Bestival 2015 Review - The Best Festival on Earth

Bestival 2015 Review - The Best Festival on Earth

by john / Sep 20, 2015 / 0 comments
Thursday, 10 September 2015 to Sunday, 13 September 2015

Bestival – the Greatest Party on Earth

This being my forth visit to the Bestival and the Isle of Wight, I was starting to consider myself a seasoned Bestival reveller by now. However, I have to concede to two revellers we met in the queue for the wristbands exchange who are telling us that this is their 12th Bestival and are eagerly recanting how the festival has changed since it began; (I know that’s a controversial use of a semi colon but I’m running with it)

Having started in 2004 with just a mere 10,000 people the festival has grown rapidly over the years to over 80,000. But despite this it doesn’t feel overcrowded like Glastonbury does these days. In fact, even though Bestival has a similar capacity to Reading Festival, thanks to the idyllic surroundings of Robin Hill Country Park and the myriad of intriguing curious magical areas Bestival has to offer it actually feels a lot less rowdy and far more spacious.

On the lead up to the festival entrance in the centre of the walkway there was a large orange bin with padlocked lids chained to the fencing. This is where the less bold festival goer can donate un-needed supplies for the Hampshire Police Christmas Party. I peered through the slots on the top of the box but only a solitary grinder had been deposited, I guess that people were not feeling too charitable this year. After a quick search of bags for glass, a short warning about how alcohol can only be brought in to the festival on the first run and a trip through a little area showcasing a few adorable, albeit very inquisitive, doggies you are inside the festival. (It turns out that £37,000 of drugs were deposited in amnesty at Bestival 2015 and £33,000 of drugs were confiscated by the Police this year).

We had lucked out this year on being directed in to the Red Car Park which is pretty much right next to the entrance and leads directly down to the Green Campsite and the entrance to the main arena. It is now just past Eleven AM and the best spots are filling up fast. We knew we would need to move quickly to get a good position. We had intended to arrive in time for gates opening, however in previous years the campsite had opened at midday and unfortunately we hadn’t received the memo so were running a little late. Nonetheless we managed to bag a premium position next to the wishing tree with a stunning view of festival and surrounding area of outstanding natural beauty.

Best Bestival Campsite

After stopping for just long enough to enjoy the view and a quick trip back to the car for the remainder of our gear, we headed off to enjoy the festival. The first act we came across was the Kaleidoscope where we were blown away by the Mispers – a folky rock quartet that are definitely worth checking out if you get the chance. We sat half way up the hill in an ornate railway carriage and enjoyed the music and chatted with other festival goers who passed by. We also took to pet some of the Birds of Prey on display by the islands Haven Falconry and frolic with some Llamas.

Mispers at Bestival
Owl at Bestival

We returned to the Kaleidoscope Stage later to catch some of Fickle Friends – we we’re mesmerized by the colourful light display that surrounded the spikey stage!

Later that evening we found ourselves at the Big Top which showcased many of the best acts seen across the weekend. The night peaked with Underworld at half past midnight. We easily managed to find our way to the centre and still had good enough space to get our boogie on until well after 2 in the morning. A perfect day of festival awesomeness which could only get better as the Main Stage and Port were set to explode in to action in only a few short Bestival hours.

On Friday we rose shortly after twelve, just after the sound system blazed to life at the crack of noon with OMI’s Cheerleader at 100 decibels. This would turn out to be our midday alarm call each morning which was a good way to start the day and avoid sleeping in to late, though some other choice of tune would have been appreciated. That said after hearing the song so many times now I do catch myself silently boogying to it now.

The best remedy for Friday morning grogginess is to head straight for the toboggan run in the port area. The area should have opened at 12 but was running a little late due to last minute preparations. With our trusty press accreditation we managed to get ahead of the crowds and be the first riders of the festival. For maximum exhilaration you have to avoid the breaks until you pass the final corner, firmly awaken now we headed immediately back for a second run but this time – disaster struck! My festival buddy and camera man, Alex, misjudged the lean of a corner and bailed. Unfortunately I didn’t seen the drama unfold, but as it was described to me Alex flipped the toboggan and slid a great distance upside down before wrestling the device back to its correct orientation and continuing at high speed.

Robin Hill Toboggan

Aloft the hill aside the Mainstage was a congregation of buses and tipis which formed a makeshift hippy commune, we chilled here for a few hours before checking the run of acts playing the mainstage through the evening.

One of the greatest things about Bestival is that the DJ’s that play in breaks between acts are equally as good as the acts themselves, seamlessly mixing one act in to the next with a string of classic tunes, often remixed or funked up in some way you have never heard before, nor will ever hear again. I am doubtless that some of Rob da Banks sets I have seen at Bestival over the years are hands down the best DJ sets I have ever seen. For me the highlight of the mainstage had to be Jurassic 5 whose performance was sick – the only thing they got wrong was there was actually 6 of them – I guess Jurassic 6 doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

Duran Duran were good but definitely the weakest headliner of the weekend. Just up at the Big Top at midnight Tame Impala smashed out a wicked set and pulled in the largest crowd we saw at the Big Top all weekend. Being able to head right to the Big Top after watching a headliner on the mainstage and catch another fantastic act is just another thing that makes Bestival the best for the non-stop back to back partying. It’s something Bestival manages to do better than all the other festivals.

**This has to be my favourite picture we got of Duran Duran
Duran Duran on Fire

Next up was our first trip to Bollywood for some funked up Four Tet and Seth Troxler spun out the rest of the night with his Detroit style dark tech-house.

Order of the day on Saturday was to find out who the special guest at 3.15 would be. Heading straight for the press tent we immediately found a sign outside boldly proclaiming the special guests were ‘House of Pain’. Special guests can be a bit of a gamble but House of Pain could not have fit the Hip Hop Rock vibe any better. Growing up as a kid, House of Pain were at the centre of a vibrant American Hip Hop scene but it was only as I watched them mix up House of Pain and Everlast songs that I realised that Everlast was the lead rapper. House of Pain split in 1996 as Everlast pursued a solo career and had only reformed relatively recently in 2010. Maybe, just maybe they still have another epic song like Jump Around left in them – we can live in hope.

The next mind blowing act was Jungle. I’d caught them a few times here and there over the last year or two and their tunes are really growing on me. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to them yet then you’ll enjoy this video although Busy Earnin’ has got to be their best track and Time is also awesome.

The Chemical Brothers closed the mainstage with another one of those block rocking beats for which they are so famous – it did feel like they held back on the stage show a little in comparison to some of their Glasto sets on the Other Stage, but their tunes are always epic and you can’t stop yourself from dancing to it.

The whole party on Saturday night was at the Port where Annie Mac and Rob Da Bank DJ back to back mixing up some of the freshest and sickest tunes you’ve ever heard.

After three days of binging and boogieing by Sunday morning you are ready for some rest and recuperation, so after your midday Cheerleader alarm call we headed to the Avery for a second round of bird handling and an introduction to Llama Farming. After a forth go on the toboggan ride and a cup of chai we were ready to get the party started in earnest and we had no intention to slow down for the final day.

We went to check out Boy Better Know on the main stage and weren’t sure if we were feeling the grove with their particular brand of garagie ghetto rap but later in the evening we would see the same guys play the same songs but this time round we were sure we loved it.

I was looking forward to the Jacksons but I there was no way I could have been prepared for how awesome they would be. This was without a doubt a definite highlight of the weekend. They even showed a picture of baby Michael and brought a tear to the eye of everyone in the crowd as they wished that he could have been there with them – oh God how we all wished that baby Michael could have been there with his bros busting out those Jacksons classics.

The Jacksons at Bestival

Missy Elliot was the final headliner for the mainstage – I’d never really considered myself a fan or even thought that I was that familiar with her music but as she exuberantly busted through her set I realised I knew most of the songs and could not help but get swept up in the music and dancing. Her stage presence was immense and the scores of dancers that flanked her would make for a great end to the Festival. Then a huge firework display erupts from behind the stage and the whole sky is lit up in a rainbow of colours that feels like it lasts for ever.

Missy Elliot at Bestival

We’re in the Big Top thinking that everything is about to finish when we catch the set of Roisin Murphy which blew our hair back. Previously the frontwomen of Moloko, Roisin blends adventurous pop tunes with far flung influences from other genres including rock, jazz and disco – we loved it.

Despite the bleak forecasts for the weather throughout the weekend, the sun had been out every day with only a sprinkling of rain in the very early hours of Saturday morning, I have to say that the weather had worked out perfectly.

Whilst we rocked our socks off in the Big Top watching Roisin and then Roni Size close out the festival the heavens finally opened and biblical rains came down. Safe under the Big Top, we funked out the last of the festival as the water began to wash down the hill soaking the grass underneath us. If it had rained at any other time before Monday morning I would have been concerned but as the festival was drawing to a close and the Big Top offered the best option for partying it didn’t matter at all.

We were in no rush on Monday morning for our late afternoon ferry and despite a little trauma packing up the tent and camping gear in a howling storm we soon found ourselves at a sea side restaurant in the closest town of Sandown eating scampi and lobster thermador and missing the festival already.

With a couple of hours to spare we decided to drive the coastal road the whole way round the island taking in the breath-taking scenery before catching the boat back to the real world wishing that didn’t have to wait another 361 days until we come back in 2016.

Lush Road on Isle of Wight

Here is a playlist of all the songs we heard at Bestival 2015 that I feel encapsulate the mood and the vibe of the Summer of Love.

Finally, here is a photo that I found on my camera when I got home that appears to be of a gig in somebodies house and a picture of the best Love Robot asking the crowd for love

Bestival Love Robot

Rating out of 11: