A beautiful winding wood perfect for drinking, hangovers, comedowns, and drug taking. Upon walking into their hazily lit, cool little haven my first sight was a man dressed as David Hasselhoff punching a wasp in the face with an inflatable lifeboat. He insisted on walking the woodland trail to try and find a Blue Peter boat so he could save an owl.
It is a testament to Bestival that it is now Glastonbury's main comparison. The main difference to me is that whilst Glastonbury boasts the line up of the gods, more stages than you can shake a stick at and kooky arty pieces to fill a lifetime, at Bestival they proffer a beta version of the same, but at this weekend you will actually have the time and geographical capabilities to see it.
First time I've ever made it to one, but this year's stage seemed to pull people in like a group of 30 year olds to a box of wine. A idiot child from Pompey and someone dressed as Towelie were actually there at every single show I saw, which is a bit of waste (in the idiotling's case, of cells) but I don’t regret my post. Absolute star of the weekend was Paul McCaffrey, and I laughed louder than anything chemical induced all weekend.
Ah no matter how great the line up, there are always a few. Unfortunately one of the biggest was on the first night: MIA sounded like someone throwing an answerphone machine at a windchime and I was bored out of my skull. If you’re basically the only act on at the whole festival and you still cause a tent exodus, something is seriously wrong.
With lots of hopes riding on his glittery blazered back, Elton absolutely did not disappoint with this final night performance. Classics including crowd pleasing beaut Tiny Dancer, super performance of Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me, enormous stormer I’m Still Standing, before ending on the amazing Your Song, it was just an incredible feat to see. Plus it turned from admiration to a bit of lovely adoration every time he leaped up from the piano to do a bit of an old-man self-congratulatory fist pump.
There is no festival in the world which has a Saturday like bestival, where it is rarer to see someone in ‘normal clothes’ and every friend you make is dressed like an electric jellyfish. I saw the finest (only) mer-mite costume probably ever made. I on the other hand made a terrible stingray costume on the National Express and it looked like someone had filled a sanitary pad with dust.
GIN AND JUICE
In a fine testament to the man himself, I spent all of Saturday imbibing the finest of Snoop Dogg's titles, only to end up singing along confusedly like some mad music hall singer. Personal hindrances aside, his set was excellent, and the crowd seemed eager following Franz Ferdinand, the most John Major band to ever create a riff. His slowly falling off face, the sudden betrayal of Snoop Lion, and dancers who are dropping it like they had chemical burns, probably didn't do much to add to his set, but the hits are the hits and it was a great if surprising Saturday headliner.
HEY, I WROTE THIS ONE
There are many acts at Bestival who seem put on stage, if not earth, to get everyone dancing to drag them out of the death of their own brain cells. On Hangover Sunday there were none more so than Chic, with Nile Rogers famously showing off his impressive writer credits, including an absolutely brilliant Like a Virgin.
ISLE OF WIGHT
Is fucking far.
One of my favourites of the festival and they seemed to have the entire crowd of the Replay Stage eating out the palm of their hands with their Madchester influenced indie rock. I had been slightly dubious when I first heard debut 'Howlin', but the creativity seemed to come alive on stage. Standing incredibly corrected I think Come Save Me was one of the best songs of the weekend and fingers crossed for a well deserved Mercury nod.
If I was a child I’m not sure that I would want to be stuck in a crowd between two men in suspendered Mad Hatter costume, but then again as a child I was scared of canal boats. But godspeed the parents who bring their kids along, and that it normally acts as some sort of park/trail/falconry display does mean that there are slides, swings, and amazing kids areas. And only half the time will I be sitting in them vomiting.
This is truly the best thing about Bestival, being the last festival of the season it is just a great way to bookend your summer, make the final total destruction of your liver, and celebrate with a bang before the tedium of winter.
MYTHICAL MUSIC HUNT
Thie post-3am hunt at all festivals. As things closed this year it took me to the sweaty don’t-wear-knitwear dance hole of Bollywood, the strange coneheaded table-stomping haze of the Pig’s Big Ballroom, and the final last stop of Club Dada. Amazing madness at each stop, pushing into as many as possible (although don't crawl through the hole in the side, the bouncer calls you a cunt) makes for a fantastic night.
