Bestival by name, Bestival by nature. After visiting a series of festivals this Summer, I feel inspired and warmed by all, including Beach break live, kendall calling , Boomtown,
Humber street Sesh and then finally, and especially, Bestival.
Where else can you get offered free piggy-back rides on the back of a mad Bruce Forsythe lookalike, get kindly invited to a gay wedding in an inflatable chapel, see a jazz drummer in his pants and the legend Stevie Wonder! All squeezed in to a vast space on the Isle of Wight with an action-packed, epic line up ,explosive colour, blistering heat and more tents than I have ever seen!
I was thrown in at the deep end of the festival, arriving with only moments to spare to catch my favourite 80′s musician and fellow car obessesive, Gary Numan, play a powerful set to a more than receptive, packed tent. He seemed to be in his element and thriving on the crowds energy.
Then, straight after Gary, came everybody’s favourite Bestival regulars, Hot Chip. The sheer amount of synths and keyboards they had was phenomenal and their ability to deliver a modern sound in a human way is impressive to say the least. ‘Night and Day’ and of course their post-indie classic ‘Over and Over’ both stood out from the set.
De La Soul did not disappoint, with a full backing band with drums, keys, bass and turntables. The 3 MCs/DJ stormed through their early and later-day material seamlessly. Re-worked and restructured, the old and new tunes had a breath of fresh air that only added to their old skool flavour. With true talent and still standing relevance, they are heads above in today’s world saturated with somewhat naff hip pop.
Stevie Wonder was full of charisma and on fire, brilliantly witty and obviously still absolutely enjoying life and playing live. He was constantly involving the crowd and loving it so much that he would stop singing just to hear us sing back. Playing an epic two hours (at least), everybody was encapsulated in the moment and time stood still. But, the music flowed and Stevie switched between Rhodes, Clav, Harmonica, Keytar and his incredable vocals to devasting effect.
No-one plays the keyboard like Stevie and his understanding of music is unparallelled. He played both my favourites; ‘Higher Ground’ and ‘Master Blaster,’ if I hadn’t have gotten a free ticket I would have bought one just for that. People were smiling, crying, dancing everywhere you could see and the love for him could by seen and felt by everyone.
“the xx’ ,’pssst xx’ , ‘are you going to see the xx’, ‘when are the xx on?’, before the Friday night this is all that could be heard all over the festival and 10 minutes before they started, it was gridlocked at all the entrances to the main stage. People seemingly zombified, brainwashed into seeing them. I don’t mean any malice in this, its just their music and style has clearly spoken to the youth and the not so youth too (Like Me!) and are drawn to the simplified beauty that they create. Jamie xx did a fine job of holding the backline with some MPC drum pad action that DJ Shadow would have been proud of.
“I think I love her” is what my girlfriend said to me after seeing Little Dragon’s lead singer, Yukimi Nagano. She is single handedly holding it down when it comes to being a female artist in
the 21 st century and the whole band are amazing musicians with creative ideas that follow only their own path. Playing a heavy dose of tunes from their lastest album, she asked the audience “you don’t mind if we play an old track , do you?”. Of course, no one minded and danced like crazy in the sunshine underneath a floating collection of colourful beach balls, balloons and inflatable crocodiles.
Friends lead singer, Samantha Urbani, bounded onto the stage with animal ears wrapped to her head and as quickly as that , she was on the front row, grabbing girls and serenading them (Well, pushing them into her chest). We also got a surprise whilst watching Friends when Samantha announced that “This will be Bass player, Lesley Hann’s last gig” and then proceeded to bring out their new female
bass player and they both bizarrely played a bass-off on the finally tune. I was a little sad to know the original line up had changed but also grateful to see their last gig together.
Django Django did not disappoint, pulling a huge crowd, they made everybody shake their hips and do a twist. Their lovable country-tinged, indie psychedelic pop is instantly accessible and forever exciting. There is really no stopping them and I’m sure a recent Mercury Music Prize nomination
will see them go from strength to strength.
MMmm.. not so Doom, I went to see Doom’s new project JJ Doom and I was questioning it right from the off, was it really him? On the mixing desk there was a large sign saying “This is not Doom” and He performed to the recorded versions and struggled to do that in places, if that was the Doom i know from recordings, he must have drunk a truck load of Jack Daniels before going on , MMM JD Doom maybe?
Thundercat from Brainfeeder was a breath of fresh air . Another artist laying down something new for jazz heads and not afraid of being anything hes not. Gaslamp killer was on fire, doing all his
wild movements and he showed Thundercat some love too by dropping some interesting exclusive offerings from the Flying Lotus camp.
SBTRKT were a lot more than I expected with 2 guys with a array of synths and futuristic gadgets, live drums and the spine chillingly good vocals that hold it all together.
The whole festival was put together with such love and detail, especially the Bollywood area which was thriving none stop all weekend. It was jammed packed with colour, a buzzing bus, some elaborate signage, people drinking cocktails out of pineapples and the bestest vibe. The Nextmen rocked an afternoon session in this area making the crowd bounce and sweat in an orange haze!
The fanciest of dresses were out ten fold on the Saturday with 60, 000 people dressed as mainly animal inspired outfits. I think the peacocks definitely won the battle of the species or maybe they were just looking for the most attention. Leopards, rabbits, jellyfish, cats and zebras where also surprisingly rife. After a brief run back to the car to pick up supplies, I accidentally landed straight into the start of the fancy dress parade and managed to get this video:
The finale was a firework show even Walt Disney would have been proud of and truck loads of heart shaped confetti filled the air. This years Bestival is the best festival I’ve been to and it was refreshing to see the amazing amount of effort that the whole team must have gone to, to deliver such a great place for art , music, good times and general silliness to exist in perfect harmony.
Bestival, I just called to say I Love you. <3