Bestival 2017: review (part 1) – Lulworth Estate, Dorset.
Now that the final piece of Bestival mud has been wiped from the Wellingtons of Keith Goldhanger, it’s time to find out what he thought of the festival. – Part 1 of 2.
It’s a terrible idea.
Surely summer’s over now ?
Bestival 2017 ?
It’s dark by half eight, it’s getting chilly, every now and then it chucks it down and the wind seems to be getting slightly more fierce out there.
Some of us were discussing putting the heating on three days ago…
….well at least its not on that bloody island this time so we know there’ll be trains around somewhere, a couple of taxi’s and an early bath to look forward to at the end of it if we feel the need to bail out.
If last year’s Bestival was a bit rubbish as some people have been heard to say then 2017 redeemed itself like a Marcus Rashford tap in.
To trawl through four days of rain, wind, occasional sunshine as well as the obligatory festival mud and still get home in one piece and with all our belongings having considered this one of the best, messiest, gruelling and exciting festivals in recent years is down to numerous factors but mainly the people and the bands.
Oh…. and the pies.
Bestival 2017 was like an old Glastonbury festival.
No one felt too sure how it was all going to pan out over the weekend, everyone has something to moan about and we didn’t really know the rules. Once we got home though, looked back at the entertainment and realised we’d seen dozens of bands play their best shows we’ve seen whilst we stood in a field more than slightly worse for wear (fulfilling the dream we had when we first met these people) we felt we could declare it was worth every minute.
Every soggy, muddy, sleep deprived moment.
There were plenty of previously unknown (to us) acts we are now on the brink of obsessing over and the headliners didn’t include the same old names we’ve seen headlining so many times before.
Just Like Glastonbury used to be.
THE XX played one of the best gigs some of us have seen this year on Friday evening, mixing their own classics with some of Jamie XX’s tunes (described by the kids nowadays as ‘bangers’) and we now feel this trio are ready to creep into those huge barns sponsored by telephone companies that we can’t afford to get tickets for. All around the UK at the moment exist married couples that only go out once a month singing the OOOh OOOOh bits in I Dare You whist cleaning the bathroom sink.
Just like they did before they actually went out to watch bands like Coldplay and Arcade Fire.
A TRIBE CALLED QUEST announced they were calling it a day after this weekends performance. Recently deceased Phife Dawg was name checked numerous times during the evening and it’s assumed a major reason behind this decision.
THE PET SHOP BOYS came to save the day for anyone who may have felt as if the day needed saving at all and were also fabulous.
It seemed as though decent activities were in progress within every tiny tent or bar anyone could stroll into at any given time during the weekend.
LOST COLOURS (pic right) were entertaining early arrivals in The Box on Friday which got us off to a great start and SWAN LEVITT finished the weekend on the Invaders of the Future stage in great style ticking all the boxes that have us scouring our laptops for few tunes we can listen to in our living rooms at a later date and with a story to investigate here to see how many other great bands (apart from our favourites Plastic Mermaids) live on the Isle of Wight.
Some of us liked this site more than the Isle of Wight’s Robin Hill Country Park where the festival had previously lived for over a decade. The arena seemed slightly smaller meaning another bout of entertainment was only a few short steps away but it also lacked any established paths which meant that by the time the rain came again the whole place seemed like a spongy mess. Wellingtons were a must by Saturday (or was it Friday?) and it became more difficult to trek through the fields due to the valleys and hills that our knees will always struggle to plough through even without the additional difficult conditions.
Some straw did arrive to dampen down bits of the arena eventually and it seemed to help. A few wood chips, especially on the hills may have helped too, especially at the start of the weekend when some of us were certainly starting to sense that this may not be a stroll in the park. We hope that Bestival will learn by this. These are the type of weekends that we hope organisers will learn valuable lessons from. Successful festivals can only deal with the elements by experiencing them first otherwise they’ll never learn how to deal with problems they’re up against in the future. Although a few of us fell over, it didn’t get to a situation where we were helping others stuck vertical in four inches of mud as we’ve all experienced in the past elsewhere. We coped and it was felt that those in charge took control when it mattered too.
There were odd regulations regarding re-entry into the site (not the arena). Whatever the reasons for this rule were they were not made very clear.
Example one: Bloke arrives in car on Thursday evening with two other people. Carries tents and bags for others and leaves his own gear in the car. Bloke then gets over familiar with the ale on site and it’s eventually 5pm Friday when he decides to go back to his car to get his own tent and bag. Bloke has a kip in the car, feels a lot better but then gets told there is no re admittance to the festival so goes home. We’re sure there are good reasons for arrangements like this but it’s suggested that this should be made noticeable on big neon lights at the entrance preferably at least in three feet high letters.
This is a festival.
This is how people behave, it’s what happens.
People disappear for a few days and get hammered.
This bit sucked and meant bloke missed the festival and at least two people had to get the train home.
The toilets were generally OK but it was felt there were not enough around the campsites. 8 Men’s urinals stood in busy areas that would have accommodated 40 men and a trough at other festivals. There were small queues, there was for too much great stuff going on to be queuing for the loo. Some of us will go without food for another hour if there’s a lot of people wanting toasties at the same time but once we’ve sank a few pints and eaten far too many of Bryan Ferry’s apples (move along now, nothing to see here) then we have a problem.
