Roll up! Roll up! It’s the GIANT BESTIVAL REVIEW – 2018!

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.

THURSDAY

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.

FRIDAY

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.

Oh My God! It's The Church

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.

READ OUR FULL SILK CITY REVIEW HERE!

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.

SATURDAY

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.

READ OUR FULL LONDON GRAMMAR REVIEW HERE!

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

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;

CHECK OUT OUR FULL M.I.A. REVIEW HERE!

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.

Images © Andy McHardy for Summer Festival Guide

Bestival Announces Second Wave of Acts

Setting the tone in our Year of Colour, we are excited to announce even more amazing artists who will be joining The xx, A Tribe Called Quest, Pet Shop Boys, Jamie T, Kurupt FM, Justice, Dizzee Rascal and many more as we redefine escapism for the festival generation. With a host of live music, super fat sound systems and DJs heading to our brand new site, join us as we increase the peace this 7th – 10th September at the Lulworth Estate, Dorset.

Rob da Bank says: “Bestival’s formula is pretty simple – we like you guys having fun, exploring new ideas and listening to amazing bands and DJs in a massive field or forest or both at the same time whilst dressed as a multi-coloured gherkin. If you like the sound of that you’re on board already, but if you need any more persuasion, we are proud to announce some mega new acts for Besti, repping the best in grime with Wiley, AJ Tracey and 67, through indie and rock with Blossoms and Twin Atlantic, all topped off with some good old fashioned rave with DJs from Heidi to Bjarki, Monki to the Ragga Twins and a massive garage takeover. Step up people, step the **** up!”

The Lulworth Estate will be rocking to even more amazing live music from the likes of grime godfather Wiley, indie powerhouse Blossoms, slick rhymer Loyle Carner, UK hip-hop hero Roots Manuva, Scottish rockers Twin Atlantic, folk troubadour Nick Mulvey, grime MC AJ Tracey, legendary hype man Fatman Scoop, Ninja Tune cut n paste maverick Romare and funk machine Sinkane. Plus, there will be appearances Tash Sultana, Alma, Cakes da Killa, 67, House Gospel Choir, London African Gospel Choir performing Graceland, Skinny Girl Diet, Smerz, Brushy One String, Hackney Colliery Band, The Greasy Slicks, Park Hotel, The Rhythm Method, Zoee, The Smiths Ltd, Disney Rascal, and the Rajasthan Heritage Brass Band. 

We’ll have plenty of new sound system action keeping the floors lit all weekend long, with celebratory behaviour from Andy C presenting 25 years of RAM featuring Andy C, Calyx & Teebee, Culture Shock, DC Breaks and MCs Tonn Piper, and Carasel & 2Shy. Bestival lifetime resident David Rodigan presents Ram Jam with Preditah, Conducta & MC Creed, Venum Sound and a very special guest still to be announced. And there will be footwork frenzy for the Teklife Showcase with sets from DJ Spinn, DJ Taye, DJ Paypal & Teklife Dancers.

The Garage Pool Party will be rinsing some classic beats with garage playas Heartless Crew, DJ Luck & MC Neat and Oxide & Neutrino all dropping enough two-step love to keep HMS Bestival rocking. Ensuring the subs are red hot right across the site we’ll have turntable tear ups from the Raindance crew featuring Rat Pack, Slipmatt, Billy Daniel Bunter and Uncle Dugs, Jungle Fever, with Brockie & MC Det, Jumping Jack Frost, Ragga Twins, Funky Flirt, Shockin B, Eastman Sound, and Ruddy Ranks and Nice Up! presents Daddy G, Kiko Bun, StarOne, Riddim Punks, Ghost Writerz, Shepdog, Serocee, Red Eye Hifi, Mr Benn, Cut La Vis, Jamie Rodigan, Origin One & AAA Badboy.

