Sundown Festival is storming into 2020, announcing its first names for what promises to be the festival’s biggest year yet. Heading back to Norfolk Showground in Norwich across three days this September and following a mammoth 2019, this year’s event looks set to close the summer in style, with camping, weekend and day tickets on sale this Friday.
Known as one of the world’s biggest party starters, the unstoppable Sean Paul is one of two headliners to be announced for Sundown 2020. Arguably the most iconic dancehall artist of all time, the crossover superstar will be treating Norwich to an unforgettable headline set, with the arena set to shake to the likes of ‘Get Busy’, ‘Temperature’, ‘Breathe’ and legendary features including ‘Rockabye’, ‘Cheap Thrills’, ‘Boasty’ and many more. Needless to say, this is going to be one of the biggest moments of the summer.
One of the leading voices in confessional hip hop, award-winning UK rapper-turned-superstar Loyle Carner is guaranteed to bring an electrifying headline set to Sundown Festival. With expert craftsmanship and remarkable lyrical resonance, not to mention hits for days across his two studio albums, Carner has become one of the hottest festival bookings of the past few years, with his headline performance looking set to be nothing short of spectacular.
Bringing her smooth reinvention of turn-of-the-century Soul, R&B and British pop music, Sundown Festival is delighted to welcome Raye to the Main Stage in 2020. Forging her path in the UK pop scene, the soon-to-be superstar will treat fans to hits including ‘You Don’t Know Me’, ‘Decline’ and countless others. Also joining the Main Stage line up will be superstar in waiting Becky Hill, whose recent smash ‘Wish You Well’ has stormed into the charts, ready to go off when Sundown comes around this September.
Joining these pop sensations at Sundown Festival will be Fredo and Bugzy Malone who took 2019 by storm with an expert mix of vital and refreshing cuts, with the latter setting pulses racing after his recent collaboration with Aitch, while Fredo and Dave’s ‘Funky Friday’ defined summer 2019. Famed for master lyricism, their infectious jams will be perfect at this summer’s closing extravaganza. Meanwhile, Jay1 and Jaykae will be bringing Midlands-infused grime to the masses, and the main stage will be hosted by KISS all weekend.
BBC Sound Of winner Ray BLK will also appear on Sundown’s main stage, and dance legend Example will return to Sundown with unforgettable classics ‘Changed The Way You Kissed Me’ ‘Kickstarts’ and more, a firm favourite of the festival. The Manor and Wilkinson will also bless the main stage with their presence, with more names to be announced.
In addition to a huge Main Stage lineup, Sundown Festival will continue to provide a haven of genre-defying performances from the very best in drum and bass, house and techno.
The Friday Campers Party will feature Holy Goof, Hybrid Minds and Young T & Bugsey. Taking over the Castle Stage, Defected will be in attendance with the full crew plus special guests Sam Divine, Low Steppa, Ferreck Dawn, Endor and Jess Bays.
Building on previous collaborations at the festival, renowned bass leaders UKF will see the iconic Shy Fx, party starters My Nu Leng, dubstep legend Flux Pavillion, Notion, Bou and Harriet Jaxxon take to the stage for what promises to be a legendary takeover.
Solardo will be bringing Higher to Sundown for the first time in 2020, with a series of even more infectious sets. Joined by rising stars including Eli Brown, Franky Wah, Latmun and SOSA, it looks set to be truly unforgettable.
Also making an appearance at Sundown 2020, Hospitality will unleash revered DNB acts including Camo & Krooked,S.P.Y, Kings of the Rollers & Inja, Metrik, Randall, Nu:Logic (Nu:Tone & Logistics), Etherwood, T>I B2B Saxxon, Daxta MC, Carasel and Dynamite MC. Needless to say, it’s going to pop off.
Back for a fourth year due to unparalleled popular demand and fresh after their stunning new look in 2019, the Mystree stage welcomes Weiss, LeftWing: Kody, Majestic, Nathan Dawe, Martin Ikin, Artful Dodger, producer extraordinaire Conducta, Sammy Verji, Illyus & Barrientos, George Mensah and Harry Pearce to the stage this summer, which will no doubt be huge.
Common People might be the littlest sister of UK behemoth Bestival, but it certainly packs it’s own unique punch. Held on Southampton Common (with a twin over in Oxford now too) it’s a two day hedonistic escape without the sleeping-on-a-rollmat or not-showering-for-four-days element, and as such, is an altogether pleasant affair.
Saturday sees the likes of Elvana (Elvis fronted Nirvana) doing, well… exactly what it says on the tin I suppose, and Loyle Carner whipping a tshirt around the stage and rapping hits from his debut album, to a sun-drenched and almost feverish front row made almost exclusively of ladies. Over on the Uncommon stage, local lads Fever are whipping up a storm with their classic punky rock vibes to a packed tent.
The arena itself is decorated with a well-known Josie Da Bank feel to it, silk flags flutter in the breeze and there are fairy lights, lanterns and rainbow streamers everywhere, but it’s the heart installation which simply reads ‘Manchester’ which stands out the most. After such a terrible event, it’s affirming to know that people will still make their way to a festival like this, but the increased police presence was very noticeable.
