I love Madrid, especially this time of year. It doesn’t matter if the sun shines or if it rains, I always have the impression that it is exactly the way it has to be. Summer is hot, long and heavy, the city waits in silence for the people to come back from holidays and flood it with their noisy lives. And so they do. October, November and December are three of the most exciting months in Madrid, with hundreds of events and parties that make this city the place to be.
Lately, we are having some remarkable guests, musically speaking: The xx, The Black Keys, Patti Smith, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Bat for Lashes, Rufus Wainwright, Mark Lanegan… But we shouldn’t forget Madrid has an interesting underground musical scene every day of the week, because in every small, dark club in town, there is electronic-kraut-rock-pop-lofi-shoegaze. There are a pile of “amateur” groups giving color and movement to one of the most well known neighborhoods in Europe–Malasaña.
Malasaña is a kind of a little Williamsburg full of unique restaurants, specialized music stores, eclectic clubs, young designer boutiques, vintage clothing street markets and typical Spanish caña bars. Cañas are the way we have a beer with our friends after work, or before having meal. (Ed note: A caña is how you order a draft beer in Spain, and it usually comes with a small free snack, making it a good cheap fix.)
Óptica Caribou is in the heart of Malasaña, on Espíritu Santo Street
There is a difference between going to Malasaña during the day and during the night. Whereas during the day it is a quiet, Saturday morning friendly shopping place, when the night comes it changes into a crowded district of young and thirsty people.
Everyone is looking for something–the latest concert of that group Pitchfork is talking about, some adventure, for other people, or for the hangover of their lives. The exciting thing about Malasaña is you always know how the night begins but not when or how it will end.
The ambiance is always warm in Malasaña and you can easily bump into somebody you know like an old friend, or the leader of your Spanish favorite music group. And speaking of the devil, here are some suggestions: Hola a todo el mundo, Nudozurdo, EdredóN, Fira Fem, Dolores, Havalina, Los Punsetes, Lüger, Christina Rosenvinge…
EdredóN venue in the Nasti Club
Havalina are some of the veterans in alternative Spanish rock. They have just released a new album called h which will not deceive any of their fans. Here you have the first single from h called “Viaje al Sol” (Trip to the Sun).
They belong to Origami Records. This music label has one of the most interesting catalogues in Spain. Here we can also find, for example, Dolores, a classy group led by multidisciplinary artist Teresa Cobo (the cover girl from The Vaccines first album). They won the Best New Group Award from the Spanish Independent Phonographic Union last year for hits like “Nicho/Loft”. Their first album, called Disco Póstumo is the must have of 2012.
On the other hand, Christina Rosenvinge has always been a reference in Spanish music. Her debut took place in the 90s with a very mainstream pop group called Alex y Christina but after that she became a muse for a variety of artists. She lived with the writer Ray Loriga in NYC for years and it was then she met Lee Renaldo and Sonic Youth. They recorded several of Christina’s solo albums together in the early 2000s, and Steve Shelley took part in her last release La Joven Dolores.
Groups like these make the difference all around Spain. Artists of all kinds work together, creating a constantly changing and explosive atmosphere. But this is not the first time this has happened in Malasaña. During the 80s, La Movida, the cultural underground movement, started to wake a sleepy country up after 40 years of fascism. Alaska y los Pegamoides, Radio Futura, Nacha Pop, Las Vulpes, Los Toreros Muertos, Los Zombis, Aerolíneas Federales, Parálisis Permanente and some others brought light to a dark Spain during the transition to democracy. All those children who grew up listening to Alaska and watching revolutionary TV shows like “La Bola de Cristal” (The Crystal Ball) are the artists of today, the last generation of dreamers, the best example of what an economically broken country can still do.
“Bicivoladores” by Cristóbal Fot