Wilkestock is one of the best annual events in the small festival scene. Returning for it’s 11th year, the festival provided possibly the best line up that it has ever had. For those who aren’t aware, Wilkestock is situated at Frogmore Hill just on the outskirts of Stevenage in Hertfordshire. The tiny festival consists of a main arena scattered with recycled sofas, two bars, and also several other stages around the outline of the main arena, all constructed from straw bales. No bricks and mortar needed! Wilkestock even introduced a brand new addition for 2018, the “Home Grown” stage.
This years’ event basked in glorious British sunshine for the whole weekend which was perfect to lie back, relax and enjoy a cold brew to watch the huge array of bands on the multiple stages. On arrival to the site and after picking up my press passes for the weekend, security had ensured to do a full bag search to ensure everyone’s safety. Wilkestock, unfortunately have had security problems in the past, although for this year’s fun filled weekend, they appeared to have stepped up their game.
Of course aside from the stage points, the festival also provided appropriate bathroom facitlies, a camping area- with a fancy shower block making it’s debut this year, a childrens area including crazy golf and inflatables to play on, also stalls including sales of traditional festival attire and accessories and also a glitter tent where everyone could treat themselves to a sparkly makeover (this small tent was run by some very jolly people and artists). Surprisingly this small sparkle filled tent often filled with men. It was great to see them walking around with crystals on their faces and glitter filled beards. One thing that stood out for the glitter stall was that all the glitter that was used was biodegradable and is made from plant sources. Very eco friendly. And I can’t leave out the food court! Oh my goodness, there were some simple, yet amazing food on offer at this festival. I sampled many, many seasoned sweet potato fries, a pizza (which in my opinion was a little over priced at £8 for a simple cheese and tomato stone baked pizza so there isn’t much to them, although still tasty), and also noodles. The Chinese/oriental cuisine vender served some delicious meals and even though I opted for the simplest most plain option on the menu – I think it was even called plain and simple noodles (which was also a vegan option), but it was big in flavour! So Wilkestock provides ticket holders with three days of great live music variety. The whole weekend just kept giving, with brilliant performances from all. Although I have chosen to highlight my top acts for each day of the event.
Friday 31st August
Day one of Wilkestock 2018 was opened by grunge/rock band Tigress. The five piece from Chelmsford took to the Main Stage to perform their edgy tracks including, “Paranoid”, “Hangman” and more. Unfortunately during their set, they were faced with a few techicnal difficulties so there were occasionally left in silent pauses while not much happened on stage to fill the silence. Although the band did make light of the teething problems and were able to continue with their set fully, with no further hiccups.
Continuing with a heavier style of rock music, Defences put on an unusual performance. I can kind of liken their music to a combination of Evanescence meets Linkin Park perhaps. Roaring male vocals and softer female vocals to assist. The band released their debut album last year and appear to be doing well in the music scene.
Later in the afternoon the Bella stage opened and also had a great variety of artists. One I particularly enjoyed was Bedfordshire based all male pop/punk band Behind The Lines. Not only did they perform some awesome tracks, they also packed out the tent for the duration of their entire set! If you like music from acts such as Bowling For Soup, Sum 41 or maybe even Blink 182, then this band will probably be one for you to check out.
Later in the day, I also got to see a great set performed by Radio 1 favourite, Fizzy Blood. A rock/alternative band who are currently making their way up into the music world. They also actually sound far better live than recorded in my opinion. So if you get the chance to see them live, then I reccomend you buy a ticket.
The most stand out act for me on friday was Glasgow based rockers The Lafontaines. Taking to the Main Stage, their set included mostly upbeat feel good catchy music, which got many people up off of their rather comfortable sofas. At one point the band’s front man even leapt down from the stage to take a walk around the main arena. He also decided to literally couch surf before leaping off of one of the recycled furniture pieces. Thanks to our photographer, there is an epic jump shot of this exact moment. We managed to catch up with band after their set backstage and their singer was rather impressed with this photo that we had managed to capture.
Friday evening also saw another big techincal problem. Unfortunately the festival was left in darkness and almost silent as the main generator had failed (rumour had it). This had affected almost the entire site, including the food vendors appliances. In total this issue lasted for around half an hour, although during this time the Bella Stage at the back of the site was still able to generate power. So even though the poor Main Stage was hung out to dry, the feel good party vibes continued in the Bella Stage. Despite the rather large technical hitch, people really weren’t too bothered. Everyone was still in high spirits and were happy to chug down their drinks from their refillable plastic cups.
Thankfully with the efforts of the organisers, volunteers and production teams, the generator was back up and running. The site was once again lit up with light and a buzzing electric energy. Everyone was more than ready to welcome the evening’s headline act, Mallory Knox.
The Cambridge based alternative rock band were anticipated by many. I for one, was very much looking forward to seeing them perform live. They have had a lot of airplay over the years, particularly from the very popular BBC Radio 1. As expected, they put on a brilliant show for us all to see, although there wasn’t too much movement on stage from the band, there was an array impressive laser light shows accompanied by smoke machines and performances of all of their well known hits including, “Black Holes”, “Ghost In The Mirror” and personal favourite of mine “Shout At The Moon”.
Saturday 1st September
Although a little tired from Friday night’s frivolities, myself and our photographer headed back for day two of Wilkestock! Saturday was opened by this year’s local Battle Of The Bands winners Slap.
Slap were shortly followed by the band Fiende Fatale. Their set was just a tad eccentric and I won’t lie, the singer’s appearance was somewhat different to say the least. With smeared bright red lipstick (putting The Joker to shame) and a vest covered in hot dogs, the vocalist dominated the space he had with his on stage antics and interesting lyrics in the band’s music including a song titled “Vegan Cocaine”. An unusual act, but it totally works, they seemed to be quite popular there that day.
Another act worth mentioning is Wilkestock veterans The Scruff. The band have been very well recieved in previous years while performing at the festival. The band’s lead singer Adam, opened their set with probably the most amusing statement of the weekend “I’ve had a stella for breakfast and a hash in the van on the way here, but who cares? The sun’s out!”. The Scruff have returned to the festival fresh from playing at this year’s Reading and Leeds Festival. During their set we heard songs including the band’s current single “White Flag” and the very emotional “Her”. They ended their set with a brilliant instrumental piece before exiting the stage.
There is one act that cannot be forgotten wherever they go. They always leave their mark. The act I’m talking about is the very bonkers Strange Bones. There is no other place to be for this band except on the main stage. The band, from Blackpool, brought in some impressive crowds to surround the main stage as they performed. Before this band had even entered the arena to perform, our photographer had said to me “The singer is known for jumping into the crowds”. Low and behold, he was spot on! The singer leapt from the stage numerous times, not only to perform and just be part of the crowds of people but also to just lie back and crowd surf too. As their segment went on they were still pulling in new onlookers to join the masses in the main arena. There is only one way to describe a live music set from Strange Bones, and that is loud, lary, madness!
All female rock band PINS brought a different vibe to the day. It was a performance to showcase girl power. I heard many people infront of me using that phrase over and over again. With two band members looking like love children of Sia and Lady Gaga, they certainly brought something different with their style of music, including heavy guitar riffs. Halfway through their set the bands drummer gave us an impressive intrumental solo. The main vocalist had great onstage presence and was often seen standing up on the drumkit platform to perform.
After a fantastic performance just two short years ago, the festival welcome back Eliza And The Bear. They have just finished a tour to promote their newest album “Group Therapy” which is due for realease in October this year. As anticipated just as they did two years ago they proved to be a very popluar act within the Wilkestock community. As far as the eye could see people could be seen up on their feet dancing, even on platforms and props scattered around the grounds. We got to hear performances of their singles “Lions Heart”, “It Gets Cold”, the almighty anthem that is “Friends” and not forgetting an awesome cover of Earth Wind and Fire’s well known hit “September”.
Saturday evening was brought to a close after a performance from headline act The Fratellis.
Sunday 2nd September
Althought their was a variety of performances on the Sunday the atmostphere was far quieter and much more relaxed. Performances included sets from Minnie Birch, Didi, Zoe Phillips, Crystal Tides and more. The final act on main stage came from Oh My God! It,s the Church! What a way to end an awesome weekend!
Throughout the entire weekend inbetween each act there were also DJ sets from DJ Adam O and Matt Crawley which encouraged giant, not necessarily pitch perfect sing-a-longs.
Wilkestock Festival is an event that you will unlikely be dissapointed by, with affordable ticket prices and alot to offer as there is something there for everyone, no matter what your taste in music may be.
Don’t forget to check out the Wilkestock site for more information and next years tickets here!
For more photos by Kane Howie check out our flickr page here!
Gojira have been long awaited as a headliner here at BOA, and it seems as though the entire population of the festival – some 18 thousand metalheads, have turned out for them tonight. The band waste no time in racing right into the heavy stuff with ‘Only Pain’ and ‘The Heaviest Matter of the Universe’ against a brooding mountain range backdrop, as giant plumes of smoke are blasted out from the front of the stage.
The intro for ‘Love’ has vocalist Joe Duplantier screaming out “Lemme see your fucking hands c’mon” as an added lyric, and the video backdrops depict a spinning cage whilst the band burn through those heavy Gojira riffs. Calling out “This is fucking beautiful thank you” in response to the sea of raised horns, Duplantier looks almost surprised as a streamer-cannon goes off next to him, followed by a burst of on-stage fireworks. Whilst ‘Flying Whales’ definitely is not a comedy track, hell, it kinda sounds like an Attenborough script, there is something really funny about the British need to kitsch everything up. There must be about 10 or so inflatable Orcas being bopped about in the crowd, ‘flying’ if you will.
If the band has noticed, they haven’t let on – “Bloodstock you know what we wanna see now… a giant fucking mosh pit… I’m sure you can make that hole a little bigger guys, come on, stand back”, and in response the place goes absolutely mental for ‘The Cell’. The lightning flash backdrop and accompanying strobe-effects hit a little close to home though as we’ve all been waiting in the pouring rain for the last hour, but guitarist Christian Andreu is paying the drizzle absolutely no mind, spinning around like a whirling dervish as he shreds.