 

And as if that weren’t enough, there will be even more deck-based brilliance from Mad Professor, Heidi, Bjarki, Monki, Melé, Nightwave, Willow, Anna Wall, Jem Haynes, Reggae Roast & MC Natty Campbell, Tayo, Martha and DJ Dapper Dan.

Common People Announces Sean Paul and Pete Tong Plus Many More

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 Southampton with the savoury delights of Scrumptious Street Food, decadent drinkies from Cocktail Bars, a fantastic Kids Area with the gymnastic pageantry of Circus, Face Painting, Crazy Inflatables, and much more!

Bestival 2016 ‘The Future’: Reviewed!

Thursday

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

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’.

Read our Major Lazer full headline review HERE

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.

Saturday

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.

Read our full headline review of The Cure HERE

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.

Sunday

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.

Check out our full headline review of Sean Paul and Wiz Khalifa HERE

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.

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

Creamfields announce a host of new acts for this years lineup

With festival season now well underway, dance fans can barely contain their excitement as the 6 week countdown begins for the big one, when the mighty Creamfields rolls into town to take over the Cheshire countryside for 4 days of beats, bass and festival fun.  And just when you thought the UK’s #1 dance fest couldn’t get any better, it certainly got a whole lot bigger as they’ve announced more acts to the already outstanding line up.   

First up and never one to miss out on the action is Techno legend Sven Vath, he’ll be joined by one of the most in demand DJs of the moment Patrick Topping, who joins the family for his Creamfields debut along with a host of other debut performances from the likes of Jerome Price, Magic Wand, Angemi,Seeb, and returning for a second year Eli & Fur as well as the return of Cream Favourite Tall Paul. And getting the party well and truly started Creamfields welcomes a legendary outfit whose unstoppable, infectious force of nature is unmissable…The Cuban Brothers!   Didn’t think it could get any better?  It just did!

Common People Southampton 2016 – FULL REVIEW!

SATURDAY

As one of Bestival's satellite babies, Common People Southampton was always going to be hit and in it's inaugural year 2015 proved you can have all the feel of the festival in the middle of a city, but now round 2 has started on the common and there's a new sense of ownership, like Southampton has taken CP to heart.

Over in Oxford a new dawn rises on a sister festival, but we're getting the kinks-ironed-out experience of a trialled triumph and the site looks incredible. Towering high right inside the main gates is The World’s Biggest Bouncy Castle, a Bestival x Something Creative collaboration that looks like it should have been made by Willy Wonka or be home to a herd of unicorns. Apparently it can comfortably hold one hundred people at a time, but we bet the somersault-police couldn’t catch us in that many…

A decent queue is forming already but it’s off to the main stage we go for first band of the day, Wild Front who to be honest look a little scared to be there. After a sort of quiet start, the Hampshire lads get their rhythm and there are some full on dancing fans down the front.

Next on are West End Kids, an energetic musical troupe who buzz through hits from all the biggest stage shows, followed by the legendary kids comedy duo The Chuckle Brothers. Who can resist a bit of to-me-to-you with Paul and Baz (…and Tinchy Stryder)? The massive and rowdy crowd singing along with them is decidedly younger than they should be for long-time fans, I can only assume they’ve been hitting up youtube in preparation for the festival…

Rapper Lady Leshurr gives us a short but energetic set, after being over an hour late due to ‘traffic’ but dressed head to toe in camo and waxing lyrical about her weave and being from Birmingham, hit ‘Brush Your Teeth’ goes down a storm. Though she clearly doesn’t trust us – yelling “Has every single one of you brushed your teeth today?” “I feel like some of you are lying”. The Sugarhill Gang crowd-please with ‘Apache (Jump on It)’ and ‘Rapper’s Delight’ with Hen Dogg sporting epic double-denim and a rather fetching gold tipped cane.

Over on the Uncommon Stage Southampton crew Our Hollow, Our Home have drawn a big crowd, and Chris is jamming on the guitar in The People’s Front Room. Elsewhere the Jam Jar bar is packed with people sipping fancy martinis and the kids area is awash with laughter from the wonky bicycle trials.

Hometown band Signals pack out the Uncommon stage, as mermaid-haired frontwoman Ellie bounces about, we get a taste of the curiously named genre ‘math pop’. Ghostpoet is getting soulful on the main stage to a big crowd, and Gaz Coombes is rocking less of the Supergrass era sideburns and more of his second solo album ‘Matador’.

Public Enemy get the crowd moving with the likes of ‘Don’t Believe The Hype’ but it’s just not the same without clock-toting weirdo Flavor Flav who apparently wasn’t allowed to come for some reason – “F–kin governments. Flava flav can’t be here because of F–kin governments”. The kid in the front row wearing a PE tshirt and a bedside alarm clock around his neck is obviously devastated.

After a tasty dinner at one of CP’s many amazing food outlets (Soft-shell crab burger? Brie and Pear toastie? Truffled mushroom quesadilla?) we are ready to take on the night, and so are Primal Scream. Rocking an eye-offendingly bright pink blazer, frontman Bobby Gillespie lopes about the stage looking every bit the archetypal boho rockstar. It’s a great, powerful set from the band with new album Chaosmosis material hitting the mark. Over on the Uncontained Stage (read: rave station) Kurupt FM are winding up the absolutely rammed arena into a frenzy, there are bodies everywhere – it’s a mostly teenage rampage.

On the main stage, the much anticipated return of Southampton son Craig David has drawn practically everyone from around the site and it’s not without a touch of nostalgia that we’re singing along to hits ‘Fill Me In’ and ‘Re-Wind’. Though the TS5 moniker is largely being ignored, it is fun to hear him mixing in tracks from other artists and sampling some proper legendary stuff, but to be honest – we all just love a bit of him singing his own name over and over again. Ahh memories.

Check out our full Craig David review here!

SUNDAY

Sunday stacks up a bit cooler but everyone still seems to be rocking up in bright festival-attire, and the telltale signs of yesterday’s sunburn are found in every bald head or exposed shoulder today. Shrieks of mayhem are emanating from the behemoth bouncy castle and a quick peek inside is like looking at a candy-coloured warzone. Kids are tombstoning each other, toddlers are being skimmed within millimetres by their falling parents and the flip-police have no hope of stopping the teenagers intent on putting the maximum effort into possible neck-injury. It’s awesome.

Next door on the Uncommon Stage, Arid Wave are rocking everyone’s socks off, but it looks like Hercules Morse on the main stage have fallen foul of the Sunday hangover absentees – there just aren’t that many people here yet. M.E.R.C.Y.Southampton Urban Collective take over the main stage in the absence of Xylaroo, with two of the most adorable… sorry, SICK, hiphop dancers Jamie and Jamal giving us proper attitude and a heap of up and coming artists alongside.

Later on, Mr. Motivator draws a massive but spacious crowd as young, old and anyone in-between are getting their groove on with the positively ageless Mr. M and his lovely wife. Sporting a dazzlingly terrible-yet-amazing lycra onesie he plugs in his jams and off he goes doing squat technique mixed with curious life coaching “If the grass is greener on the other side, you probably aren’t watering yours. No man's gonna water my grass”. Telling us we’re “Much better than Oxford” only serves to endear this living legend to us more, and with classic moves such as ‘drive the car’ and the possibly slightly inappropriate for a younger audience ‘whip the horse’ – what’s not to love?

Brighton scenesters The Magic Gang look like they’ve stepped right out of Empire Records and give us a good dose of proper melodic indie pop before Chas & Dave take to the stage (flat-cap mandatory) to tell us about those ‘London Girls’.

