011 arguably marked the year that things started to shift musically – Coldplay, Suede and The Black Crowes headlining where Rammstein, Pearl Jam and Faith No More had the year before. Probably the biggest band in the world at this point, the often derided but ultimately very talented four-piece appeared just before the release of their fifth album Mylo Xyloto. But it was their (superior) early work that got the best reaction – hits like 'Yellow', 'Shiver', 'Clocks', 'Fix You' and 'The Scientist'. 

The Cure

The following year, alternative rock veterans The Cure were given the enviable job of closing proceedings for the opening day (as Coldplay had done 12 months before). It was a busy year for Robert Smith and co., with headline appearances at Reading & Leeds, Primavera Sound and Rock Werchter also among their summer schedule.

Kings Of Leon

While the band's transformation from long-haired country rockers to polished pop stars was well underway by 2013, there was still a glimpse of the scuzzier sound that characterised their earliest output. Naturally, festival anthems like 'Use Somebody' got the bigger reaction, but it was great to see that the Followill clan hadn't lost sight of their roots entirely, playing early hits like 'Four Kicks'.

Florence + the Machine

Admittedly the shaky, fan-filmed footage doesn't do the performance justice – Florence actively telling the filmer to put their phone away at one point, to no avail – but you can still get a sense of her captivating stage presence. Depending on your view of whether Florence + the Machine fits the description, 2018 was arguably the first time a female solo artist has topped the bill at Bilbao BBK Live (although Garbage did headline back in 2012). Whatever the case, it was another magical performance from the one-time Glastonbury headliner.

Bilbao BBK Live 2019 takes place from 11-13 July. Book tickets, packages, accommodation and extras here.


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