For a confusing minute we get an up-close and personal as drummer Mario Duplantier ditches the kit in favour of a, um, spear. No clue why, but he’s brandishing it about the place and yelling “It’s an immense honour to headline bloodstock today… thanks for sticking out the rain”. Up next, ‘Silvera’ is stunningly beautiful, with it’s almost ambient mellow passages, and after a somewhat excessive drum solo we’re getting down to the wire with the heavy but melodic ‘The Shooting Star’, which is heralded with a rain of fireworks from the stage roof.
Pulling absolutely no punches, Gojira blast into encore/finale song ‘Vacuity’ supported by a barrage of on-stage pyrotechnics and a massive set of flaming red fireworks from behind the stage as they finish, calling out “Thank you so much bloodstock that’s all from us tonight. Stay safe, stay happy, stay healthy. Goodnight!”. It’s the perfect set and there’s no denying that Gojira are absolute masters of their craft, we have definitely been pulled right into the moment with them and sincerely hope we’ll be seeing them back at BOA soon.
Roll up, roll up! It’s the most colourful show on earth! We’re back at Lulworth Castle for Bestival’s second year in it’s new location and it’s 15th Anniversary year, the UK is hotter than Mordor right now and we’ve packed enough glitter to ice an entire season of Drag Race.
Ok, first things first. Getting in. After a miscommunication about certain carparks being full (they weren’t) and half our group being sent miles across site, we finally a few hours later manage to pitch up in Rainbow Rave camp. The first thing we notice after grabbing ourselves a lanyard (sans tote bag and programme, we really miss those!) and setting up the tents, is that there appears to be precisely ONE block of portaloos for the entirety of Rainbow camp. Seriously. It’s by far the largest campsite too. That is so not going to be fun in the morning…
Heading into the arena for a first look around, we also notice that there are absolutely no food vendors in Rainbow either… meaning we can say goodbye to a nice morning stroll for breakfast before getting ready to go out for the day. Unimpressed is an understatement – it was considerably better on both food and toilet fronts last year, two things that can really make or break your camping experience.
However, one new development which we wholeheartedly approve of, is the new “integrated site” layout (which is actually just a return to Bestival’s of old) whereby there’s no discernable divide between campsite and arena. This crucially means that there are no bottle-neck lengthy security queues and you can take your camping alcohol along with you – anywhere!
It’s also great to note that since last year’s unfortunate drug-related death at the event, Bestival has immediately stepped up their game. There are police officers and dogs on the campsite gates, as well as ‘The Loop’ – a drug testing service on site and lots of very noticeable ‘Chill Welfare’ helpers dotted around the place, as well as an Amnesty bin. Drugs are always going to make it into events, no matter what precautions are put in place, so it’s great to see Bestival addressing the problem from multiple angles.
Anyway as we walk through the site we immediately spot some differences from last years’ debut – The Temple is now nestled at the bottom of a giant hill halfway between camping and the main arena, it looks absolutely stunning and now offers a place to sit back and take it all in, if you don’t feel like getting in the middle of it. Previously it was at the top of a slope instead but we think this orientation is going to work out so much better, it looks like a beautiful secret club in the woods, with a hillside covered in fluttering silk flags. HMS Bestival has also moved to less of a thoroughfare spot, but it is still disappointingly tiny compared to it’s original iteration as ‘The Port’.
We also spy a frankly MASSIVE trapeze set up on the hill and a high-wire fenced off in the centre of ‘Cuckoo Clump’. This whole area has changed completely, it’s considerably more open and inviting than last year’s higgledy piggledy maze of vendors and spaces. We spy Stacey’s and House of Vans on our way past but we’re heading straight for the Castle and The Feast Collective for some top notch grub. As we head through the lawn we pop over to say hello to DJ BBQ, who is enjoying a beer whilst standing in his own paddling pool. So jealous right now. He reliably informs us that he’ll be slinging more meat on tomorrow, as well as giving us frequent air guitar shows on his own miniature stage.
Now I’ve raved about The Feast Collective every single year, the variety and quality are unparalleled at any other festival in the UK, but oh my gosh. It’s hotter than hell in the tent but we are all overwhelmed by the smells and sounds, the long picnic tables down the centre and pretty fairy lights. My first festival meal has to be Shrimpy’s – a tray of battered prawns, hand cut proper chips and a heap of samphire. It’s effing decadent festival dining let me tell you. Following it up we give the edible cocktails a try, Blue Lagoon is horrific, but Espresso Martini is a delight, even if you do feel like you’re joining the ill-advised tide pod craze.
After a quick look at the Castle field we head into the Old Mout Kiwi Camp for a singalong, it’s always karaoke time in there and the tent is rammed, so we settle ourselves into a massive hammock thing and add our drunken voices to an absolutely dire rendition of Fugees ‘Killing Me Softly’. After a few more songs and a couple of ciders we decide to check out Bollywood, where some guys unwisely decided to try and teach us (the perpetually uncoordinated) to ‘tut’. Needless to say we were poor, and left laughing.
Over in my personal favourite space at Bestival; Caravanserai, we are mesmerized by Cirque Bijou’s trapeze, silk and rope artists, spinning and dropping above us in sparkly outfits. The whole place is absolutely alive with wonder and awe – something I’ve come to really appreciate about Bestival. It’s not often that adults allow themselves to be utterly swept away in the moment and give in to childlike feelings of amazement, I think that’s what feels so special about it.
We also catch a little of The Roustabout Collection on the carousel stage, who are exactly as rowdy and fun as the name suggests, grab ourselves an Elderflower Gin Fizz from one of the little bars and have a sit down in one of the old waltzers. Everyone is chatting, laughing, dancing and sparkling here – I feel so at home. After filling up our souls in Caravanserai, we begin the walk back to our campsite and decide to go via The Temple which is truly even more beautiful at night, bathed in the pink light of the lasers. There’s a sea of sweaty, uninhibited bodies jumping to the rhythm of beat, it’s almost hypnotic. Half of me wants to rush in and join them but the other half of me has spotted another festival staple – Anna Mae’s Mac n Cheese. It wins out and soon we’re digging our way through mac whilst trekking up the big hill home.
Oh dear lord it’s HOT. Wriggling into our first spangly outfits of the weekend (yes, we have brought theme-appropriate clothing for all three days) we head out as quickly as possible as we’re all starving. Breakfast is smashed avo on toast (basic bitch alert) followed by several average attempts at the Mitchum Ball Pool, in which you have to collect golden balls which spell out the brand name. Definitely aren’t going to be winners but they are pushing mini sample deodorant on us which we sincerely appreciate in this heat. Next door we grab ourselves free iced lattes from Nescafe Aezera and then truck up the hill to have a look at Gorilla Circus.
Little did we realise that you can just rock up and HAVE A GO. The trapeze is a giant hulking metal contraption that from the outside sort of resembles a bear trap, and is honestly no less terrifying. Some of my crew sign themselves up for a go and are pretty quickly let loose on skills like a leg-hold, back tuck and even a catch! It’s amazing and insane that this is just freely available to do at a festival, every time you think you know Bestival – they come up with something else absolutely shockingly brilliant to add to the lineup.
After the heights of the Trapeze and being out in the sun for hours, we traipse over to the Castle field for an icy slushie and some shade to watch Oh My God! It’s The Church. Having caught them last year in the Big Top, we knew they were not to be missed. The Reverend Birmingham Alabama in his gold suit is certifiably crackers, the band and vocalists are all incredible and we LOVE their rendition of Fatboy Slim’s ‘Praise You’. If we weren’t trying to fend off sunstroke, we’d have been front and centre, but we take a precautionary manoeuvre and head up through Ambientland (the forest) in search of Slow Motion.
After a quick toot on the mushroom sound pipes (not a drug reference, one of the forest’s art installations) we wind our way out into a grassy field with a tent where ‘Bubble Meditation’ is going on. Relaxing music, everyone lying down in a meditative state and um… small children walking around with bubble-guns. It’s odd to say the least but hey, whatever floats your… bubble I guess.
We take a look inside The Frozen Mole, but can’t spy any actual frozen moles in the ceiling, and then settle into some deck chairs in the shade of a small tree, as a peacock walks by and some other people are getting themselves a rejuvenating IV drip at the tent next to us. You really couldn’t make it up, everything is weird and wonderful here.
Over on the main stage Idles are going absolutely berserk, yelling “This is a song about how much I love immigrants” and wearing the Choose Love refugee tshirts. I’ll be honest, it’s not my sort of thing – but I do appreciate the cute little circle pit that has sprung up in front of the stage. At The Feast Collective we’re lured into the tent by a lady with fried jackfruit samples, which entice us to buy truly one of the best burgers we’ve ever eaten at a festival – and all vegan too.
Refueled we head back out to see our Bestival faves, The Cuban Brothers. If you’ve never experienced the CB’s, you really need to. They’re comedy kings, with a side of hip hop funk, crazy dance moves and fringed leotards. What’s not to love? Bursting on stage Miguel notes that the CB’s are “…the only band to play all 15 years at Bestival” and they indeed Bestival personified. Kenny (The Bastard) and Archerio bust out some duo disco moves “Together they are… Double Penetration!” and Miguel notes that Arch is “…sweating like a pregnant nun for you tonight” – as a mum on the front row quickly clamps her hands over her young son’s ears.
We’re treated to Kenny’s artistic Whitney Houston ‘I wanna dance with somebody’ rendition, warm up our hip circles with Miguel and marvel at Juan Erection’s flips and breaking during ‘Ante Up’. Oh and a slew of families quickly escape the arena when Miguel takes all his clothes off except some very tiny pants, and starts banging the mic with his penis. Standard.
As the sun begins to set on this incredible first full day at Bestival, people are flooding into the arena in a host of sparkly costumes and accessories with glitter and smiles plastered all over their faces. We’re scouting out our perfect dancing spot for tonight’s headliner – Silk City.
