by Jon Burns & Marko Domazet
Loose Lips headed down to Robin Hill Country Park on the Isle of Wight for another Bestival – what a weekend of fab music we had in store for us! We won’t bore you with any of our shenanigans (some more x-rated than others), but we’ll give you what we thought were the highlights of Rob Da Bank’s fantastic annual party. Let it be said now that our producer Joanna was super jealous about what was to come for us while she was stuck in boring old Venice for the film festival.
Chromeo – Montreal’s finest Arab / Jewish electro-funk duo kicked off the early evening main stage set on the Friday. Chromeo are so much fun and so full of energy. A heady mix of cheese, irony and killer hooks got the crowd up on their feet and dancing to tracks like Fancy Footwork and Bonafied Lovin’.
Pendulum – A controversial choice for a Friday night headliner with their aggressive brand of drum’n’bass fused with heavy metal. Personally, being a fan of D’n’B, we thought it refreshing for an act of their genre to get the chance to headline and the definitely put on a show. The Australian band hit the audience with a wall of sound and light, and certainly got the audience moving, but the reception seemed mixed. A bit like musical marmite, people either loved or hated them.
Paloma Faith – Paloma appeared on the main stage wearing a fabulous 1870’s blood red gown, her face painted in the pimpin’ colour that is silver. Her poses made her look unattainable and out of this world, her down-to-earth personality and banter (during which there was talk of Dolly Parton and Mr Motivator) made you realise she’s just a girl with a great voice and a good choice in clothing.
During her 45 minute set, she fired off classics like Do You Want The Truth or Something Beautiful, New York and possibly Smoke and Mirrors (at this stage yours truly became rather twatted). The crowd was also treated to material from her upcoming album, which if the preview is anything to go by, will be a poppier affair then the debut. All in all it was a beautifully choreographed performance with excellent wardrobe, a hell of a voice, and most importantly, a very pretty lady.
Polly-Jean Harvey – That’s PJ to most. There is something strangely ethereal about Harvey’s voice and music, especially when she’s dressed totally in black complete with black feather head-dress while performing under gloomy skies. Fresh from her second Mercury Music Award victory, Harvey’s set consisted mostly of songs from Let England Shake, with a few classics like Down by the Water and Meet Ze Monsta. We did wonder how an album of songs about the worst aspects of war might go down with a fancy dress festival audience, and the answer was resounding success – an outstandingly beautiful, graceful and moving performance.
The Cure – A two and a half hour set that was simply incredible. A slightly older looking but totally familiar Robert Smith rolled out the hits to probably the biggest audience of the weekend. At the main stage you could hardly get your drink to your mouth through the people. We met people who had come as far as Denver to experience the kings of gothic pop. The crowd sang along to songs including Boy’s Don’t Cry, Friday I’m in Love and Love Song. Robert Smith sings love-struck angst from the heart almost like an eternal teenager.
Metronomy – The band was handed what we thought to be a strange set – 2am in a massive tent in the campsite! The tent was packed (so hot we stripped off) and the band stormed flawlessly though songs from their latest album, The English Riviera. Needless to say, one of the best early morning shows we’ve been to; the roof of the tent nearly came off for The Bay and The Look. Sweaty and electrifying, there were apparently the same amounts of people outside the tent as inside just trying to get a glimpse! Cue massive rainstorm at the end of the set, the sweat was soon washed away. Exhilarating!
Kelis – This woman is someone who doesn’t seem to get the credit she deserves. Her set was a great big mash up of her hits mixed into Nirvana, Madonna, the Eurythmics and much more. This was more a non-stop party with a DJ and a drummer, and a really effective afternoon slot to wake us up to. Particularly great was a mash up of Madonna’s Holiday with Kelis’s Milkshake: A proper throw your hands in the air and wave em like you just don’t care moment. We also have to mention the moves: Dressed in a tight striped corset style top, shorts, tights and a top-hat, Kelis bumped and grinded her away around the stage to huge applause. And she let us into a secret – That she was not here to pleasure the audience, but to pleasure herself, and would be most grateful for our participation‣ And participate we did! We only hope it was as good for her as it was for us?
Mr Motivator – Dude gets the award for this year’s SNAP! moment! Picture it – The music was pumping. The crowd was hot, tired and hung over. Hot bodies pressed up against each other in the Roller Disco tent. Horsemeat Disco had just finished a rather pumping set, everyone looking and waiting excitedly for the next act while hoping, no praying, that it would be someone whose music would turn that hot tent into a scene from a Jackie Collins novel. Instead a man wearing a neon-coloured explosion of spandex entered the stage telling us all it was time to get fit, happy and work off the toxins. Cue great disco, great moves that involved you pretending to ride and spank a pony, grunts, shouts and the whole tent getting into it‣ not in a way Jackie Collins would ever have envisioned, but satisfactory nonetheless.
Robyn – Our second girl crush (the other one being Paloma Faith – everyone needs a redhead in their life!) KILLED it during her set at Bestival. Playing the final night of the main stage, at the very envious slot of 20.35, home-girl was clearly excited and it showed. Her moves which involved anything from gyrating to mimed poses, to eating a banana (see, our kind of girl!) were hot hot hot and the music was even hotter. All the goodies like Fembot, Call Your Girlfriend and the ever painful Dancing on My Own followed in a rapid succession and before we even knew it, it was time for Robyn to leave. Booooo…. The sign of a good perfomer is the ability to sing live, move on stage, and actually look like they’re getting into it – in our book, Robyn can do all those really well. Oh, and her band wore doctors’ lab coats. Wunderbar!
Bjork – The girl from Iceland closed this year’s Bestival, and did so looking like ‘Ronald McDonald in a party hat’ according to one onlooker. Bjork’s latest look is a ginger afro with white makeup and blacked out eyes, teamed with a bright blue ruffled top and a bright blue hat almost like a ship’s sail or shark fin, so I can kind of understand. This was a semi-minimal set for Bjork, playing music electronically and accompanied by an all female choir in glittering blue and gold dresses, mostly taken from her recent album Biophelia. We get the point that this is a show from an album that celebrates the workings of the planet, and the awesomeness of nature, but, this was not without its problems: We couldn’t see what was going on due to the images of organisms growing and dying being projected onto the screens instead of cameras. Although this is the point of the album, you couldn’t help but feel like you were missing out a little on what Bjork and her gang were doing on stage as the crowd was again, and not surprisingly huge.
The general wonderfulness of Bestival was as present as ever with an array of chilled, easy going people looking for a good time. The usual myriad of dance tents, stages and areas ensured that there was something for most people to enjoy. However (and this is the big but about this year), the fancy dress day left a lot to be desired. When popping my head out of the tent on Saturday morning, it did not feel like I was in a fairytale, a music video or some other enchanting place as I was faced with an image of hungover lads lounging in front of their tents while scratching their balls. Upon closer inspection of the site, I noticed that most people were not in costume. Perhaps it was the fact that the theme of pop stars, rock stars & divas was so generic that people felt a blonde wig and some bangles would do it? Perhaps it was the fact it was a new crowd? Perhaps people are just over it? Either way, we had a great time dressing up and dancing the weekend away! Another Bestival Win for Rob Da Bank!