BESTIVAL 2011 // Part 2

Continued from BESTIVAL // Part 1 here…


Thus far, the weather – predicted to be pretty devastating – has held off, but as of Saturday afternoon the temperature noticeably drops and the intermittent showers begin to spit down. This only delays my entrance into the site for an hour or so, but eventually Mr. Basics Rum fills me with enough bravery to head in to check out Ghostpoet. Oh, actually a passing attendee tells me I’ve already missed him. Dear Ghostpoet: I give up. Over to the Big Top to listen to the ever so talented A-Trak (who won the DMC World DJ Championship at the age of 15!) impressively scratch and mix his way through a selection of unimpressive and generic pop-dance tunes. His remix of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ ‘Heads Will Roll’ will never get old, but his Armand Van Helden collaboration ‘Barbara Streisand’ was born old (think Benjamin Button). Boycotting the terrible skills, the arrogant chat, and the generic setlist of Grandmaster Flash (he may have been a pioneer of hiphop DJing – a fact he likes to repeat before, after, and in between each song – but everyone who came after him was much, much better) I chill on the sofas in the hidden, unmarked Converse Tent. Once Flash has well and truly left the Main Stage, I head back for Crystal Castles, who are fine, which is a real shame. The chaotic sound Crystal Castles produce is always lost on an outdoor stage, but that never matters because frontwoman Alice Glass is just so watchable trashing the stage, smacking soundmen/fans, climbing anything/everything, or just generally stalking the stage screaming profanities – but today they (relatively) sedately play muffled song after muffled song. Shame.

I then elbow my way through a thousand Village People (the fancy dress of choice, since Village People played earlier in the day) to check out some of the Annie Mac Presents… showcase in the Big Top. Toddla T (who, according to one ‘friend,’ looks like a lesbian) plugs his new album with a respectable sound quality and an unanticipated likeability, before Ms. Dynamite – starting late – gets everybody jumping and shouting thanks to her massive, massive stage presence. She takes the most accessible parts of dubstep, DnB, garage etc. to create a pop show that appeals to almost everyone (not unlike Katy B) – her distinctive voice marking her out as one of the most beloved UK dance/pop crossover artists. I catch some of Carte Blanche’s set (RIP DJ Mehdi, who sadly died three days after this show) and then head back over to the secluded Converse Stage tent for an intimate and secret-ish SBTRKT live show. Aided by a superb live drummer, SBTRKT displays cuts from his latest album, bouncing and programming along as he sings live, hitting each note spot on – one of the festival highlights.

Now for the big headliner: The Cure. Yes, they are legends, having been performing for over 40 years (even if Robert Smith is the only continuous member), and yes, they are Rob da Bank’s dream Bestival headliner, but are they an appropriate headliner? Not quite. Most of their 180 minute set of gothic, new wave pop-rock bypasses the crowd. Even a few of their ‘hits’ go unnoticed – perhaps because the sound isn’t that loud, or perhaps because the younger generations are missing out on the dark beauty of their lyrics and basslines. Nonetheless,hits like ‘Friday I’m In Love’ and ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ get the massive sing-a-longs The Cure deserve. I catch the endof Diplo’s set in the Big Top (including the infectious slash infuriating ‘Pon De Floor’) and wait patiently for Primal Scream Presents Screamadelica (the real headliner of the evening). It was one of Glastonbury 2011’s highlights, and it is one of Bestival 2011’s highlights – with Bobby Gillespie groaning and gyrating in front of a psychedelic visual show and enticing the greatest crowd sing-and-hug-a-longs of the whole weekend.


Everyone always feels a little blue at the start of the last evening of a festival (especially when stewards are announcing that all ferries off the Isle of Wight tomorrow will be cancelled due to hurricane winds), so what better way to start proceedings than by wallowing around in those blue feelings with a live James Blake show in the Big Top. He’s solid, but his usual atmosphere is missing in a tent so cavernous, and surrounded by pesky daylight. This is no problem for LA’s Nosaj Thing on the RBMA Stage, who despite being a couple of hours late and sans his usual AV show (due to “miscommunications”), puts on the finest DJ set of the weekend – transcendent hiphop laced, Burial-esque (post) dubstep. I then wander over to the Main Stage where James Blake is standing on the side, unnoticed, doing an uninspiring DJ set.

Then comes the world exclusive: Björk. She was only announced as the final Bestival headliner a few weeks beforehand, she hasn’t played a festival in four years, and she won’t play another one this year. There is no doubting that she is amazing, amazing, amazing on record, and has been amazing, amazing, amazing live in the past, but tonight she is just a bit amazing. Her visuals are the most interesting I’ve seen all year, her 30-girl backing choir is tremendous, her sound, her costume, her accent, her closing fireworks etc are all astounding. However, Björk’s set is too somber for this kind of festival, and she plays far too much new material from ‘Biophilia.’ But her rendition of ‘Hyperballad’ is the single best performance of Bestival 2011. With the bulk of the music over, it’s over to the DJs to close the festival: DJ Shadow’s visuals are, as always, incredible (the new AV bubble vehicle he performs in is one of the best things I have ever seen), Fatboy Slim displeases everyone, as always, by bypassing his own hits in favour of mediocre house tunes (save the snippet of ‘Praise You’ he teasingly uses as his intro), and Joker and the rest of the Hyperdub showcase round things off inoffensively in the Roller Disco tent. Time to head off into the hurricane to wherever my tent has blown and call it a night….

For many, Bestival is the last music festival of the year, but for others it marks the end of the Summer as whole – so amongst the ‘Bessie’ crowd there are the regular festival hippies and music junkies, but also families (bringing along their babies), hen/stag parties, and those who just like dressing up and checking out circuses, mazes, fairgrounds, karaoke, art installations, and/or giant, sinister tree bars with dwarves serving drinks (yes, really…). This reviewer only managed to see a portion of the musical events, and in doing so missed out many of the other, alternative festivities (the toboggan ride being the one I most regret). One fully realises the true charm of Bestival having left the site, perhaps on the ferry or in the car parks, or when reminiscing on social networks: every individual has a different experience and therefore has a different festival highlight, because the range of what there is to do and see is just so damn vibrant and exhaustive. Here’s to Rob da Bank and the second best UK festival…

Originally published by AAA Music…


~ by cliveparisrozario on September 15, 2011.

2 Responses to “BESTIVAL 2011 // Part 2”


  2. […] THE STONE ROSES ARE ON NEXT! On come The Stone Roses, who play with more passion and musicianship (with Ian Brown’s vocals exceptionally better than the ‘90s) than in their heyday – giving the baiting crowd every hit they drool after, and all in front of a heady visual mindf**k (fittingly psychedelic). When they launch into an extended and truly epic version of ‘I Am The Resurrection’ the crowd regresses into mania – barging turns to hugging, then back to barging, singing turns to howling and/or crying, drinks fly, sweat pours; this is the (other) festival highlight, and it is pure euphoria. Too much life affirming stuf f for one night?! Crystal Castles close out the main stage with their typically frenetic, experimental dance music – and though the barking mad Alice Glass’ energy maybe dwindling as their career progresses, this is certainly the best I’ve seen CC in years, perhaps because it’s dark and at the end of the night, but mainly because Beni’s main stage sound doesn’t let them down (as Bestival, for example, did last year). […]

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