After an incredible Bestival debut full of hard-hitting mixes, neon and raucous dancing, we really should be partied out… but at Bestival, the night is never really over. We head from the arena to The Temple to catch a bit of Kiwi, and drink in the image of all the gorgeous wild and free souls under the stars of Lulworth, there’s nothing quite like it.
After choking awake in our furnaces/tents we dress in appropriately Circus-themed outfits (ringmaster plus circus animals and props) and head into the arena for Kojey Radical, who is busting up the Castle stage in sparkly red converse, he deserves a much bigger crowd than there is down the front – but there are pools of people crammed into every available patch of shade, hiding from the heat. We grab ourselves a slushie and watch Rodrigo Pérez, aka The Human Cannonball blast himself 25 metres through the air onto a giant inflatable crash-mat. It’s exactly as mad as it sounds, even LoveBot looks concerned.
Stefflon Don is reportedly stuck in traffic and isn’t going to make it so we head off in search of energetic delights in the form of The World’s Biggest Bouncy Castle. It truly is humungous (taller than the Great Wall of China and roughly three times the size or the Berlin Wall, filled with 1143 cubic metres of air, in case you were wondering) and we are all giddy like five year olds hopped up on Birthday cake just looking at it. What we didn’t realise, as we gleefully ditched our shoes and socks is that it would be HOTTER THAN HADES on that thing, the rainbow canvas scorching our feet as we attempt to bounce ourselves right out of it. Great photos, loved it anyway – a must do Bestival experience.
Over in The Big Top, Black Honey are the perfect blend of indie rock and sparkle with vocalist Izzy Phillips owning the stage in a rainbow sequin dress, the band are great and really kindly come out after their set to hand out free EP’s and patches, even signing stuff and posing for selfies – they’ve definitely gained more than a few new fans on the back of this performance, a great pick from the Bestival team.
Up next are the funky and fun Superfood; we’d been pre-gaming with their stuff on the Bestival playlist and they certainly did not disappoint. We loved ‘Unstoppable’ and their eponymous song ‘Superfood’ has a very Radiohead-esque riff that we’re into but it’s you know… happier. We also have a quick catch up with the man Rob Da Bank himself, who just seems to be hopping around the site checking up on people and saying hello. Rob tells us that he hasn’t had a go on the trapeze himself yet and SFG accuse him of being a fraidy-cat.
Over on the main stage we are blown away by the stunningly talented First Aid Kit, playing in the blazing sunshine in coordinated zebra-print outfits. The Söderberg sisters’ vocals are unparalleled and they don’t hesitate to bring a political message along for the ride, yelling “…That was our protest punk song… for women… we’re really sick of being fucking afraid” and waxing lyrical about how rape crime is rife with victim blaming propaganda. The crowd roars in agreement as they gutsily shout “The blame and the shame always belong to the perpetrator, no more fucking excuses!”.
We couldn’t rave more about their Kate Bush ‘Running Up That Hill’ cover but our absolute favourite is the dark and brooding ‘Wolf Mother’ backed by cyclical wolf visuals on the big screen. The ambience is only slightly marred by the sight of two people wielding actual first-aid-kits attached to tent poles down the front; it did make us giggle. Finishing up with a crowd-wide crooning for Emmylou, their “little love song” and finally the outstanding ‘Silver Lining’ set against a galaxy backdrop as the sun begins to set gold over the whole arena. It is the perfect show.
We recharge with an insanely rich salted caramel brownie with ice-cream from The Green Brownie before bowling headlong into madness with the weird and wonderful, Grace Jones. Stalking on stage in a billowing black sheet and golden skull mask, she’s dramatically striking in appearance with vocals to match. We have to laugh when she disparages her trip to Bestival; “I had to take a helicopter… helicopter… but I wasn’t gonna miss it if I had to take some wings and fly myself…” and dons a metal feather mane whilst writhing on the floor of the stage. ‘My Jamaican Guy’ sees her casually whipping her extraordinarily beautiful pole-dancing man – who is covered in matching body paint, before she cracks out a massive pony-headdress and hops on the shoulders of a roadie to parade the pit area high-fiving fans on the front-line for ‘Pull Up to the Bumper’. The confetti cannon sprays the crowd with rainbow ticker tape as Jones comes back to the stage shouting “Who's camping out? My God… let’s go before they pull the plug on me” and we’re all going crazy for ‘Slave to the Rhythm’ and a good 15 minutes of solid hula-hooping whilst singing. The woman is a machine.
As Grace Jones exits the stage we all turn around to face Lulworth Castle and are met with an audio-visual anniversary spectacular played out on the castle itself – Bestival themes over the last 15 years, a bombardment of amazing fireworks and a lot of oohing and aahing. ‘Somewhere Beyond The Sea’ plays and the final message reads “Sail safe shipmates” – is this a clue to next year’s Bestival theme we wonder?
Strangely after this ‘firework finale’ which in previous years would mark the very end of the festival, we still have London Grammar to go on the main stage. It’s a bit of an emotional whiplash going from the party vibe of Grace Jones and the excitement of the fireworks into the soft, ambient vacuum of London Grammar, but they are stunningly beautiful.
As the Castle stage closes, we head out for the nightclubs of Bestival and oh we are spoiled for choice – Stacey’s and House of Vans are jumping, Caravanserai looks like a glittering chandelier and HMS Bestival’s lights pierce the darkness. Carpe PM!
Sunday morning at Bestival always feels slower. The toilet queue is visibly hungover and big sunglasses are a must. Luckily it’s marginally cooler today because in the harsh light of day it’s pretty clear a lot of little lobsters have been neglecting their sun-cream this weekend. We take a fortifying hike up to Slow Motion for a little life affirming Bollywood yoga and a wonky-veg slushie (which was a lot tastier than it looked, which is good because it looked like gators might live in it). Over on the Castle stage the soothing sounds of Songhoy Blues ring out over the site and bring us back to life, as we peep into The Frozen Mole where a tshirt design workshop is in full swing.
We tiptoe past aerial-yoga, where people appear to be fighting brightly coloured silks on A-frames in attempt to achieve inner peace, and head to the main arena for Gentleman’s Dub Club for a boogie – albeit a gentle one whilst we’re in recovery. Next up, with absolutely no remorse for our fragile states is the batshit crazy Dubioza Kolektiv, who appear to be dressed as crash-test dummies with boundless energy. Brandishing signs reading ‘make’, ‘some’ and ‘noise’ they yell “Find a person in the crowd to hug” and this being Bestival, that is exactly what happens – strangers hugging strangers, increasing the peace. We are in fits of laughter at their song ‘Free.mp3’ otherwise known as ‘The Pirate Bay Song’ with it’s repetitive message “Our music is for free, you can download mp3, keep it playing on repeat, if you hate it press delete” and their unashamed Pirate Bay flags – it’s going straight on our illegal playlists.
Hauling on stage a group of jump-ropers, they attempt to “teach the crowd some Bosnian lyrics” whilst skipping; “…jumping the rope is traditional Bosnian dance… we do this for 2 thousand years”. They’re mental, we love it.
Up next the arena is packed for Chaka Khan, who arrives on stage to backdrops of her signature, wearing a sparkly top also featuring her signature. You could say it’s a signature look… ha. Despite an initial kerfuffle with her mic being off, she launches into the good solid disco music we’ve all been waiting for, in the sunshine. It seems the sun-facing stage is a bit much for Chaka though as she gripes “How you doin… damn I hate this shit, I hate the sun in my face… I’m brown enough!”. The set is decent but in truth we’ve all been waiting for ‘I’m Every Woman’ which is exactly as fun as we’d hoped (there’s a man wearing fluffy fringing who looks like he’s been positively dipped in glitter, having the most fabulous time atop his friends’ shoulders) and ‘Ain’t Nobody’ is explosive with the addition of a confetti blast from the cannon. Magical.
Afterwards, the sad news about the passing of Barry Chuckle – a Bestival veteran, is screened on the main stage as sad “to me, to you” lines are spoken around the site, The Chuckle Brothers have been a big part of this festival for years, and indeed, most of our childhoods.
Plan B attacks the main stage with ‘Grateful’ wearing a curious outfit, half Peaky Blinders, half military tactical jacket, with a strange white chin-strap thing. It kind of looks like he’s sprained his beard. I don’t get it. As the tall tramway lights flicker, Drew asks “Can I get some vodka please?” and busts out fan favourite ‘Prayin’ and ‘She Said’ with the entire crowd singing along. It’s amazing how many people actually know the entire rap section actually. Calling out “Who’s drunk? No that’s not enough… who's drunk?” Plan B can’t hear this amusing response from the crowd; “You’re drunk! You put your highlighter on wrong son, blend honey!” but we’re all giggling as he heads into ‘Welcome to Hell’.
After all that dancing we’re desperate for nourishment and absolutely spoilt for choices still. Tonight it’s grilled steak and chips from The South West Food Collective, whose proceeds go to charity and who are collecting leftover food from Bestival vendors and campsite hubs tomorrow to be distributed to a local food bank. Not only that, the steak is crazy good, restaurant good. It’s things like this that Bestival draws in that really make the difference. The entire vibe of this festival is centered on its motto ‘Increase The Peace’ and rather than just say it, this is the festival that actually strives to model it.
