Reviewed: Bestival 2016
Summer’s coming to a close and it’s with a heavy heart that we say that the festival season is closing with it. The last major event before the nights start to draw in, Bestival, officially marks the end of the allegedly warmer period we enjoy between May and September and for Blighty based music lovers serves as a final exclamation point for this year’s outdoor excursions.
Having downsized to a capacity reminiscent of its ‘boutique roots’, Bestival’s much famed interactivity felt a little sparse in comparison to previous years as we arrived on the Thursday night but with the bulk of the crowd yet to arrive and forming such a large part of the overall vibe perhaps we were hoping for too much too soon.
Once inside the festival and with our camp all set up, next on our agenda was choosing which acts to see and on the opening night that was very easy indeed. Shy FX’s ‘Party on the Moon’ had been dominating talk on the journey all the way from London and it was immediately apparent upon our arrival at that the Big Top that it was going to absolutely go off. With acts that would be topping many other festivals main stage it was obvious why so many were so pumped to be seeing such great acts on the first day. Highlights from initial salvo included the slickly driven agenda of DT favourite Redlight and expertly selected sounds the original nuttah himself, Shy FX who delivered set that won’t be forgotten any time soon. The night closed with a well received performance from the multi-talented Hot Chip for what can be certainly be chalked up as a win for the programmers.
By Friday morning most of the crowd were in full festival spirit, starting early and ending late, and with a group of people we met there (new friends are made easily at Bestival) we stumbled into forest hangout The Blind Tiger. The Blind Tiger, a secret venue with live music was a great place to both chill and party; ending up a personal favourite of ours. So much so that we actually ended up taking a few other people we met on site over to the hideaway to show them just how fun it was. We would go into more detail but well, it’s all a secret see?
By evening we found ourselves once again drawn to The Big Top to see a number of Grime legends do their ting at the Eskimo Dance. Scene godfather Wiley and East London duo Newham Generals served up particularly rambunctious fare, whipping up the crowd into a 2-step fuelled fervor like few else can. With the Space Port then open for business we were never going to miss out on the chance to check out Carl Cox, Diplo and Barely Legal ending each night and whilst all three impressed, it was old stager Carl Cox’s House Classics set that will stay with us. Still running the game after all these years, we can’t recommend seeing the Londoner enough.
Saturday afternoon saw us make a jaunt over to the Invaders of the Future stage to get a feel for the rock music on offer and experience Bestival from yet another angle. Having enjoyed a bout of crashing drum beats and guitar solos, we went further afield to see what other attractions the festival could provide and ended up at a wedding. Bestival weddings are certainly more fun than your average one, complete with inflatable church, dressing up and the funkiest priest you’ve ever seen.
Having been inspired by a very energetic performance from Vant, we felt in the mood for some more rock music, knowing that we would be back in electronic music’s loving embrace later on with performances from Minus boss Richie Hawtin and Leftfield still yet to come. Thus we ventured over to the mainstage for the first time to catch The Cure, who, to nobodies surprise captivated the audience from start to finish.
Having enjoyed Robert Smith and co.’s intergenerational musings, we made a triumphant return to The Spaceport to find Richie Hawtin in full flow. Leftfield and Crystal Fighters topped the night off and we have to say, Saturday at Bestival 2016 was one of, if not our favourite nights of any festival ever.
By Sunday the atmosphere had understandably become a lot more mellow, with many attendees’ limits catching up to them. That’s not to say that the party had died out, it was just taking a little breather in anticipation for the big send-off. Purple Rave with Heidi, Rob Da Bank and Tayo showed both tact and emotion for the passing of one of music’s great innovators and we’re sure Prince himself would have loved to see how many people turned up to pay tribute.
As darkness descened upon the Isle of Wight the crowd seemed to be moving towards Bastille, a band that we have seen numerous times before and just do not get. Once again we were hit with the same feeling. Their popularity flies in the face of our criticisms and yet again they seemed to please an enthusiastic crowd with their forgettable tracks.
A post Sean Paul dash during the fireworks display saw us round out our weekend with a set from the ever iconic Fatboy Slim. Having fortunately already battled our way into the crowd before the masses tried to force their way in, we felt lucky to see Mr. Cook do his thing.
Having spent a weekend in the future, complete with the gigantic Love-Bot, many smaller robots, cyborgs and outfits from 2089, our journey back to London felt somewhat quaint, as if we were travelling back to a more conservative past. If the future is as crazy, friendly and happy a place as this we think it’ll be then we all have a lot to look forward to.
Words: Sonny Bruin