As the early bird catches the proverbial worm, so to do the first campers snag the best spots. A stream of gear laden guys and gals is making its way into the campsites from all directions and the sun is luckily, shining. Nighttime on Thursday sees the early opening of a few areas, The Wishing Tree is available for tiny raves, the Grassy Hill’s Caravanserai is jumping, and Underworld take an absolutely rammed headline slot in The Big Top. It’s a bit of a shame there’s no longer a big screen on the outside of the tent, as it’s frankly impossible to fit everyone in, but those outside are still dancing their legs off to the likes of ‘Born Slippy’ regardless.
Friday’s Gabrielle Aplin brings beautiful summer vibes to the main stage dressed in a spangly gold sequined jumpsuit, whilst The Cuban Brothers’ Miguel rocks his “Elvis in Marrakech” kaftan and afro combo as Archerio, Kengo and One Erection wow the crowds with headspins, backflips and flares galore. Having had the entire crowd sing Happy 70th Birthday to Bestival veteran, and former drug baron Howard “Mr. Nice” Marks who dons a golden kaftan on stage, Miguel implores everyone to “Increase the peace with a collective unconscious”.
Up on the big hill, the Slow Motion area is a serene place to take a break, with the bandstand gone, a new stage – Kaleidoscope – peeks out from the bottom corner, covered in silver sunrays. Grab yourself a fresh corn-on-the-cob, a pint of Bestivale and maybe take part in some Yoga. Massages, tea and cake from the Women’s Institute or making friends with fluffy llamas is also on the menu here, and if you venture inside Oberon’s Observatory you’ll find a tiny cinema and a pretty awesome lookout across the festival. Though there are notably less children year upon year, the kids area is still going strong with games and activities, across the way from lectures and comedy in the Bestiversity tent. There truly is something for everyone here.
A sun drenched crowd is relaxing at the main stage listening to the powerful voice of the incredibly talented Lianne La Havas, who is dressed in a show-stopping green ball gown and is tantalizing everyone with news of her upcoming UK tour in December for new album ‘Blood’. Followed up by the complete juxtaposition of Charlie XCX who spends her entire set swearing and making crude gestures. Luckily her songs are catchy enough to make up for it, and everyone seems to be enjoying ‘I don’t Care (I Love It)’ and ‘Boom Clap’ whilst she jumps around with a giant inflatable guitar, in her platform sneakers.
90’s Hip Hop super-group Jurassic 5 bring the entertainment with a massive turntable, portable turntable/mixer guitar contraptions and their distinctive brand of swagger, but it’s Duran Duran who are the stand out surprise of the night. The younger age set at this festival might not think they know more than ‘Rio’ but the hits keep rolling, and they put on an absolutely epic show which has everyone joining in with both classic hits and brand new album tracks.
See our full Duran Duran headline review here: http:///Reviews/2015/09/12/Duran-Duran-Bestival-2015-Review.aspx
If you’re not feeling so fresh this morning, a quick trip to the lavish Elle Beauty Cupboard in partnership with Rimmel will have you all dolled up with a makeover or a manicure, as well as a goodybag full of makeup and you can get your brain back on track with a stop at the Science tent, where you can pick up a pair of psychedelic solar glasses for watching the fireworks too. New this year is the giant Lovebot, and a new-look Inflatable Church for all your wedding-disco wishes.
Over on the main stage, Dodgy rock “Good Enough” and IOW locals Level 42 (with a cameo from Cubano’s One Erection breakdancing) play to a relaxed crowd. Little Dragon wears some sort of golden bin-bag with red evening gloves for a set of weird and wonderful sounds, and over in the Magic Meadow the parade is a swarm of bright silks and mysterious creatures. Colourful birds, adorable little strawberries and lotus flowers dance past, as a squid rides a giant turtle followed by a Battala band. Only at Bestival…
Secret act cheesy hip hop legends House of Pain are actually great and anthem 'Jump Around' is spectacularly taken to heart by Bestivalites who are doing their best to jump up, jump up and get down. Kate Tempest gathers a big crowd for her main stage foray, in previous years she’s usually a walk through the woods to the amphitheatre for her spoken word sets. With obvious excitement she quips “Jeremy Corbyn has been elected… this is the summer of change, the summer of love!” and a keen eye can spot Rob da Bank clapping in appreciation from the side of the stage.
In the deep dark of the night forest, the amphitheatre comes alive and tonight The Story Beast (comedian John Henry Falle) is MCing Films in the Forest. Award winning short ‘Jonah’ is beautifully made and captivates the audience but ‘Festevil’ is the one that’s really going to stick with you – what could be better than a slasher short about a couple getting murdered in a tent at a festival by pig-masked psychopaths? “Are you all suitably shitted up? That could happen to you tonight!” says Falle. Cheers Story Beast… no really thanks so much. Just as well he follows it up with a rousing rendition of the theme from Dune (join in, all the words are… THE THEME FROM DUNE) and Tom Hyatt brings beautiful acoustic flavours to the stage with his songs about love. We hot-foot it when the next movie ‘Behind the Candelabra’ comes on, but not quite quick enough to escape seeing Matt Damon fellate Michael Douglas.
