by Joanna Orland
Photos by Jon Burns & Joanna Orland

The sun was out in full force for the 9th annual Bestival on the Isle of Wight.  Rob Da Bank’s festival chose Wildlife as this year’s fancy dress theme, and between the animal costumes and the heat of the sun shining down on festival-goers, something primal was happening on site at Robin Hill County Park.

Loose Lips Staff:  The Essex Lion and The Chelsea Cheetah

Thursday and Friday saw some amazing acts including Hot Chip, Florence and the Machine, The xx bringing in the biggest crowd in Bestival history, Adam Ant, Django Django, Emeli Sandé and many more.  Saturday, however, there seemed to be a dip.  Some old classics including Sister Sledge, De La Soul and Earth Wind & Fire Experience featuring Al McKay were on hand, but with New Order billed as the evening’s headliner, the crowd were left to entertain themselves as the band put on a very weak show, in spite of having such a solid back catalogue.  Many in the crowd couldn’t help but wish it was Depeche Mode rather than New Order headlining as they are a band of the same era who have managed to hold it together a lot more solidly than the former members of Joy Division.

The lack of a solid main stage headliner may be a factor in the pure animalistic wild behaviour that ravaged the crowd after nightfall.  The Big Top was where it was all kicking off with sets from dance outfits Justice and Nero.  The tent was overflowing so much, most of the crowd couldn’t fit in and took to passing out on the grass just outside.  We decided to call the pre-headline set of Two Door Cinema Club on the main stage our big one of the evening and pack it in for greener pastures and start anew on the Sunday.  Good thing we did too as Sunday was so packed for excitement, we couldn’t manage to see even half of what we would’ve liked to.  Perhaps the latter part of the festival would have been more interesting if they spread out Sunday’s lineup over both days.  It certainly wasn’t short on choice with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Friendly Fires, Miike Snow, Friends, Grimes, Clock Opera, Little Dragon, Sigur Rós, Orbital, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Michael Kiwanuka, Bat For Lashes, Misty’s Big Adventure, Rizzle Kicks, Spiritualized, Roots Manuva and many more!  Yes, this was JUST Sunday!

We began our Sunday selection with Little Dragon on the main stage as the Swedish synth pop group followed Kate Bush cover band Fake Bush.  Little Dragon were not a band I was overly familiar with to start, but I loved them live.  Great energy, a very Scandinavian sound (think Niki & the Dove meets Miike Snow with some J-pop sensibility thrown in), and a great set overall.  The otherwise sunny weather took a turn for the worse after Little Dragon.  We hid out in our tent for a while to transform into our evening outfits and head out again on an excursion into the random fields of Bestival.

We found ourselves in the Amphitheatre in the Ambient Forest where comedy sketch duo Max & Ivan were performing their award-winning show Max & Ivan are… Holmes & Watson.  We found them to be hilarious, and yes, it could’ve been all the drink, but I’m 99.9% sure it wasn’t as I saw Max & Ivan are… Con Artists up in Edinburgh this year and whilst of completely sober mind I still found them to be great.  What a wonderful comedy find amongst the trees of Robin Hill Park.  The hour-long show where the duo live up to the title’s expectation and play Holmes and Watson respectively had us and the rest of the crowd laughing out loud, thoroughly engaged in the plot even at the silliest and funniest of times, and most awesomely, we took away numerous quotes from their set that had us giggling well into the night.  These included something along the lines of “mutton dressed as an elderly hooker” and basically everything that Ivan said.  I didn’t expect to see much comedy at Bestival as the music line up was so solid, but glad we did as it was one of the highlights.

After Max and Ivan, we headed back to the main stage for one of the best live bands in existence: Sigur Rós.  Their beautiful soundscapes and lead singer Jónsi’s etheral vocals nearly had us in tears at various points throughout.  As I’ve seen Sigur Rós live a few times before, I knew to expect to be put into an otherworldly trance and come out of the show feeling profoundly moved.  Once again, my expectations were met and perhaps surpassed.  The perfect choice to set the mood for headliner Stevie Wonder’s arrival.

There was no way that Stevie Wonder was going to disappoint as he is a living legend with so many classic songs and a soulful voice that has withstood the test of time.  His close ties to other legends in the music industry were also prevalent as he paid tribute to such greats as Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, John Lennon and The Beatles by playing renditions of some of their songs.  Sadly during these songs, it made me miss the real acts as while Stevie Wonder is one of the greats, he’s great at his own songs.  Nobody can sing Michael Jackson but Michael Jackson which was made obvious during The Way You Make Me Feel with the absence of the “hee hee“s.

Stevie’s tunes themselves were excellently performed when he actually got around to them, but there was an awful lot of faffing and preaching that at points made me think I was attending a gospel church service rather than a Stevie Wonder concert.  Another problem that arose was the sound quality.  Stevie was inaudible when he spoke in between songs and the songs themselves were drifting in the wind, allowing the audience to often lose attention with their spans already being a bit on the low side as it was.  The poor sound didn’t detract too much as during the bigger hits, the audience filled in the blanks with their overpowering vocal accompaniments.  Overall, a good time was had by all.  Except me as he didn’t play my favourite Stevie Wonder song: Part-Time Lover.  I mean this non-sarcastically.

Friendly Fires DJ in Wagamama Lounge before their Big Top headline slot

After Stevie, the annual fireworks broke out with an accompanying musical tribute to the deceased greats we lost this year including Robin Gibb, Whitney Houston, Donna Summer and MCA of The Beastie Boys.  It was then that we ran off to catch the rest of the Friendly Fires set in The Big Top, which had already started mid Stevie at 10:40pm.  Now THIS may have been the drink, but I went absolutely mental in The Big Top, dancing my arse off to the Friendly Fires, one of my favourite bands around today.  It was a long overdue moment for us, dancing until we dropped to hit after hit from one of the greatest British bands of our generation.  I will never get tired of their music, but my body did need a bit of a rest after this.

Reviving ourselves with burritos, The Essex Lion went on to dance some more to Orbital while I, The Chelsea Cheetah, decided to check out a song or two by Montreal sensation Grimes.  She was very intriguing, but didn’t live up to all the hype I’d heard about her.  Swiftly moving on to the last show of the festival – Clock Opera in the Psychadelic Worm tent.

Clock Opera were the perfect way to close such an epic festival.  I had seen them once before at Camden Crawl on the recommendation of my colleague who knew I would like them.  Yes, he was right and I took an immediate liking to this band, deciding to return Karma’s favour and pass on this tip to my friends in attendance at Bestival.  My three friends agreed that Clock Opera were one of the most interesting bands we’d seen over the weekend, with such emotional and intricate songs, you can’t help but be enamored.  It’s unanimous – they are THE NEXT BIG THING.

That was this year’s Bestival from our point of view.  Please do enjoy our photo gallery below:


And here is our Spotify Playlist of what we saw.

Leave a Reply