Bestival Review 2011

By Laura Randall

Planning for Bestival takes more than loading up on baby wipes and bulk-buying hand sanitiser, familiarising yourself with peculiarity is a far more appropriate prerequisite. Especially given that this year’s theme was as extravagant as they come; Popstars, Rockstars and Divas. Bestival was bursting at its fancy dress seams with every grade of Gaga, towering heights of beehive and more Freddy Mercurys than you can shake your feather duster at.

And that wasn’t the only 80s flashback of the weekend. The Village People’s routine charged sing-along saw the gang upstaged for once by their audience’s equally as impressive outfits. Nostalgia brought the crowd out of their Friday night hangovers as the YMCA was exuberantly displayed through the crowd from the front of the main stage to the back of the Pure Pie queue.

Also bringing back the eccentricity of the 80s and 90s was Mr Motivator. I failed to catch him in the Roller Disco but was lucky enough to witness a routine on a far smaller scale in front of the Wishing Tree. The sun was shining and on a lazy stroll back to camp after breakfast I had to double take as I saw a small crowd gathering around a lycra clad, neon glowing man who seemed to be riding, and spanking, an invisible horse. This move was called “riding it”.

Kelis at Bestival (Photo: Andrew Whitton)

Bjork at Bestival (Photo: Jamie Baker)

Bestival’s grand finale managed to outbjork Bjork with Fireworks that shone above a crowd of people interspersed with white bubble giants. The elated crowd were mesmerised and it was a perfect send off before the dreaded ferry crossing back to the mainland.

Despite all the elation however, I must say that the mood seemed to be different this year. I don’t hate mainstream, in fact I despise the people who do. Last year saw a sea of fancy dress and you might have felt a little left out if you didn’t go all out on your costume. However, Eccentricity is what Bestival is all about. If you’re not mentally deranged enough to spend four days being neighbourly to strangers and swapping your denim shorts for your dynasty wigs, then I vote you go to Reading and leave us loons to it.

Don’t get me wrong though, there were acts that catapulted the crowd into frenzies of love, passion and blubbering. A personal highlight of mine was James Blake. Perhaps it was the hangover, perhaps it was the rain, but he moved me and many other people in the Big Top to tears. His charm mixed with his scholarly politeness after the tent roared with appreciation was heart-warming and adulation was evident after a haunting performance of Wilhelms Scream.

Also topping the best Bestival moments list were electronic group Metronomy who crammed the Psychedelic Worm tent in the very early hours to a crowd of sing-along partygoers. The Drums were equally as impressive after bringing in a thrall of fans who moved hypnotically to the ballad Down By the Water at the end of their American pop set. And Kelis proved that her milkshake certainly does bring all the boys, and girls, to the yard, after admitted on stage that she wasn’t there to entertain us but to pleasure herself!

Alas, another year is over and the festivals have been and gone in a haze of rain and anthems. Bestival did the send-off justice and Rob Da Bank set himself another impossibly high target to outperform next year!

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