Trying to recap the events at a music festival is like trying to recall your first orgasm. The details are sketchy but you know it was really good and really quick. This once again was the case with Bestival 2013. An epic line-up featuring Wu-Tang, Fatboy Slim, The Roots, Snoop Dogg and culminating in the legend that is Elton John, our four man crew were literally drooling during the drive down to the secluded Isle of Wight. Instead of running through a hazy plot summary I will instead simplify the task (as more than a week on my brain is still relatively blurry) and bring you a top 10. These are stages, bands and moments that made up what was one of the truly great weekends of my life.
10) The Polka Tent: No matter what the time of day, this place was always pumping. Conveniently located between our campsite and the main stage, the Polka Tent sucked you in like the death star’s tractor beam. With a weird and wacky mix of artists ranging from ska to drum & bass, polka to hip hop I could never pass this tent without peeking in and joining the rage.
9) Wu-Tang Clan: Umm need I say more? Even though the Wu were missing at least 3 crucial elements (Method Man, Ghostface Killah and RZA) due to ‘customs issues’, seeing The Wu Tang Clan in real life was incredible. Cut back all the bullshit from hip hop today and you will find Wu Tang. These guys are gangsta AS. Their iconic rhymes plus an old school lesson in scratching from DJ Mathematics meant the heat got turned up early on Friday arvo. Dollar, dollar bill ya’ll.
8) Trannys: Everywhere! With their own night/day club, morning exercise regime on the main stage and café called Camp Cooks, transvestites literally ran Bestival. It was awesome. Nothing can bring a smile onto a hungover lads face quicker than a flamboyant tranny asking “how would you like your eggs darling?” Their energy and flirtatiousness was the heart and soul of the festival.
7) Beard Love: Having put in a good 3 months preparation, Bestival was the final hurrah of my thick, beautiful yet faintly ginga beard. Boy was it appreciated. Every bearded man somehow managed to spot the other and make a bee-line just to shake the hand, and give them some props. After a few beers, comments turned to shouts and strokes of the beard turned to fully fledged cuddles. It was amazing. The thing is, only a bearded man knows the work that goes into the cultivation of a solid beard. Getting past the Taliban references, the ginga tinges and your girlfriend wanting your chin back all takes work. At Bestival it was time for celebration. And it was beautiful.
6) Fatboy Slim: I’d heard a lot of smack talk about Fatboy Slim leading up to Bestival. It went along the lines of “I hope he plays all his hits and not a whole lot of stuff no-one knows”. This is Fatboy Slim maaaaan! This guy has so much game he could succeed where Snoop failed and drop a Katy Perry song and make it awesome. Sorry Snoop, but I miss Doggystyle. Fatboy Slim produced an epic set sending everyone away with four crucial words resonating through their soul. “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat”. Yes.
5) Port Stage: The rage stage built entirely of HMS Bestival. An actual ship. What a wicked idea! If the legs were tired, you were a bit hungover or just feeling jaded, the port stage was the remedy. I remember 12:30pm on Saturday after two huge nights we meandered towards HMS Bestival contemplating how on earth we were going to back it up again. Rob da Bank then dropped DJ Fresh’s Goldust and the rest was history. With a lineup including Annie Mac, Seth Troxler, Hospitality takeover and Carl Cox, the Port Stage truly brought the noise.
4) Playing dress ups: Bestival is one of the rare festivals that rocks out a theme. This year, the theme was Nautical and I couldn’t quite believe how much it was embraced by the party goers. From a casual sailor hat to a fully-fledged crow’s nest, everyone got involved. Not only is it brilliant to just catch your breath, sit down and people watch but it gives you just another reason to wander up and yarn to beautiful strangers who are feeling the Bestival love. Basically the theme brings a whole new dimension to the festival vibe and highlights what is so glorious about Bestival itself.
3) The Ambient Forest: My first experience in the ambient forest went something like this. Strolling through thinking there was not much going on, I spotted a man, hidden in the foliage, dressed like a 1930’s Safari hunter grasping a sword. As I was not in the most sound state of mind, I silently freaked out. Then all of a sudden there were shouts and sword clashes behind me and hoards of hunters crossed the path and proceeded to have a fully-fledged sword fight with African tribesman. Needless to say, in the Ambient Forest, anything goes! Each time you enter you stumble across something completely different. Intimate DJ stages, lakes, hammocks, comedy shows, crazy lights and some awesome banter the forest was pure random goodness.
2) The Correspondents: Thursday night and we were amping for M.I.A. On before her was an unknown two man group called The Correspondents. Wow. The front man, Mr Bruce would epitomise your classic English nerd. That is if he wasn’t wearing a black and white full leather jump suit, dancing around the stage like MJ on crack and dropping a verse as dope as Ghostface Killa. Backed by some phenomenal beats by DJ Chucks, these guys completely blew my mind. With a musical influence that ranged from swing to dub step, hip hop to jungle I was seriously worried at the end of their set that nothing would be able to top them. This was blatantly festival excitement getting on top me but still, I put them up there with Elton and Wu Tang as one of the musical highlights.
1) The Sunday main stage line up: I’ll list it for you: Fleetwood Bac, Dub Pistols, Max Romeo, The Cuban Brothers, Tom Odell, Gemma Cairney (missed, whereabouts unknown), Chic ft Nile Rodgers, and Elton John. Shit they sure know how to pick them! The aggressive dub beats of the Dub Pistols, the beautiful reggae vibe of Max Romeo, the comedy festival style of the Cuban Brothers, the piano pop, loved up feel of Tom Odell, the legendary funk vibes of Chic ft Nile Rodgers and of course the one and only Elton John. It quite simply was a Sunday line-up made in heaven. A young lad next to me summed it up as we left the main stage. Staggering, he put his arm around me for support and said “I haven’t been able to stop crying since Elton played ‘Your Song’”. Hilarious now, but at the time I completely understood.
Ahhh festival season is over and winter is almost here. Still the glory of Bestival will not be forgotten. We all know that tickets for Glasto go on sale in a few days. If you are one of the million that miss out, do not fret. Bestival is here and by no means is it a distant second. Rob Da Bank you deserve a medal, a crown and Neptune’s god damn Trident. Bestival, I love you.