If you’ve been paying attention to impressive festival lineups over the last few years, the chances are that you’ve taken notice of Madrid’s Mad Cool Festival. Set in the Spanish city in the middle of summer, the festival stands distinct from its American counterparts. That isn’t to say that it is necessarily booking more interesting talent than the top-tier US events, but more that it stands out as an example as to how different the two markets are, and how some European festivals go far beyond the traditional single daily headliners that most US events employ.
In 2017, Mad Cool established itself for its rock-centric bookings, locking in the likes of Green Day, Kings Of Leon, and Foo Fighters to anchor their festival, with an undercard that included M.I.A., Wilco, Cage The Elephant, and Savages. And while it was certainly an impressive poster, its heavy emphasis on the indie and traditional rock worlds placed it in direct contrast with domestic US festivals that were transitioning to more hip-hop, dance, and Spotify-approved artists at that time. But in 2018, Mad Cool went ham and put together an all-timer, featuring more headliner-caliber acts at one festival than is often seen over several years: Pearl Jam, Depeche Mode, Tame Impala, Post Malone, Massive Attack, Arctic Monkeys, Nine Inch Nails, Jack Johnson, Queens Of The Stone Age, Dua Lipa, and Fleet Foxes. The festival not only brought an absurd amount of elite talent to the event, but also showed growth as to what sounds would define their annual fest.
2019’s iteration of Mad Cool continues that trajectory. Indie and rock are still playing a central role, with artists like Bon Iver, The National, The Cure, The 1975, and Vampire Weekend providing ballast for the event’s identity. At the same time, artists like Robyn, Lykke Li, Vince Staples, and Ms. Lauryn Hill expand the idea of what the festival can be. Furthermore, Rosalia and Vetusta Morla give the festival some premier Spanish acts to bolster the local talent that is featured on the bill, which also includes smaller artists like Carino, DobleCapa, and Tirano. For a festival only embarking on its fourth year, Mad Cool feels already fully-formed, separating itself from its peers, both domestically and internationally.
With so much on the lineup to take it, Uproxx offers up this handy guide, outlining ten artists that attendees should not miss. Mad Cool begins on Wednesday, July 10 and runs through Saturday, July 13. Tickets are still available here.