Another festival season has come and gone, passing us by in a blurr of English summer rain, mud, music and beautiful people. I had the privilege of attending Bestival on the Isle of Wight a couple of weekends ago, and as always, I do love to tell a story! You can check out my review here, originally published on http://www.markmeets.com! Thanks also to the amazing Kinetica Bloco whom I had the privilege to attend with. If you check out the review via markmeets.com you’ll also see my awesomely poor attempt at shooting a video ^_~
Bestival round up. Sunday night. J R Manawa.
Dear Bestival, your hottest night out was Sunday, without a fleeting moment of doubt. Rob da Bank and his talented partner Jose worked hard to put on a show that pushed the upper limit of “epic” through the roof. They make a great team – Rob da Bank once said himself that without Jose there would be great music, but no party, and without him there would be a great party with no music.
It’s a match made in festival heaven, clearly, and we came to Sunday night after a weekend soaked in the heady musical pleasure of over 25 stages spreading the psychedelic Summer of Love theme across the boutique festival. Bestival still manages to preserve the boutique style whilst containing over 60 thousand revellers and hundreds of performers, which is a credit to the team that make it happen. The range of performers not only covered all of our musical tastes (and eras!), but other entertainment too with carnival on Saturday bringing the likes of Sink the Pink and Kinetica Bloco, foodie pleasures like The Cheese Truck and Shaken Udder, and the Love Bot, who got all steamed up when I blew him a kiss. There was even Yoga with the Huffington Post in residence in the new Slow Motion arena, and I personally got to spend time with a magnificent eagle owl and play dress up with a llama before retreating to a bargain 80p cup of tea in the Women’s Institute tent, from where I could admire the view down over the fantasy land Bestival had created where Robin Hill Park on the Isle of Wight once stood.
To be fair, we all wondered how we would survive after the three days that had already gone before, but Sunday evening at The Mainstage bounced into a good start with The Jacksons. Their Michael-esque fashion and video tribute to their brother was right on form, and it was fascinating to see them perform beside a screen of their original videos with their late brother. The smatterings of rain didn’t stop us pushing into the depths of the mosh pit to get our freak on with Missy Elliot. Missy is a woman hard not to like – she puts on an excellent stage show and interacts with her fans on a more intimate level than most would dare, climbing right down into the press of the crowd, whilst still managing to keep a mic in her hand. Her musical tour over the history of her career was exactly what the crowd wanted, and the tribute she made to those who have passed on touched us all. For me it was especially beautiful to see talent like Aaliyah remembered, almost fifteen years after her untimely death. Put your lighters in the air. Or phones, as convenience now has it.
Missy Elliot ended in the roar of fireworks as the final night at The Mainstage came to an end, but the night was far from over. Up past the Kaleidoscope stage and the unique piece of recycled caravan art that was Oberon’s Observatory cocktail bar and cinema, the Ambient Forrest still hid the Blind Tiger speakeasy which was definitely worth popping by, if you managed to find its secret location. From there the path led down to the beautiful Bollywood field with the magnificent temple entrance of the Bollywood tent, a hand-stitched venue that heaved with human bodies and DJ’s until 4am the whole festival through.
It was The Port however that was the final destination to be on Sunday night. The landlocked ship HMS Bestival provided the stage for Hannah Wants who opened the late show with her own brand of heavy house and a bass line that drops hard. The Birmingham local paved the way for Mark Ronson to take over the night. For those of us who were lucky enough to have already enjoyed him the night before during Lily Allen’s installment in the Bollywood tent, we handled the torrential rain and the ten minute power cut to enjoy him again. When the power did go, he soon had the crowd back up and bouncing around to Valerie in the mud like the true showman he is. There is nothing like a sing-a-long to get the crowd back in the mood. His set had a distinctly Missy Elliot influenced streak, but it was of course Uptown Funk that had every one of the ten thousand punters packed into the port dancing in the rain.
A night of heavy hitters in the music industry culminated in what Bestival themselves refer to as “the world’s most exciting musical force”, Skrillex, taking the stage at half midnight. I won’t lie to you, I am biased, and had been waiting the whole weekend for the man who can remix like likes of both Justin Bieber and Korn to take the stage, and neither myself nor the ten thousand others who jostled around me for their spot were disappointed.
Skrillex is the master of all things electronic and dance, a true visionary. There are few shows where you will see a crowd so physically plugged in to the music. When the bass line drops, the crowd drops with it, and when his signature electro sounds rip into the music, everyone feels it. The set was current and on point, but laced with hits like Bangarang and that “Oh my God” line from Scary Monsters & Nice Sprites, if you know, you know!
By the time he was done we were all covered in mud and soaked to the bone, but there was still plenty to do. The road back to the tent for many passed late night venues Club Dada and the Big Top, and least we forget the beautiful Caravanserai where Skaramoosh and the delightful surrounds of the kitsch caravan park kept going until 3am. After that, it was definitely time for bed!
Until next year.