Mad Cool Festival 2022 Recap: Five Days of Sunshine and Songs in Spain’s Capital City

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It’s been three years since Madrid has been able to host Mad Cool Festival, the multi-day music festival in the Valdefuentes neighborhood of Spain’s capital city. With the event finally making a grand return in 2022 from Wednesday, July 6th to Sunday, July 11th, not even temperatures crossing over 100 degrees each day could keep the crowds from flocking to the grounds.

One thing about Mad Cool is that it very much lives up to its name; the crowd for the fest, incredibly welcoming and friendly, really and truly loves music, and the dynamic lineup always boasts something for everyone — especially this year. Indie fans were able to delight in rising bands and solo artists, while fans of legacy acts like Metallica showed up in droves. Pop fans weren’t left out either; each day offered at least one spectacular, colorful dance party, from Zara Larsson to Carly Rae Jepsen to Tinashe.

While stateside festivals like Coachella and Bonnaroo sprawl for miles, often requiring mad dashes to catch favorite acts with overlapping set times, the layout at Mad Cool is designed in a way that allows attendees to easily jump from stage to stage. Plus, it’s almost entirely built over turf to avoid leaving guests to the dusty elements.

While people were having a great time, snapping plenty of pics, grabbing food or taking a ride on the ferris wheel, festival goers were there to vibe to their favorite artists more than anything else. The crowds were expressive but respectful — when Florence Welch says to put your phone away, you listen.

Here, we’ve broken down Mad Cool 2022 day by day, where the only thing hotter than the sun was all the great music we were lucky enough to hear.

— Mary Siroky
Contributing Editor

Mad Cool Festival 2022 metallica photo by paco poyato review
Mad Cool Festival 2022 metallica photo by paco poyato review

Metallica, photo by Paco Povato

Wednesday, July 6th: Metallica, Wolf Alice, CHVRCHES, and more

Things got off to an energetic start on Day 1 of Mad Cool, with eager festival goers showing up in droves as the gates opened up around 5:00 p.m. It deserves to be noted that few festivals actually start on a Wednesday, and rather than position the day as a “pre-party” of sorts, Mad Cool went all out for its first day. Wolf Alice, who played a terrific set featuring many harmony-laden tracks from their 2021 LP, Blue Weekend, even noted how special the occasion was: The band’s bassist, Theo Ellis, took a minute to shout “We’re at a festival…on a WEDNESDAY!” to the cheering crowd.

Elsewhere on Mad Cool’s opening night were memorable sets from Carly Rae Jepsen, CHVRCHES, and newcomer Alfie Templeman. It was Templeman’s first show in Spain, and he and his band brought loads of enthusiasm and irresistible grooves (not to mention, a brief but memorable cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” assumedly by request).

CHVRCHES dusted off several Screen Violence cuts for their late night set, proving that they will surely be headlining festivals of the like any day now. Jepsen, meanwhile, got the crowd to cut right to the feeling, encouraging one of the brightest dance parties of the whole weekend. (Apparently, “Call Me Maybe” was as much a hit in Spain as it was in the United States. People lost their minds.)

mad cool festival 2022 chvrches paco poyato
mad cool festival 2022 chvrches paco poyato

CHVRCHES, photo by Paco Povato

But leave it to Metallica to satisfy thousands of fans, many of which showed up in donning black tees proudly displaying their fandom. The band played the longest set of the whole festival, and certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves, taking their time to rip through extended solo sections and treating fans to dozens of hits.

Paolo’s Highlight: Ending the night with a career-spanning set from CHVRCHES
Mary’s Highlight: Briefly holding hands with queen Carly Rae Jepsen
Alex’s Highlight: Empanadas

Thursday, July 7th: The Killers, Foals, beabadoobee, and more

Day 2 of Mad Cool featured some more fierce rock performances: Deftones, who invited Fever 333’s Jason Aalon Butler to join for a scream-heavy song, were phenomenal; the show served as the final date of their extensive 2022 tour, so needless to say, Chino Moreno and co. gave it all they had.