Despite the somewhat sobering feeling of walking past armed police to enter the festival, the atmosphere is free spirited and fun. The Kids area is packed with people attempting circus skills, hula hooping, bubble blowing and getting their faces painted. Hidden away in a magical little copse, it really does have that hazy secret summer feel to it, and the Jam Jar Bar is serving up delicious treats for the bigger kids. Did someone say Rhubarb Martini?
Over in The People’s Front Room, which is dressed up as a shabby-chic front room in case you were wondering… people are grooving along to funky sounds, but it’s pretty tightly packed so we’re off to check out the food options, which never disappoint at CP. Back in the dark old days of UK festivals your best hope was paying over the odds for some soggy chips and a distinctly grey looking burger, but at Common People your culinary compass can spin all around the world. From Paella to Macaroni Cheese, to thali boxes or soft shell crab burgers, there is nothing common about this menu. We can particularly recommend the brie, pear and walnut from The Gourmet Grilled Cheese Co. which was pretty flippin decadent.
Back at the main stage there are rows upon rows of screaming, glitter-bedazzled girls greeting a very dapper looking Tom Odell who is playing a roaring set from behind his giant centre-stage piano. Calling out “Southampton! Closest I’ll get to a home gig this season, back home, back in the badlands” Tom is returned with a chorus of “Marry me Tom!” from a group of young ladies who look like they might faint at any moment. One particular hardcore Odell fan has actually travelled with her father and sister from Brazil to see him here, now that is commitment!
Next up is Sister Bliss playing a Faithless DJ set in the deep evening sunshine which naturally has everyone up and dancing. ‘We Come 1’ is so heavy it rattles the panels of the helter skelter and Bliss looks right at home here in her sequinned bomber jacket.
Over to Pete Tong and The Heritage Orchestra to bang out some Ibiza classics and honestly, it is overwhelmingly amazing. Conductor Jules Buckley stands, arms spread wide in front of three tiers of orchestra and Pete Tong perched amongst the rafters at an LED lit mixing desk and they begin. It’s a strange sensation knowing these classics to be, to put it bluntly, somewhat simple musically speaking – but hearing them performed by the orchestra just brings them to a whole new level. Massive hits such as Fatboy Slim’s ‘Right Here, Right Now’ and Faithless’ ‘We Come 1’ get the full orchestral treatment but bathed in lasers and smoke. It’s strangely satisfying and retains the intensity of the original tracks. Pete also pays tribute to Manchester noting that it’s ‘on our minds’ before introducing Ella Eyre to sing ‘Good Life’ and Rudimental’s ‘Waiting All Night’ which are insanely good. Finishing up with Becky Hill on ‘You Got The Love’ has the whole crowd singing along and Pete Tong quips “We can’t pretend to go off and come back on again, there are too many of us!” as they close the show. With a mass surge out of the gates and into the town, day one of Common People is over and it’s been a blinder.
Sunday on Southampton Common seems a lot quieter, there are a smattering of people milling around for the first bands but it’s pretty sparse, at a guess some people went very hard last night and are nursing some pretty epic hangovers today.
The Novatones who come out strong and belt around the stage with their classic punk rock sound and jumping antics, it’s a great set and a shame so few people were out to see it. The Black Kat Boppers make short work of getting everyone who has made it in, up and dancing some sort of hybrid swing-come-dad-moves.
to being ‘stuck in traffic’ Nadia Rose appears to have all but missed her slot and Calum Lintott, who has just finished a set on the Uncommon Stage is hauled in to fill the time. He looks nervous as hell at first, forgets to plug in his guitar… “That’s a good start isn’t it! I did not expect to be doing this today” and waves awkwardly at his family out in the arena, but he pulls off a frankly fantastic second set anyway. Even the security guards are clapping along by the end and Calum seems pretty stoked about getting to play the main stage, ‘English Daisy’ and ‘Baby I’m Insane’ are going straight on the playlist.
Whilst Signals are mid set-up and sound check, Nadia Rose finally makes it to the main stage – albeit shoe-horned into the side with the DJ booth, accompanied by a large posse. Rocking a red bomber, with matching trainers and visible pants, as well as her signature space bun hairstyle – she is every bit the rapper celebrity the young front row have come to see. Busting out ‘Skwod’ and ‘Boom’ she has boundless energy and is absolutely fierce in her delivery, but it was maybe a little unnecessary of her to complain that “I’ve got a short set today, because I was put on late, but whatever” when it doesn’t seem like anyone was really at fault for that.