Now we brace ourselves for the powerhouse of unmentionably bad behaviour that is The Cuban Brothers. The CB’s are of course rocking a new set of crazy patterned suits for the occasion, throwing down headspins, flares and insane flips all over the shop, as Miguel assures parents that all of the rude things he says will go right over the kids’ heads. This would be fine, but there’s no way you can make those kids un-see him pretending to slam his willy into a microphone whilst wearing only a thong, now is there? That right there is seared into some young memories. Newest member One Erection almost smashes his teeth out doing a massive front tuck off the stage into the pit and gets thoroughly told off by security for hopping into the crowd. M.E.R.C.Y lads Jamie and Jamal are invited on stage to dance with the CB’s and their faces are absolutely priceless when the guys hit the stage in their holographic fringed jumpsuits. However they are visibly horrified when Miguel dons a pair of extremely skimpy Bjork-esque swan pants. ‘Mike For President’ is the only song I remember because there was so much happening. He gets my vote though.

Jamie Lawson’s ‘Wasn’t Expecting That’ has everyone up and singing in the sunshine – he even managed to get us to do a decent job of harmonizing, but it’s Katy B’s set that really lights the place up. Bathed in the setting sun her sequined dinosaur dress shimmers all over as she dances around the stage with her troupe, and the likes of  ‘Lights On’ and ‘Katy On A Mission’ has the arena jumping – especially when she doubles up the tempo. Chalk up another win for Southampton as Katy yells “Southampton, you are abosolutely smashing oxford right now I have to say”.

As the last of the daylight goes and the Helter Skelter and Big Wheel go neon, there’s just one more act to finish off what has been another amazing Common People festival, and it’s no small fry. Eighties synth-pop legends Duran Duran blow through a hit parade of absolute classics such as ‘Wild Boys’, ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’ and ‘Girls on Film’. With tributes to both David Bowie and Prince, it’s a special one and ending with anthem ‘Rio’ couldn’t be more fitting on the costa del Southampton. As the arena clears and the crowd spills out into the streets to head home, it’s obvious that once again CP has been a massive success, and it sounds like Oxford is loving the CP vibe too.

Read our full Duran Duran review here!

Bestival and Common People present: The World’s Biggest Bouncy-Castle!

The Bestival family has a long and august history of going that extra mile, making the world of festivals bigger, better and brighter. And this year is no exception, pushing the boundaries of bobbing up and down to the very limit, we’ve teamed up with our old muckers, Cardiff-based Something Creatives to make what we think is the world’s biggest bouncy castle! Aiming to add to our accolades for the world’s largest fancy dress party, the biggest busk ever and our colossal disco ball, this could well be the greatest inflatable on Earth, and it’s making its debut at Common People in Southampton this coming bank holiday weekend!

Rob da Bank says: “We do love breaking a record and this is one of our funnest builds so far. Me and my mate Matt from the infamous Inflatable Church had a pipe dream about five years ago of building the world’s biggest bouncy castle, and this summer we’re making that a reality. So polish your socks and step up for what will be one of the most innocent of pleasures – bouncing up and down with gay abandon with your mates, family or friendly strangers. See you on the castle!”

Something Creatives’ Matt the Hat commented: “I’ve always been the first kid in the sandpit and consider play a fundamental part of everyday life. Everyone should find the time to play. The playful spirit of creating joy and fun is shared by Rob da Bank and all of the Bestival family and has made this brilliantly bonkers idea a reality. Whether you’re young or old, what could be more fun than jumping around inside the biggest bouncy castle in the world?  Just watch out for the ‘bouncers’, and remember if you’re wearing shoes then you can’t come in!”

Everyone loves a bouncy castle. That’s a fact. And we’ve got even more facts about our blow up bastion that could see us heading for the record books once again. Smashing an almost 20-year-old record and measuring a frankly epic23.8 metres long and 20.7 metres wide our bouncy castle stands 12.8 metres tall at its highest point; the side turrets are equal in height to the walls of Cardiff Castle, making it taller than the Great Wall of China and roughly three times the size of the Berlin Wall! Filled with 1143 cubic metres of air it can comfortablyaccommodate 100 pleasure-seeking festivalgoers at one time.