Up next is the part artist, part activist, musically explosive M.I.A. smashing up The Castle Stage for the finale of Bestival 2018. She’s a force to be reckoned with, emerging from her temple doorway under yellow billowing curtains;
After M.I.A. we scurry over to the Cuckoo Clump for the grand finale, which begins with an incredible violinist in a glowing dress, surrounded by neon lit umbrellas dancing in unison at her feet. Above a perilous high wire, sans any form of safety net or harness sways ominously in the light breeze. We are utterly amazed by the three tightrope walkers from Cirque Bijou, who proceed to walk, lie-down, headstand and even climb over each other, but then they just continue to up the ante. There’s a guy walking on the top wire – even higher than the original wire… then they set it on fire… then he rides a bike across… then a girl attached to a harness sails along it with a balloon and danger dances with the man who has no harness… It’s nail-biting stuff. The accompanying fireworks exploding from three different locations, lighting up the helter-skelter are the cherry on top of the most fantastic layer-cake of this finale. I’ve seen some mad incredible things in my time at Bestival but I really think this has been one of the most incredible. I don’t know of any other experience on this earth that is as chaotic, mysterious, bizarre and awe inspiring. With that, we are off to Caravanserai to hide out in a camper, drink cocktails and dance like we don’t have to go home tomorrow. Rudimental are DJ’ing The Temple soon, and there are at least a few more heady hours of glorious freedom to be had. See you next year Bestival, you have well and truly got your mojo back.
It’s day three of Bestival, we’re all sunburnt, knackered and happy – but we’re back in the Castle Field eagerly awaiting London bad-gal rapper, artist, political activist and all round boss babe – M.I.A. The main stage is set with billowing yellow drapes reminiscent of a Disney princess dress and a neon archway which looks like you could descend to Moria through it. If you know, you know. The arena is packed out and everyone is looking forward to one last night of debauchery before having to head home to the real world.
Red shell-suited dancers attack the stage with a vengeance, and M.I.A. herself emerges from the temple doorway wearing an all-white ensemble apart from one very loud, tiger print um… chap? Half of chaps. Can I call it chap singular? Anyway, the energy is up, she’s wrapped in a floral headdress and already smashing through the likes of ‘Bamboo Banga’ and ‘Y.A.L.A.’. She is pure power in these first few songs, keeping up with her Tamil dance crew and winding in her shredded shorts, before jumping down to high five people in the crowd.
For all of Maya’s raw musical talent, the political activist in her is still very much present and integrated into her work, backdrop visuals of Syrian refugees accompany her swift lyrics while her DJ seems to vie for attention yelling out “M.I.A.” and “Bestival”. Returning to the stage after a brief pause, Maya is now rocking a massive shiny boxing style robe and we’re treated to a heavy hitting “Live Fast Die Young” which is honestly the highlight of the set – especially because it comes dance moves. Hey, it’s no Macarena but having been a child of the 90’s I know how to Miyagi wax-on-wax-off with the best of them.
Confusingly M.I.A. yells “Where the boys at?” hold on… equality always… I guess it’s time for the boys… maybe we should get some boys on stage…” and none appear to materialize. No-one cares though, both factions of her female dancer troupe are absolutely killing it. One funny/soul destroying moment, is Maya calling out “Hey Bestival, now we need your help… we want you to sing with us, are you ready for it” and asking for people to get their lights out. It’s a sea of phone torches instead of lighters these days, I’m nostalgic for the warm glow of real fire in this blanket of LED. I feel old.
Rolling into ‘Boyz’, Maya is back down the front throwing flower petals from a basket into the front row and standing up on the barrier holding hands with fans, a security guard holding onto the seat of her pants for safety. She calls out “Bestival if you’ve still got fucking energy let me hear you” before exclaiming that she only has 7 minutes left. Given the 15 minute late start, this makes for a pretty clipped set, but luckily she is allowed to go on a little longer. After handing the mic to a person in the crowd who decided to use the platform to wax lyrical about going out there and being an astronaut if you want to – bit weird… she finishes up with super-hit ‘Paper Planes’ and amusing bird-hand motions.
Just to cap off the political slant to the whole set, Maya exits the stage with a stinging jibe “The British government got some apologies to make around the world” and with that, the Castle stage is officially closed for 2018. I know M.I.A. isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but you can’t deny her fierce energy and I applaud her use of her platform to speak on issues she is passionate about. She’s everything Bestival stands for and pulled off a solid headline set.
After a stonking warm up of the always incredible (and insane) Grace Jones, and the most spectacular 15th Anniversary fireworks and AV show on Lulworth Castle, we’ve been expecting big things from London Grammar tonight. The sky is cloudless and cool, a welcome relief from the scorching days and the stage is set, well… incredibly minimally.
As the band take to the stage after an inordinately lengthy intro, visuals of the moon and stars set the scene, and lead vocalist Hannah Reid launches effortlessly into ‘Hey Now’. ‘Wasting My Young Years’ is beautiful, but honestly, it’s all a bit of a come-down after the raucousness of the previous acts. It feels a bit like giving a kid a lolly before bedtime and then expecting them to lie down for the lullaby – yes Bestival is eclectic and has always been known for having a bill with something for everyone, but the people are voting with their feet and the arena is already looking sparse as people seek rowdier pastures at HMS Bestival, Bollywood and The Temple.
As the band head into a cover of Kavinsky’s ‘Nightcall’ I can’t help but think that the original with it’s soft but strong beat would have gone down better, but ‘Rooting For You’ is undeniably stunning. I just so wish they’d been framed by a similar act, something to get us into the right mood for this. It’s clear they’ve got plenty of die-hard fans at the front, but there’s no denying that the turn-out is considerably thinner than for Grace Jones.
For an awkward pause of about ten minutes, someone decides to scale one of the trees in front of the stage… out of boredom or love – we’ll never know but it shuts down the proceedings while security attempt an extraction. Reid calls out “So we’re being told that there’s a guy in a tree… I don’t know which tree… but basically, we can’t carry on – we're gonna be shut down until he gets out of the tree. So I’m actually not allowed to start singing until he’s out of the tree.” Which comedically elicits a range of both boos and cheers, further supporting the divide tonight.
Finally the stunt is over and Reid quips “He’s out of the tree! He's naughty…” before resuming with ‘Strong’. Finishing up with ‘Big Picture’ before the one song encore of ‘Metal & Dust’ against a pink-rain of stars backdrop, it really is beautifully ambient. Calling out to the crowd one last time, Reid muses “Robbie had us for one of our first ever shows here, in a tent and it was one of the best gigs we've ever done. It’s crazy to think that was 6, 7 years ago. Thank you!”.
For me this was a tough one. Yes I think London Grammar are fantastic, but do I think they had that site-wide appeal a headliner should garner? Ultimately, no. Whilst it’s true everyone has different tastes, upbeat bands are always going to win when it comes to headliners, especially at Bestival where people are here to set themselves wild and free. Sorry London Grammar, you just didn’t grab me this time.
Tonight, for a marvelous treat – Bestival are giving us the second ever live show of the brand spanking new Diplo and Mark Ronson collab; Silk City. As the castle field fills up and an NYC back-alley set design is rolled onto the stage, the sunburnt masses are gearing up for a night of big beats and laser filled dreams.
Debut hit ‘Only Can Get Better’ proves a banging opener, supported by a barrage of lights and Diplo’s yells of “Bestival are you ready? Let’s go!”. The stage set-up is something outside of the usual DJ realm and makes for a much more visual and interesting show than just two guys pressing buttons, as they work their way through remixes of current and old hits. Projected neon street signs blink on the grey walls and faux Silk City band posters are pasted in hypnotising repetition across the big screens. Hung from the centre of the stage is an enormous disco ball, spraying flecks of light across the jumping crowd – it’s honestly one of rowdiest Bestival crowds I’ve ever seen, whether that’s down to mass sunstroke, first day drinks, or a genuine love for the music, is yet to be determined.
Shouting “We made some remixes for you tonight, just for you Bestival, hope you like them” Silk City show off with a plethora of interesting and big mixes, there’s truly something for everyone in there. A little Tori Amos anyone? A little of Kelis’ ‘Milkshake’ does indeed bring all the boys to the yard (and yes, we Brits are still largely terrible at twerking) but it’s the Dua Lipa ‘New Rules’ remix that everyone goes absolutely berserk for.
With their embroidered Silk City denim jackets (where can I get one please?), Diplo and Ronson just flow seamlessly through hit after hit, shouting such classic DJ tropes as “We’re called Silk City, are you ready to party tonight?” and “Let’s go!”. Ok, so it is a bit cheesy but that’s kind of what we’re looking for – something we can get wild to.
A little bit of Route 94, someone spinning glow poi in the crowd and “This is the first night of Bestival 2018, thanks for partying with us tonight! This is only our second gig as Silk City!” has the duo firmly established as a Bestival success, and for a bit of personal joy as 30-something, I loved the inclusion of Wamdue Project’s ‘King of my Castle’. C’mon, what a jam, am I right?
A little bit of Diplo’s own ‘Be Right There’ flows surprisingly well into Missy Elliott’s ‘Work It’ and a remix of Major Lazer’s ‘Lean On’ gives us the feels from Bestivals’ past. Further into the surprisingly funky and retro set, we’re asking each other what we’re gonna do with all the junk in our trunks (again with the poor twerking situation) followed by my new favourite version of Amy Winhouse’s ‘Valerie’.
Closing out with a second round of ‘Only Can Get Better’, Diplo calls out “Thank you for taking a chance on us tonight Bestival… we know how important it is” as the giant confetti cannon covers the arena in flickering light.
Now I know this collaboration in its infancy, obviously doesn’t have a back-catalogue of their own hits to roll through, but they have wisely created a set-list that punches hard at the absolute core point of Bestival – fun. I think they did a cracking job of it, despite some protests that it was nothing more than a glorified school disco. I have but one gripe – why where they scheduled at the same time as Bicep?
Deichband festival is a festival with a bit of a twist. Located just a few km from the coast of the North Sea, Deichbrand has branded itself as the festival ‘on the North Sea’. And while this is not completely true, it does do hourly trips to the sea, where punters are offered the chance to try paddle boarding and surfing. In previous years there’ also been the opportunity to fly over the festival in a helicopter, though they’ve had to cancel it this year for various reasons. Though a lot of people were upset, most of the punters I spoke to say they were glad they weren’t going to have to deal with a helicopter over their campsite every twenty minutes.