A brief but substantial downpour sees herds of people diving into bars and tents for shelter, which Amy MacDonald finds highly amusing “It seems a lot of people are scared of a little bit of rain… that’s a drizzle in Glasgow… southern softies eh?”. Standing in front of a broadway-esque red ruched curtain, the Scottish musician plays a storming set highlighted by recent hit ‘This is the Life’ but the rowdy contingent of Common People are squished side by side into the rainbow-ribboned Uncontained Stage area for Fat Man Scoop. Stalwart of the school disco, Fatman Scoop is of course playing an absolute cheese-fest of hits. Rocking lounge shorts and pool slides he leaves the decks to dance with three stunned kids who’ve been pulled from the crowd for DMX’s ‘Party Up’ but decides to get them to cover their eyes for his brief bout of topless shimmying. Good call Scoop, good call. ‘Be Faithful’ is exactly as obnoxiously loud and fun as you’d imagine, and with the appearance of Goldie, it’s just what we needed to get out of the grim weather funk.
Over on the main stage the House Gospel Choir are giving huge club hits in their distinctive style, notably a cover of Robin S’ ‘Show Me Love’, to a massive crowd. Up next British Sea Power aren’t garnering the same sort of response due to their softer, melodic sounds, but the front few rows seem to be die-hard fans who are absolutely loving them and their strange selection of stage-foliage.
Natives are shredding the Uncommon Stage with loads of people dancing and jumping around in the tent, and the bouncy castle has been dried and re-opened to hordes of terrifyingly fearless children. With a single experimental bounce and what thankfully was a minor collision with a manically grinning cannonball of a small girl, it’s time to escape to safety. Off to a less violent affair, lashings of glitter makeup from Dust & Dance and obligatory hair braiding, before heading over to see Wild Beasts. Flanked by flashing panel lights and a giant backdrop from their latest album ‘Boy King’ they have a distinct electronic rock sound that is definitely piquing some interest in the now quieter arena. I think they’re going to be the hot playlist add following the weekend, but I’m not sure they’re quite what everyone was waiting for.
Groove Armada pick it back up with a solid set of classic dance music, and I know it’s specifically listed as a DJ set but they really are holed up at the back of the stage behind a giant table. Why can’t DJ’s be at the forefront and engage with the crowd in any way other than that wistful sort of pointing into the sky reminiscent of Steve Zissou? Anyway… as they continue through the set the crowd builds and gets increasingly rowdy, during a remix of Breach’s ‘Let’s Jack’ security are rushed into the main stage pit to hold the barriers as people push against them whilst dancing.
After a couple of choice cocktails at The Day of the Dead Bar it’s down to Sean Paul to close out Common People 2017. Swaggering onstage in a dusty trenchcoat and a pair of sunglasses, Sean Paul looks every bit the nonchalant celebrity, but as ‘Get Busy’ begins it’s clear he is here to move and shake that thing as much as the crowd is. Flanked by two extremely energetic dancers, Sean Paul makes his way through a plethora of his classic hits such as ‘Baby Boy’, but it’s his version of Sia’s ‘Cheap Thrills’ that we are both wincing at, and simultaneously loving. It also then mixes into Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’ and honestly It’s hard to assign one feeling to something like that. To explain, he changes the words… a lot. Enough to have no idea what’s going on except for the tune.
Calling out “We’re bringing you music from around the world tonight… we’ve got music from Jamaica, we’ve been to Australia with Sia… the UK with Ed Sheeran… who wants to go to Trinidad and Tobago with me?” we can’t help but think he’s playing the metaphor because his driver (easily spotted by being the only one at the back of the crowd sporting a full suit and tie) is looking horrified at the idea of driving anywhere other than home after this.
The crowd is getting considerably louder and wilder as the show goes on, and during ‘Temperature’ two girls are hauled over the barrier by security for having a scrap over which one can get closer to Sean Paul. It’s 50-50 on the funny/baffling ratio. Ending with a chant of “Say no no no, we ain’t going home” is fun until it’s actually time to go home and return to the real world, but at least there’s a bank holiday tomorrow to recover. Oh Common People you have once again been superb, with your eclectic mix of music, beautiful décor and incredible extra-entertainment options you are really anything but common, and you know it. Roll on 2017, and if you can’t wait that long for your fix, there’s always the larger scale Camp Bestival and Bestival to continue those CP feels.
But that’s not all, The Common Stage will see sublime dancefloor duo Groove Armada hitting the decks to provide their own inimitable brand of booty shaking brilliance with appearances from Wild Beasts, Foals (DJ set), The Selecter + The Beat, Saint Etienne, Amy MacDonald, House Gospel Choir and Lucy Leave On Saturday in Oxford, while South Park’s Sunday mainstage action will see BRITs Critics’ Choice winner 2017 Rag’n’Bone Man’s staggering vocals and gospel-powered grooves, plus music from Becky Hill, The Cuban Brothers, Elvana: Elvis Fronted Nirvana and Coldredlight.
And in Southampton, The Common Stage will see BRITs Critics’ Choice winner 2013 Tom Odell’s charismatic swagger and rave legends Faithless on the ones & twos, plus there will be appearances from Loyle Carner, Becky Hill, Stefflon Don, Seán McGowan, Kassassin Street, Elvana: Elvis Fronted Nirvana and Black Kat Boppers on Saturday. And Groove Armada, Wild Beasts, British Sea Power, Amy MacDonald, Nadia Rose, Novelist, House Gospel Choir, Signals and The Novatones will appear on Sunday.
