I can say without hesitation that my long weekend at Bestival was one of the most amazing times in my life. My thanks go to the people I went with, the strangers we encountered, all the performers, and everyone involved with the organising and running of this insane festival. I think I got about two nights worth of sleep across all four nights, and we did so much I can barely remember it all. I won’t spend a long time on any particular event, as this would go on forever, but here are my highlights in chronological order:
Took the ferry to from Southampton with Chris, James and Nath. In the queue we met Max, who was kind enough to help us carry some things up the skinny staircases on the ferry, and Harry, who had come directly from Paris after an Interrail tour of Europe! At one point an attendant came around with free sausage and bacon baps! It was a good omen of things to come…
While queuing for the coach we got chatting to these two crazy French guys, one of whom was massively drunk, and seemed to say nothing but ‘Dis guy!’ and ‘WAAAAAAAAAA!’.
Finding a camping spot
This took bloody ages, as the place was already choc-a-bloc. We found space once, but left after arguing with a nearby girl claiming it were her groups “Social Camping Area”; no sense camping near that kind of attitude. Eventually we found a bit of space by a main path, and when we looked at the people in the nearby tent and said ‘Can we camp here?’ their response was ‘Yay neighbours!’ We’d found our spot.
After setting up, Chris and I went for a little wander around the Festival site, ending up in a couple of armchairs in the Ambient Forest talking to an Italian named Adriano, who had signed up as a Bestival Bin-man the previous day. We left when Security told us the forest was closed, and cheerfully thanked us when we pointed out the unguarded entrance they hadn’t previously known about.
Woke up around 9am in the glorious sunshine, and introduced ourselves to the group we were camped with; a group of medicine students from Sheffield Uni. I have to say that just hanging around in the sun with these people was one of the great pleasures of the weekend, so a huge thanks has to go to Andy, Pierre, Annabelle, James (yep, another), Hazel, Meg and Alex (I think). Somewhere along the way Pat arrived and joined us (after the four of us in penguin gear chased him down the path and mobbed him), then it was time for some music!
LIVE ACT – First Aid Kit
Absolutely brilliant. Blown away by how well those two girls sing with each other and perfect music for a sunny festival afternoon. Looking to see them again this year in November!
LIVE ACT – The Staves
Very gentle music; really nice to have playing in the background while relaxing in the sun. We only stayed for some of the set, but I might get some of their music.
The Bacon and the Bath.
Headed back to camp, and Pat had brought BACON! We got the stove out and Pat cooked the whole batch and made bacon sandwiches for everyone. We offered some to our new friends, which seemed to gain their loyalty instantly. Andy later christened Pat “The Hero of Bacon”. We were then told by some yellowshirts about a promotion by which they could get free luxury showers for the rest of the festival (Hazel’s face lit up at the mention of “straighteners”); all they had to do was find a man in a bath and give him a card, then he would give them a wristband for shower access. Chris, James and Nath left immediately, as they’d seen him earlier, and duly got their wristbands. Pat had a look shortly later, but he’d moved…we would have to keep an eye out. We then donned our penguin costumes; it was time to go.
LIVE ACT – The Horrors
Not really my thing, so a couple of us headed outside for a drink or two in the meantime.
LIVE ACT – Soulwax (ish)
We were waiting for Soulwax for quite a while; until we found out they’d swapped stages with Flux Pavilion, so we eventually found them for their last two songs. Good, but I really want to see a full set sometime!
LIVE ACT – SBTRKT
A bit monotonous for my taste.
LIVE ACT – 2ManyDJs
Parts of this set were fantastic; I loved their mix of Kavinsky’s Night Call. But most of it was just fairly repetitive dance mixes.
A lot of the events of Friday and Saturday were shaped by all five of us being dressed as penguins. This meant us being constantly approached by people for photos, hugs, and when encountering other penguins (there were many) bouncing group hugs generally ensued. I don’t know what it was about being penguins that did this; as @Yankeepapa_13 tweeted: ‘Random observation from Bestival. Otherwise strangers dressed as penguins have an affinity for each other not shared by zebra or tigers.’
At one point we found a piano in the Ballroom Field, and in full view of a lot of parents and children I played Sabre Dance with the other four running, dancing and fighting around me. The kids especially seemed to enjoy this ridiculous sight, which was rather heart-warming.
LIVE ACT – Mr Motivator
So very surreal and really great fun, compounded by the fact that we were in a group of around twenty penguins. Perfect for a Saturday morning.
LIVE ACT – Skinny Lister
A mixture of sea shanties and Flogging Molly. Released a troop of “Skinny Sisters” in pretty dresses into the crowd to smile and dance with people. Quite entertaining, and a bit different, so I’m glad we saw them.
