Bestival 2011 review


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Forget Normality. He’s out to lunch for four days, Bestival will be taking your hand instead – sorry, mind the three inflatable Mr Blobbys rolling around on the floor there. So, please, familiarise yourself with the remarkably peculiar, the colourful curiosities and the alchemy of stranger unity, there is plenty of it around this weekend.

Leave no trail undiscovered, scrub off any bias on the door mat and, yes, feel free to play Amy Winehouse at Crazy Golf, there’s about four of her up there at the moment. For a welcomer, let me introduce Public Enemy (8.5/10), a parody of themselves thanks to Flavor Flav, who will spend his time dishing out copies and commendations of his new book.

Then wind your way through the bracken of the Ambient Forest, where smooth Balearic versions of James Yuill’s ‘This Sweet Love’ float across the still algae-blossomed ponds and join the scores of wellie-wearing revellers blissing out in the shelter of the serene setting.

If you’re after something a little more hectic, bass-heavy eclectic, try Skrillex (8/10), who’s distorting a few dubstep favourites, working his own math-step into the equation. Andy C (8/10) is a little more impatient. It might be the lashings of lasers (cut by the constant raindrops) that quell his fortunes but it’s a fantastic spectrum of DnB, heavy on the switch up, light on the vocals in Arcadia.

You won’t be able to shut Mr Motivator (7/10) up. Apparently head-rush recreation is perfect for a Saturday morning. There is no Lycra needed but you’ll see plenty of it anyway, mainly worn by festival-goers.

Talking of dressing up, you’re the odd one out if you haven’t cobbled together a cardboard guitar, Freddy Mercury moustache or at least a Michael Jackson glove. And while there are far too many people ‘blacking up’, you’re equally as likely to bump into a wizard in the maze or catch Noah and his whale queuing for the roller disco.

The Cure (9/10) and Bjork (7/10) will both fall into the rotten trap of mistaking this for a club show instead of a festival gig. There are too few hits to start with, but where Robert Smith and Co. make amends with the most majestic encore ever – ‘The Love Cats’ and a dry ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ included – our Icelandic queen works too hard on her new ‘Biophillia’ project, leaving little space for what made her worthy of the slot from the outset.

Word of warning too: the weather will puff and pour at times, but mainly it’s not drawn out, the elongating is left to Greg Wilson (7/10) in the Rizlab arena with lengthy disco re-edits and a blast of Amy Winehouse.

All in black like she’s Down Under for the rugby, PJ Harvey (9/10) welds the precision and stolid beauty of ‘Let England Shake’ to ‘Down By The Water’ and ‘The Pocket Knife’, proving she has more weight than two Mercury Prizes and as things get synchronised at the Village People (7/10), the versatility of the line-up and zeal for the silly becomes apparent.

Yeah, a few more loos are needed in the campsites, but hey, Bestival is how festivaling should be done in 2011: diverse, engaging and intriguing without a reliance on headliners.

Sorry, it looks like Normaility is back…