Filling your dancing boots throughout the weekend, the Uncontained Stage will be jumping with My Nu Leng & M8s and very special guest Goldie, Novelist, Redlight, GotSome and Klose One, all stepping up to the plates to drop bombs on Saturday in Oxford and Sunday in Southampton, while hands in the air behaviour will come courtesy of Moxie presents On Loop featuring sets from Joy Orbison, Midland, Kornél Kovács, Felix Dickinson and Or:la on Saturday in Southampton and Sunday in Oxford.
Discovering new music is what gets the man like da Bank out of bed in the morning, it’s the very the lifeblood of the Bestival team! So, we’ve teamed up with fellow new music evangelist and Oxford institution Nightshift once again to showcase the best new local bands alongside some of the most exciting acts around on the Uncommon Stage, including ShaoDow, Zaia, The Balkan Wanderers, Jess Hall & Barney Morse Brown, Kanadia, Vienna Ditto, Death of Hi-Fi, Leader, Young Women's Music Project, Rhymeskeemz, The Shapes, Low Island, Desert Storm, The Epstein, Little Red, The Pink Diamond Revue, Catgod and Slate Hearts.
And continuing our long and illustrious partnership with The Joiners in Southampton we are delighted to present Beans on Toast, Black Honey, Natives, Happy Accidents, Cassava, Fever, XOCKHA, Feeble Grandpa, Scarecrow Boat, Nakamarra, Gun Shy and Deltorers.
Oxford will see universal dance adventures at The Pig’s Big Record Club Stage, hosted by the Shellac Collective 78s DJs and ensuring the party always swings, there will be a host of local DJs from Southampton and Oxford across the weekend.
With amazing music keeping your feet moving throughout the bank holiday weekend, we’ll be bringing a little taste of our legendary madness and mayhem ramping up the Bestival antics to transform Common People into an amazing festival wonderland, with plenty of our off-the-wall shenanigans including boss boogying at the Disco Shed in Oxford, and the World’s Biggest Bouncy Castle in Southampton, plus both shows will have the old-time pleasures of Vintage Funfair Rides, surprising Pop-Up Performances, brass-powered Horns of Plenty in Oxford, and Saints Brass in Southamptonwith the savoury delights of Scrumptious Street Food, decadent drinkies from Cocktail Bars, a fantastic Kids Area withthe gymnastic pageantry of Circus,Face Painting, Crazy Inflatables, and much more!
Zara Larrson, Post Malone, Flatbush Zombies, Lil Dicky, Big Narstie, Noname, Nef the Pharoah
Saturday 8th July
Young Thug, Sean Paul, Lil Yachty, Wiley, Section Boyz, Yungen, Dave, Mostack, Jez Dior, The Age of L.U.N.A, Big Tobz, Young T & Bugsey
Sunday 9th July
Ty Dolla $ign, Wizkid, Lil Uzi Vert, Tyga, Desiigner, Hilltop Hoods, Mike Skinner & Murkage present Tonga, Stefflon Don, Yuna, Cadet, Aj X Deno, Abra Cadabra, Topaz Jones,
Main stage hosted by DJ Charlsey
Headlining Friday is Chance The Rapper, who is rapidly establishing himself as the hottest hip-hop artist of his generation. Since the release of his first official mixtape 10 Day in 2012, he’s won three Grammy Awards, collaborated with Kanye West on the critically acclaimed Life of Pablo, and clocked over fifty-seven million streams of his debut album Coloring Book. Having recently announced his 40 date US tour, including two sold out shows at the Hollywood Bowl, this is one act not to miss at Wireless 2017.
Following a momentous performance with Boy Better Know last year, London’s very own grime luminary Skepta will return to Finsbury Park as Saturday’s headliner. Last year saw his ground-breaking album Konnichiwa receive a well-deserved Mercury Prize among countless other awards and take his music worldwide. This summer, Wireless is delighted to host Skepta performing to his home crowd.
Known for some of the biggest hits of the past year, two-time Grammy Award Winner The Weeknd will be closing Wireless Festival on Sunday. The performer, producer and songwriter made history in November 2016 by breaking Spotify records with single ‘Starboy’, which still hold the record for most streams in 24 hours by a single artist.
Bryson Tiller will be bringing crowd pleasing singles ‘Don’t’ and ‘Exchange’ to Finsbury Park for a UK Festival Exclusive at Wireless 2017, alongside the “James Dean of rap” G-Eazy. Swedish songstress Zara Larsson and the young and talented Post Malone are also set to perform on the Main Stage.
Already a big fan of performing at Wireless Festival, Base Defense League Big Narstie will be back with a number of bassline dropping hits. Gritty and atmospheric Flatbush Zombies, comedic rapper Lil Dicky, poetic Chicago rapper Noname and Californian rapper Nef The Pharaoh have also been added to the line up.
