Thursday, 19 September 2013

Bestival 2013 : the bangers, the bloopers and the redefining of the word 'posh'.

One week later and I'm finally sitting down to tip tap a little bit on the finale of music festivals in the UK. It’s not the biggest of the music festivals but I think for its size, it is the more diverse, there’s always a lot of electronic, dance, hip hop and experimental acts to counter balance the sometimes guitar heavy bands of other festivals. The nautical dress up theme this year was kind of limiting, although there were some very impressive jellyfish wandering around.

The Big Top

I enjoyed this year’s immensely, even though I have to say the line up was a little weak compared to other years, but the tipi and bed hire was the most sensible thing I've ever paid out extras for and how pretty majestic do they look too (with the added bonus of an amazing amount of tiny spiders spinning their way down towards us on waking every morning, along with the odd grasshopper and other unidentifiable critters landing in your hair or Wellingtons like you’re some macabre Snow White.

Eve's Tipis

As usual, the organisers don’t give away the schedule until you are there which makes it a bit of a rush trying to work out what you can see and which acts are clashing, but this being the third year we've been did reveal more little discoveries, like the Ambient Forest, Amphitheatre and Gipsy Camp that we’d never got quite as far too before. I would have liked to have found the Hidden Disco but clearly it was very well hidden and, as every year, I aim for the comedy tent but never quite make it. And super kicking myself for not getting to the Bestiversity Tent for ‘Feminism Friday’ (I reckon my two male companions hid that one from me!)

So on the whole, a great time but line up?  Well the smaller acts were great with those like Kate Boy, Zhala and Chloe Howl gracing the replay tent. The Big Top always hosts my favourites, from 2010 with the XX and Fever Ray to 2013 show casing the wonderfully weird but mesmerising Shaking the Habitual Show from The Knife. Crystal Fighters, who I think are the most festival friendly act ever to put their lovely percussive indie banging tunes on muddy earth also closed the festival on this great stage. However, and it’s a biggy again, the headliners were as poor as fuckity to be honest.

Sorry Fatboy but what exactly do you do apart from fling your arms around to backed up programmed nonsense, Snoop Dogg I just don’t feel, and Elton John, well I admit I'm not a big fan, but legend and all that, we thought we’d take a look. Sorry Elton but you were boring, not interacting with your crowd and the combo of ‘Candle in the Wind’ and rain just gave you that whole funeral ambience that really doesn't go at a festival.

So main stage ‘headliners’ big thumbs down while the *just before* the headliners like Franz Ferdinand (intense and witty repartee in the performance from the lovely Scots in striped tshirts), The Flaming Lips (who I've never really liked but live were something else) were great and kept the younger ones interested despite having been knocking around for years.  Chic were the stealers on the main stage (if on a little early) and actually made you realise how many pies Nile Rogers’ has/had his fingers in when producing and writing music from Madonna to Duran Duran, and my personal favourite in this particular set Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’.

Franz Ferdinand

 Big big love for Crystal Fighters, the closing act in The Big Top that was just glittering (literally Sebastian) with a wonderful mix of old and new, from 'Champion Sound', 'At Home', ‘Plage’ to new ones as ‘LA Calling’ and ‘Separator’ and it was so good to hear the kind of bonkers but catchy 'I Love London' with different vocals but still just as banging.

Crystal Fighters (if you get a magnifying glass)

The Knife was everything you would expect and oh so loud (buzzing ears time). They did classics like ‘The Bird’ and ‘Silent Shout’ which was such a surprise while ‘A Tooth For An Eye’ and ‘Full of Fire’ sounded ahhhmazing. I can see how the Shaking the Habitual show might have been a struggle for some at the Roundhouse earlier this year, but in a festival setting, it worked brilliantly, even the crazy screaming aerobic instructor (that was really just making the crowd relax and get in the mood) There was some tomfoolery going on with the effects but it was so blatant and had to be taken as part of the show. The choreography was faultless especially for 'A Tooth For An Eye' and I kind of wished we'd got closer in to see it (although flashback to Fever Ray in the same tent where I honestly couldn't even wave a little finger to say 'help I can't breathe' it was so jam packed.)

