HMS Bestival


by Joanna Orland

Bestival is a festival that has finally come of age.  Celebrating its 10th birthday, the annual festival curated by Rob Da Bank has hit the big time with world class headline acts including Snoop Dogg-Lion and Sir Elton John.  The festival also featured an array of nostalgic talent including Sinead O’Connor, The Polyphonic Spree, Fatboy Slim, Belle & Sebastian, The Roots, The Flaming Lips, Chic, and many more.  With the majority of the interesting bands playing on the Friday, the weekend was left a bit musically barren for those who could only escape to the festival for two days.  Even so, Bestival has always been about the random and the offbeat.  As usual, it was plenty random, there was barely a beat to be on, and somehow two days of festival-going turned into some of the most fun we could have had.

On the surface of Bestival, the bands are the draw.  Franz Ferdinand were as solid as ever, and it was amazing to see their triumphant return after hiding in the shadows for the past four years.  Their new album Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action is the band back on fine form with their live set as energetic and glorious as I remember them to be back when they debuted ten years ago.

Snoop Dogg was a great choice for the Saturday headliner, but with the downside that the bulk of the weekend lineup was rap and hip hop acts – not really what I remember the Bestival crowd to be typically into.  Oh, how times change.  He performed what seemed to be a medley of his music rather than a proper full set, but it was fantastic to hear him perform his repertoire live.  After sauntering on with the most low key entrance of all time and performing an hour of a Snoop Dogg medley, he then pressed play on a Bob Marley CD and exited the stage as confusingly as he sauntered on.  For such a P.I.M.P., he is certainly a bit less than grand.

While the bands we wanted to see were few and far between, it was the oddities that kept us intrigued.  First of all, there were the oddities involving bands.  We desperately wanted to see The Polyphonic Spree perform a tribute to The Rocky Horror Show, but chose Franz Ferdinand’s set instead.  We did however see The Knife Shaking The Habitual Show, which involved Swedish band The Knife (also featuring Fever Ray) perform interpretive modern dance to their music.  It was so bizarre and so wonderful.  Potentially my favourite of the festival.

Nautical fancy dress theme, drag discos, drum groups, caravan parks, all of the oddities make Bestival what it is.  There was nothing more odd and wonderful than the giant Lionel Richie head on display by art collective Hungry Castle.  We were gutted that we missed the opportunity to enter into Lionel Richie’s head, therefore his mind.  Unfortunately we left it too long and by the Sunday it was too muddy to enter what we were promised to be a chaotic and cosmic experience where our minds could connect with Lionel’s.  The mud posed too much of a risk as Hungry Castle “need to keep his mind as clean as possible (too many dirty secrets in there).”

Hungry Castle  make public art inspired by Internet pop culture.  The funding for Lionel Richie’s head was raised through Kickstarter with the support of Rob Da Bank himself.  Over 500 lucky people got to experience the inner workings of Lionel Richie’s head, but what exactly happens when one enters the head of Lionel?  According to Hungry Castle co-founder Dave Glass, “I wont go into too much detail here because what happens in Lionel Richie’s Head stays in Lionel Richie’s Head. However I will say this – It’s a very personal experience and everybody takes something different from it.  We had people leaving the head laughing and smiling. On numerous occasions we even had people leaving crying. Lionel works in mysterious ways.”

Much like Lionel, Bestival also works in mysterious ways.  Here’s to another 10 years.

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