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Friday at Bestival offers an eclectic selection of classic acts

Bestival 2011 review

published: Thu 15th Sep 2011

Brian Wilson

Thursday 8th to Sunday 11th September 2011
Robin Hill Country Park, Downend, Nr Arreton, Isle of Wight.. PO30 2NU, England MAP
£170 (Adult) - / £85 (Age 13-15) - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 50000
last updated: Fri 9th Sep 2011

The end of the summer bash, is held a microcosm of most of the festivals that have preceded it this year. A slice of music from festivals across the board from dance to rock, reggae to folk, and acoustic, alongside some more weird stuff across almost two dozen stages. Plus the chance to sample some of the best caterers that have been providing food all year, along with a host of things to do and see, that make some festivals a proper experience, and much more than just an expensive gig in a field. Admittedly, there's many noticeable ideas borrowed from the daddy of all festivals Glastonbury itself, and it seems to me that organiser Rob Da Bank acknowledges this in the large CND sign over the main stage.

around the festival site (5)
Plus of course this microcosmic mash up of all that's good at festival's also gives us a chance to sample the various weather conditions experienced at most festivals this summer. With that comes the state of the terrain which sees everything from mud (the compact hard, and the soft sticky stuff), to long grass at various locations across the site. Friday night offered a lovely warm night, with most festival goers happy to wander about in T-shirts.

What Bestival also offers is a chance to see headliners that aren't your run of the mill, played at a festival near you this summer already, and to be honest that's what drove me back to Bestival again this year. I had last been in 2009, and with an expanded site, and more people, it still took me a day to get my bearings and another to explore everything, fortunately many of the other acts on the line-up I had already seen, so I could cherry pick my favourites, and take more time out to see the wealth of other activities that Bestival offers. There's so much on offer from roller discos and wall of deaths, to crazy golf, fire shows, walks in the woods, hidden venues, and the like that the line-up almost played second fiddle.

However there's also a wealth of rising stars populating the bill, with the festival so late in the season it's a chance to catch the acts that'll be all over the festival circuit next season.

Andreya Triana
It's Bestival regular Beardyman who gets my festival off to a bang with some terrific beatboxing, before I wander up to the RBMA stage to enjoy the late arrival of Andreya Triana who uses two microphones, and a live band to create the smooth jazz beat stylings of her records.

Ageing musical legend Brian Wilson frailly took to the Bestival main stage before his forthcoming retirement, to bring us his Beach Boy hits alongside a few randomly obscure tracks. He might be old, and a little slow and quiet, and no longer the driving force behind the harmonious heart lifting sound spilling from the speakers hanging either side of the stage but with a back catalogue like his it's a fantastic set overall. The second half of the set littered with Beach Boys tunes including 'Sloop John B', 'Wouldn’t it Be Nice', 'God Only Knows', 'Fun Fun Fun', and 'Good Vibrations', and can you find a stronger encore than 'Johnny B Goode', 'Help Me Rhonda', 'Barbara Ann', and 'Surfin' USA'? This was a landmark moment and maybe the last time I'll ever see him, with a mammoth arms in the air singalong, and Bestival had provided us with a special moment that bonded the festival crowd, and buoyed us for the weekend.

Brian Wilson
Only at a festival would you consider following that with a set from Public Enemy, and Flavor Flav and Chuck D have brought a full band with them. It's a terrific set of high energy tunes, rock samples, and even a chance for Flavor Fav to try and plug his book.

Patrick Wolf afterwards provides a captivating set which means I don't arrive at Caitlin Rose until her last track. So it's back to the guitar fizz of Graham Coxon who shows that there is a place for indie guitar at Bestival. Magnetic Man, and Chromeo both pack out the Stardust Field whilst Glasgow's Mogwai provide us with a wordless soundscape and some cool accompanying visuals, they even throw in a vocalist for the final number.

Friday's headliners, the gimmick ridden Pendulum, offer explosions, pyros, smoke, screen visuals, and bizarre rocket themed comments between songs to add sparkle. They offer us anything to take the focus off their music which is actually rather dull, and falls between too many stools, being neither heavy nor particularly pumping. Perhaps their time has already past, and they seem already a little cheesy. They say this could be their last appearance for sometime live, and it sounds as though they need to regroup, and deliver something new.

Skrillex on the other hand delivers chest rattling dubstep that thumps from the speakers, the pounding is only bearable for so long before I make a break to Frank Turner who delivers a solo set to the amassed crowd, including a heart felt 'Long Live The Queen' sung on the fourth anniversary of Lexi's death.

Jaguar Skills, and the late night pyros, lasers, strobes, red lights, and fire hula dancers of Afterburner prove far too appealing to ignore, and we end up dancing the night away whilst the big beats drop until the sky begins to lighten. Little did we know with it would come rain. It's a bit of a shame that it's the little afterburner and not the full blown spider, but the laser visuals across a nearby exposed scarp are an added bonus.

around the festival site (Afterburner)
review by: Scott Williams

photos by: Karen Williams / Phil Bull

Thursday 8th to Sunday 11th September 2011
Robin Hill Country Park, Downend, Nr Arreton, Isle of Wight.. PO30 2NU, England MAP
£170 (Adult) - / £85 (Age 13-15) - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 50000
last updated: Fri 9th Sep 2011

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