Headlining the night, however, were The Killers, who rarely miss as marquee festival names. Brandon Flowers was brimming with enthusiasm, constantly connecting with the humongous crowd, and playing a truly stacked set of hit after hit. It was clear that Mad Cool was something that the band was particularly looking forward to; after all, they decided to debut a brand new track titled “Boy” at the festival, giving the sea of fans a memorable first look.

the killers mad cool festival 2022 courtesy of the fest_0000_the killers mad cool festival review 2022
the killers mad cool festival 2022 courtesy of the fest_0000_the killers mad cool festival review 2022

The Killers, photo courtesy of Mad Cool

UK rockers High Vis also previewed quite a few songs from their forthcoming album, demonstrating that they’re one of the most exciting new bands in England’s heavily-hyped post-punk scene. Beabadoobee, who has now become a festival favorite in a very short amount of time, made her Mad Cool debut with a more tight-knit, intimate rock gig at the festival’s Vibra Mahou tent. Aussie punks Amyl and The Sniffers were wildly entertaining, matching the searing daytime heat with some furiously fun rock and roll. And closing out the night was Foals, fresh off their new LP, Life Is Yours; every Foals show is highly energetic and fun, but the sheer passion emanating from the fans was truly a sight to see.

Paolo’s Highlight: Rocking out with Este Haim sidestage at The Killers
Mary’s Highlight: Open-face roasted mushroom crustini tapas
Gab’s Highlight: 1:00 a.m. hot dogs with fried onions

Friday, July 8th: Phoebe Bridgers, HAIM, The War On Drugs, and more

The lineup just kept getting better and better: Day 3 of Mad Cool was truly stacked, with many different genres in the mix. Spanish dance-rockers Los Invaders gave a lighthearted and fun-filled performance in their home country, while K-pop queen CL thrilled the crowd with a stellar DJ, immaculate stage presence, and arguably the best onstage look of the entire festival. Who else was giving us Lady Gaga realness in a feathered bustier? Only CL.

On the other hand, Phoebe Bridgers continued her European tour with a highly-attended early evening set, conjuring passionate and heartfelt sing-a-longs from hundreds of dedicated fans. “I Know the End” always goes incredibly hard, and Bridgers held nothing back while the sun set in truly dramatic fashion during the epic conclusion.

Meanwhile, The War on Drugs played a wildly satisfying show, ending their long-running 2022 tour at Mad Cool as well. Not only are the cuts from the band’s latest, I Don’t Live Here Anymore, terrific live, the band as unit is as strong as ever; Adam Granduciel and the rest have a way of creating so much space within songs that have limited two-to-three chord structures, patiently exploring every sonic possibility while never letting it to descend into chaos.

Haim mad cool festival 2022 Andres Iglesias_0003
Haim mad cool festival 2022 Andres Iglesias_0003

HAIM, photo by Andres Iglesias

But perhaps the best show of the day belonged to HAIM, who showed why they’re some of the best entertainers in the game. With a set heavily populated by tracks from their brilliant 2020 LP, Women In Music Pt. III, HAIM were not just oozing with confidence, they brought every single Mad Cool attendee under their wing, singing from the heart and jamming like they were back in the garage. (Backstage, meanwhile, the trio of sisters was happy to mingle with fellow artists, crew members, and other excited guests — they even arrived two days early to catch some of the stellar lineup for themselves.)

Paolo’s Highlight: The dazzling guitars of The War on Drugs
Mary’s Highlight: Becoming the fourth HAIM sister (for legal reasons this is a joke)
Alex’s Highlight: Watching Phoebe Bridgers’ play “I Know the End” as the sun set

Saturday, July 9th: Florence + the Machine, Local Natives, Mura Masa, and more.

The heat truly began to swell as Saturday rolled around, but it sure didn’t stop Mad Cool’s bands or attendees from having a blast. Local Natives kicked off their 2022 tour with a delightful set, complete with dreamy guitars, old classics, and tight vocal harmonies. Leon Bridges also brought his usual class and style to Mad Cool’s Madrid Is Life stage, using his effortless chops to serenade hundreds of attendees.