Quite simply massive, it’s an inflatable legend in the making, don’t miss the chance to have a jump around on our historic bouncy castle at Common People, Southampton this 28th & 29th May, and then at Camp Bestival 28th-31stJuly and Bestival from 8th – 11th September.

Bouncy Castle Comparison:

                                                            Length          Width           Height         

 

Word’s Biggest Bouncy Castle:          23.8m          20.7m          12.8m                 

 

Previous Record Holder:                    19m             19m             12m            

The clock is ticking and Common People tickets are flying so grab yours now at www.commonpeople.net

Common People announce Uncommon Stage line-ups

Continuing our mission to connect like-minded party people on common land, the Common People team are very pleased to announce the line-ups for our Uncommon Stage. Flexing his all-encompassing musical muscles Rob da Bank has joined forces with legendary, longstanding music publication Nightshift in Oxford and acclaimed venue The Joiners in Southampton, to bring you the cream of the up-and-coming music scene, featuring some of the most exciting new and underground bands, this coming May Bank Holiday at South Park and Southampton Common. 

Common People curator Rob da Bank says: “The beating heart of all our festival adventures is getting people to discover new music and uncover new bands. Our curators, Ricky from The Joiners in Southampton and Ronan from the seminal Nightshift magazine, are experts in these matters, so please be upstanding and make much noise for The Uncommon Stage.”

 

Nightshift’s Ronan Munro says: “It’s fantastic that so many local acts are getting the opportunity to play at Common People, with the opportunity to play to a whole new audience, and it’s great that we get the chance to show the variety of music that comes out of Oxfordshire – from hot jazz, reggae, hip hop and blues to doom metal, electronica, punk and even pirate pop. I’ve always tried to make musicians proud to come from Oxfordshire, and Oxfordshire be proud of its musicians and this weekend is proof that Oxfordshire is home to a wealth of music talent”.

The Joiners’ Ricky Bates says: “We at the Joiners are utterly thrilled to be directly presenting the Uncommon Stage this year with some of our favourite touring acts of old and new in one space! Plus, we have some amazing home grown local talent throughout the day covering everything from ska to metalcore to indie rock n’ roll across the weekend, it’s going to be the most righteous fun weekend, don’t stay in! See you down the front”.  

Saturday in South Park, Oxford will see the Uncommon Stage shake to the sounds of local seven-piece vintage r ‘n’ b and hot jazz outfit Original Rabbit Foot Spasm Band, east Oxford’s roots-inspired Zaia, the glistening pop hooks of Neverlnd, Chipping Norton’s Esther Joy Lane, the doomladen Undersmile, and Cowley’s Cameron A.G. who recently scored a Hottest Record in the World Right Now on Annie Mac’s Radio 1 show. There will also be rum-soaked fun from Peerless Pirates, gothic blues pop sounds from Death of the Maiden and looped vibes from mind-blowing cellist Duotone. 

Sunday’s super-fresh action will see Oxford-based, pan-European gypsy-ska-punks The Balkan Wanderers heading up a coruscating line-up that will include local electronic types Maiians, electro rockabilly blues from Vienna Ditto, Witney’s Little Brother Eli, Oxford-based beats cooperative Inner Peace Collective, Chipping Norton sibling duo Cassels, purveyors of porch folk with attitude The August List, Cowley’s Young Women’s Music Project and the experimental, ethereal sounds of Oxford via Stockholm’s Julia Meijer.

On Southampton Common, Saturday’s dazzling new sounds will come courtesy of much admired Cambridge five-piece Lonely the Brave and experimental Brightonians Tall Ships, with sets from singer-songwriter Sean Mcgowan, stadium-ready post rockers New Desert Blues and BBC 6 Music-supported Bel Esprit, all of whom hail from Southampton. There will also be live music from the Isle of Wight’s math-pop four-piece Signals and the home turf triumvirate of Our Hollow, Our Home, Elixir and Vicki Musselwhite, with the first of our soon to be announced I Want to Play at Common People winners also making an appearance. 