The Knife

The Knife: you can just about spot Karin?

Scroobius Pip Vs Dan Le Sac at the Swamp Shack were a brilliant mix of playful joshing and intense message in rap; along with ‘Letter To God’, ‘Thou Shalt Kill’ and ‘Get Better’, they also pulled out a brand newbie first performance (didn't catch its title, sorry Scroob, the wind started to howl and the sound when up and down with it).  I've seen them before at Bestival and they never disappoint with their witty banter. Although *sad face* I still haven’t got to his spoken word show at the Satin Lizard Lounge.

Scroobius Pip

The big surprise for me was Johnny Marr, I like The Smiths (obvs), I used to love Morrissey but now I kind of think he’s become an even more grumpy no longer amusing grumpster (where’s the self-indulgent melancholy and good humoured bitterness gone?) and would never want to bump into him as I'm sure he’d just be mean and ruin every song you've ever loved. I digress, Marr did a stupendous *ahem* god like genius job of pulling off ‘Big Mouth Strikes Again’, ‘There is a Light That Never Goes Out’, ‘How Soon is Now?’ I'm sure these tracks were not chosen without great thought to his very different vocal range; it worked and felt like a rare chance to hear such classics live. And yes he can play a guitar in an unusually melodic way.

Johnny Marr (He's not god but he's pretty good)

Huge love for Bestie, but stiff email to Rob Da Bank about the so called ‘posh’ loos in the Boutique camping and six 'posh wash' showers for (I estimate) 300 pods/tipis. Posh is not over flowing toilets in conjunction with no running water at the basin and two grumpy teenage toilet assistants staring at their iphones slumped under a brolly. It would be easier/cleaner and probably more environmentally friendly to put the compost loos in and make them a bit 'posher', maybe with a bit of incense?

Admiring my tipi
I know I know it’s a festival but these Boutique tickets cost almost 500 quid more than the average campsite on the grounds mostly of 'facilities'. It was however quieter and more chilled out than the main sites that as always resembled refugee camps by the second night. So my festival advice, go out for a pub lunch each day as the food is ultra disgusting and over priced (if you can hike a couple of miles, its worth it, there's a few pubs selling nice food nearby), take plenty of hand wash, a girl actually professed her love to me when I gave her some as she panicked about the lack of running water, (it’s not just me!) and finally go in groups and don’t lose each other. I was clinging on to the arms of my people so hard I actually bruised them. See how rock n roll I am?

Here are a few more pics; I wish I’d taken more now. I say this every year! Do click on them as they become much easier to view!

Scroobius Pip vs Dan Le Sac

The Knife (Shaking the Habitual)

The Knife (Shaking *even more* Habitual)

Swamp Shack

A sea of sailor hats watching Johnny

Magic Meadow

There's always someone with a massive inflatable in the crowd

Final note, if you bring your kidlets, especially the tiny wee ones, maybe assume it's family 'challenging' (despite the family friendly camping area) and be prepared as once the sun sets, it gets louder and there’s not much escape from the plastered people. My toddling daughter spent the afternoons with us but I spent too much time worrying about her being stepped on or permanent damage if she pulled her ear defenders off that I sent her safely to Grandma’s at night. This however is only possible if your parents live 5 miles from the Bestival site (so thank you and please don’t move *kiss*) Also handy if you want a quick bath.

Can’t wait for next year now. Here’s a few suggestions for headliners in 2014 Mr Da Bank, you need to make up for Elton: Depeche Mode, David Bowie, Kate Bush, Pulp, go on, see if you can pull it off before Eavis clinches them. (I know Kate is probably building sandcastles in the air though)

Blog love x (and particularly to Imogen who wrestled with my dog while house sitting for me back in London x)

Images: Melodee Writes

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