The weather got so bad Sunday afternoon that TOO MANY T’s who were about to give us a thrill on the main stage managed just five tunes from their new album South City then had the plug pulled on them. We were then asked to leave the main stage area.
We managed Five minutes of PETE KOSANOVICH AND THE PALE BLUE EYES before the same happened on another stage and we were then told to leave the arena completely.
Over at the campsite gazebos were flying around, tents without much inside them were being dragged across fields. Anything that could and should be battered down more was being battered down with any pegs that folk could find and we began to understand why people had left so much stuff in the campsites as they bailed out early.
It was muddy, windy and wet but not the wettest we’ve known.
Probably the windiest though.
No one appeared to be behaving like a fool. It wasn’t as apocalyptic as the picture being painted here may suggest but those that remained did so wondering how bad it really would get.
People continued to dance, tried to get into places they weren’t allowed into (always a great festival past time) and some simply stood outside their ruined tents and said fuck it before returning to the arena once it reopened.
The point of not caring about anything anymore began on Friday for some. For others, bailing out on Saturday became a considered option and by Sunday a reality.
Monday mornings are always crap so we’ll give it a reason to be crap this week by sorting out our lives and trying to find a lift home then it was decided.
We have bands to see and people to say hello to again.
MARY EPWORTH played her new album sandwiched between Black Doe from her debut and The Four Horsemen, a cover version originally penned by a band that contained Demis Roussos and the bloke that went on to write the sound track to Blade Runner many years later (amazing what you can learn in the right company isn’t it?).
DUB PISTOLS pulled in a huge crowd on the same stage, ZOEE, aka Zoee who also appears alongside the mighty Rhythm Method sung some agreeable electronic pop tunes before THE RHYTHM METHOD (pic right) arrived, looked totally out of place as they do whether they’re in a tiny pub in Camden or a large colourful tent in a field, then totally owned the place within five minutes.
If we were living in the early eighties then one can imagine this trio appearing on Top of the Pops every six months and holding up lottery cards encouraging gambling to tabloid readers who always like to keep hold of the colour supplement for the TV guide. This band may be everyone’s favourite band one day but there’s so much out there in the world of entertainment to choose from we often worry slightly that bands of a more conventional nature may get the nod from the masses. One feels that the few attendees here in the Bollywood tent already have this band’s music in their favourites folder, play their music before going out on a Saturday night and already know all the words. We’re just waiting for the rest of the world to catch up on this band and get involved with what could potentially turn into one of the biggest knees up imaginable.
TRAAMS were also brilliant.
Their throbbing hypnotic hard and fast tunes actually made a change from everything else on show over the weekend. Traams are one of those bands we believe many people may still be talking about for many years ahead. It’s difficult to go off bands of this calibre as it already feels like timeless music we’re hearing. Not many of us ever tired of Fugazi, Stereolab, Dinosaur Junior or Sonic Youth did they? We’ll all still be listening to Traams music when we’re old, grey and too fragile to go out any more it’s imagined.
Dutch band MY BABY hypnotised us with their hippy folk dance music that varied between terrible nonsense to glorious hands in the air euphoric moments over the course of their show whilst THE MAGIC GANG (pic right), all dressed in yellow waterproofs gave us a great example of an indie band that everyone wants to sing along to. This is another band we feel could be destined for major popularity one day. Every tune already sounding like an indie anthem that we expect will be sound tracking the Uni bars across the UK in a few weeks time.
BELLEVUE DAYS entered our lives as we made promises to return again one day to investigate more as did JOHNNY FLYNN who everyone inside The Box seemed to be lapping up with joyous abandon. TOM WALKER was seen for one song that we recognised but couldn’t work out where from and LEECHES impressed enough to sound track our living rooms when we got home, began to scrape the mud from our boots and try to remember everything.
Some of us planned to retire back to our tents after The XX on Friday night. No chance of that…..KAGOULE continued to thrill and look pissed off at the same time, staring at the top corner at the back of the room as though it was only a few minutes from a good kicking. New tune Monsieur Automaton keeps making an appearance in our headphones and we continue to draw rings around their name every time a festival appearance is attended.
We end the day with HMLTD (pic below) who now own the crown of biggest bunch of posers since Spandau Ballet . We allow them to get away with this because they’re a little intimidating, provocative, great to watch and arguably one of the most original bands available at the moment. The songs are still confusing us to bits though. One moment they’re strumming along like the Fat White Family, a few seconds later King Kurt, Virgin Prunes and Alien Sex Fiend. On paper this is a great thing but standing in front of them does make us fearful about the amount of people that may never ever consider this band a serious prospect. We may currently laugh at this band in the same way we once laughed at Sigue Sigue Sputnik however it’s felt we’re probably (hopefully) laughing with HMLTD not at them today. We’ll keep going back though – just as we keep digging away at their activities on line when we stay in on a Saturday night.
There’ll be a part two article eventually. We haven’t even bothered mentioning Jamie T, Blossoms and countless others we witnessed Thursday or the acts we’re still unsuccessfully typing into our search engines.
And we need another bath.
Put the kettle on and get ready for part two….
More photo’s here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm9corU6
All words and photos by Keith Goldhanger. More writing by Keith on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. You can also find Keith on Facebook and Twitter (@HIDEOUSWHEELINV).You may subscribe to the Goldhanger Shorts Facebook page too if you so wish.