Bestival 2015 Review
Another year of Bestival madness is sadly over and it’s time after a few days of recovery to make sense of it all. One of my favourite things about Bestival is always the Thursday buzz that you get when entering the site fully brimming with excitement and anticipation. This year was no different and even the sun made a kind appearance as I entered eagerly via the Robin Hill entrance. I was instantly met with change, realising the old favourite bandstand and with it the massive IOW posse was no more. However it’s best to never be averse to change and I was drawn to the new Kaleidoscope Stage in the bottom corner of the hill as the band Mispers belted out their own special blend of alternative indie rock that immediately caught my ear. This was very much my kind of music and the natural bowl of the new stage allowed improved sound and a perfect wind break. After staying till the end of their very impressive set it was time to wander down to another new stage the Sugar Skulls stage. This stage had an impressive converted school bus bar and plenty of great places to chill in the afternoon sun. A perfect complement to the sunshine was the back to back Headfunk takeover with Jez and Tom stepping up to the plate. Cue lots of good times, of course drinking and lots of crazy dance moves. I was now well and truly in the Bestival spirit. The rest of the evening involved lots of enjoyable first night wandering and checking out as much as possible. I managed to end my evening dancing the night away in the crew bar after a very friendly bouncer sorted me out with an appropriate wristband and a bond that lasted the whole weekend was made.
Friday started with a late morning sweaty cycle to the site to pick up my car. I am mentioning this as on my way out of the site I was selected for a breath test. You can imagine my nervousness, sheer panic and dread as I’d put away enough alcohol the previous day to sink a battleship. To my relief and surprise I registered a zero and I was clear to enjoy the rest of my weekend. Late Friday afternoon was all about the Amphitheatre. Here we had Mr Nice meets Mr Bestival followed by King Stammers. Mr Nice was incredibly charming, interesting, open and as sharp as a button. He seemed to love the interaction with the jam packed crowd and batted away all questions with ease. King Stammers was up next and appeared unfazed with the huge task of following the legend. Top marks Mr Stammers for successfully entertaining the crowd with your unique and varied set. I can unashamedly say the rest of my Friday turned pop and full of joy with Charli XCX, Lion Babe and headliners Duran Duran. Duran Duran were looking and sounding impressive and you knew they meant business when they described their appearance as their “the most important gig of our entire career”. No one can dispute the fact the band have some great songs and special mentions go to ‘Ordinary World’, ‘Save a Prayer’ and their emphatic opener ‘Wild boys’.
One of the most fun moments of the whole festival came on Saturday when the much loved Chuckle Brothers entered the stage of the rammed Big Top. They had the crowd in the palm of their hand and left us all wanting more when their short 20 minute set came to an abrupt end. It contained a mass ‘to me’, ‘to you’ involving the whole crowd and some of their own songs including a heavy techno anthem consisting of the lyric ‘oh dear, oh dear oh dear’. I had to pinch myself several times before I came to the realisation that this was actually happening and wasn’t some sort of incredibly strange dream. The next highlight of the day for me came from one of my favourite bands of the moment, Jungle. Their super cool sound of mid-tempo soul/funk laden with smooth vocals was impossible not to enjoy and bob along to. I’m sure these guys will be back and higher up the bill. A little early evening comedy followed and a special mention goes out to comedian Elliot Steel who I caught doing his set whilst gurning his face off which was probably more funny then his actual set. Discovery of the day was the band Voodoo Love Orchestra, perhaps the biggest mark of how good they were was the fact I watched them twice within the space of just a few hours, once in the Caravanserai and later in the excellent Club DaDa. The gaggle of skull face painted, brass wielding musicians were lead by their matriarch bellowing lyrics from a megaphone. The band was brimming full of energy, talent, pure enthusiasm and a collection of infectious carnival brass anthems.
Sunday started with one of those lucky Bestival moments where you have to be in the right place at the right time. I happened to be walking past the Bestival radio caravan when I saw the Cuban Brothers about to walk in for a radio takeover. Seeing this I knew something worth watching was about to occur. Of course there was soulful singing, rapping, outrageous outfits, dancing, laughing, close to the bone comments, a song about Michael Jackson and a special appearance from ‘Jungle Brother’ Baby Bam. A great way to start a very weary day four and the renewed energy lead me to the Big Top to watch Snap. Lead singer and original member Penny Ford’s strong and soulful voice proudly sang her way through the Snap back catalogue including of course ‘The Power’ and ‘Rhythm Is a Dancer’. Next up was the Jacksons on the packed main stage. They bounded on to the stage immediately in to dance routines and ploughed through an incredibly well endeared set of songs all to the back drop of videos of the band in their prime. Although they had a few early issues with sound and took a mid set rest putting a documentary of their lives on it still was an absolute pleasure to see. After some last bit of incredibly enjoyable Bestival wandering where I caught ‘Shamus O’ Blivion & the Megadeath Morrismen’ and later ‘Mariachi El Pinche Gringo’, I was incredibly lucky to catch Three London Planes in the Front Room. It’s impossible to pigeon hole this Bristol band into a musical box as they have many dimensions and talents. They had incredibly smooth vocals coming from 3 sources, folk rock guitar mixed with jazz like piano playing, all squeezed in to a postage stamp sized venue. That really doesn’t do them justice and I suggest you check them out on all the usual internet sites or track me down for the EP that I bought off them. All that was left for me to do was to check out a bit of Missy Elliott before home time. Missy was all that you’d think she would be and more. She absolutely loved it on stage and tried her hardest to continually interact with the crowd, even throwing in to the crowd her own signed trainers. As I left the Bestival to the backdrop of fireworks and rain it was only then I truly realised it was all over for another year.