13 September 2015 (gig)
19 September 2015
Rob da Bank’s annual takeover of the Isle of Wight, like Ed Harris’ takeover of Alcatraz in ‘The Rock’, is a masterstroke in terms of ambition and scale. However, while Harris’ nerve-gas terrorism plot fails, Bestival’s founder always succeeds in his goal – to bring glitter, loud music and a liberal chic to a 50,000 strong crowd.
After crossing the Solent on a ferry and battling through the Bestival-bound hoards in one last raid on Waitrose, the reality of arriving at the festival site sets in. Well, to call it a ‘reality’ would be a stretch.
For festival first-timers, Bestival is a celebration of the senses, a far cry from the ‘Lord of the Flies’ apocalyptica of post-GCSE Reading and Leeds.
This year’s theme, ‘The Summer of Love’, was apparent in the peace signs, hearts and bright colours that festooned flagpoles and art displays. In the adjacent countryside hills, local livestock ‘mooed’, rolled their eyes and wondered if humanity had finally lost the plot.
Bestival is a festival for everyone. Here the eclectic tastes of one thousand Spotify playlists merge together in one grassy field. It is, perhaps, the only place grime stalwarts Boy Better Know could play a set leading into the iconic Jacksons.
After nursing the obligatory morning hangover, campers had the opportunity to participate in a range of activities, including yoga and vintage shopping. Exploration is key at a place like Bestival where comedy shows, performance art and ukulele renditions of all your favourite songs wait for you behind each tent curtain flap.
The Chuckle Brothers’ slapstick ineptitudes may have made some revellers wonder if they had been teleported to a Butlins summer camp, however, it was headlining hombres of a more reliable kind that took the stage on Saturday night.
The Chemical Brothers played a truly jaw-dropping (and for some, jaw-clenching) set. Undoubtedly a festival highlight, their ‘block-rocking’ beats pummelled the dancing masses into submission as laser beams from giant toy robots illuminated the night sky.
After refuelling on the gastronomic delights of tea scones, crab burgers or jerk chicken, where better to burn off those Sunday calories then by the main stage as Missy Elliott’s music made her adoring fans ‘lose control’.
After a six year absence in the UK, Missy had stockpiled her greatest hits for the Bestival crowd and with rumours that she then decided to take the ferry back to the mainland with the rest of the festival folk, what isn’t there to love about her.
It’s hard to do justice to Bestival in one review. A whole encyclopaedia would struggle to account for all its quirks, anarchy and polychromatic grandeur. Be it a ‘Blesstival’, be it a ‘Messtival’, 2015 saw Bestival once again prove itself to be one of the UK’s best festivals.