Camp Bestival is the baby brother of the hugely successful Bestival, both curated by Radio One’s Rob Da Bank. At a (sold out) capacity of 10,000 it’s a third the size of it’s better known sibling and so manages to retain a genuinely intimate boutique feel, which it does in the beautiful rolling grounds of Lulworth Castle in Dorset.
The emphasis is on family-friendliness, and this it has in bucket-loads. But then, coming in at over £300 for 2 adults (kids are free) plus spendings on site, the cost is the best part of a summer holiday for some families, and so it needs to deliver on that front.
With a Zippos Circus, some impressive jousting, live Gruffalo action, fun-fair rides and an expansive kids field, Camp Bestival had the feel of a huge summer fete. The kids have lots of fun in a safe environment, and happy kids means relaxed parents, who can kick back, enjoy the excellent food (& booze) on offer, and even check out some music.
It’s strange for the first mention of music in a music festival review to appear so far down the list, but it reflects the priorities of the festival. It’s as if, having catered so well for the families, the music was, if not an after-thought, then certainly a bonus, and leaned heavily towards safe heritage acts, without the cutting edge of Bestival’s live line-up.
George Clinton (and the spirit, if not necessarily personnel of Parliament & Funkadelic) headlined on the Friday night and the poor turnout in the drizzle wasn’t helped by the meandering performance & interminable guitar solos that led to a migration to the dance tents or bed, depending on your situation. The sun came out on Saturday for The Blockheads, the New-Wave barrow boys still funkier than a mosquito’s tweeter. That their crowd-pleasing grooves and joyous performance at times make you forget the absence of their talismanic leader Ian Dury says it all.
Saturday headliners Madness seduced a huge crowd away from the many other attractions and had tired toddlers bouncing on the shoulders of exuberant Dads as far as the eye could see, whilst a nod was made to the 21st Century with the marvelous Friendly Fires concluding the festival on Sunday.
Despite the lack of younger live bands, absence of any live electronic artists, and Chipmunk’s cancellation leaving only Tinie Tempah to hold the flag for the yoof, there was a decent offering of DJs in the dance tent come the night. On Saturday Annie Mac presented some of the young guns of today’s dance scene. Jack Beats’ excitable set of teenage crowd-pleasing bass workouts entertained for as long as a one-trick pony can. However, Joy Orbison’s boundary-pushing, rump-shaking re-imagining of garage-as-if-released-on-Warp Records injected some much needed soul along with hope for the future, whilst Annie Mac’s latest squeeze Toddla T went for the festival jugular with a set of jump-up anthems before showing why his own dancehall-infused productions have won him a deal with Ninja Tune.
50 feet away, but apparently in a different Time and Space entirely, Bucks Fizz were performing in the SingStar sponsored ‘Cocktails & Dreams’ arena. Packed to the rafters with AWOL Mums & Dads The Cuban Brothers whipped up a Mojito-fuelled crowd before the Fizz did their thing and the place exploded with guilty-pleasure and drunken nostalgia.
Despite the considerable price and sometimes thin musical line up, this was a place full of happy campers, both young and old, relaxing and letting their hair down in an idyllic setting. If you’re after a bit of Mr Tumble to go with your Mr Scruff, Camp Bestival is the place for you.