This year we were lucky to be offered the opportunity to camp in The Wild Copse. The campsite is a new addition for this year, and gives you the benefit of luxury camping, without the expense of hiring a tipi, podpad or yurt. The area itself is very spacious with plenty of room to pitch your tent, and the toilet and shower facilities were exemplary, although the queues for the showers were quite lengthy. The only let down is that the location was one of the furthest from the main arena, and meant that you had a fairly lengthy walk to get anywhere as someone who likes to camp quite close in to the action, going back to the tent during the day to restock or just take time out to relax, this was a major downside. For those who don't want to walk there was a 'Festaxi' service, but this only ran during daylight hours (something that seemed odd for a festival that doesn't really get going until it gets dark) and at £5 a go could get quite expensive.
Another new addition for 2012 is the 'Replay with Rob da Bank' stage, where we caught the end of a pretty good set from This Is The Kit, who came across as a kind of folked-out Radiohead. They were followed by festival stalwart Beans on Toast, who gave a typically eclectic mix of songs about drugs, love, drugs, festivals and drugs. He even treated the crowd to a 'free' 10 minutes when he arrived on stage early.
Overnight was clear and chilly, but the sun rose early on Friday morning and the day promised to be one of the hottist this year. The good thing about Bestival is the range of food stores, many of which are small businesses rather than the larger corporate caters. The bars are a little different and although we've heard that many are selling a wider range of drinks this year, we saw that most of the bars sold the same selection (Tuborg or Gaymers). What we did discover was that when buying a drink (including non-alcoholic) from the outlying areas you couldn't bring it back with you through to the main arena, forcing you to drink up or bin it. Fortunately some of the security were showing some flexibility, and as long as the drinks were in festival cups they gave a bit of lee-way, but the vast majority were being served in cans. I can agree with the prevention of bringing excess cans from the campsite, but when it's something you have just bought 50 metres away it does seem a little ridiculous.
One of the great things about Bestival is the wide range of music and one of my loves is that as you walk through the site you are easily distracted by some fantastic bands you may not have experienced before. We wanted to head through to main stage to see Adam Ant, and on the way found Mary Epworth, whose psychedelic tinged pop/rock, was perfect for a sunny afternoon.
Bestival can be a very relaxed affair but there's so much gong on that no matter how carefully you plan ahead you'll always end up missing someone, but one we weren't prepared to miss was Jake Bugg, this 17 year old who sings far more maturely than his years and never fails to impress. The buzz surrounding him at the moment meant that quite a crowd that had amassed around the stage to see him, and it's hard to believe that he has yet to release his first album.
Most festivals these days are branching out into comedy, with varied amounts of success. Bestival has had a comedy tent for several years now, and still seems to be trying to make it fit into the overall scheme. After an initial big launch it then went quite low-key for a few years, but it seems to be finding it's feet now with a mix of newcomers, interspersed with some bigger names. Although there was always a good crowd there always seemed to be space to sit down out of the heat of the day for a while.
You couldn't ask for any better weather during the day, but clear September nights mean a drop in temperature as the sun goes down, which summed up my feelings towards The xx's set musically they are ok, but after the uplifting set of Emeli Sandé, their gothic ramblings were too much of a downer. Whilst on our way to the Comedy tent to try and lift our mood again the evening then took a slightly strange turn as we stumbled upon Underbling & Vow's Knees Up, which from my memories included a mobility scooter, bananas and time travel, I kid you not.
After a quick detour to the Swamp Shack to take in its eerie ambience we headed back for tonight's headliner on the main stage. Florence + The Machine are semi-regulars at Bestival, but this is the first time theyve headlined. Curiously, for someone who has always got into the Bestival ethos and embracing the fancy dress, the show was actually quite sedate, but enjoyable none-the-less.
Returning back we were again delayed at the Replay stage, which purports to feature a line up chosen personally by Rob da Bank, and if true shows that our tastes are quite closely aligned as I don't think we saw a bad act there all weekend. This time we catch up with Summer Camp, whose mellow pop rock topped off with Elizabeth Sankey's soaring vocals..
As the first full day of Bestival closes for us, we muse over what a fantastic day it has been. Great music, great weather, a friendly crowd, it's looking as though Bestival 2012 is going to be one of the best.
review by: Steve Collins / Marie Magowan
photos by: Steve Collins
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