There’s a huge variety of food a drink across the main site and throughout the fields with the smaller stages. The food ranges from typical German fast food dönner (similar to our donner kebabs) through to a Pakistani company serving tradition food, the noodle place and of course the German favourites of ‘pommes & wurst’ (sausage and chips), burgers (including wild boar and rib burgers) and ‘pommes am stiel’ – chips on a stick. There’s also vegetarian options, and what’s more, there’s variety in that as well. There’s your standard pasta – in this case gnocci – but there’s also vegetarian kebab wraps with halloumi or vegan ones with falafel.
As with every German festival, Deichbrand supports ¡Viva Con Auga! A charity that improves the drinking water and supply in developing counties such as Cuba, Kenya and Nepal. To help with this almost all German festivals have a ‘pfand’ (deposit) of €2 for all the cups bought at the bars onsite. You then have a choice to return the cups to the bar and get your ‘pfand’ back – in which case, well done on cutting down on waste – or, you can give it to one of the many volunteers onsite who will then recycle it for you and get the ‘pfand’ for their charity. So it’s really a win – win for the environment and the charity. It’s an excellent idea, and though I’ve said it before it’s worth mentioning again, it should be implemented at UK festival in order to cut down on the waste that festivals always cause.
As well as the music, Deichbrand offers a number of workshops, which though common in UK festivals isn’t something I’ve seen much of abroad. There’s the classics, masseuse training, morning yoga and circus school, as well as a few more unusual act ivies like beer yoga (like normal yoga but you’ve got a cold beer in your hands and you can’t spill it) rock-climbing and parkour sessions.
Deichbrand is a small festival, with four stages, two big ones (fire and water). The first act of the afternoon is double act the 257ers. And when I say double act I mean it in the comedic sense. The band have produced five albums, which pretty solidly consist of comedy songs. Their last album ‘Mikrokosmos’ (Micro-cosmos) reach number one in the German charts, with songs such as ‘holz’ – an entire song dedicated to how much they love wood. Not the kind of wood you’re thinking off right now, just normal wood. From trees. I know, they are a bit weird. But that’s why we love them. Their performance is littered with costume changes, including going from their Adidas shirts into their captain kit for their Pirate song (a weird sea-shanty type song) and into orange (Dutch) football tops. The costume changes do take a minute or two, and while they get changed we were entertained by their DJ who played an interesting mix of songs, from Whitney Huston to Crazy Frog back to Papa Roach back through to Beyoncé. He then got out from behind his decks and gave one end of a massive tube to the crowd, while he poured beer down his end, creating a kind of oversized beer straw for the people in the crowd. During the next song, the 257ers got down from the stage and sprayed a foam cannon out to the crowd, who were going wild and feeding off the energy that was being thrown from the stage. During one of the mosh pits they’d encouraged the audience to create they spotted a man in a knitted octopus mask, and shouted ‘Zoidberg! Three years!’ – Apparently this guy always goes to festivals with this mask on, and it’s paid off. 257ers noticed him, and they’ve even made note of how many times they’ve seen him. I think it was pretty cool that not only did they notice him but they also made a point of pointing him out. They’ve also got songs like ‘Holland’ which is an ode to the country of its namesake, with lines like ‘Nobody’s aggro, everyone’s tripping, Holland is the boss, I think windmills are cool’ which, I mean. They’re just such good fun, both to listen to and to watch up on stage.
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Friday evening was officially started by Scottish singer Amy Macdonald, who played a fantastic set. Though many of her songs are sung with an American accent, as soon as she spoke to the audience it was clear that she is Scottish through and through. The audience knew this, which was evident from the amount of St. Andrews’ crosses strewn across the crowd. Macdonald commented on the weather (and the dust) and how she couldn’t cope Scottish skin. During her set she tried to read a few signs in the audience, a classic ‘we love you’ sign that she comment on and thanked the people that wrote it, saying it ‘looked like it’d taken them ages to make’ and she saw a sign further back that she commented on but couldn’t read. Later in her set she spotted someone holding a sign and asked them ‘you’re asking to sing someone else’s song on stage? What would I get out of it? It’s not in my setlist’ – someone in the crowd had made a sign asking if they could sing Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in The Dark’. Macdonald then conceded, saying ‘alright then, get up here’ and this guy was brought up onto the stage. He was completely star struck, as you would be, Macdonald kept asking him his name and all he could do was gasp. Eventually, with some whispered encouragement from the guitarist, this guy manage to speak into the mic and tell us his name was Patrick. Macdonald then said they couldn’t do the whole song, but they could do a verse and a chorus. So, they started singing as Macdonald played along with her guitar, and it turned out that Patrick could sing. And I mean *sing*. He had an absolutely amazing voice, and what’s more is that it
harmonised perfectly with MacDonald’s. It’s not hard to imagine how WILD the crowd were going as soon they realised he could sing. It was evident he was still star struck, but the fact that he managed to not only sing, but sing well in front of an audience easily 5,000 strong. After they sang together Patrick was quickly ushered off the stage beaming and passed onto security backstage, where he was greeted with high-fives. Macdonald resumed the show and finished off her set with her chart topping single ‘This is the Life’.
Casper headlined on Friday night, and, unusually for him he came on stage full of colour. He was wearing a yellow jacket and seemed a bit livelier than in previous times. Whether this is a move away from his generally darker rap or just a blip, is still undecided. The amazing light show was the perfect ending for the energetic day that had been Friday.
Saturday afternoon started off with London shanty punk band Skinny Lister jumping on to the stage and immediately energising everyone in the area. Skinny Lister have the ability to turn a gig, no matter the size, into a party where it feels like everyone’s been invited. A lot of the crowd clapped and swayed along in time to the music, but part of the crowd (arguably the better part) started dancing, jigging and stomping along to their hearts content. The jumping/dancing/jigging caused all the dust in on the ground (which I have decided is probably at least half of the entire world’s supply of dust) went up into the air, obscuring the band and pretty much everything else. They did comment on it, vocalist/guitarist/stomp-boxist Dan Heptinstall saying ‘we’re in the Deichbrand Dustbowl’ and vocalist Lorna Thomas later commented that they’ll be touring (though probably not until the new year when the next album is due to be released) and we could go and see them in a less dusty setting. As always, Skinny Lister provided the audience with refreshments in the form of a jug with a mysterious mixture of what one can only assume is just alcohol. The Jug (affectionately referred to as the 7th member of Skinny Lister) was passed around the audience as everyone took a sip on it, before being passed back up to the stage – now empty. The free alcohol is one of the bonuses of seeing Skinny Lister live, though the main draw is the amount of positive energy that comes pouring off the stage when the play. It’s also worth going just to watch double bassist Scott Milsom lift his double bass over his WHILE playing it. It’s a pretty amazing thing to watch.
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The next act of the afternoon are indie pop band Von Wegen Lisbeth from Berlin. Von Wegen Lisbeth are a quirky pop act, using steel drums and xylophones in their music as well as the standard keyboards, guitars bass’ and drums. They had the stage covered in greenery, plastic leaves, vines and branches littered the set. Behind them they had the letters ‘V’ ‘W’ and ‘L’ lit up on big squares – you’ve got to admit that’s a lot easier than spelling out their lengthy name.
As we wander towards the end of the evening the Fire Stage is hosting Brummie indie-rockers, The Editors. Their dark, synth-y sound and ambiguous lyrics do feel slightly out of place in the afternoon sun, it’s still 24℃. What’s more, is that they came on stage to Abba’s ‘gimme gimme gimme (a man after midnight)’ – again, a stark contrast from the broody and moody set they are known for. They opened their set with the first track of their new album ‘cold’. In fact, a lot of their set was taken from their new album, ‘violence’ as was the back-drop for the show, three naked and dirty people wrapped around each other. It’s very…Hannibal-esque, actually. But I guess that does fit with their image. They did of course play crowd favourites, including ‘Sugar’, ‘Munich’ and ‘Papillion’. They ended their set with Magazine, another one from their new album. It was a really good set, overall. It would have been nice to have a little bit more interaction with the crowd, but apart from that it was a nice, standard Editors show.
As the sun had finally set the crowd gathered around the fire stage for the final act of the night. The Killers. The band coming towards the end of their European tour – which this time around has included the festival circuit, playing at the Isle of Wight Festival as well as TRNSMT in Glasgow and Summer in the City in Dublin.
They opened with their newest track ‘The Man’ and the crowd due fully danced along, but once they’d finished, lead singer Brandon Flowers asked the audience if they were ready to party with the killers – all in German, which was pretty impressive. After the resounding ‘JA’ from the audience they went straight into ‘Somebody told me’ which had the entire crowd going absolutely mad. They followed it with ‘Space man’ and Flowers’ was dancing across the stage, in full glory with his gold and black shiny jacket. Clean shaven and boy-faced, he looks decades younger than his bandmates, all of whom are bearded and looking somewhat grizzled. As he danced around the stage the dust had been blown onto the stage and by the third song – – Midnight Show – (a throwback from the 2004 album Hot Fuss) Flowers’ had a facemask made entirely of dust and dirt. The set list was a good mix from all their albums, though after his attempt at German Flowers’ was lacking on the audience interaction. However, this was probably because he didn’t have much breath left what with all the singing and jumping and running the entire length of the stage for each song. Something should also be said for the visuals, the lights were great, as most big production shows are, with enough lasers and strobes to fill a boat. But what was really nice was the attention to detail. The confetti shot out of the cannons the second time round was in the German colours, which I thought was a nice touch. The first lot of confetti was pink, and I think it surprised everyone when it came out at the start of ‘somebody told me’. I don’t know what it is, but we in the crowd never seem to expect confetti at the start of a show. In the middle of the set they played ‘Runaways’ which bled seamlessly into ‘Read my mind’ which then again blended into ‘All these things that I’ve done’ which was not only incredibly interesting and pleasing to listen to, but also really quite impressive.