Dynamic hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd, stereotype defying rapper Young Thug and the flame-haired Lil Yachty all join the line up for UK Festival Exclusives performances. Also performing are grime legend and godfather Wiley, ‘Temperature’ dancehall superstarSean Paul, UK rap crew Section Boyz, and Capital Xtra Show host DJ Charlsey who will open the festival on the Saturday and Sunday.
Underground British sensation Yungen, 18-year old rapper Dave and Mr Gangster With BanterMoStack, are set to carry out unmissable sets. Further acts to perform on the Saturday are hip-hop meets grunge rap artist Jez Dior, Walthamstow’s Big Tobz,the much talked about TheAge of L.U.N.A and The Royal Foundation winners, now major label signed Young T & Bugsey.
Regarded as one of the best MC’s of all time and with a career spanning over 20 years which includes hits ‘One Mic’, ‘N.Y. State of Mind’ and ‘If I Ruled the World’, Nas will be making a UK Festival Exclusive appearance at Wireless on the Sunday. Also added is R&B and rap fused Tory Lanez; the Toronto born artist known for hit single ‘LUV’, renowned producer Ty Dolla $ign, and the one of a kind Tyga who will be bringing with him five studio albums that include tracks ‘Rack City’ and ‘Faded’. Nigerian singer songwriterWizKid,catchy buzz rapper Lil Uzi Vert and ‘Panda’ celebrated Desiigner will also perform.
Mike Skinner and Murkage present Tonga will be at Finsbury Park this July, alongside a long awaited performance from one of the biggest hip-hop successes to come out of Australia, Hilltop Hoods. London’s grime queen and an artist to watch out for this yearStefflon Don, teenage marvels AJ X DENO, and popstar Yuna will be joined by ‘Stereotype Freestyle’ rapper Cadet, grime purist Abra Cadabra,and storyteller Topaz Jones for the ultimate music experience this summer.
It’s that time of year again, where the rest of the UK has basically resigned itself to Autumn but Bestival-goers know that there is one last high summer fling to be had. Cars crammed with people and gear are flooding the ferry docks, horns are blaring, people are already on the drinks at 9am… off we go to the Isle.
Upon arriving at Robin Hill, it’s clear something has gone awry. For some unknown reason they’ve decided to trickle-open the carparks, meaning those wanting to camp in yellow can’t actually park in yellow because it’s currently closed. For those not au fait with Bestival’s layout – the giant hill/massive walk through three campsites to get from Red parking (which is the only one open right now) to yellow camping, is utterly soul destroying when you’re carrying 4 days’ worth of binge-drinking materials. The second fail of the day (related) is that by not opening multiple car-parks and therefore access gates, EVERYONE IN THE WORLD is queuing for red entry. Two hours to get in is beyond mental, hopefully this will be rectified for next year because it was truly the worst entry system we’ve encountered at a festival this year, and Bestival have done it so right the last five years or so before.
After finally trudging over and setting up camp (in a field where toilets haven’t been delivered yet… what is going on?!), it’s time to head over to the arena to see what’s what. Next big shock of the day… where on earth is the main stage? The stage that sits in its’ place is about a quarter of the size of last years’ behemoth and is low-down, downhill. There are a lot of short people who are going to be seeing absolutely nothing this weekend that’s for sure.
Luckily, The Magic Meadow is up and running with the true Bestival vibe to make us feel better about everything. Happily The Feast Collective has only been moved here, not banished because everyone is starving and the food is just incredible. Where else can you side by side order a grilled-shrimp-and-samphire burger, raclette draped chips and a spicy beef rendang? With a pint of Bestivale in hand it’s off to scout out some early bands.
Asylums on the Invaders of the Future stage are punky and lively, you can’t really argue with a band who love to perform. ‘Joy in a Small Wage’ is perfect rock band fayre, easy to sing along, great to dance to, and the band themselves are leaping around the stage as they play in front of the Day of the Dead bar.
The highlight of Thursday is Besti-faves, Hot Chip in the Big Top. Weird and wonderful as always they play to a busy tent despite starting at nearly one am, and their electronic melodies can be heard far and wide across the still-filling campsites.
Friday sees ferries delayed by the discovery of a World War II torpedo in Portsmouth harbour which is later disposed of by controlled explosion, but with everything soon back on schedule it’s becoming apparent that not enough camping has been opened by the festival this year. Having sold only 40,000 tickets compared to years’ 50,000+ it seems that a decision was made to condense campsites. However, they clearly went a field too far and people are scrabbling for space today.
Anyway, on to the first proper arena day and we find ourselves drawn in by the presence of The World’s Biggest Bouncy Castle over on top of The Grassy Hill. At a price of £5 for ten minutes of bouncing, it’s pretty damn steep, but hey we’re drunk and ready to throw some shapes. After knackering ourselves out, getting told off by the flip police, and avoiding serious damage it’s time to explore Caravanserai over in the Stardust Field.