Sunday will see NME-championed Palma Violets topping a bill that will include garage rockers Pretty Vicious, Portsmouth’s Kassassin Street, and a cavalcade of local heroes including Science of Eight Limbs, The Rising, Bigtopp, These Septic Stars and Cassava, with two more I Want to Play at Common People winners completing the line-up.

Showcasing the very best in ambitious new music, don’t miss discovering your new favourite band at Common People’s temple of innovative sound, The Uncommon Stage.

Bestival unveils new music for the future…

Predicting something very special as we charge inexorably towards The Future, the Bestival crew are set to whet your appetite with a hearty helping of amazing bands and DJs that will be joining The Cure Major Lazer, Diplo, Carl Cox, Fatboy Slim, Bastille, Skepta, Wolf Alice and many more at Robin Hill this coming September.

Rob da Bank says: “I love booking Bestival. It’s proper ‘kid in a sweetshop’ time when I look at all the acts out there and try to curate a line-up that makes sense across many genres… which is how I think Bestivalites like it. It’s not just booked for you, it’s for me too, so I cannot wait for a weekend encompassing Kano, Goldie, Mura Masa, Evian Christ and Reggie and Bollie. If you fancy it too, I’ll see you on the ferry!”

Upping the grime ante, renaissance man Kano will be joining us to showcase his skills with some super-sick bars. His recent Fire in the Booth for Charlie Sloth was a total masterclass that set the standard for the young pretenders, making his appearance at Bestival truly unmissable.

We’ll also have future perfect live performances from much vaunted Seattle duo Odesza, the lush and sultry Snakehips, wunderkind producer Mura Masa, London collective WSTRN, superfly freestyler Lady Leshurr, BBC Sound of 2016 nominee Billie Marten, Brits Critics' Choice nominee Frances, soul-funk-jazz-pop fusionist Izzy Bizu. and X Factor’s real superstars Reggie & Bollie.   

Also taking to the stage will be the inimitable Los Hermanos Cubanos, The Cuban Brothers, the sublimely intimate This Is The Kit, South African folkster Jeremy Loops and our old mates the Rajasthan Heritage Brass Band. 

Stepping up to the platters that matter to keep you dancing all night long expect DJ sets from beat juggling behemoth DJ Yoda, Metalheadz legend Goldie, Southampton’s finest deck destroyer James Zabiela, sonic adventurers Mount Kimbie, and Ellesmere Port’s boldest export Evian Christ. 

There will also be sets from Radio 1’s Heidi, bass marauders Oneman b2b My Nu Leng, on the fly edit merchants Melé & Monki’s NRG Flash, architect of grime and recent Bestival FM guest Artwork, and Honey Soundsystem, Applescal, Poté and Venum Sound.

And, adding a soupçon of off the wall behaviour, we will have Bestival antics from spandex-clad force of nature Mr Motivator, crack of dawn ravers Morning Gloryville, and Circus Raj.

Common People 2015 Full Review

Bank holiday weekend in Southampton, all the cool kids are down at the beach right? Wrong. This weekend there’s a new festival on the scene brought to you by the wonderful wizards behind Bestival and Camp Bestival and it’s called Common People. Held on the beautiful Southampton Common smack bang in the middle of town, it’s easy to get to and find places to stay, family friendly and with an eclectic line-up sure to please each and every person in your squad.

Saturday sees the likes of George The Poet energising the main stage whilst the rolling thunder of The Portsmouth Batala band is going strong in the foodie area, and people are soaking up the sunshine and sipping pitchers of cocktails on the grass. Around the corner from the Uncommon stage hides the exciting kids area, featuring a tiny chair-carousel, a massive inflatable slide and a whole host of activities from crafts to stilt walking. A group of dads are also haphazardly trying to one-up each other with their hula-hooping skills.