As well as the band on stage, they had three women doing the backing vocals, all of whom had absolutely stunning voices and really gave some depth to the whole show. They finished their set with ‘When you were young’ to 50,000 voices singing along, and fireworks coming down from the top of the stage. They thanked the audience as they walked off stage. No one left the arena, we all knew what we were waiting for. We couldn’t see The Killers and have them NOT play it. We waited, anticipation building, cries of ‘encore’ and ‘one more song’ erupting now and again from various pockets in the crowd. The screen on the stage went black. The large, orange words appeared on it. Three words. Are. We. Human? They came back on to cries and cheers and woops, as we knew they would. The first few notes were played, and though it wasn’t the song we’d waited for, the crowd still went mad, dancing and moshing and singing along. Once it was over there was barely a pause before Flowers’ started singing – with heavy auto-tune – ‘coming out of my cage and I’ve been doing just fine…’ and the this was it. This is what almost everyone there had come to see. The first verse was done with heavy auto-tune – it was a remix, what this effectively meant was that we got an extra verse. Once the auto-tune verse had finished, Flowers’ started singing without it, and ended the night in a spectacular way.
I wasn’t sure why Alligatoah was playing early on the Sunday morning. Well, early in the festival bubble, he was onstage at 12pm, and the first act of the day. I knew a couple of songs from him, and though he was performing an acoustic set, I still wasn’t convinced that he was the right person to start off Sunday afternoon. However, any doubts I had were quickly put to rest. He had an extensive set for an early afternoon act. The stage was set up like a building site and Alligatoah was wearing blue overalls and a builder’s hat. Throughout his set he clambered up and down the ladders and across his ‘building site’ and when he started singing ‘Willst Du’ – one of his more famous songs – he was singing it to a traffic cone in a very loving manner. His set was full of character in a very gentle way. He was friendly to the audience throughout his set, and the lazy Sunday morning vibe was helped by the fact the crowd in the first wave were all sitting on chairs that had been set up for them – presumably by the festival rather than the artist. Alligatoah also explained that he should have had a red balloon at the top of his building site set so it looked like something out of Stephen King’s IT, but it had blown away. Halfway through the set Alligatoah revealed that one of the bin bags that had been put on the stage around the building site set had been hiding a piano, which was actually a pretty cool reveal. I was impressed with the set and thought it was the perfect kick-off for the last day of the festival.
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Not knowing any songs from Bosse, I was unsure what to expect from the singer. I’d heard that he was really good and was surprised at the range of people in the audience that came to see him. It seemed as if Bosse ws something that everyone was excited for. The crowd was a mixture of all ages and people from all walk of life. The sizable band came on stage, followed shortly by Axel Bosse, running onto stage. Wearing a ‘Refugee’s Welcome’ Shirt, he danced around on stage like a man possessed. He didn’t seem phased by the heat which I can only imagine was even more intense on the stage that it was off it, he ran from each side of the stage and onto the catwalk, all the time dancing and singing and not pausing to take a breath.
SDP are a two-man band (not including the drummer and a dj of course) who have an astounding amount of energy on stage. The lyrics to the songs range from the heartfelt (Candlelight dönner) to the ridiculous (deine freundin) to the absurd (ne leiche). And of course no SDP set would be complete without stage antics, blow up sex dolls and fireworks and pyrotechnics. Honestly, it’s like giving over-grown children full control over their own birthday party. Halfway through the set they brought out their sex doll (see what I mean) and tried (and failed) to perform CPR on it, before launching in to ‘Ne Leiche’ (literally – ‘a corpse’).
Final act of the evening – and the weekend – were German super band – Die Toten Hosen. Everyone in Germany (and Argentina for some reason) knows about Die Toten Hosen. Toten Hosen have been around for over 36 years, one of the bands that started the punk movement in Germany in the 80s during the latter years of the cold war. The band have been prolific since their creation in Düsseldorf, releasing albums every few years which means their back catalogue is impressively huge. Their set included the best songs from their discography, including old favourites like ‘Bonnie & Clyde’, ‘Pushed Again’ and ‘Paradies’ as well as classics from their early, un-polished days, like the show opener ‘Opel Gang’ and of course songs from their new album. They also played a number of covers that are new for this tour, most notably ACDC’s ‘T.N.T’ as well as Iggy Pop’s ‘The Passenger’. Toten Hosen frontman Campino has boundless energy – especially for a man his age – and routinely got up close and personal with the crowd. As you would expect with a band that size there was of course two encores, and the night was ended with two classic Toten Hosen songs, ‘Tage wie deise’ (this is the day) and a cover of the Liverpool FC anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, which might seem a bit odd to people not familiar with band, but there is a reason for this strange choice of song to finish off a weekend in Germany. Campino is and has always been a big fan of Liverpool FC, and they’ve been including it in their set for at least the last 20 years. It was a perfect ending to the festival, the entire crowd was singing along and we all got swept up in the moment as they finished the show and the festival.
Deichbrand is a great little festival that’s had a solid line up since it was founded in 2005, and this year didn’t disappoint. Everyone is so friendly during the festival and it is a festival that holds itself to an extremely high standard. I would recommend anyone that’s into rock, rap and pop should go and experience the only festival on the North Sea.
It's the ultimate family festival in the UK and The Sunday Mirror have labelled it as "Glastonbury for kids!" Yes, this review will feature the brilliant Geronimo Festival. For 2018 Geronimo was brought to ticket holders at two different locations. The first being at Cheshire's Arley Hall and the second being Knebworth Park in Hertfordshire. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the two day event at Knebworth Park on the weekend of 30th June – 1st July.
With Geronimo being the ultimate family festival, I made the most out of the event by taking my three year old son along with me. The line up was jam packed with well known CBeebies presenters, characters and many other recognisable faces that my son believes to be his idols, so there was no way I could leave him at home with the grandparents for this one.
The site was easy to find, although we did have to queue in a lot of heavy traffic outside of the park at the top end of Stevenage. I believe we sat in our car and waited for around 20 minutes. The organisers of the festival had hired traffic control teams and stationed them outside of the park to help to manage traffic levels in a more effective manner. On Saturday morning, the workers that were taking on this role, actually appeared to struggle with the amount of cars building up, as traffic could be seen queuing onto the A1. Although by Sunday the problems had been resolved and it was far easier to enter the site straight away without any problems at all.
Walking into the actual festival site was like walking into a wonderland. There was so much to see and do. At the entrance there were dancing trees, a clown on stilts, floating bubbles, balloons, brightly coloured flags, music and more. This was a festival that had it all. At the back of the site there was access to an inflatable village, a fun fair with a large Ferris wheel, Helter Skelters, smaller rides, traditional fairground stalls and games. There was also a climbing wall, a real life arcade where children and parents alike could be part of games like Whack-a-mole, giant Jenga and Tetris. It felt like everyone was able to be a character from the blockbuster Ready Player one. I won't forget to mention there were also plenty of access to toilet facilities, water stations, nappy changing and breastfeeding tents as well smaller live shows including stunts, imaginative plays and a brilliant live Dino show which my son watched numerous times. Children were asked to volunteer to meet a 'real' baby T-Rex, aptly named Rex in a fun and interactive segment.
The whole weekend was presented by former CBeebies presenter Alex Winters. What a brilliant choice. Not only did he introduce acts on stage, he also entertained the audiences in between set times, he was also casually walking around the site meeting everyone and would cover all of the site to promote other events going on around the site that weren't featured on the main (Castle) stage. As the weekend event fell in the middle of a heatwave, what was also great about Alex was that he was there to be an assistance to parents to advise children to put on their sun creams, wear protective clothing like hats and drink plenty of water. This worked very well. Also regarding the heatwave – Winters was often seen on stage throwing out water balloons and buckets of water to the crowds of people in front of the main stage to keep everyone cool, which actually was really helpful in the scorching temperatures.
There was also a great variety of food provided by vendors at the event. On offer were ice-creams, deluxe milkshakes (at a whopping £8 each!), stone baked pizzas, the traditional burgers and fries, sushi, vegan and oriental street food and plenty of sugary treats for the little ones.
Before I get to the performers that were featured at the weekend event, I would like to share with you all just how much there was to do on site. We never once got bored as there was always something else to take part in or see. My son was able to part in a wide variety of craft activities, which was actually really lovely as it meant taking something home. All craft activities were FREE, but were happy to receive donations should ticket holders want to offer to support their organisations. An example of just some of the crafts included making bug bling and pine cone insects by the lovely people from The Fairyland Trust, wicker craft which meant shaping and decorating either balloons, wings or baskets, wooden staff carving – so ideal to bring out your inner explorer or wizard. Also clay modelling, soap carving, ceramic tile decorating inside the Messy Kids workshop tent.
Over the weekend there were so many amazing performances including shows from Sohan Bollywood – pretty self explanatory, but it was a colourful, fun and interactive Bollywood dance show where parents and children were invited up onto the stage to dance along. Also Junior Frood – a teen dancer who has amazing talent at such a young age. He does all of his own choreography, has already danced alongside pop star Justin Bieber and is soon on his way to Hollywood to work with celebrity choreographer Brian Friedman. Other very amusing and interactive shows came from CBeebies presenters Sid & Rebecca (who are well known for their imaginative TV programme "Let's Play") and also the very funny and cheeky pirates Cook & Line from the very popular children's television programme "Swashbuckle".
Here is some information of some of the most standout performances of the weekend:
Andy and The Oddsocks – Saturday
Andy Day is probably one of, if not the most famous of the CBeebies presenters. He is easily recognisable for his height, big hair and his smiley, jolly nature. Andy is well known for his many adventures on CBeebies shows including "Andy's Wild Adventures", "Andy's dinosaur Adventures", "Andy's Prehistoric Adventures" and most recently his "Safari Adventures" on the pre-school aged television channel. Now he will be known for something completely different. For being in a band! Andy and The Oddsocks have recently recorded and released their debut album, titled "Who Invited This Lot?" which is solely aimed at young children. At the beginning of the set, we got to meet The Oddsocks (Blu, Moxy and Mac) first as they entered the main stage. Of course there was a big build up to introduce the main man himself (Andy Day) as band member Mac worked the audience to encourage everyone to chant "Andy! Andy! Andy!"