What can I say about Caravanserai except, it’s magical. Surrounded by half-caravan seating booths, a carousel stage and Wurlitzer carts, it almost feels as if you’ve stepped into an American Horror Story set, without the inherent creepiness I guess. An area is being roped off by toothless yokels who are swigging something foul from an xxxx bottle and people are being called up to ‘dance off’ against each other, choosing ‘beats’ or ‘junk’ as backing tracks. As people crowd in we see a wookiee face off against a cheerleader who is throwing flips on a perilously downhill slant, a pole-dancer takes on a guy with a bizarre rope-tied tiny tears doll, and an extraordinarily drunk flying squirrel twerks at an Adidas clad musician. It’s bizarre and brilliant.
Heading out to the main stage for something a little less frenzied we catch Kitty Daisy & Lewis on the main stage as they whip out the harmonica for some bluesy riffs.
Next up are Bestival legends and all-round disgracefully wonderful pervs, The Cuban Brothers. No Bestival could be complete without them and their crazy array of stunts, tricks, the tightest jumpsuits ever seen outside of Olympic gymnastics and old school hip-hop vibes. Starting off in traditional carpet-print suits, Archerio and Kengo hit the stage with their dance duo which we as always attempt to emulate badly. Miguelito rocks ‘Mike For President’ in his gold wrasslin’ belt, and guest BAM from hip hop crew The Jungle Brothers comes out just in time to be accused of #sexyfavours. As they sing “I’m a Jungle Brother, and he’s a Cuban Brother” we see Juan Erection and Kengo bust out the big moves with huge flares, head spins and tucks. Mike pops into the crowd for a bit of fondling and then busts out the swan pants with absolutely zero shame. The Cuban Brothers are party central and the huge crowd is laughing and dancing along with them. The only sad bit? Kengo brings out his skates but the stage appears to be a bit wet to see him do any tricks. Damn!
Next up, Norwegian waif Aurora is elfin and adorable. Wearing a ton of knitwear in the high summer heat, she has a touch of Tilda Swinton about her, but oh that voice. She soars with ‘Winter Bird’ and instantly endears herself to us when by breaking her ethereal spell to say “I really had to pee before I came on stage, but when I started to sing… it went away. I didn’t pee myself on stage though!!”.
Years & Years hit the stage with a light-show based on the lines of their album cover and some pretty fabulous futuristic outfits. Frontman Olly Alexander is dressed in metallic geometric 8-bit armour which kind of looks like a Minecraft/Moschino collaboration and with huge ticker tape explosions they race through hit after hit. ‘Take Shelter’ and ‘Ties’ have everyone mesmerised and as snappy modern dancers flood the stage it’s clear the band have upped their production value in the last two years. Finishing up with everyone singing along to ‘King’, Olly yelling “I love this festival” and a massive rainbow streamer explosion from the top of the stage, they have been a perfect Bestival band.
Over in Bollywood there’s a sweaty crowd dancing their hearts out whilst cocktails are flowing at the cocktail bus next door. A tiny rave is happening in Sunday Best and there are people spread out all over sampling the culinary delights on offer here. Anna Mae’s Mac & Cheese deserves a mention for being the stodge that saved our souls after two bags of wine. Yes, bags. Praise cheesus!
Heading into the Ambient Forest for a bit of a calm-down, we take a stroll into the revamped Amphitheatre (amazing new design) but we are a little sad that the late-night movies have been axed this year, along with Scroobius Pip’s much loved Satin Lizard Lounge. The forest itself is full of new seating nooks and artistic installations like the Tron-esque musical pipes, and the tinkling of ivories can be heard through the secret entrance to the Gatsby-esque Blind Tiger.
Back to the main stage and Skepta has drawn a massive crowd for ‘It Ain’t Safe’ but it’s Major Lazer who really take it up a notch with thousands pouring into the arena for the likes of ‘Lean On’ and ‘Light It Up’.
Over at the Spaceport, set in a giant fuse box underneath a massive rocket, Carl Cox is lighting up the night with some solid beats, followed by Diplo straight off the back of his main stage performance. The ribbon-wrapped area, flanked by two huge astronaut installations is awesome, but the layout does make access quite difficult with thousands of bodies piled in.
Alas, predictions were true and the rain has put a stop to many of the wild and wonderful costumes we’re used to on a Bestival Saturday, not to mention the main parade has been cancelled due to ground conditions. Such a shame! However, spirits are never dampened at Besti when Mr Motivator is on hand for an early shakedown. There’s something weirdly comforting about a man espousing health in the midst of our foul hungover scurvy-wracked state. No I haven’t had any fruit for three days except in a cocktail, but I’m pretty sure I can keep up with these aerobics… probably…
The Chuckle Brothers are obviously both terrible and nostalgically hilarious but it’s Wolf Alice who deserve a much bigger, less soggy crowd for their soft, rock style. ‘Bros’ and ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’ are brilliant and should have been sun-drenched. Hopefully we can catch them again at a less damp future Bestival. Lady Leshurr is a powerhouse performer with hit 'Brush Your Teeth' and clearly everyone is loving the return of Craig David, no matter how many times he says his own name.