Over on the main stage The South Sea Alternative Choir are looking decidedly mod but are banging out some classic covers from the likes of The Beatles and Blur. The VIP area is awash with sunbathing bodies on the woven canopy beds and the arena is starting to fill up for the masked Ninja DJ, Jaguar Skills. Jag’s set starts out loud and heavy, mixing in his musical influences and pop culture references, The Prodigy’s ‘Omen’ makes an appearance, as does the festival’s (already much played) namesake tune ‘Common People’ from Pulp. Black Sabbath’s ‘Iron Man’ gets a round of applause from the Dad contingent, and everyone loves a bit of Faithless ‘Insomnia’. It’s a powerful set, if a little weird to witness in the daytime, instead of a dark grimy warehouse. 

DJ Yoda is up next, a Bestival stalwart who usually has an incredible AV show, which was advertised but doesn’t seem to have materialised. Nonetheless, Yoda’s mixes are seamless and the guy just looks permanently happy. From Macklemore to The Sugar Hill Gang, Chic to the Sesame Street theme, DJ Yoda just knows how to deliver a great set.

Following Yoda comes De La Soul, who spend the first few minutes of their show joking with the crowd and calling “Can all the photographers, all the journalists down here, just put their cameras down for a second and put one hand up in the air… and get down” as well as teasing the VIP area saying “VIP? We don’t do that bullshit”. Their no-nonsense style brings out the gangsta in the crowd, and there are random gang signs being thrown up all over. 

Around 8pm appears to be dinner time in the south, as the queues stretch out in front of each food outlet, but the offerings are better than your average city festival. No dodgy burgers or disappointing noodles to be had here – it’s gourmet grilled cheese for us (brie, pear and walnut) from a little independent trader, washed down with a cocktail from the Day of the Dead Cocktail Bus.

Big Top headliners Waze & Odyssey are going off and the stripy tent is bouncing as the sun goes down. The Main stage welcomes firm festival favourite and long time Rob-da-Bank pal Norman Cook, also known as the epic Fatboy Slim. Bringing out a choir to intro ‘Eat Sleep Rave Repeat’ is a touch of genius and something completely special, even to those who have had the pleasure of seeing a Fatboy Slim show before. With his creepy white mask torn off, and signature Hawaiian shirt out and proud, Norm hypes up the packed arena with a host of hits and mixes at ear-bleeding levels, and everyone loves it. There’s something pretty exciting about seeing parents and teens raving alongside each other, covered in neon paint and totally lost in the music together. Giant inflatable balls are thrown out for ‘Right Here, Right Now’ and the crowd is going absolutely mental. Finishing up with lasers and another choral rendition of ‘Praise You’, it’s clear that Fatboy Slim has made Common People his own, and to top it off a barrage of fireworks breaks out as the sitewide exodus into town begins.

 

 

Read our Fatboy Slim review here

Sunday starts out a little cooler and there are decidedly less people in early, though judging by the state of some of last night’s revellers, that may be down to hangover recovery in nearby hotels and homes. Over on The Uncommon Stage a decent crowd has gathered for young bid-winners The Costellos who thank everyone for coming out to see them, before diving headlong into a fun and energetic set.

People are dancing on benches and drinking cocktails out of hollowed out watermelons over at the Day of The Dead bus, whilst the West End Kids put on a great main stage show. It’s a pretty clever and creative idea for the early slot at a festival actually, something that is lively and entertaining but can be sat and watched, it’s a wonder more festivals haven’t yet tried it. DJ Craig Charles wants everyone to know that his alter egos from Red Dwarf, Coronation Street, Takeshi’s Castle and Robot Wars are ‘not him’, and that he’s just a DJ who loves to play funk and soul. Despite a bit of a mishap repeating ‘Uptown Funk’ at the beginning, it’s a set that dragged the masses from their bums to the front for a good old boogie.

