Bestival 2011: Not just here to entertain you, but to pleasure themselves
The UK festival season came to a close last weekend. Offering the final farewell was Rob Da Bank’s colourful music gathering, Bestival. Quite the statement name for a festival, I’m sure you’ll agree. But there’s no doubt about it, you should try it at least once.
Entering Robin Hill Country Park, you’re bombarded with colour and creativity. Even the toilets are decorated and, of course, eco-friendly. Walking through the various fields is like falling down a rabbit hole, especially on the fancy dress day. This year’s theme was “Rock Stars, Pop Stars and Divas”, so the crowds were full of Lady Gagas, Amy Winehouses (too soon?) and my personal favourite and own choice of costume, The Village People. They brought smiles to a sea of replica famous faces on Saturday afternoon, and taught the YMCA. They wanted everyone to learn the moves “from the horse’s mouth” apparently. (The secret is not to make the ‘M’ too high, it shouldn’t be above your head.)
Kelis later took to the stage on Saturday afternoon and declared “I’m not here to entertain you…I’m here to pleasure myself.” And it looked like she managed it. Looking striking in a circus-style outfit, many onlookers left a fan of her newer music, realising she has a lot more to offer than ‘Milkshake’.
The evening’s headliners were Crawley’s finest, The Cure. Now in their fifth decade of performing (although Robert Smith is the only continuous member), they delighted an expectant audience. This naturally included classics such as ‘Friday, I’m in Love’, ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ and ‘The Lovecats’. I’m sure this for many will be up there with the ultimate festival moments, although nearly three hours is a long time to sustain the momentum at a festival.
Although the weather was intermittently dreadful, it couldn’t dampen spirits as there was something at every turn to make you smile. Entertainment included a toboggan ride, fairground, maze, skatepark, silent disco, Shisha, burlesque, Sing Star karaoke, Roller Disco and even a tree-shaped venue with dwarves serving drinks in the mini bar.
The Underground Restaurant also offered a delectable treat in the form of a three-course home cooked meal. It’s only for when you really need to warm those cockles and have a fair few pennies to spare. Which sadly, quite a few people wouldn’t as there was a fair amount of theft, which certainly didn’t fit in with the free-love vibe.
Dancing in the rain became an experience to remember for all the right reasons at Arcadia’s futuristic looking stage ‘The Afterburner’, where Andy C kept the crowd warm by playing Drum ‘n’ Bass until the early hours.
One big name that failed to sparkle was Fatboy Slim in the Big Top tent on Sunday night. With people overflowing from the tent to try and get in on the action, anticipation for the set was clearly high (and I mean high, I was offered drugs at every turn and even asked if I was selling any.) Unfortunately, a snippet of ‘Praise You’ was the only one of his classics he offered for the first hour or so, the rest was uninspiring dance beats interspersed with a few pop songs which were out of place at a Fatboy Slim set. A big shame he hadn’t come a long way, baby.
Sunday’s surprise headliner, Bjork, was only announced a couple of months ago and was a festival exclusive. She commented that she wasn’t offering the beats you might expect at a festival, but I could think of no better act to end the weekend on the main stage. Her psychedelic set took revellers on an avant-garde trip they’ll actually remember complete with a 30-strong female Icelandic choir to accompany. Her new album ‘Biophilia’ is offered in the form of an interactive iPad app, with the fantastic visuals being displayed throughout her set. Although she mainly played new music, she also features older, more well-known songs, such as ‘Hyperballad’ and ‘Declare Independence’.
Then came the Grande Finale; the ultimate end to a surreal adventure. Bubbles of smoke, thousands of paper love hearts, huge white bubble men and fireworks. They really went all out to see out summer in style. Bestival is the happy, hippy retreat and the perfect way to welcome autumn. It was voted the best major UK festival in the UK festival awards last year, and the only way to appreciate this is to give it a go yourself. You might just be left thinking “I had the weirdest dream last night…”
Follow Laura Davis on Twitter @LauraJoDavisTagged in: Andy C, Bestival, Björk, festival, kelis, music, Rob da Bank, The Cure
Recent Posts on Arts
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter