Bestival 2016 – Sean Paul & Wiz Khalifa: Reviewed!

The final day of Bestival 2016 has thankfully been a scorcher, and as we turn our sunburnt faces towards the main stage, it’s time for the first of tonight’s dual headliners – Sean Paul. Though, is it really a dual headline if they’re just one after another?

Highlights of Sean Paul’s set are Temperature, him saying his own name more than Craig David does, and obviously Get Busy which has the entire arena ‘shaking their thing’. What ‘thing’ that is, is seriously up for debate it seems. There really is nothing like watching a field full of drunk British people trying to imitate the very talented stage dancers’ dancehall moves. Truthfully, we ought to be stopped before we hurt ourselves or get arrested.

Like Glue still makes absolutely no sense but there’s something really comforting about Sean Paul’s music, it’s all about memories of the early noughties – riding five up in an old banger, arms hanging out the window swamped in gold chains and sunnies, being a complete gangster on the Coventry ringroad. Ballin’. The arena is a sea of waving arms and people climbing flagpoles for a better view (or eternal glory) as Sean Paul yells “I’ve never seen so much tits”. Well, I guess we’re at least good at that then.

For the second half of tonight’s festivities, we get a taste of Taylor Gang with Pittsburgh party animal Wiz Khalifa. Black and Yellow has the arena jumping with Wiz yelling “Let’s get fucking high y’all” and “Y’all seem to love loud music”. Other highlights include Work Hard Play Hard and See You Again, but the fact that he can’t seem to go more than two minutes without mentioning weed is just a bit predictably boring – “Shout out to all the ladies out there! How many of y’all smoke weed?”. On the other hand singing about say, heroin is possibly a lot less coherent or marketable.

Though Sean Paul and Wiz Khalifa certainly aren’t everyone’s cup of chai, it’s pretty obvious that the arena is full of appreciative applause after their energetic performances. It is however, the Prince tribute fireworks and big-screen play of Purple Rain (accompanied by streamers and purple smoke) that bring a tear to the eye. Oh how amazing it would have been to have seen him play Bestival.

All photographs © Andy McHardy – please do not use without permission.

Bestival 2016 – Major Lazer: Reviewed!

So here’s the thing. Festivals are continually criticised for their headline act choices, it’s always going to be the case. They’re damned for getting big name legends on repeat every few years, but also for giving newer bands the slot when they aren’t established or dramatic enough to be considered headline material. So what to do?

Well, most other festivals stick to the tried and tested, big act = big sales. But where does it end? The top drawer artist pool is rapidly drying due to either retirement or worse, death (2016 really has been a cursed year) and it just can’t go on. New blood has to flow.

This year, Rob Da Bank and co. have taken the far riskier, and frankly braver option of booking Major Lazer as their Friday night headliner. After a stellar daytime performance in 2014 they’ve been bumped into the top spot with good cause. The two year gap has seen Major Lazer release some huge anthems such as Lean On, Light It Up and Powerful (featuring Ellie Goulding), not forgetting the brand new Cold Water with Justin Bieber and All My Love with Ariana Grande. Tonight the rapidly filling arena is more than enough proof that newer bands can and will fill a top spot.

With bursts of streamers, flurries of confetti and smoke cannon blasts it’s unsurprising to see Diplo and pals take to the stage with a bang, Major Lazer are exactly the kind of high energy act that the Bestival crowd deserves. Wearing all-white outfits, flanked by dancers in sparkly black leotards, Jillionaire and Walshy Fire run around throwing tour tshirts out into the crowd to a frenzied crowd, whilst Diplo reminds us that Bestival is home turf for him – Rob booked him for the first time as a DJ back in 2004.

Despite a bit of dodgy sound (we do miss the much bigger speaker stacks of last year’s colossally huge main stage, sorry guys) it’s a great atmosphere and the Skrillex/Damien Marley collab Make It Bun Dem has the whole crowd attempting to wind. We British aren’t renowned for our sexy dancing skills but there are some serious shapes being thrown tonight, good job it’s dark.

Joined by Danish firecracker vocalist , they tear it up with last year’s summer smash Lean On, and there’s something in Light It Up that just feels so… Bestival. Whenever I hear it I think of sundrenched fields of glitter-clad, neon-painted, carefree souls. Accompanied by a toasty array of on stage pyrotechnics and a considerable amount of jumping up and down, this is exactly what we came here for – wild abandon, and freedom from everything else in life.

We join in with the shirt-twirling, the dancehall steps, and duck as Diplo runs above the crowd in his giant hamster ball (okay okay, zorb…). It’s over far too soon. The only slight disappointments were the tiny acapella snippet of Cold Water, knowing that the drop is so good, and come on – for a band named Major Lazer, there were a distinct lack of actual lasers. Hopefully we’ll see Major Lazer back again soon, and kudos to Bestival for a great headline pick.

All photographs © Andy McHardy – please do not use without permission.