Outkast join the castaways at the desert island disco

Bestival 2014 review

By Steve Collins / Marie Magowan | Published: Mon 15th Sep 2014


Thursday 4th to Sunday 7th September 2014
Robin Hill Country Park, Nr Arreton, Downend, Isle of Wight, PO30 2NU, England MAP
£195 for adults, £127 for Teen (age 13-17), 12& under free
Daily capacity: 79,999
Last updated: Mon 1st Sep 2014

Friday morning gave us the first chance to explore in daylight, heading first down though the Bollywood area which has the new BBC Introducing stage, which although no acts playing when we went by it seems hard to imagine that acts on this stage wont suffer from sound bleed from the Big Top and Bollywood bar. Some areas have remained just the same with Bollywood and the Cocktails bar being familiar sites, so would have been rude to not ensure the mojitos were still of usual standards.

The Port: Bestival 2014

With drinks in hand we headed up towards The Port, an impressive stage based round a full-sized boat, that really doesn't come into its own until after dark, there's always a good crowd here and I suspect many don't venture much further, which is a shame as the festival is much more than just the dance stages.

Then followed the now familiar hike up through the Ambient forest, with its many hidden treasures on the way, you never feel that one visit here is enough, because you can miss so much.

Having managed to make your way up one of the steepest hills, and emerging at the main entrance to the country park it would be unforgivable to navigate down Peace Hill without a trip into the WI tent, where the ladies would give Bake-off winners a run for their money, and for 70pence per item, who can refuse a mug of tea and a slice of cake. tea and cake in hand, we sat down to enjoy the entertainment on the Bandstand, where blues band Wille and The Bandits were shaking the cobwebs off those who were recovering from the first nights excesses.

Work No. 204: Bestival 2014

Halfway down the hill is the Kids Zone, which could easily be renamed as the big kids zone as the adults seemed to far outnumber children, but there were smiles all round and plenty of stilts and balance balls for all to try. After a giant inflatable Lionel Richie head last year, It now seems to be a regular slot at Bestival for some major piece of interactive art to be on display this year was 'Work No. 204: Half the air in a given space' by Martin Creed, which was a clear-sided gazebo filled with balloons, this was certainly a talking point and popular for many to try, I suspect partly because there was no charge except blowing up a couple of balloons while you were waiting to replace those that kept popping.

We reached the main arena to see one of this years' guest acts Lethal Bizzle who was really whipping the crowd up, and this was when you could really see that yesterdays' impression of a quieter festival was all an illusion.

We took this chance to see what the new comedy venue was like– now sharing with Come Dancing and Club Dada, the venue is fairly cramped and very hot, I think we were lucky that we arrived at the change over for one of the lesser known acts as by the time headline act Nina Conti took to the stage you could not move in or out. It's a shame that comedy has only been a small part this year as you have to consciously make the decision that you don't want to see the mid-afternoon acts and be prepared to wait to get in of out of the ballroom - for us it's always been part of our late-night Bestival programme after the main acts have finished. This definitely needs to be given more than a few hours and ideally moved to later in the day.

There are some very steep hills on the Bestival site, which can deter you from making non-essential trips to the fringes, however there are times when such trips are rewarded. Psychedelic rockers Kassassin Street are one such act, having seen them last year, we have managed to miss them each occasion they played near us this year so were keen to not let that happen again, we were not disappointed as they give one of the standout performances of the weekend; a year has seen this band grow in confidence and frontman Rowan Bastable's passion and energy drives the band.

Heading down, we reversed our morning route, this time heading back down through the lower trails of the Ambient Forest to reach The Port, where the visual show of fire and acrobatics is a sight to behold and one of the most visually arresting sights of any festival out there.

Disclosure are one of the big success stories of the last couple of years, and having performed here two years ago as they were breaking, tonight's performance felt like a homecoming for them. The addition of several guests only added to the party, with Sam Smith returning to the stage from his performance earlier in the day, as well as Friendly Fires' Ed Macfarlane (although his trademark display of dubious dad dancing was less welcome).

It's been almost seven years since Outkast performed together, and their reunion tour has been the subject of a lot of interest, and criticism for choosing only to play festivals rather than a proper tour - I can see the appeal of choosing this route, as it enabled them to play globally without the pressure and risk of their own tour. However the danger is that you will be performing to people who aren't great fans, and don't have the same commitment to your music. Sadly at Bestival the gamble didn't quite pay off, and while they gave a great performance, and tracks like Hey Ya! and Mrs Jackson got a great reaction, the response to rest of the set was slightly muted, and you got a sense that a sizeable portion of the crowd was just waiting for the big songs, and not really getting the rest. Considering this was the 'big name' at this year's festival it was a disappointing end to what had been a good start to the weekend.

review by: Steve Collins / Marie Magowan

photos by: Steve Collins

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