Bestival is worth exploring to get the most from it

Bestival 2015 review

By Steve Collins / Marie Magowan | Published: Mon 21st Sep 2015

around the festival site

Thursday 10th to Sunday 13th September 2015
Robin Hill Country Park, Nr Arreton, Downend, Isle of Wight, PO30 2NU, England MAP
Daily capacity: 79,999
Last updated: Fri 31st Jul 2015

After two days of glorious sunshine, the unpredictable September weather flexed its muscles and sent a band of rain and wind through in the small hours of Saturday morning. Waking up to find our neighbours pitch empty, we discovered that in fact the wind had brought their tent down in the night. Fortunately they had managed to rescue it and pitch in a more sheltered spot. Despite this the daytime weather was warm and dry, if a bit windy.

Early doors on the main stage belonged to the old hands, as Dodgy, and Level 42 opened proceedings. Between them the two acts have a brace of classic hits and provided a good singsong for those who had managed to make it down to the arena early. If they were hoping to relax though they were to be disappointed as between acts was Spandy Andy, basically the American answer to Mr Motivator, who moved through the the crowd getting them to dance, or just grinding against them if they refused to react.

In the months running up to Bestival there had been many rumours that the special guest could be Muse, but as that was put to rest by Matt Bellamy, it was not until this morning that it became known that the special guest were House of Pain, certainly a upbeat set to get the site to Jump Around! Was impressed with their acoustic track too, a bit of a shocker, but Everlast has a very good singing voice.

Chuckle Brothers: Bestival 2015

From here it was a dash up to the Big Top for the next two acts, that we're certainly different from each other and just about everything else too. First up were the well known musicians the Chuckle Brothers - no I hadn't been aware of their musical talents (sort of!) either, but they brought in a huge crowd who were probably as curious as we were. After a quick round of 'To me-to you', and a couple of songs (including the Tinchy Stryder track they performed on) they were off again, only 15 minutes, but just enough to stop their pretty thin act going from quirky and enjoyable to annoying.

They were followed by the God of Hellfire himself - The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, despite being 73 years, his show was as mad and surreal as you would expect from the psychedelic rocker. His voice was as strong as ever, and it made for a very entertaining hour.

Mr Wilson's Second Liners: Bestival 2015

The main two stages didn't really hold anything exciting for us this evening so we set of out towards the Wishing Tree. This area still seems to have lost its way a bit over the last couple of years, since they removed the popular Swamp Shack. Although we did catch an unexpected treasure in the new Carnivale area - a small secluded venue with a large wooden pirate ship that serves as a stage. We were treated toMr Wilson’s Second Liners, describing themselves as New Orleans meets 90s hits, a 'funeral band without the body' they are a brass band who played about every rave anthem you can think of, and were obviously enjoying themselves as when the sound engineer gave them the signal for one more they just moved the party off the ship and into the crowd, and certainly no one was complaining, this was one of the little gems you feel privileged to catch.

Back in the Caravanseri, an area that appears to have fallen off the back of the visiting fairground, with waltzer cars and other delights surrounding the stage, is where we did manage to see one of our local favourites, reggae band TThe Ohmz, who were also joined on the tiny stage by local hip hop rap act Kingz Of Vocals for the end of their set, offering a little something different. It was now time to stop for food, so ideal opportunity to see what was on offer in the food hall This area sees more street and fresh food than some of the traditional festival stalls through the site. We went for chicken rendang. With generous portions of rice and plenty of pickles on the side this would satisfy even the biggest of appetites.

around the festival site: Bestival 2015

Refuelled we went to see what else we could discover, Bestival has a reputation for making space for the odd and eccentric, and as such it's usually rewarding if you ditch any plans and just take a wander across site and see where this takes you. One of the big focal points for this years summer of love is the Love-bot, who needs to feel everyone's love to stop him from seizing up, think he has had so much love this weekend that there was even a bit of smoke coming from his ears.

Taking a explorative trip into the Bollywood field, there were still some ingenious fancy dress costumes, one to note was a Mystery Machine and crew, who's Scooby Doo who was feeling the pressure of nonstop posing of the rest of the group, making it all the more fun to grab that one extra shot. We also took this opportunity to try out the Jam Jar cocktail bar, for a variety of cocktails just a little different from the norm.

Although the port is not really an area that interests me musically, I do appreciate the skill and effort of the DJs, the energy of the revellers, and most of all the sheer engineering of the structure. The Port is a huge boat and the perfect venue for lasers, fire and lights. Even if dance music isn't your thing, you should experience the sight at least once in the dark.

around the festival site (The Port): Bestival 2015

Taking a leisurely stroll back through the Ambient Forest, and literally stumbled into this years hidden bar, the Blind Tiger. A venue that could easily be missed, as the entrance is just a small cargo container. We decided to investigate for ten minutes on our orbit towards our intended destination - the comedy tent. Inside you find an intimate venue, subtly lit, bar at the back , and a few seats, sofas and rugs and on the stage a grand piano. We were treated to the performances of Nick Shaikh, Joe Lee, James Sakal, and Nick Allen - a succession of extremely talented pianists taking requests from the audiences do just larking about - at times it was hard to see who was enjoying the show more.

James Sakal: Bestival 2015

Add to this a warm, comfy venue and some surprisingly strong cocktails and before we knew it ten minutes had become four hours, and at almost three in the morning we re-emerged into the forest bleary eyed and ready for our bed, but looking forward to the final day of what's been one of the best days at a festival in a while.

review by: Steve Collins / Marie Magowan

photos by: Steve Collins

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