Elsewhere during the evening, UK producer Mura Masa took the stage at the dance-oriented tent, The Loop. Though Mura Masa played several tracks from his highly anticipated third album, Demon Time (out later this year), he opted mostly for a career-spanning set of not just his originals, but a few of his excellent collaborations. When he dropped his two Slowthai-assisted tracks — “Deal Wiv It” and “Doorman” — the energy was undeniable, and the mosh pits were a blast.

Florence and the Machine mad cool 2022 review andres iglesias
Florence and the Machine mad cool 2022 review andres iglesias

Florence and the Machine, photo by Andres Iglesias

But no performance of Saturday was as brilliant and dynamic as Florence + the Machine’s headlining set. Florence is always a daring performer, running at full speed across the stage, belting high note after high note, and finding the perfect moments to connect with her fans. Saturday’s headlining show was no different, and as she cycled through tracks from her recent Dance Fever, it’s clear why she will continue to be one of the most sought-after headliners for major festivals: She’s simply made for the biggest and brightest stages.

Paolo’s Highlight: Starting off the day with an incredible set from Local Natives
Mary’s Highlight: A formal indoctrination into the cult of Florence
Kelly’s Highlight: Being in the pit for Florence + The Machine. It was nothing short of magical.

Sunday, July 10th: Jack White, Nathy Peluso, Sam Fender, and more

Mad Cool’s final day was certainly more low key than the other four — the festival kept two stages closed and ended at 12:30 a.m. rather than the usual 1:00-3:00 a.m. window — but the lineup ensured that even the closing night was a must-see event.

Sam Fender, fresh off his massive Glastonbury debut and his best album yet, played a brilliant set, inspiring a choir of fans during his signature song, “Seventeen Going Under.” Jack White was Sunday’s headliner, and though there were some minor audio issues, he was definitely on his A-game; of course he’s a prolific guitarist, but his enthusiastic vocals, which span from soaring to gritty to spastic in a matter of seconds, are also special thing to witness.

Tinashe, who truly put out one of the best albums in 2021 with 333, slayed the Amazon Music stage with four backup dancers and a set that dug into not only her most recent album but many of her preceding bops, too.

nathy peluso mad cool festival 2022 review andres iglesias 3
nathy peluso mad cool festival 2022 review andres iglesias 3

Nathy Peluso, photo by Andres Iglesias

There’s a chance that the highlight of the day for many festival goers was a fiery appearance by Argentine superstar Nathy Peluso, who drew a massive crowd ready to sing and dance along to every single track throughout her sunset set. Peluso moved across the stage with an unbelievable confidence, commanding the audience with her powerful vocals and energetic hip-hop moments alike. The audience was as energized as they were enchanted, and her set proved how her international appeal has transpired — she’s absolutely one of those artists who is able to communicate across languages and cultures.

Two Door Cinema Club also made their return to Spain on Sunday with a packed set in The Loop. The crowd was definitely indicative of Mad Cool’s passion, singing every single word at the top of their lungs. Not only was it a great way to close out a weekend of incredible music and culture, it was a testament to Mad Cool’s purpose: This is a festival experience that is designed to be different, one that celebrates community and togetherness in a way that few festivals can manage.

Overall, Mad Cool 2022 was an unforgettable ride, filled with great food, late nights, and some awe-inducing music. This is a festival that has now cemented its place as a reliable Mecca for rock and its neighboring genres, and as it continues to expand with lineups like this year, Mad Cool is truly becoming the model music festival.

Paolo’s Highlight: Finally getting to see Sam Fender live.
Mary’s Highlight: Watching Nathy Peluso absolutely slay from the vantage point of the sound booth.
Kelly’s Highlight: Jack. White.

mad cool festival 2022 review paco poyato
mad cool festival 2022 review paco poyato

Mad Cool Festival, photo by Paco Povato

Mad Cool Festival 2022 Recap: Five Days of Sunshine and Songs in Spain’s Capital City
Paolo Ragusa and Mary Siroky

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