sun strewn Bestival has a carnival atmosphere on opening day

Bestival 2009 review

published: Thu 17th Sep 2009

around the festival site (3)

Friday 11th to Sunday 13th September 2009
Robin Hill Country Park, Downend, Nr Arreton, Isle of Wight.. PO30 2NU, England MAP
£140 (Adult) - / £70 (Age 13-15)
last updated: Fri 4th Sep 2009

This was my first year at Bestival, and I don't know whether I was amazingly lucky, but I didn't see a duff act all weekend, to me it seems the programme of music was incredibly good everywhere I went.

around the festival site (3)
After putting the tents up late at night a long walk from the gates, as it seemed like at least half the campsite was already full, we went to sleep rather late. I'm woken rather early by TangerineFields trying out their soundsystem, but it takes me a while even with a breakfast roll, and a couple of coffees to get into the arena.

The walk in is pleasant in the sunshine, and the campsites are buzzing with excited youngsters, there's compost toilets, and plenty of food options on the way. We pass the family area and follow the tulip lined path into the main arena. The disco blips of Arcade Eden are just climaxing on the main stage, an imposingly high structure, so we wander about the site, eventually finding the real ale bar and the sexy 80's tinged sounds of Marina and The Diamonds who delivers rich pop including 'I Am Not A Robot', surely a star on the cusp of making the charts.

The Workhouse
We decide to head through the woods to the Bandstand, discovering the best festival fish and chips I've ever had at the local Catch stall. Tucking in while enjoying the instrumental noodlings of The Workhouse, and they're rather good with expansive moody soundscapes.

Back to the Big Top for a bit of Maps, who deliver a nicely balanced set of old material and similarly veined new material from the forthcoming 'Turning The Mind'. The duo pull off an uplifting set that holds more energy and promise than their usual shoegazey output. On this performance the new album will be well worth a proper listen.

We return to the main stage in time to see the end of the Latin flavoured Friendly Fires' set, and it seems the crowd have been enjoying their upbeat tunes in the heat, and the party atmosphere increases between acts with the amusing Barry Peters Halifax Hospital Radio, who bear an uncanny resemblance to The Cuban Brothers, although from where I am I can't actually hear them, I'm amused by the cheesy songs and even cheesier lines from Barry, who throws T-shirts out into the crowd at the girls with big tits.

Florence And The Machine
The amazing thing about Bestival is that the crowd seem to be having the best time between the acts, although Florence & The Machine do a good job of keeping the energy going. The leggy Florence dressed in a green jumpsuit ignores the abuse being thrown at the photographers spoiling the crowd’s view. Her voice seems better than usual but she seems more subdued, less manic and it's only in the second half of the set where she lithely jumps upon speaker stacks and it’s clear the majority know the words to 'Kiss With A Fist', 'The Drumming Song', 'Dog Days Are Over', and 'Rabbit Heart' all sparking a singalong by the masses.

Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip deliver a well received set in the Big Top with passionate and immediate wordy vocals. 'Thou Shalt Always Kill' is delivered with underlying menace, the pair are really on form, The crowd grows and leaps about throughout this well measured set, a highlight of the day.

I'd been looking forward to MGMT but their sound failed to capture me at all, and I found myself wandering back to the campsite for warmer nightwear from which I hear 'Time To Pretend', and 'Kids' getting the crowd to respond slightly, although they appeared to play Spandau Ballet's 'Gold' at some point, oh dear.

Massive Attack
Main stage headliners Massive Attack have a few screen issues, and the moody lighting, makes it difficult for those who can't see anything to hold their interest, the large crowd thins out slightly, but most can read the ticker tape above the band and that holds interest. Those closer into the crowd are able to hear the laid back smokey blissed out beats of a band on moody simmer, 'Teardrop' and 'Unfinished Sympathy' provide the seminal moments which deliver just what the audience wants, and we're all happy. Despite the main stage closing there's still plenty more to sample.

Returning to the nearby Big Top we get there in time to see the energetic Mr Bruce from the dapper duo The Correspondents leaping about like crazy and spitting rhymes over DJ Chuckles flapper mixes. With Metronomy's set moved to earlier in the day, Bat For Lashes don't arrive at their allotted time and so we are able to see more of the duo and their 20's styled swing hip hop.

Bat For Lashes (2)
When Bat For Lashes do arrive they deliver the set of the day, it's loud (this festival clearly has no late night noise issues) and the energy has the tent's roof dripping with condensed sweat – yuck! But it's worth it to watch a showcase of a dozen or so songs mainly from their second album 'Two Suns', with 'Daniel' their crowning moment. Terrific.

The Loose Cannons
We stride out into the night buoyant and head down to the fiery Arcadia Stage to see The Loose Cannons doing a DJ set. The Djing is nice enough, the tunes drawing in more and more people to dance amongst the smoke and lazers. However the lead singer has not only had a fancy dress wardrobe malfunction, but is also increasingly irritating in his delivery, eventually we slink away, full ales in hand.

We end our first night in Club Da Da watching more of The Correspondents, still full of energy, and offering us a different slice of their repertoire from their earlier performance. They are followed by a new act, only together for a year, the fantastic Brassroots who give us a trombone led, horn fuelled selection of covers. We get brass and percussion flavoured versions of 'Karma Police', 'Let's Dance', plus bits of Gnarls Barkley, White Stripes and more. They were a surprise triumph and highly recommended.
review by: Scott Williams

photos by: Karen Williams / Phil Bull

Friday 11th to Sunday 13th September 2009
Robin Hill Country Park, Downend, Nr Arreton, Isle of Wight.. PO30 2NU, England MAP
£140 (Adult) - / £70 (Age 13-15)
last updated: Fri 4th Sep 2009

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