Over at Invaders, Pretty Vicious’ ‘Cave Song’ has a huge crowd up and jumping including a rowdy bunch of people dressed as their older selves with inflatable zimmer frames – The Future, I geddit, very clever. Followed up by rowdy bijou band Hinds who rock so much pocket-power they practically eclipse the main stage sound, we are loving their energy. Yelling “What’s up Bestival! Bestival is the first festival we did as a band… we were so excited because it was the first time we ever had like an artists wristband!” they echo the sentiments of quite a lot of new bands who were given their first chances at this festival. Rob Da Bank and co. have always been right on the cutting edge of booking up-and-comers, allowing new acts to flow into the festival mainstream.
Onto tonight’s main stage headliner – The Cure. With probably half the crowd never having heard of them, it’s a pretty great turnout. Hits ‘Friday I’m In Love’ and ‘Just Like Heaven’ are absolutely amazing, but the three encores and an almost three hour set they perhaps go a step too far.
Next door on the Invaders stage, PC Music Allstars followed by Danny L Harle bring a small slice of electronic rave, then euphoria to the side of the Magic Meadow and the glowsticks are out in force (ermegherrrd right?) and as we head back to the campsites later on, the STA Travel garden is inexplicably packed with people winding to… Peter Andre’s Mysterious Girl. Yep, that’s the last song in my head before sleep. Thanks guys.
Waking up to thankfully clearer skies it’s a chance to break out all the sparkly shit we couldn’t wear yesterday and walking through the tent graveyard, uh, campsite – it’s clear some people have gone full feral now. Broken poles poke holes in the sky as wellies (with feet still in them) protrude from tents, their owners flat out in oblivion.
The arena mud has dried enough to provide safe passage and it’s soon time for a bit of Electro-Swing with French movers and shakers Caravan Palace. At first a fairly small crowd has gathered but as they begin to blast out their strange mix of high tempo beats and jazz-swing riffs the arena suddenly becomes a bouncing, writhing mass of bodies throwing down together. It’s a big statement but I think CP are ‘the’ band of the entire weekend, the sun is out and the set is just incredible. Bow-ties and braces are the look, and cute and firey vocalist Zoé Colotis Charleston’s across the stage like she was born in the wrong decade. Hopping into the crowd to pull on a fans’ Union Jack tshirt, Zoé yells “We don’t care about Brexit, we love the UK!”. It’s a stellar performance and a great book for Bestival.
Over in the Big Top, a very different type of electro-swing-come-dubstep is going on with an incredible array of circus type acts to boot. Slamboree are fiercely Burning-Man in style, there’s a hint of cabaret mixed with Mad Max and freakshow vibes. Their sound is new, fresh and the fire-performers, skeletal dancers, fabric-winged fairies and kabuki masked creeps are amazing.
Taking a little time out up at Slow Motion, we laze in Solace with tea and cake, marvel at the Owl and Falconry display and laugh at Llama’s butts before attempting drunken hoop twirling and some hefty/danger fraught poi. The yoga tent looks great, but we are way beyond balance at this point.
In the Ambient Forest we stumble into becoming performers ourselves with the Uke band by The Gypsy caravans. With a song book filled with unlikely and brilliant options, we stay for renditions of Don’t Stop Believing, Friday I’m In Love, and go all out at the top of our voiced for The Final Countdown. This is the kind of unexpected happening that sets Bestival apart from other festivals, unplanned weirdness is always memorable.
The Out of Africa Bar & Disco Shed provide a little downtime as we listen to Michael Jackson jams and drink enormous cocktails whilst ducking to avoid the frenzied games of swirly tennis (swingball?) going on behind us. Grabbing some free fabric wristbands from the merch tent (if these were made up, why did we all get crap plastic wristbands for entry this year?) we stomp our way back to the main stage for Bastille.
Returning triumphantly to Bestival, Bastille are this time dressed in white jumpsuits with ww.com on the back, depicting their brand new album ‘Wild World’. Kicking off with old favourite ‘Bad Blood’ we know it’s going to be a good one, and the crowd is absolutely sardine-rammed into the arena. ‘Things We Lost In The Fire’ and ‘These Streets’ are brilliant, and new track ‘Good Grief’ gets a great reception. Despite it not really being a surprise any more, we all get down with their cover/re-working of No Scrubs ‘No Angels’ and ‘Of The Night’ a mashup of ‘Rhythm of the Night’ and ‘Rhythm is a Dancer’.
Dual headliners Sean Paul and Wiz Khalifa make their mark on Bestival, with everyone getting their groove on, reliving their noughties youth. Though ticket sales say that this years’ headline choices perhaps weren’t up to Bestival’s usual standard, it’s clear those who are here are having a rowdy good time.
Now, hugging your mates and telling them you intensely love them is pretty standard practice at Bestival, it’s just that kind of place that makes you love the world, but the closing fireworks is where you can hold each other tight and reminisce on the great/hazy memories you’ve made this weekend. Soon you’ll be trawling through blurry pictures of yourself looking an absolute state and missing every single moment of this magical festival, but for now – we’re oohing and aahing at this amazing Prince Tribute. Complete with screened video, purple smoke and confetti, we are truly sad that Prince never made it to Bestival, the kind of place that would truly have revered him and his music. The solar system rings of fire glow below as massive rockets flower in the sky and it is beautiful.
The night is still young for those squeezing every last ounce of Bestival into their souls, and The Human League are playing to a huge crowd in The Big Top. ‘Together In Electric Dreams’ and ‘Don’t You Want Me’ go way beyond karaoke and into the you-can’t-hear-the-band-because-everyone-is-singing territory.
Caravanserai is also full of life, with fire performers, aerialists and tightrope walkers walking high above cosy groups of people laughing in waltzer cars, whilst bursts of fire flame into the night from The Spaceport in the distance. Grabbing some gourmet grilled cheese we make the last trek back to the tents, watched by the shining eyes of the Lovebot.
There have been many harsh reviews floating about for Bestival this year which I think are largely unfounded. Yes things were very different which definitely came as a shock after the sheer grandiosity of the last few years, but the atmosphere was as ever, oh so Bestival. The creativity, beauty and balance was still there – all the things Bestival is renowned for. For every mad moment where something truly serendipitous has caught you off guard, where something held you in the kind of wonderment you thought you’d lost after childhood, and for every second you forgot your problems and just let loose, Bestival is the engineer. The thought that drives this festival is apparent in every corner, no matter the budget. I will be there next year with bells on. Or whatever stuff the new theme requires really.
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.
Busting out from the houses of joy, our mighty main stage is going to take a spanking as we turn up the levels on a Future soundclash that will bring Bestival 2016 to a jubilant close. Announcing not one but two Sunday night headliners, hip-hop will meet dancehall for a mind-blowingly triumphant booty shaking party in the ultimate Sunday night head to head on the Isle of Wight.
Rob da Bank says: “We love a big finale at Bestival, we also love hip-hop and dancehall and a massive soundsystem superclash between Wiz Khalifa and Sean Paul seems like a solid plan to close off another big weekend of music of raving, partying and expanding your minds at Bestival. Pull up!”
Commenting on his Sunday night headline performance Wiz Khalifa said: “Can’t wait to be back in the UK and perform at Bestival. The fans here have such good energy, it’s going to be lit.”
Looking forward to his headline appearance, Sean Paul said: “I can't wait to play at Bestival… I’ve heard the grand finale on the Sunday night is the best festival spot in the UK and I'm gonna bring the fyyyaahhh”
Yes! In a UK festival exclusive, we have not just one but two Billboard Hot 100 chart toppers – hip-hop superstar Wiz Khalifa and dancehall legend Sean Paul – who will be the twin big things at the greatest party the Future has ever seen. Kicking off with Sean Paul, who will be taking it uptown with sweet beats and all the bass, you can expect to be dutty wining all the time as we transcend the normal and head into the unknown. Famed for getting the dance bouncing with tracks like Get Busy, Temperature and Entertainment, you know this is going to go Full Frequency… but that’s just part one.
Once the dancehall behaviour has lit the blue touch paper on our most epic of finales, we get the hip-hop as Wiz Khalifa takes to the stage to drop the dopest flow. Pittsburgh’s finest rhymer, Wiz came to worldwide attention for his track Black and Yellow, and keeps on smashing them out of the park, with Work Hard Play Hard (something the Bestival crew are well versed in), See You Again and We Dem Boyz cementing his place as one of hip-hop’s MVPs and one of our favourite ever MCs. Guaranteed to take the party into the stratosphere, if that’s not a sure fire knock out one-two, we don’t know what is.
But you know us, we don’t know when to stop! Capping what will be one of our most incredible Sunday nights ever, the man like da Bank, Tayo and more will take to the stage for Purple Rave a truly spellbinding audio-visual tribute to Prince. A huge and enduring influence on everyone in the Bestival family, Prince was unquestionably up there with the greatest musicians in history. So, don’t you dare miss our eye-popping pyrotechnic paean showcasing hits, rarities, the odd cheeky bootleg and more, all accompanied by a coruscating firework spectacular that will be our heartfelt tribute to the one that got away.
And keeping the good news flowing we have got even more future sailors joining the Bestival bill, who we predict will be making jubilant appearances across the weekend, including Oxford quartet Glass Animals, and fast, mesmeric masters Crystal Fighters.
Giving you the Future of festivals now, don’t miss out on our Robin Hill adventures. Keep an eye out for the omens: www.Bestival.net, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram / Tumblr
With Wireless Festival being hosted in both London's Finsbury Park and Birmingham's Perry Park this summer, we can now reveal another massive 21 artists that will join headliners Kanye West, Drake and Bruno Mars.
Tinie Tempah, Robin Thicke, Sean Paul, Naughty Boy, Labrinth, Kid Ink, Wilkinson, Meridian Dan, Lizzo, Jon Bellion, Schoolboy Q, Javeon, Elli Ingram, Blonde, Rixton, Alec Benjamin, Say Lou Lou, Sinead Harnett, Indiana, All About She and Sasha Keable join the bill for what will be one of summer's biggest music festivals.