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Mad Cool 2019: did the festival finally improve?

Photo: Robin Noordhoek / Festileaks
Victoria Balasoiu
Written by Victoria Balasoiu, our Ambassador for Romania
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Now that Mad Cool 2019 has come to an end, it’s time to draw a line and see how it was. Many will be wondering this after the festival promised a series of improvements after its 2018 edition.

Mad Cool 2018 saw its fair share of criticism as, while the musical performances went great, people complained about the festival’s logistics side.

So let’s break things down and see what changed and what stayed the same (if that’s case) between Mad Cool 2019 and Mad Cool 2018.

Transportation

2018:

Mad Cool 2018 offered the public the option to take free shuttle buses from the festival grounds to Plaza Castilla in Madrid. This went mostly alright with the exception of them being very packed and of one bus having a small accident.

There were bigger issues on the Uber front. Thanks to the collaboration between Mad Cool and Uber, festival goers that choose the later were promised VIP access. Still, this offer turned out to be unavailable and Uber riders had to wait in the queue – in some cases even up to four hours.

Uber tweeted its apologies and promised that it is working with the festival team to make things run smoothly this year.

2019:

The organizers announced that festival goers can use public transport from Valdebebas to Plaza de Castilla this year. What’s more, transportation will be free from 01:30 AM to 05:30 AM. They also promised improved access roads.

This checks out, as the buses left Valdebebas and reached Plaza de Castilla and there were even some Cibeles routes. Depending on when you left, you either caught an all people sitting down or a slightly packed bus. Transpiration to the city was free with a pass or day ticket from 00 hours to 6 in the morning.

The access roads were well organised as well. Also, all Uber riders were given special bracelets so they could access the festival on the fast lane, if need be.

Accessing the festival grounds

2018:

Mad Cool 2018 had to deal with a computer glitch that encumbered the wristband ticket scanning process. What usually takes several seconds then lasted even up to ten minutes. The result? Long queues to enter the festival grounds on the first day, all in the Spanish heat, without cover or refreshments. Things took even longer for those that couldn’t receive their wristbands in advance.

2019:

The festival announced that it would be sending everyone their wristbands ahead of time – as many people as possible. It also presented a new technical partner, to make sure there will be no more network errors this year.

There seemed to be no network errors this year, and no problems with the wristband system either. The first day had a bit of a queue, but things went quite fast beside that. Depending on the hour, you either entered the festival directly (no queues) or had to wait for a little bit.

As expected because of the Madrid heat, at the opening hours (17 PM) there was close to no queue. Things got more packed towards the night and headliners program, and much more free again towards 22 PM.

Water issues and a Short-staffed festival?

2018:

Last year, the long queues were made worse by the fact that people had their water bottles confiscated. Another issue pointed out by festival goers was the insufficient number of staff members and the too small number of WC units.

2019:

As per the press conference, Mad Cool 2019 would allow the public to come with 500 ml water bottles as they wait in line. This is perhaps even more important this summer as Spain is dealing with very high temperatures. Mad Cool tweeted:

Also, the organizers promised they would be getting more helping hands and adding more WC units.

This also checks out, as people had no issues getting in with 500ml water bottles. (Attention, bigger water bottles, juices, and other drinks/food were not allowed).

The staff seemed more than sufficient, and there were around three separate WC areas (though bring your own hand soap). Large and divided for ladies or gents, respectively, and there was only a bit of queue after the headliners.

The front of the stage VIP zones

2018:

Last year, there was quite the ruckus about the festival’s VIP zones. Set right in front of the stages, the main problem was that they were empty. Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age was the most vocal about it as he threatened to stop the concert until the security opened up the area for all. They proceeded to do this too.

2019:

The organizers announced there would be no more VIP areas in front of the festival. And they kept good on their promise – no more empty areas in front of the stage this year.

There was a big VIP area to the right of the Mad Cool Stage, as it was to be expected. Also, the Mad Cool stage and Madrid te Abraza stage had raised platforms for their light systems and with VIP access, but nothing intrusive or bothersome to the public.

Fewer stages and public restrictions

2018:

There were quite the complaints that the festival had over-evaluated the number of people that could fit the festival grounds at the same time. There was also the Massive Attack problem. The band refused to perform on the second day of the 2018 edition due to technical issues. These were reportedly caused by “sound bleeds” from an adjacent scene.

2019:

Mad Cool 2019 saw a slightly smaller public. The organizers decided to reduce by 5,000 the number of people allowed within the festival grounds at the same time.

So this year, there were only a reportedly 70,000 people allowed at the same time. You could feel the festival’s large scale, but mostly after the last shows of the night, and even then, it was manageable.

Also, the current edition was held on only six stages instead of the seven of last year. This was very much true as you can see from the plan below.

As for the sound problems of last year: the scenes were loud and there are areas where the music mixed, but there were no more cancellations or such sound-related delays (fortunately).

Other issues reported at Mad Cool 2018

2018:

Some people complained about the long bar queues. There were also problems with the ATM/cash withdrawal and lack of proper communication issues.

2019:

The ATM and cash withdrawal problem should get solved through the technical partner change. And it did, no issues with the system detected here.

The Mad Cool app also proved quite useful in terms of keeping track of the timetable and communication, as users received useful notifications and reminders.

How did you enjoy Mad Cool 2019?

Were you at Mad Cool 2019 too? We would like to know how you experienced the festival. Below, you can rate the festival in seven different categories. In September, we conclude which festivals were the best during the Festileaks Festival Awards. Participation is voluntary and anonymous.

[award poll=”festileaks-festival-awards-2019″ festival=”mad-cool”]

Mad Cool 2019

Mad Cool is an annual festival that takes place in Madrid, Spain. Only at its fourth edition, it has nonetheless quickly gained international recognition. This year, it is headlined by The National, The Cure, and Bon Iver. Acts like Disclosure, Tash Sultana, American Authors, Greta Van Fleet, The 1975, and many more are preforming as well. The festival also organized a Welcome Party on July 10. This day will feature Bring Me the Horizon, Rosalía, The Cat Empire, Lykke Li, and more.

  • Location: Madrid, Spain.
  • Dates: 10 July, 11 – 13 July 2019.
  • Tickets: Day tickets for €79, 3-day tickets for €175, .
  • For more information, visit our festival page or the official website.