Indie invasion has rock fans raving about Ibiza

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The Independent Culture

With long days lazing on the beach, and even longer nights dancing in its pounding nightclubs, Ibiza became a rite of passage to three generations of hedonistic clubbers, ravers and acid house freaks. But as the dominance of dance music wanes, the White Island has completed its reinvention as the new capital of a different type of music.

A combination of the absence of this year's Glastonbury Festival and the low-budget airline boom has allowed the island to enjoy a golden summer by luring the previously Ibiza-wary, festival-loving Indie kids.

Bands playing this year include Dirty Pretty Things, Editors and Kasabian. They were to be joined by Pete Doherty and Babyshambles until the English courts ordered the 27-year-old singer back into rehabilitation.

Observers believe the new British clientele has established Ibiza at the heart of Europe's summer music scene. Andy McKay, who is staging the second "Ibiza Rocks" festival this year at the superclub Manumission, said: "There's been a massive shift in the UK youth culture. This is Ibiza responding to what is the youth phenomenon. The most successful culture - Madchester, raves and dance music - has been superseded by guitar music."

The focus of the Indie revolution is Ibiza Rocks, which attracted thousands in its opening week. It represents the growing dominance of guitar bands. The festival began last year, with Kaiser Chiefs, Babyshambles, Maximo Park and Hard-Fi being its first performers.

This year's events will be broadcast on Radio 1 and Channel 4 whose six-week series showcasing the summer gigs starts at the end of August. Radio One's Zane Lowe will broadcast from Kasabian's set next month when they are supported by up-and-coming "new rave" electro band The Klaxons.

Sam Stag, 25, said: "I went to Ibiza last year and I'm going this summer. It seems a really good idea to check it out, especially as Glastonbury isn't happening this year."

When he started booking bands four years ago, Andy McKay, whose 10,000-capacity Manumission is Europe's largest, was met with derision from band promoters. He said: "I'd get through to the agents and the response was absolute laughter. It took a while to persuade people. It got to the point where the English were leading a musical trend and so they were losing interest in Ibiza."

He added: "Ibiza Rocks was quite a provocative title out here because rock music and Ibiza were like chalk and cheese. It met a lot of resentment from most people on the island. Now we're finding 85 per cent of people are taking the idea of indie rock in Ibiza."

The very first Ibiza Rocks gig with the Kaiser Chiefs was the first event on the island Andy McKay recalls selling out in advance for 13 years. The second act he witnessed selling out in advance was We are Scientists, who opened Ibiza Rocks last week.

Mr McKay said: "I do feel UK perception of Ibiza has changed in a positive way. My analogy is Ibiza has now got a vegetarian option."

From the Sixties onwards the island has gone through several reinventions. Step-hen Armstrong, author of The White Island: The Extraordinary History of the Mediterranean's Capital of Hedonism, described how in the Sixties and early Seventies it began as a hippy hangout, popular with gay celebrities who were afraid to come out in the UK. Freddy Mercury staged his most extravagant birthday party there in 1983, before it switched to the New Romantic movement of the Eighties. Then came the arrival of ecstasy and house music in the mid-Eighties.

Ibiza Rocks has opened the door to a new music scene. The new music night Rogue Indie takes place on Sundays; the Southern Comfort Fat Tuesday party, featuring the leftfield DJs Coldcut and Rob da Bank and combining interactive theatre, made its debut in June and will move back into the British festival sphere at Bestival in September.

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