Following on comes the unstoppable and lewd force of The Cuban Brothers. For those who’ve never seen them before, it is a life-lesson in exactly what the watershed exists for. The cheeky chaps bounce around the stage break dancing and throwing shapes like there’s no tomorrow, with a couple of big jumps and lifts from One-Erection and Kengo-San, some head-spinning and of course an almost-nude run around the gangway by Miguel. Archerio in a lycra fringed onesie is an image which could haunt a child, but luckily his moves are memorable and there are more than a few kids worryingly trying to imitate his twerking. Miguel carries a kids-only chant for “Kenny… the bastard” before making up his own little ditty about touching husbands’ wives whilst they go to the bar… #miguelitomumtouch. Yelling “I’ve had five punnets of nose-whisky” to explain why he can’t run for Mayor of Southampton, Miguel drops into ‘Mike for President’ and the crowd is loving it.

Next up, Kitty, Daisy and Lewis are joined onstage by enough equipment to power the London Philharmonic, which they swap and change frequently. They do a good job and play some truly beautiful music, but in terms of atmosphere, it is a bit of a comedown after the wild abandon of The Cubans. Hot band of the moment, neo-punk rockers Slaves strut onstage and launch into an aural assault of drums and riffs that would be right at home with Vyvyan and Rick from The Young Ones. Gurning like bosses they get everyone amped up, but it might be a bit more of a style over substance situation. At least ‘Cheer Up London’ is an anthem for those who’ve travelled down from the city.

Stand out performance of the day goes to BBC Sound of 2015 winners Years and Years. The unassuming electro-popsters take to their first ever festival main stage and completely blow everyone away with their mix of soulful style of house beats and beautiful vocals. ‘Titus’ and ‘Eyes Shut’ have the (extremely young and female) front row screaming at the highest pitch, and when lead singer Olly really gets into it and winds down to the stage – the mood is electric. New single ‘Shine’ is a surefire hit, and their already fan-favourites ‘Real’ and ‘Kings’ are standalone incredible. 

Band of Skulls bring a rock and roll edge to the proceedings with ‘Hoochie Coochie’ and tell the crowd “We’re so proud to be here for the first Common People, thanks to Rob for inviting us, we hope this goes on for a very long time”. ‘Sweet Sour’ is raw and brilliant, but ‘The Devil Takes Care of His Own’ is the standout song of their set.

Up next Clean Bandit clearly have a following as a slight delay sees people chanting for them to come on, and ‘Come Over’ gets a warm welcome as we say goodbye to the last snippet of sun-sun-sun-sunshine for today. Jess Glynne collaboration ‘Rather Be’ is the final song of an amazing set, and seems like a perfect sentiment for a Sunday afternoon of revelry, especially considering it’s a bank holiday tomorrow. 

As a black curtain is raised over the main stage, it’s time for the final act of the first ever Common People. The ever bonkers Grace Jones is a breath of fabulousness that comes from years of not giving a single eff what anyone thinks of her. Striding on in an ensemble that can only be attributed to the tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes, and high heels, Jones proves that she is the ultimate performer, gadding about the two layer stage and winding with an extremely buff male pole dancer. Hits ‘La Vie En Rose’ and ‘Pull up to the Bumper’ go down well, but it’s her combination of ‘Slave to the Rhythm’ and her mad hula-hooping skills that set the night alight. Grace Jones has been there, done it, got the tshirt and discarded it for a thong. As the fireworks explode over the Common, it’s clear that Rob-da-Bank and crew are onto another winner. With Bestival, Camp Bestival and Bestival Toronto all still to come this year, Southampton has had the first tasty smackerel of this summers’ winning formula, and it is spectacular.

Read our review of Grace Jones here