Friday came around bright and early, with more choice for acts than we had sense. This also meant some major clashes. Scroobius Pip, The xx and Doctor P all had sets within half an hour of each other and Sub Focus was due on 15 minutes before Florence started. After a dangerously long game of ‘Ring of Fire’ we set off to catch the end of Julio Bashmore’s set at the Roller Disco. Despite only knowing one track by him, Au Seve, his atmospheric style of house music was a relatively gentle way to start the evening. Rolling back up towards the main arena we were sucked in by the massive crowds that had gathered for Flux Pavilion, which went respectably mental for ‘Bass Cannon’ and ‘I Can’t Stop’ on top of a bass filled remix of ‘Louder’ by DJ Fresh. Buraka Som Sistema then took to Big Top with their alternative electro dance set, playing some seriously catchy tunes, an Alex Gaudino remix and eventually ‘Hangover’, which became one of our favourite songs of the weekend. After this is where Friday got heavy. From the hip-hop verging on metal, Scroobius Pip, to dubstep and DnB, Doctor P and finally to an indie-pop set by The xx, we managed to get around to each tent to see the best of each act.
Sacrificing most of Sub Focus’s slot, we made our way to the first headlining act of the festival – Florence and the Machine. Despite dropping out at various venues throughout the summer and personally not being her biggest fan, she played well to the crowd in her usual ethereal style. She mixed it up by singing songs from her older and newer albums such as ‘Dog Days are Over’ and the Calvin Harris remix of ‘Spectrum’, which really got everyone moving. Next it was SBTRKT’s turn to entertain the now highly intoxicated crowds. Being one of my favourite bands of the weekend, they played a perfectly executed ‘Hold On’ and ‘Sanctuary’, finishing on ‘Wildfire’, which couldn’t have ended their short 45 minute set any better.
After spending Saturday morning wandering around blue camp looking for a man in a bathtub and a woman holding a duck umbrella, we managed to secure ourselves a much needed VIP shower, courtesy of Vogue Cigarettes. Refreshed and no longer smelling like the portable toilets, we meandered into the main arena amongst the sea of fancy dress, to catch ‘Go’ by Delilah. Her distinctively soulful and ambient sound was surprisingly good live, even if she did irritatingly point the microphone towards the audience at the most powerful points of the song. Following her was Ben Howard, performing to his usually exceptional standard, and then a slightly disappointing set by Beardyman that seemed to lead away from his beat boxing roots. A difficult choice led to us missing Disclosure for De La Soul who played some of their classics such as ‘Me, Myself and I’ as well as ‘Saturday’, which was quite fitting to the day. Major Lazer then started the biggest night for DJ’s in Big Top, playing some brilliant remixes of some big artists, including ‘Pon de Floor’ and Snoops ‘Drop it like it’s Hot’. 80s hit New Order were our headlining act this evening, drawing an impressive crowd and playing a wide array of what made them famous, including ‘Blue Monday’, ‘Temptation’ and ‘Love will Tear us Apart’. Picking up where we left off, we spent the rest of our night in Big Top. Annie Mac, Justice, Nero, Redlight and Skream and Benga, provided us with a good 3 sweaty hours of dubstep, UK garage and house music to end the night with.
The final day came around painfully quickly, bringing with it grey skies, an obvious drop in temperature and not only one of the most anticipated acts of the festival, but also one of the biggest names in musical history – Stevie Wonder. First to perform on Sundays Main Stage was Rizzle Kicks, who hopefully fired their sound technician as he managed to cock up just about every song they played. ‘Down with the Trumpets’ sounded more like ‘Down with the Synthesizer’ and the only recognizable part of ‘Mama do the Hump’ was the lyrics. To give the Brighton boys credit though, they performed well in their clearly better than Primark onesies, and they did so to a sizable, mid-afternoon crowd. After seeing Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs (TEED) at Benicassim I was more than pleased to see them return at Bestival with their crazy Jurassic period costumes and electro dance set. The lead stegosaurus was almost completely drowned out by an overzealous crowd shouting back the words to ‘Household Goods’ as they finished up in Big Top.
Almost as a small homage to the festival, our friendship and Stevie Wonder, we regrouped before the final headlining act and spent our last evening together. After borrowing a leg from a broken gazebo and finding a pretty big Union Jack, we fashioned a flag and headed into the 20,000 person strong crowds. It’s safe to say the audience was euphoric, the performance was phenomenal and the atmosphere couldn’t have reflected one big happy festival family anymore if it tried. He kicked off with a brilliant cover of Marvin Gaye’s ‘How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)’, which was followed later by Michael Jacksons ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ and ‘Imagine’ By John Lennon. His Daughter, Aisha Morris, then joined him on stage for ‘Isn’t She Lovely’ and provided the festival with a very heartfelt moment, before playing ‘Superstitious’. Ending on an upbeat rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ nothing could’ve sent him off better than 15 minutes worth of fireworks and streams upon streams of confetti.
The music continued into the early hours of the morning and despite the knowledge that we had dismantling the tent, packing our bags and an awkward, damp journey on very little sleep, we weren’t ready to leave. One thing about Bestival is regardless of how big it gets and how many more people attend each year, it refuses to be commercial. It gives you so much more than just music; it gives you that boutique festival atmosphere, but with the big artist names that you wont find anywhere else. Irrespective of the hangover and harsh reality shock I was graced with for far too long after the festival had finished, I would encourage anyone of any age or interest to attend Bestivals 10th birthday in 2013. Whatever image or preconception you may have of this event, it has something for everyone and I’ll proudly be attending it, each and every year from here on in.
Written by Megan Hudson-Prentice