The first day of Festival Estéreo Picnic 2022 was overshadowed by the news of Taylor Hawkins’ death, but it was a celebration of a beautiful life as well as a commemoration of death
Eric Burton of Black Pumas was the first to announce the news to us. Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins had died in Bogotá yesterday afternoon. He then called for a moment of silence to be followed by almighty applause. The crowd followed the instructions to the tee. It was a fitting tribute to a man the Foos themselves said should be remembered for his “musical spirit and his infectious laughter”. At the time of writing the cause of death is unknown and speculation should be avoided.
Everyone at Festival Estéreo Picnic 2022 handled the situation incredibly. A moving tribute was paid at the main stage as a velatón was set up at short notice. Fans gathered to pay their respects and the mood was sombre and restrained. On the stage itself, there was a desire to celebrate Hawkins’ life with live music as well as commemorate his passing. Once the second stage was also clear, the PA blasted out My Hero while visuals simply said ‘Taylor Hawkins por siempre’. It was sensitive, as was the generous offer to allow ticket holders for Friday to return gratis on Sunday.
What of Black Pumas themselves? Obviously affected by the news, they put in a fittingly energetic and soulful show. Burton had done his homework and repeatedly said “que chimba, Bogotá!” to get on the right side of the crowd. While very much a second stage band, they rose to the challenge elegantly and ensured a solid end to the main part of the first day. Just before them, Pacífican Power were at the fourth stage, warm and welcoming. They probably deserved a bigger crowd, but it’s not the day for them, really. Still, they lit up the space they were given with a show that was traditional, but not stuck in the past as rap intertwines with tambores. Powerful lyrics that address social problems, hitting all the right notes. Warm music for a chilly night.
Los Niños Telepáticos were the first band to get things rolling in the afternoon with a heavier and denser sound than we’d expected. The vocals got a bit lost in the sound desk, but a crunchy, muscular performance set things up perfectly for later. Over on the main stage we found Piel Camaleón in colour-coded outfits. Infectiously fun and bouncy, they were great for the lowering sun. At ease even on the giant stage, they had the audience in the palms of their hands, getting everyone’s hands in the air like they just didn’t care. From disco to indie to rap to art-noise, every genre landed.
Briela Ojeda on the third stage has an otherworldly voice. Enchanting and rhythmic, her unique composing style means her voice is an instrument in of itself. She created a traditional, natural atmosphere that evoked glades and forests yet also gave a shout out to menstruation issues. Diamante Eléctrico followed her and were far too big for their tent with people spilling out at every side. A barnstorming show from the local legends went down an absolute treat and served notice to the organisers not to sideline rolo bands. Should have been second stage at a bare minimum. On the second stage, The Drums provided perfect calm down music for dark o’clock as the sun faded away. Jonny promised and delivered portamento in its entirety, but we got a couple of treats at the end, including let’s go surfing from the first album.
The Libertines get the first big crowd of the day, but Pete’s singing voice is fucked. Carl still has it, at least as much as they ever did. The Libertines are one of those bands that were perfect at their time but have aged more like milk than wine. The look is still there, Carl Barat insouciantly dragging on fags as he plays and Pete charismatic if atonal. Don’t look back into the sun boys, those days are gone.
Bristol boys Idles, though, have swagger and confidence compared to the dull whimsy of the Libs. This is a band at the top of their game and they absolutely own the stage. We’ve seen some good shows over the day and the years here, but this is one for the ages. Completely in the moment, they make the vast Adidas stage feel like the intimacy of a small club, while at the same time acutely aware of the giant crowd. They’ve all donned their free Colombia shirts and when Joe Talbot slips in “my blood brother is a Colombian” to Danny Nedelko the crowd roar. An absolute racket in all the best ways, they finish with singer Joe Talbot hammering away on drums just for the sheer noise of it all. With a furious, coruscating sound, they are anti-fascist, pro-immigration. “It’s been a fucking pleasure,” Lee Kiernan says at the end, and he’s not wrong.