An overnight wash out and soggy campsites do nothing to calm the excitement of the campsites, particularly not the shock-and-awe naked guy who leapt into our front garden (code for hangout area in between tents) yelling loudly that he wanted everyone to join him in being “Tattooed and handsome”, but the sun is peeking out here and there as the dressed up masses head towards the main arena. Walking around, it’s clear to see the rain hasn’t dampened the British love for dressing up, as mer-men, sailors, jellyfish and sharks roam freely. We asked one enterprising soul if her freezer was now full of fish fingers, as she’d fashioned a costume from Birdseye boxes, she replied “Yeah, we’ll be eating them all winter…”.
2013 debut album smash-hitters Bastille turn out in style dressed as members of Team Zissou and play all the favourites to a packed out arena. ‘Bad Blood’ and ‘Icarus’ go down a storm but it’s ‘Flaws’ that really packs a punch and a cover of ‘Rhythm of the Night’ is weird but kind of brilliant at the same time. Ending with ‘Pompeii’ Bastille do themselves justice, with the whole crowd singing along.
Following Bastille is A-Yo featuring Mark Ronson Vs. Zane Lowe with a Bestival party-mix, and over on the big hill, the Bandstand is playing host to the Zee Guveya Heritage Band. Getting up for ‘The Pizza Dance’ whilst a cardboard Viking longship (with a Viking hoarde aboard) sails/walks past is extremely bizarre, but sipping our Bestivale’s and sampling the amazing food on offer provides a little Bestival downtime. We munch our way through fresh grilled corn on the cob and the most delicious lobster and chips (which were caught just round the corner in Ventnor apparently) before dragging ourselves to the peak of the hill for a look across the site. The magnificent scale of Bestival is only surpassed by it’s colour, from the tents to the arena areas, the flags and the works of art – Bestival really is a beautiful place.
At the top of the hill is the secret hideaway for lost souls known as The Solace Tent. The interior is all leather chairs and wicker sofas, comfy cushions and tables you can write messages on – enough of a sanctuary in it’s own right, but the lovely bods there will give weary travellers a cup of something hot and a tasty bit of cake (baked by IOW churches)… for free! Re-energised by the Solace saints, a trip to tiny town is a giggle – the kid sized village which you can take amusing photographs in, before heading back down the hill via a rummage in the second hand tents (nanna-knits everywhere) and a few cheeky tasters at the Crabbies bus.
On the main stage, Rudimental are showing off their status with an absolutely packed arena, busting out big hit ‘Right Here’ accented by a weird burst of what tasted like flavoured smoke (?!) before a cover of Fugees’ ‘Ready or Not’ and closing with the huge ‘Feel The Love’, with everyone pogo-ing like mad. Next up are Glaswegian punk-pop rockers Franz Ferdinand with a blast of hits starting with ‘No You Girls’. ‘Do You Want To’ is only slightly marred by the enormous downpour that drops in, but as the skies clear, the boys of FF bring it home with ‘Take Me Out’. They might be accused of being a bit samey sometimes, with jarring chords over marching-band beats, but they do what they say on the tin, and perform well. It’s probably a shame for them that they’re playing right before their practical antithesis – Snoop Dogg.
With giant red, yellow and green Rasta banners and posters of his own face – it was inevitable that Snoop Dogg would roll out with as much swagger and self-confidence as he displays on screen. Rocking a leather jacket and Adidas sweatpants, The Doggfather churns out hits ‘PIMP’, ‘Gin and Juice’ and Katy Perry cover ‘California Gurls’ featuring the dancing skills of some scantily dressed ladies giving him a lapdance. ‘Next Episode’ and ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ prove Snoop to be a great showman, and he finishes Saturday night on a high (probably quite literally in his case). See the full headline review for more details!
Sunday is a soggy morning too, but everyone seems determined to go full out for the last day of this truly special festival, so it’s on to do a bit of dancing with Bestival mascots The Cuban Brothers. With quite a lot of swearing, manly gyrating and costumes that leave absolutely nothing to the imagination (fringed, metallic lycra jumpsuits to be precise) they’re probably not the act to take your kids to, but damn are they good fun. Guest vocalist Mica Paris belts out ‘So Sweet’ which is from the new Cubans album ‘Yo Bonita’ (which we later got signed by Miguel and Kengo-San over at the Sunday Best tent) and breakdancing skills are busted out by Archerio, Kengo and newbie ‘One-Erection’. Miguel gets suitably excited about all the dancing (after having a broken foot and not being able to participate last year), takes off his white captain’s pants and thrusts the mic-stand like a pro. After telling a story about their times at Bestival… “We were in the woods eating philosopher’s stone mushrooms and we were lost… we were so cold we had to set our socks on fire to keep warm” and stuffing the mic into his spangly undercrackers, it’s time to say goodbye to the crazy Cubanos for another year.
Next up, Tom Odell croons his way into the ladies hearts with his soulful piano laden music, but it is a bit of a comedown after the hype created by The Cuban Brothers, but everyone warms up again for Chic feat. Nile Rodgers and a bit of boogying on down.
Disasterously scheduled at the same time as the Sunday headliner – Dan Le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip’s Swamp Shack appearance has nevertheless garnered a pretty massive crowd around the strange run down house style stage, and as the smoke billows from the beat-up cars that set the scene, the duo drop right into classic ‘Beat That My Heart Skipped’, sending fans wild. Calling out “I’m all adrenaliney, I’m all shaky” Dan busts out the beat for ‘Sick Tonight’ and Pip launches into it with power, swinging on the (actually quite fragile) porch of the shack. After being handed two curly wurlys by some odd gentleman in the front row, Dan and Pip give us a tasty treat back in the form of new tracks ‘Stunner’ and ‘Gold Teeth (feat Flux Pavillion)’, the latter played for the very first time ever. Taking on a darker side the songs have everyone getting rowdy with Pip swishing water off the Shack’s decking to the beat.
Heading over to join the biggest crowd of the weekend at the main stage, Rock Royalty, Sir Elton John is giving us a tour through his vast collection of hits, wearing a trademark sparkly jacket. Elton’s packed set includes ‘Candle In The Wind’, ‘Crocodile Rock’ and ‘Rocket Man’, with the crowd singing along to closing ‘Your Song’ (See the full review for more details!). As the stage goes dark, Bestival’s closing ceremony commences, with an even bigger firework display than last year, a giant circular 10 being set alight and ticker tape explosions from the stage. Way to go out with a bang.
As usual, it doesn’t end there – Knife Party are playing at The Port and Easy Rider is on in The Amphitheatre… the night is young at Bestival, and we intend to make the most of it before we have to leave it behind for another year, but it’s safe to say that Rob and co. went all out this year, it truly has been a spectacular celebration and we would like to doff our captain’s caps and say HAPPY 10TH BIRTHDAY BESTIVAL!
Photos by James Bridle for the Summer Festival Guide