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Bestival 2015 Review

Andy Hutchings witnessed a blistering edition of Bestival over the weekend. Read our review here.

Mike Warburton

Date published: 16th Sep 2015

Photo: Missy Elliott at Bestival 

Getting to the Bestival site is no small feat, and once you're there, the rolling nature of the Robin Hill site will challenge anyone's endurance of walking. All this aside, Bestival has to be one of the most vivid and colourful festivals that you'll ever see, and is the venue for some of the most forward thinking musicians of this generation to ply their trade alongside well respected and established acts. 

During the early part of the festival, the stages were limited to The Big Top stage, and a number of the smaller tents and pop up stages, but this didn't dampen the mood or the atmosphere on what was a well stacked first day of the weekend.

Highlights from Thursday included Oneman back to back with My Nu Leng on the Big Top Stage, who rattled through a set of their own respective productions and some solid garage and bass driven classics to get the evening off to a brisk start.

Rudimental then followed, which frankly, needs no explanation... To finish off the first day of the festival, none other than techno giants Underworld graced the Big Top, to ruin anyone's chances of keeping that promise of not peaking too early! 

The morning after the night before brought the feeling of anticipation for the grand opening of the Main Stage, along with the legendary Port Stage, not to mention the heavily packed line up of artists who would be filling out the Bollywood stage later on that night.

But stepping away from the music for a moment, you can always find something going on around the site, as well as all the star studded stages. Activities like Yoga and Fitness Classes are ran every morning, even Doctors and other learned individuals giving talks on all sorts of areas of expertise, including why edible insects could be the future of food. Fascinating. 

Friday's lineup of music was kicked off on the Main Stage by the Rajasthan Heritage Brass Band, who injected a lively opening to proceedings and provided a real cultural experience (see them in action above).

Meanwhile, the queue to access the area of the site that housed The Port Stage was growing rapidly as Mr Bestival himself, Rob da Bank, was opening the stage up at midday, and what an opening it was. A full dance troupe above and in front of the DJ made for a stunning spectacle and a real carnival atmosphere, and also drew one of the biggest crowds for that particular stage of the whole weekend. A real scene setter for what was to come from that stage.

Over on the Big Top stage, Drenge came to bring the noise, to then be followed by the lyrical prowess of George The Poet, both of which impressed on the day. 

Whilst being spoilt for choice on acts to see on the larger stages, there is always a hidden gem to be found on the smaller stages at whatever festival you go to. A trip over to The Pigs Big Ballroom allowed the more curious festival goer to see Tom Korni (above), who treated the crowd to an impressive display of technical ability by playing guitar, drums and providing vocals without the assistance of loop pedals.

In a set based around timeless classics from The Beatles and future classics from the likes of Oasis and Arctic Monkeys, the youngster who was noted to have won several busking competitions, performed well and to a great reception. A future headliner, maybe? 

The Bollywood stage hosted David Rodigan's (MBE) Ram Jam party to bring Friday night to a bass fuelled close, seeing the likes of Mala, Redlight and Rodigan himself all performing. Across on the Jagerhaus stage, drum and bass producer S.P.Y was also treating the crowd to a set, in what was a packed stage that had people standing in a 50 metre long queue just to get in. 

The Port stage was playing host to a succession of back to back sets on Saturday afternoon, designed to unite established DJs and producers together with more recent up and coming artists. Kicking off was Monki, Mele and Wookie, who crossed the bass music genres with perfection. Following that trio was Slimzee and Flava D, in was was a very grime heavy set in the early part but had the whole crowd jumping.

Speaking of jumping around, the special guests that were billed on the lineup for Saturday afternoon were revealed as none other than House of Pain. Fresh of a flight from Romania and a chopper ride across from the mainland, the rap duo of Everlast and Danny Boy, backed up with DJ Lethal treated the main stage crowd to a set full of their classics, finishing off with their hit 'Jump Around'. An act that I'm sure nobody could have predicted, after rumours of Muse filling the special guest slot, but a set that went down a storm. 

At The Big Top, Sleaford Mods were whipping up a frenzy with their unique brand of spoken word backed with some pre-programmed beats on a laptop. It may sound simple, and on paper it is, but their show does hit a nerve with people and that's sometimes a positive and a negative. 

Over at the Main Stage, crowds were beginning to gather for The Chemical Brothers, who a lot of people will remember played an incredible set at Glastonbury this year. The dance music dons ploughed through a set of their extensive back catalogue of successful singles and album tracks to a fully packed stage. Undoubtedly one of the highlights of the festival, as they would be at any festival. 

Sunday being the last day of the festival meant that some were leaving early to no doubt return to normal life, or just try and beat the rush, but there was another fully stacked line up of acts across all stages for those who stayed the course. If there was anyone who was looking for an injection of energy on the last day, then looking any further than the Port Stage would be a mistake.

With MistaJam taking over the early part of the day with his Speakerbox collective, boasting the likes of Benga and Logan Sama, there was no other place to be to blow away the cobwebs. If that wasn't enough, Dub Pistols, DJ Yoda and Boy Better Know all graced the main stage in the early part of the day as well. 

Drum & bass juggernauts Hospital Records were next to step and take over the Port Stage, with a selection of their vastly successful artist roster making the journey across to treat the Bestival crowd. High Contrast, London Elektricity, and Fred V & Grafix were all there to provide the soundtrack with Dynamite MC on hand to hype up the final day crowd. 

To begin the closing down of the festival for the year, the Main Stage was treated to a performance from The Jacksons, who delivered a fantastic performance of all the classic sing along tracks that are everybody's guilty pleasures.

Missy Elliot was then on hand to fully bring the party to a close, with her stage show full of backing dancers and set list full of early naughties bangers, it was undoubtedly a performance that had the Main Stage crowd getting their collective "Freak On". For all those stamina driven festival goers that wanted to get their fill, the likes of B. Traits, Skepta, Roni Size's live Reprazent show and Skrillex were all making an appearance into the early hours.

As a whole, Bestival itself is a spectacle, a place that defies the generic and does not take itself seriously one bit. The 'summer of love' theme was clear throughout, and the level of participation in the fancy dress element of the festival is amazing. It's a party, and everyone is welcome. Roll on next year. 

More like this? Read our Glastonbury 2015 review

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