Annie Mac is ripping it up on the main stage with glowing palm trees to match the glowing umbrellas and fairy lights of the neon night parade, and The Chemical Brothers’ headline slot is a laser loaded, big beat heavy, electrifying show with a slew of hits from opener ‘Hey Boy Hey girl’ to ‘Block Rockin Beats’ and ‘Galvanize’.
Check out our full Chemicals review here: http:///Reviews/2015/09/15/The-Chemical-Brothers-Bestival-2015-Review.aspx
The night is young and the weather is sort of holding, so it’s off to Future Islands in the Big Top to see enigmatic frontman Samuel T. Herring dance like he’s been tasered and growl like he’s in a metal band. Completely bonkers but light, fun synthpop. The Port is packed with ravers and fire-dancers spit flames from atop the giant boat. Arial hoop dancers swing hypnotically from a crane above, everything is just on the edge of surreal and it’s brilliant. For a little less bass, Caravanseri’s little love-in is dancing along to violin folk-rockers Keltrix, cosying up in retro caravans or drinking mojitos in the carousel.
Despite an overnight soaking, the campsite awakens to a clear and sometimes sunny morning (hurrah!) and there’s a dawning realisation that there’s only one day left of hedonistic adventures. DJ Yoda’s unmistakable beats reverberate across the arena to a massive crowd, and there are major queues outside the packed Amphitheatre for the genius Shitfaced Shakespeare. The drunken cast member simply can’t be arsed with what’s going on and keeps having existential epiphanies like “News is new… news!”. Throughout the forest people are hiding out, watching red squirrels or exploring round the lake, or searching out the secretive Blind Tiger stage.
Jungle Brothers get everyone chanting “We at Bestival baby” as indeed we are and Boy Better know keep up with the distinctly hip hop flavor to this year’s main stage lineup. It’s not as though those who aren’t into it have nothing else to do though, Pig’s Big Ballroom is a house of energetic folk and feelgoodery and the close-by Invaders of the Future stage is showcasing a plethora of great rock bands.
Over on the Kaleidoscope stage, Coco and the Butterfields are absolutely smashing it, gathering a bigger and rowdier crowd as they play, one of the very best things about Bestival is happening upon something or someone amazing that you’ve never heard of, and finding this banjo-led upbeat band is just one of those moments. Elsewhere the Oxfam tent is selling sparkly wares and as the weather is looking decidedly unsafe, wellies. The Llamas at Llama Karma are happily munching their way through Robin Hill’s luscious grass and wearing some very fetching rainbow neckerchiefs, the Solace tent is providing tea and cake to burnt out hippies and there are bare bottoms basking in the wood-fired hot tubs overlooking the enormous site.
A rare musical treat in the form of The Jacksons has the entire arena boogying, but it’s worth mentioning that it’s not just a classic hit parade – these guys are every bit as good as they always were. Polished entertainers with cracking vocals, for the likes of ‘Blame it on the Boogie’, ‘Rock With You’ and ‘ABC’. Jermaine has a noticeable tear in his eye when the crowd joins in for ‘I’ll Be There’ as a montage of their younger selves play on split video screens. Over in the Big Top, Todd Terje is providing summery soft electro-house to a busy tent, which makes a change from the heavier Port acts.
Final headliner Missy Elliott is every bit as showy as you could imagine. Plenty of bling, an army of backing dancers and MC’s hyping up the crowd the whole way through. Hits ‘Get Ur Freak On’ and ‘Work It’ are absolutely huge.
Read our full Missy Elliott headline review here: http:///Reviews/2015/09/15/Missy-Elliott-Bestival-2015-Review.aspx
As Missy makes her way off stage, ticker tape explosions coincide with the start of the fireworks display, which is magically timed so that red heart-shaped fireworks burst to the chorus of “Love Is In The Air” to the oohs and aaahs of the crowd. The floral fire arrangement of the Commune is glittering away and everyone is hugging each other, it truly is the Summer of Love. Though the night isn’t over, the rain starts coming in hard and a lot of people are heading back to the campsites with the threat of early ferries and late hangovers in the morning. Skrillex is bouncing around at The Port with a few thousand pals, the Carnivale ship is still rocking tunes and the drag queens of Sink the Pink at The Grand Palace of Entertainment are still werking it hard.
This year’s Bestival has been home to some eighty thousand neo-hippies for the Summer of Love ’15 and it’s pretty hard to say goodbye to this beautiful, weird and wonderful land knowing full well that responsibility and the adult world is waiting beyond these borders. You can be sure we’ll be first on the early bird ticket bandwagon at the end of the month, and the countdown clock will be immediately set for Bestival 2016. Massive thanks to Rob da Bank and the Bestival crew for another incredible weekend, we can’t wait to see what’s next…
All photos by Rob Ball for Summer Festival Guide. See the full set here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/summerfestivalguide/albums/72157658440759892