Bizarrap takes Seville by storm at Icónica Fest

© Fiona Flores Watson
Icónica Fest at Plaza de España in Seville

During the Andalucian summer, when temperatures regularly soar into the 35-degrees-plus range, staying outside after dark is a no-brainer. As night falls, and the day’s sweltering heat dissipates, cool breezes bring a welcome respite, so the obvious place to be is an open-air space.

Another great feature of the hotter months in southern Spain is the consequential amount of outdoor events, which we’ve mentioned before on the blog. Movie screenings, plays, and of course music festivals – whether classical, blues, pop, or something more current.

Now in its third year, having started at the tail end of the pandemic, Icónica Fest has a show-stopping setting: the magnificent Plaza de España in Seville, which was originally designed by architect Anibal Gonzalez for concerts – although the central fountain was not in his plan, and was added subsequently.

As the daylight fades, the curved façade of the Plaza is illuminated in purple, giving it a whole new identity. The stage is placed at the centre of the semi-circle, where the Military Museum is located, with huge screens either side to show what's happening on stage.

Bizarrap Iconica Fest Seville concert June 2023


You can also contemplate this magnificent monument, and the performance taking place,  from the area of bars and food stands along the road that sits opposite the plaza, Avenida Isabel La Catolica. Burgers, brioches and beer, as well as Japanese gin were a few of the options available. The area opens at 7 or 8pm, depending on the concert, and you show your ticket in either paper or digital form at the entrance gates next to the Torre Norte, close to the Pabellón de Portugal and Casino de la Exposición, to get in. 

Bizarrap Iconica Fest Seville concert June 2023


The concert I attended, on Sunday night (18 June), was Bizarrap, a young (24-year-old) Argentinian music producer and arranger who is famous for his collaborations with Spanish-language artists, known by their number (Music Sessions Volume x). He came to my own attention in January this year, with the revenge song (or diss track) he did with Shakira after the Colombian star’s break-up with her footballer husband Gerard Piqué (session 53, since you ask).

This song, with its catchy tune and sharp, witty lyrics about his ex’s new squeeze (“You traded a Ferrari for a Twingo, you traded a Rolex for a Casio” andWomen don’t cry any more, they cash in”), was wildly successful, record-breakingly so, with 63 million views on YouTube and 14 million streams on Spotify in the first 24 hours. He has 46 million monthly listeners on Spotify. Bizarrap is a major star, but his musical style is hard to define, with elements of rap, reggaeton and hip-hop which he layers onto backing tracks, and the singers record their part in his home studio. His latest session, 55, released last month, is with Mexican star Peso Pluma, a similarly tender 23 years old.


Bizarrap Iconica Fest Seville concert June 2023


BZRP (vowels are so 20th-century) has  been nominated for Latin Grammy Awards in 2021, 22 and 23 (the next edition of which is being held in Seville this  September - the first time outside the US), including Best New Artist and Producer of the Year, and in various genres which reflect the broad range of styles that he uses.

Suffice is to say that he is big, a name with a huge following, especially among people of his own age group. At the concert, I was in the thick of the audience with my 14-year-old daughter, and was the oldest person in that part of the plaza by far (there are tiered stands with seating further back) . The atmosphere was electric, and on a warm Seville evening, the collective body heat was palpable in all its senses. A hot, sweaty throng jumping up and down in time with their idol, alone on stage behind his sunglasses and mixing desks. Thank goodness we were outside, in the fresh air, on a relatively warm - but not uncomfortably sweltering - evening.

Bizarrap Iconica Fest Seville concert June 2023


To complement this small, lone figure, an unceasing series of images was projected onto a vast screen at the back of the stage – colourful animations, AI robots, abstract designs – but always moving at a fast pace, like the music itself. Lasers shot their brilliant, vivid blue and green lights into the crowd, and jets puffed dry ice – the effect was dramatic  and exciting. BZRP himself didn’t say much, but he communicates through his music, I guess. He segued from one hit to the next, with the occasional “Hacemos una más?” (Shall we do one more?). He stopped for photos of the crowd to be taken – I guess he wants to preserve the moment, which seems reasonable.

The tracks were infectious with fast beats that got everyone dancing or jumping, with chants of “B-rap, B-rap.” The collaborations are with his fellow Argentinians Nathy Peluso and Nicki Nicole, the massive Shakira hit, a highlight for me, and for the finale, Quédate, the song he did with Quevedo (Session 52), a singer from the Canary Islands aged just 20.

Bizarrap Iconica Fest Seville concert June 2023


This wasn’t a concert as such, as no one was singing live; it was more of a live session, in BZRP’s parlance. But what a vibrant, life-affirming session it was. Yes, I got tapped on the head regularly with abanicos (fans - the hand-held splaying type - a novelty at a music gig, but makes sense in Seville), and was closer to young sweaty bodies than since music festivals in the 1990s, but it was worth it. The whole concert only lasted just over an hour, but it was certainly a full and intense hour. I couldn’t have lasted much longer in any case – my daughter had insisted on arriving an hour early to get a good spot, so two hours of standing and then dancing in a close-up crowd was enough for me.

Plaza de España is far smaller venue than a stadium – we were in a crowd of only 15,000 - but this is one of the largest crowds that they’ve had at this festival in its three years of existence. I saw Boy George and Culture Club last year, with about 1/10 of that number in the audience (though what was lacking in quantity, was more than made up for in enthusiasm – “We love you, George!”).

Icónica Fest 2023 programme

Concerts coming up include international stars such as 1980s electronic German band Kraftwerk, German rock band Scorpions, masters of funk Nile Rodgers and Chic, and American pop icon Anastacia, as well as home-grown Andalucian talent Vanessa Martin and Pastora Soler.

This is an iconic (!) setting to see any concert, a privileged and historic venue which adds to the excitement and atmosphere of attending a live music event.

Ticket prices start at 35 euros – for more information see Iconica Fest. Concerts start at 10pm, and the festival is on until 22 July.

Blog published on 20 June 2023