We were looking for somewhere to relax, and found a tent which had clay you could make things from, so we had a go. Here are the results:
LIVE ACT – Earth Wind and Fire
Only came in about halfway through, but really enjoyed the set. The disco-funk made a refreshing break from the dubstep that surrounded us.
Hurly Burly shenanigans
This was completely unexpected. We were just wandering around, and we approached the Hurly Burly café. I looked in, turned around and said ‘Nah, not much going on here.’ Then Chris said ‘What do you mean ‘Nothing’? Turn around!” Some music had started playing, and the bar staff were creeping to the front of the bar and did a full dance routine to the track. Very surreal and great entertainment.
LIVE ACT – Mr.B The Gentleman Rhymer
Great stuff, really bouncy music and great entertainment. Very funny man; may have to look into him further, as I’d never heard of his act before.
LIVE ACT – Two Door Cinema Club
Another new discovery for me, these guys give an excellent performance. Good to see a solid rock band this weekend. Will have to look into their music further.
LIVE ACT – New Order
Stayed for the first song and left. Sounded weak, and were very unimpressive. Bit of a shame.
LIVE ACT – Justice
This was right up my street. Although some of it got a bit samey, it was fun being in a solid mosh to some powerful electronica, and they actually have MELODIES, unlike a lot of the DJ stuff we’d seen recently. Would happily see again.
Silly wanderings with Pierre and Andy
After Justice we headed back to the camp, and James, Pat, Chris and Nath called it a night. However Pierre, Andy, Annabelle and a friend of theirs I forget the name of were up for heading to the Big Top tent to carry on the night. When we got there Andy and Pierre wanted to go check out some of the other tents, so I went with them. A routine shortly developed: We would arrive at a tent, Pierre and I would start dancing and enjoying the place, Andy would take another swig of gin and decide to move on somewhere else. He steadily got more drunk, and singing the Pokémon theme at people in animal costumes. We got back at around 4am, and just hung around talking about Pokémon and video games with Nath, who’d woken up. Great night!
Return of the bath
Me: ‘Hey guys, what kind of bath was the guys sat in?’
Me: ‘You mean like that one?’
Yep, the people with the bath were right by our campsite, so all of our group that had previously missed the shower bands got up and followed them until the staff stopped and gave up the tokens.
While they were doing this James and I headed off to retrieve the clay models, as the others wanted to take theirs home. On the way I ended up offering to carry the trombone of a girl from Perhaps Contraption, as we were heading the same way. Didn’t get a chance to see them play, unfortunately.
LIVE ACT – Roots Manuva
Not really my kind of music, but the performance was quite good. Some nice reggae bits and fairly funky beats.
LIVE ACT – Rizzle Kicks
Bloody good entertainment; their band was tight as a drum, and the two main guys had a lot of good banter and playing with the crowd. Only criticism: Down with the Trumpets needed a bit more power behind the brass, but that’s all.
LIVE ACT – Bat for Lashes
This woman has an incredible singing voice, at one point we mistook her for the Theremin that had been playing earlier. Lovely songs and a great performance.
LIVE ACT – Sigur Rós
Despite technical problems at the start, this was one of the most intense musical experiences of my life. I’ve been listening to their closing song on repeat for the last day and a half while writing this. Desperate to see them again.
LIVE ACT – Stevie Wonder
This was ok…alright I’m kidding, it was spectacular. Such a charismatic performer and excellent musician. Really enjoyed the banter between him, the other musicians and his daughter Ashlee Morris, who was one of the backing singers. A great feel-good finish to the main stage of the festival.
LIVE ACT – Orbital
I was swigging mojito for most of it, but really enjoyed the set. Great atmosphere in that tent. After this I found a deckchair in the Ambient Forest and passed out till security kicked us out again.
Getting up around 6 (I’d passed out in the tent around 4:30) we were completely fried, and while packing up we seemed unable to cease quoting Patches O’Houlihan from Dodgeball, even though the rest of the coach queue seemed silent.
Photo with Capital
There were a few girls from the Capital FM chatting to people and getting pictures. I, Pat, Chris and Nath are in image 36 of 99.
Roughly six hours after leaving the campsite, we got back to Southampton, and the adventure finally came to an end. My only disappointments with the weekend were missing Soulwax after their stage switch, and the fact that the information points never seemed to have any answers. Still one of the best weekends ever, with no exaggeration.
Notes for next year:
- I think I’m going to join the “Swim to Bestival” endeavour.
- Take an instrument or some kind, possibly a Mandolin.
- If taking passenger ferry, go to WEST Cowes.