Day ran onto the stage to greet the crowds of screaming pre-schoolers and some very enthusiastic mothers. Haha! The set was highly energetic and involved a lot of audience participation including bouncing giant inflatable footballs around the arena. The band told the stories behind each one of their very catchy songs that they performed including:"Aliens", "Ninja Pig", "Groover Hoover" – which saw the introduction of Hetty The Highland Hoover, "Dinosaur Football Legend Mega Match" and the song with a heartfelt meaning "Unique".
I was also lucky enough to meet Andy Day backstage for a chat before they were due to grace the main stage to discuss more about Andy and The Oddsocks. He was just as everyone imagines him to be, so down to earth and just lovely. My son was also clearly very star struck when he got to meet his hero. Thank you to Andy for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me.
To find out what's next for Andy and The Oddsocks and to check out my interview with Andy click on the video link below:
Katy Ashworth – Saturday and Sunday
Katy is best known for her presenting role on children's television programmes "I Can Cook!" and "I Can Cook With You". The presenter is currently heavily pregnant, but this certainly wasn't going to hold her back from putting on some amazing shows. How she had that much energy I do not know. She is a role model for not only children but mothers alike. She sang a couple of traditional children's songs, one of them being the very popular "Wheels On The Bus" and also songs from "I Can Cook" which I even ended up singing along to, but there was a lot of amusing puns and innuendo within her show aimed at parents so that it was certainly something that we could all genuinely really enjoy too. I remember at one point she asked parents "Who out there eats the children's left overs?"many people admitted to this so she continued with "Oh yes, a lovely soggy fish finger on a Wednesday night after Brownies!" Katy also had the audience interacting by playing a giant game of "Fruit Bowl" which is a game where children, mums and dads all had to impersonate and represent a piece of fruit whenever she called out it's name. Towards the end of her segment she also invited three dads up onto the stage to help her 'cook' were they helped her make a banana milkshake and the winner was presented with a wooden spatula with her name on it and the runners up being given wooden spoons with the same inscription.
Mr Bloom & His Band – Sunday
Mr Bloom is a very popular CBeebies character played by Cornish actor Ben Faulks. He is a keen gardener and has been involved in programmes including "Mr Bloom's Nursery" and "Here And There" where he teaches children about nature, the importance of gardening and also goes on day trips with children (or as he calls them 'Tiddlers') and their families. The famous gardener strolled out onto a stage that was surrounded by giant inflatable fruit and vegetables as he introduced everyone to his band before shortly bursting into song while playing his ukulele as they performed the well known theme tune for his programme "Here And There". The show included a fruit and vegetable guessing game to which children in the audience won whatever food item Mr Bloom was showing on stage. I've never known young children to be so excited over a piece of fruit or a vegetable. Many families could do with their own Mr Bloom in their households at mealtimes if that's what it takes to get children to eat their 5-a-day. Like Katy Ashworth's set there was also a lot of innuendo filled humour for the grown ups too. Even a discussion about the possibility of the band playing music by Metallica.
Justin Fletcher – Sunday
Justin Fletcher, MBE, is the man behind many lovable children's characters. He is most famously known for his TV show "Something Special" where he appears as a clown like character named Mr Tumble. He teaches children how to use Makaton in their daily lives. This form of sign language makes Mr Tumble a firm favourite in many family households and he is held dear to the hearts of families with children who may have physical or learning difficulties. His show started in the most spectacular way possible, he was supported by backing dancers as he came out singing original single, the infectious "Just Party" while confetti cannons were released and filled the grounds in front of the Castle stage with bright colours. He soon went on to sing "Happy Birthday" in case anyone at the event were celebrating a birthday around the time of the festival. Fletcher also went on to announce that his TV show "Something Special" is 15 years old this year and that he has been in the business for an impressive 20 years! He followed the announcement with a huge thank you to everyone for their support over those years. There was also a further announcement that the presenter had to share with his fans, he told everyone that there will be a new series of "Gigglebiz" on it's way and that there's only 2 more weeks of filming. Exciting stuff. As "Gigglebiz" was mentioned he went on to bring some other well known characters of his to life including Arthur Sleep, Keith Fit and Gail Force. His show also included a the biggest "Hokey Cokey" with the whole arena getting involved and other songs including "Let's Go Fly A Kite", "Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes", and "Wibble and Wobble". There was also a chance for both parents and children to show him their Makaton skills before he closed his set by singing "The Goodbye Song". Justin Fletcher not only put on an amazing show, but he clearly had an amazing time himself too.
My little family had the best time at Geronimo Festival, it really is a festival like no other and is perfect for the whole family to enjoy. This is a festival that I highly recommend to everyone and one that I hope to return to in 2019. Some details for the 2019 weekend have already been put into place including the line up. For more information about what Geronimo has in store for all of the Geronimites in 2019 check out their website.
Hurricane Festival is in the north of Germany, set in some fields in Scheeβel between Hamburg and Bremen. The current version of Hurricane Festival has been going since 1997, though there were two previous attempts of festivals in the area in 1973 and 1977. Hurricane sells itself as a mainstream/alternative festival, however, in recent years there has been more emphasis on the mainstream and less on the alternative. This year’s line-up is what I would describe as mainstream, however there are a few acts here and there that are showing the alternative past of Hurricane.
Friday started off wet and windy, as is the trend with most festivals at the moment, and was opened by the Hurricane Swim Team on the Green Stage early afternoon. The Hurricane Swim Team was created in 2016 when the festival was a total wash out, and is essentially a hype team that get the crowd grooving in even the most abysmal weather. Luckily, by the time they’d left the stage the weather had in fact improved and we were able to enjoy the sun for the rest of the afternoon and well into the evening.
We got to the second stage – blue stage – to see George Ezra perform in the afternoon light. Ezra has a stunning voice and it he proved that it was not just the studio doing all the work in post processing. He was chatty onstage, and (like a lot of the British and American bands) tried his hand a bit of German, to the glee of the audience. The cherry on the Ezra-shaped cake was definitely the small brass section he’d brought with him, it really added that extra depth to the performance.
Experienced punk rock band The Offspring took centre stage on the Green stage (main stage) on Saturday evening. They know how to keep tantalise the audience, saving their three most well-known songs until the end, including Pretty Fly for a White Guy and ending on Self-Esteemed to an audience that was easily two decades younger than them, if not more, which is a pretty good achievement for four shouty guys from California.
The blue stage was again graced with a talented vocalist, this time in the form of Hannah Reid of London Grammar. A far cry away from The Offspring, London Grammar definitely calmed the audience down rather than psyched them up. The mosh pits of Green Stage were replaced with gentle arm waving and head nodding.
Keeping in the UK-indie theme that the blue stage seemingly has had all day, the following band are none other than Two Door Cinema Club, who arrive onstage to a rambunctious welcome. Two Door Cinema Club are the first band that have brought an impressive set on stage, a set of LED squares with bright strobing lights behind, all of which is made more impressive in the dying light of the evening. The crowd happily bopped along to the music, enjoying the show in the dying light.
The green stage was again keeping its theme of emo-punk and rock, with the headline of the night Billy Talent. The band appeared on stage as the audience cheered and wooped, bassist Jonathan Gallant and guitarist Ian D’Sa started playing the introduction to ‘This is how it goes’ as Benjamin Kowalewicz burst on to stage to rapturous applause and started singing. He had so much energy on stage, dressed like an emo from the late noughties with his skinny tie, skinny black jeans and his converses. In fact, the whole band looked as if they were 15 year olds trapped in the bodies of middle aged men. They acted like it too. Jumping up and down and across the stage, swearing jovially at the audience ‘Welcome to Hurricane 2018 motherfuckers!’ shouted Benjamin after the first song, before launching in to ‘Devil in Midnight Mass’. The whole performance took me back to those angst filled days in high school, where we felt the world was ending and beginning at the same time, and that every song ever written about and specifically for, us. The nostalgia that came with watching Billy Talent was only amplified by the crowd, singing (and in some cases, screaming) along with the songs, as the band ricocheted from one song to the next. About halfway through the set Benjamin mentioned that their drummer – Aaron Solowoniuk – had been struggling with MS, and has been on hiatus since 2016. While Benjamin was telling the crowd this, he also mentioned that the band have been together for 25 years this summer, which is unbelievable. Arron was then introduced onstage as he made his way to the drums, and played with the band for the rest of the show. It was really great to see him playing again, and so obvious that he was thoroughly enjoying being back on stage after two years away. Aaron coming back on stage really gave the band more energy, and they turned it up to 100 for the rest of the show.
After Billy Talent’s finale, it seemed as if the entire crowd moved to Blue Stage, for final act of the night, German hip-hop artist Marteria. Now, I know those words don’t run together naturally, but stick with me here. My level of German is extremely basic (as I found out during a press-pass mix up that caused no end of trouble) but Marteria’s catchy lyrics and playful beats. As well as his skills on the mic he also brought to stage some of the most impressive and playful visuals of the evening. Later in the show he brought on his alter-ego Marismoto who delighted the audience with his high-pitch voiced and his more experimental music, straying from hip-hop and entering the realms of dubstep, reggae and EDM. With the first night of the festival finished everyone headed back to their tents ready to do the same thing all over again.
The campsite was up and bustling by about ten on Saturday, helped by the festival workers driving around on quadbikes using their megaphones to shout ‘time to wake up’ across the campsite. I’m not sure if it was part of their job description but it certainly worked in getting the campsite awake and running. Pretty soon there were queues to the toilet and every other tent was playing flunkyball across the pathways. The campsite radio (provided by Delta Radio) was on blast throughout the campsite, via speakers and radios campers had brought with them, meaning wherever we went we had a surround sound experience of the camp radio. There seemed to be an endless game put on the by the radio hosts, which was to play the Cantina Theme from Star Wars, (or at least an excerpt of it) and, once it had finished someone – either one of the hosts or a punter who had been accosted somewhere on the campsite – would say ‘play that same song again’ and so on and so on. So much so it became the unofficial anthem of the campsite, and probably the weekend.