Replay Stage is an absolute must of Bestival, a brilliantly curated new music orgy, where most of the participants would be too young to legally get involved. Chloe Howl might have been a little too ‘writhy’ for my liking, but had some cracking songs; Drenge unsurprisingly set up a raucous performance ideal for ruining your vocal cords day 1, and anyone capable of catching the end of To Kill a King after Elton was regretting that particular clash.
Also on Replay was Dog is Dead, who are a good bit of fun. Especially if you like the word Oh, as it is the founding principle of every one of their songs.
It is a testament to The Port stage this year that no one seemed to miss Arcadia, which for Christ's sake is a robotic spider. One of the best looking stages I have ever seen, a fantastic place to head before or after things quietened down on the main stage to dance your sweaty pants off to.
I bemoaned how last year the queue was akin to a Tolkein journey, which then this year made me feel a bit stupid when I queued all in all for approximately three minutes. I had even insisted on packing sandwiches. Whether they had upped their game or arriving two hours later means you can storm through like a captain, I have no idea, but it was beautiful.
I had not even planned to see Rudimental at the festival, but David Hasselhoff convinced me, and I loved it in its entirety. Of all I saw this weekend, it was the one where those on stage seemed even more excited than the crowd. During monster hit Feel the Love the energy at main stage was just explosive, a moment so good it has caused me to break out into grins several times since. A set full of far more soul, in all manners, than I would have expected.
This year was really the year of electronica and dance, cutting itself a real niche as a festival but also just representing its ability to move far quicker than the festival heavyweights with the actual trends. The choice of Friday headliner Fatboy Slim wasn’t necessarily a popular one and I hadn’t been looking forward to it, but it was the perfect start to a great party festival. He kept the crowd completely enticed and dancing so much the field seemed to heave. Perhaps just indicative that Friday night is the one night everyone still has drugs left, but I like to think it was one of the best surprises for many at the festival for all the right musical reasons.
Are apparently really into Wu-Tang Clan...who knew? Only the teens whose parents didn’t care if they missed school were there, which made most of them a lot of fun. Initially feeling old when the teens next to us asked what the nightlife was like and I accidentally said ‘noisy’, it was soon recovered when a lustful teenage boy (an albino tudor house restorer who stored his MDMA in his hat) tried unsuccessfully to convince me we were ‘basically the same age.’ Bless them.
All festivals should invest in sawdust, the eco loos were incredible, although the portaloos were terrible. Changing from one to the other was like going from gold to, well, shit.
To escape the piss poor weather I invaded a wedding at the inflatable church, and it was a very beautiful camp thing indeed. Even if now someone’s wedding photos includes a dusty sanitary towel at the back wringing out it’s tail.
It really was miserably poor this year. My nachos got soggy, my tent leaked, and I spent half an hour hiding in the miniature schoolhouse at the children's Duck Village. It did little to ruin the festival, but by Monday everyone looked like they needed a hug from their parents.
A Roman X: this year was a great happy birthday to a decade of Bestival and a true celebration of what Rob da Bank has achieved. Also I tend to think fireworks are basically shit, but the display on the last night I actually LIKED, not even just pretend to fit in with society's conventions.
YEAH MORNING DRINKING
Festivals are great for this, but at Bestival I think we all noticed a particular breed. The Monday morning Strongbow drinker, wandering around the festival in a fish-hat shouting at people "Don' judge me" and "Get YA rat out" intermittently. Who are these characters, slowly filling their vuvuzela with vomit as everyone else tries to escape as quickly as the fifteen transport connections they need will let them?
One of my favourite films is Life Aquatic so it was pleasing that the festival was filled with Team Zissous. On stage both Jagwar Ma and Bastille took to stage in red hats, and with the latter I am not ashamed to admit I completely turned into a pant droppingly excited teenage girl. Okay, I am ashamed, but as they energetically churned out cute pop song after cute pop song through Dan Smith's bloody lovely face, my heart just melted. Seduced by Zissou, I should have known.