Hurricane festival is a lot smaller than most medium UK festivals, with only three stages all relatively close to each other. It means minimal walking between stages and the way that the stages have been positioned has been done with great care, as there is no overlap of sound when each stage has an artist.
Indie-pop act The Kooks took to the Green Stage on Saturday evening for a fun set. They’re still fresh from their ‘Best Of’ album tour, with Hurricane being their first festival of the season. Though they’re no strangers playing to big crowds – they’ve been around since 2004 – they have recently been touring as a warm-up act for The Rolling Stones. This hasn’t diminished their ability to get the crowd dancing, whatever the size. Though I was impressed that even a relatively light band such as The Kooks could get the crowd moshing. Lead singer Luke Pritchard danced around on stage with his tan-and-checked blazer and his skinny scarf, the embodiment of indie-brit-pop. The crowd were loving it and singing along to almost every track, which was pretty magical to listen to. The Kooks do have a new album out but didn’t fall into the age old pitfall of playing only their new stuff, they littered the set with classics as well as slipping the odd new song in now and then. They ended with two classics, Seaside and Naïve to the absolute delight of the audience.
Next up was Hamburg rapper Dendemann, who had a beat-filled set and had the whole crowd moshing along to his music. His music was good, though I’m sure I would have got more enjoyment out of it had I understood the lyrics – he uses a lot of wordplay so for a non-native speaker of German it can be a bit of a struggle to understand. I did understand when he said hello to the crowd and called them a town that certainly wasn’t Hurricane or Scheeβel. His drummer corrected him though and the crowd didn’t seem to care.
Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro have a solid fan-base in Germany and started off their European tour in Berlin early last month. Having last played Hurricane in 2010 they were due for a comeback. And the crowd were ready for it. Mosh pits left right and centre, the whole crowd was there for them. As per usual, all three members were shirtless, though frontman Simon Neil has got rid of the Jesus locks and gone for a cleaner, shorter cut, which if it wasn’t for the mass of tattoos and his roaring vocals he could be mistaken for a graphic designer, or someone equally ordinary. As always with Biffy, the show was intense and the hard rockers had all come out of the woodwork to head-bang their way through the set, as well as all the casual fans that sang along to their hits and mumbled along to the songs that had less radio-play.
Saturday was the first day we ventured to the Red Stage, to see Portugal. The Man. Now, I’m not sure what we expected but it certainly wasn’t what happened. They had a seven minute guitar heavy intro song played before they even came on stage. Once they were on stage the show really began. There had a projector projecting some spacey shapes and colours on the screen behind them. However, unlike most bands, Portugal. The Man had decided to put the projector in front of the stage, so each band member cast shadows throughout the set, changing shape and size as they moved around the stage. They started by playing a cover of ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ by Pink Floyd, which was an odd one to start with, however it really set the stage for the rest of their show, a spacey, guitar heavy extravaganza. After their first song some huge lettering came down on the screen behind them, declaring “We are not very good at stage banter so please enjoy these messages from the management, thank you for understanding”. Now, they certainly get points for ingenuity here, although it would have been nice to have a little bit of crowd interaction. As promised, periodically through the show more writing would appear behind them, such as “that is some bad-ass guitar playing” through a particularly gnarly piece. One thing I particularly enjoyed from Portugal. The Man was the fact that they had a very varied set-list. Starting with that Pink Floyd cover to get the crowd in the mood, before playing and older, spacey track that was guitar heavy and a wee bit light on the lyrics going straight through to ‘Purple Yellow Red and Blue’ (2013) and ‘Live in the Moment’(2017), two more recent songs that have had more radio play. The audience were a bit muted compared to the other acts of the night, I mean, it is hard to mosh to electro-guitar solos played over light keys and drums.
Going from the Portugal. The Man to The Prodigy was a bit of a jolt. As ever, the Prodigy had a stunning set, fantastic lasers, the crowd was already hopping by the time we got there. The band has been touring for almost three decades and know their stuff. They haven’t played in Germany since 2015, so it was high-time they came back. The set was littered with classics and the crowd went absolutely wild during voodoo people. I mean, it’s The Prodigy, it’s hard not to dance like a maniac with those beats and the amount of pure, raw energy coming off the stage. After the show most people were danced-out and made their way to their tents, the younger and drunker punters also went back to the campsite, but only to enjoy the Motorbooty rave that was going on until 4am the next morning.
Security has been amped up to 130%, we were frisked each time we entered the main field, and no bags were allowed unless they were see-through and all pockets had to be emptied and checked. This meant more than anything that there were queues caused by this bottle neck. The crowd spent most of the time in the queues singing various songs which either went in rounds or sped up as they went along. It was amusing the first few times, but when someone in the crowd yelled the first line for the sixth time in a row I did groan inwardly. Fortunately, by that point I was almost through the gates, so didn’t have to listen to a half-hearted rendition of eisgekühlter bommerlunder again.
Once through we headed to the blue stage to kick off the afternoon with a bit of Mighty Oaks. Their folk rock was forgetting everyone off to the right start, despite the persistent cold and rain. Lead-singer Ian Hooper switched from German and English throughout the set, which is unsurprising as the very international band – members from US, UK and Italy – are currently based in Berlin. They had the whole crowd swaying in unison, and at one point encouraged everyone to get on someone’s shoulders and the crowd suddenly got half as wide and twice as tall, as almost everyone in the crowd was on someone’s shoulders or holding someone and singing along. It was such a nice, inclusive atmosphere and a great start to the third and final day of the festival.
Late noughties indie-rock Franz Ferdinand bounced onto the main stage as the afternoon was slowly becoming the evening. Full of energy and full of hits, frontman Alex Kapranos jumped cross the stage as he belted out the lyrics. The audience were bouncy along happily, and singing along, smiling in spite of the rain.
One of the most lively shows of the evening was brought by second to last act on Sunday – Kraftklub. In the last five years Kraftklub have risen from unknown band to the next chart-topping must-see band throughout Germany. The show starts with four red smoke //bombs// going off within the crowd. We can’t see exactly how they’ve been planted but they’ve been concealed for who knows how long. Kraftklub then appear on stage as the banner that has been covering the stage has been pulled down, and as they start their opening number (Karl-Mark-Straβe) the crowd goes absolutely wild. Now, I knew it was going to kick off. Sometimes you can just feel it. Through the first half of the show I was stuck between two mosh pits, by the second half I had decided I was fighting a losing battle, and joined them full force. The moshing continued for the full show, and Kraftklub left to cries of ‘one more song’ as they left the stage. They had twenty minutes left of their set, so we naturally all expected them to come back on stage. They did come back. Just not on stage. They had what can only be describe as a mobile stage, about two meters wide and four meters long, on wheels and being pushed through the crowd. They sang ‘ich will nicht nach Berlin’ before telling the audience they needed to get back to the main stage. The most sensible way to do this was obviously to crowd surf. On top of this, it had to be a race. They prepped the crowd in front of them, and after the third blast from the airhorn, they dived in. They were all scrambling to get to the stage as fast as possible and one of the stage hands was waving a giant checked racing flag as they got to the stage and he announced the winner.
Headliners of the evening, Arctic Monkeys took to the stage under dark, moody lighting. Alex Turner’s slick-backed hair shining in the lights paired with the leather jackets gave the band a 50s vibe. The beat came in as ‘four stars out of five’ started playing and the start of the end of the festival had begun.
The set was dotted with shout outs to the audience, mainly ‘vielen danke’ (thanks very much – for the non-German speakers) and the dulcet tones of Tuner briefly introducing the odd song. However, audience interaction was minimal, this grown-up band a far cry from their ‘crying lighting’ and ‘fluorescent adolescent’ days. The set-list was a good mix of songs, but focused heavily on AM and Tranquillity Base Hotel + Casino. Which makes sense, especially if they’re trying to move away from their young, almost post-punk rock of the early days and centre their attention on the more polished sound that the more recent albums have encompassed. If I was to sum up their performance I would have to use that word again, polished. Technically, it was a fantastic set, the sound was amazing, the band were in-sync with each other, though I felt like there could have been a bit more (one-sided, as ever) conversation from the band, but this performance, like the two most recent albums seems to have matured from cocky rock to sophisticated, interesting space-pop, but keeping some of that same cheekiness the Monkeys are famed for.
This year Hurricane had an eclectic mix of bands, which, in a weird way seemed to complement each other. If you were not into the headliners you would always find something that would satisfy your wants. However, it would have been nice to see a few more female artists on the mainstages over the three days, though this is something that all festivals could work on, and not just an issue with Hurricane. Personally, I am looking forward to the announcements for the bands next year, and I, like most of the punters, am ready to do the whole thing again next year.
Roll up, roll up, step this way and be amazed as we reveal our theme for 2018. Bestival, the most colourful show on earth, will celebrate 250 years of Circus, on the Lulworth Estate at a brand-new showtime – 2-5 August 2018.
Ringmaster extraordinaire Rob da Bank says: “Yes fellow Bestivalites it’s time to run away and join the Circus, Bestival style! Bearded freaks, insane acrobats, high wire daredevils, mutant jugglers and an out of control ringmaster all eager for you to join the most colourful show on earth await! And what makes this show even more unmissable is we have moved into peak season August style and will be open a month earlier than usual… so what are you waiting for?”
Featuring the miracles of miracle makers from across the globe, be dazzled and delighted by Art Car Night Circus Parade, Caravanserai flying trapeze, fire eating, knife throwing, bearded ladies (and men!), the Insect Circus Museum, sword swallowing, our hall of mirrors, circus workshops and free haircuts. Plus, be astonished and astounded by all the brilliant Bestival stages and sideshows that you can’t see anywhere else in the world.
But that’s not all. We have a new showtime, too. In response to festivalgoers’ feedback we’ll be opening the gates to Bestival a whole month earlier in 2018. Moving to the heart of the summer, our circus-themed arcadia of discovery will now be held from the 2nd to the 5th of August*. Do not miss out.