Robin Hill Country Park, Isle of Wight
Festival boy Keith Goldhangar had never been to Bestival before this summer, something he now finds himself regretting after what sounds like one of the better festival experiences of his life. Read on to see how his four days at Bestival unfurled.
Bestival …well, its like going to the zoo. A big zoo. On hills. Except there arn’t any (real) animals. Or cages, or those trains that transport old people around (although a couple of those would be a good idea!) but there’s bands. Pop groups (sort of). Dance groups, guitar combo’s, cabaret artists, men dressed as women, women dressed as goats, giraffes, rappers, poets, frogs, comedians … loads of ’em, tens of thousands and its all kickin’ off from the minute the train queue, ferry queue, taxi queue, wristband queue and toilet queue have all been conquered and we enter through a wooden floored gift shop and stand on the top of a hill to find that “steam punk” 4 piece band The Men That Will Be Blamed For Nothing are performing on the nearby bandstand as you walk in to take in the vast sight before your eyes and scream “WHERE THE FUCK ARE WE GOING TO CAMP?” (and whisper,”didn’t I used to be in a band with these guys when I was younger?……”)
Then, trudging off in search of a steward who also hasn’t got a clue where your “artists field” is, that’s been arranged for you to sit in and watch some of your favourite bands being a lot less successful in erecting a tent than they are at writing the songs that you’ve been whistling all year. The main stage has NOTHING on it. But its only day 1 (of 4) and that therefore means that we cram ourselves inside a “Big top” tent to see what all the fuss is about the ALABAMA SHAKES, stroke our chins and wonder if there’ll actually be anything better than this for the rest of the weekend because this is superb and far too low down the bill and far too exciting for so early in the proceedings. We could go home already now but there’s places to discover, food to sample,a real ale bar and Gary Numan …… or is it Tubeway Army …. but we slope away quickly whilst the vocals to “Are Friends Electric” are literally being groaned across a tent in a half arsed way in the direction of thousands of people that recognise it from a car advert or suchlike.
A similar thing happens the next day (or was it the day after?) with Adam Ant (or is it “Adam and the Ants”?) during one of his dozens of hits that he struggles through, gasping for air in-between verses but tunes from before he dressed like an Indian such as “Whip in my Valise” “Cartrouble” and “Xerox” are nostalgic, faultless, joyous tunes (Still !) and we wonder today, like we did 30 years ago how such a brilliant artist can be equally shit then ace again then shit again in as many minutes in 2012 as it was over a period of months back in the 80’s.
Back to day one and back to the future as it’s time for more BEANS ON TOAST. Already a national treasure in my scrappy world of musical entertainment and a man that makes Barry White sound like Joe Pasquale. He plays in front of hundreds, comes on 10 minutes early, goes off after ten minutes, starts again, makes a lot of it up as he goes along, quits songs half way through and tells us all to STOP DROPPING LITTER! He is the star that not enough people know about yet.
Day 2 starts and the main stage is graced by a man with rocks (Big rocks!) dangling from his eyelids and some people that SWAM to the festival (and no doubt got to this island faster and cheaper than the rest of us). GALLOWS shout at us and WARPAINT can’t decide who wears the one hat that they’ve brought on stage with them in the sweltering sun.
DJANGO DJANGO, HORRORS and CLEMENT MARFO make me think i’m back at the Reading festival by being exactly the same as they were a few days earlier (which is ACE!) and MARY EPWORTH gets me bouncing on my toes for the 1st time this weekend. I’m already aware that I’m just listing a number of bands that you may or may not have heard of, but the pace is relentless, non stop and high class… ICE AGE, WET NUNS shout even more, JAPANESE POPSTARS make us dance again, DINGUS KHAN (three bass players, 3 drummers, 8 singers and an electric Uke’ …) make me smile (again) and Sweden’s finest export SLAGSMALSKLUBBEN make me honoured to have finally got to see them perform and boast about their lack of laptop computers -“but we have analogue synthesizers plenty” whilst treating the late night revellers with their basic, catchy bleeping and bouncing pop tunes.
At some point I wander into what is known as the “Swamp Shack” and watch what looks like the bastard children of the Virgin Prunes (ask your dad) staggering around outside whilst inside I watch a new artist to me called CANDICE GORDON strum her way through some wonderful acoustically lead tunes.
I admit now that The XX are one of the greatest bands i’ve seen this year. I used to think they were shit. When they played small venues in East London, playing the SAME SONGS as they do today..i really didn’t get it. I thought they were a bunch of young kids, plodding along, just happy to be learning to play their newly acquired equipment to whoever would stand and listen before the main act came on. I was wrong, and I love being wrong if I’m honest because then it helps me understand why I am such a fuckwit who is never asked to go and sit on the X factor panel on a Saturday evening instead of sitting on my arse eating a bag of over salted chips moaning about the football results. I do think that the electronics have been upped a notch or two over the past couple of years but their performance this weekend was stunning and to think, I nearly never bothered with them again. I’d given up. Thank heavens i’d lost my running schedule and had forgotten that Mr Scrubious Pip was playing up the hill at the same time.
It’s Saturday and the sun is shining and i’m like a pig in shit (but this isn’t a Zoo remember) so I reckon it’s time to go and see THE LOVELY EGGS and chuckle at this husband wife duo singing about things like digital accordions and sausage rolls, and lines that appear above your mouth whilst drinking glasses of red wine. I return back to the bandstand later to witness one of my favourite new bands of this year, ST SPIRIT who are 65,950 people wearing flashing wristbands short of being Coldplay and are utterly magnificent.
Saturday’s headline slot on the main stage has been given to NEW ORDER who are probably better than they’ve ever been. Actually, scrub that – they are better than they’ve ever been. However a “series of events have taken over the evening” that result in Bernard Sumner appearing to have morphed into William Shatner (apologies’ if I’ve just ruined this for everyone but next time YOU watch New Order…….) but this is more of a personal crisis yours truly has brought on himself. If you read this Mr Sumner then here’s the rub…
1) We’re about the same age I reckon.
2) I’m looking more like Rolf fucking Harris the older I get
3) I am on my 7th plate of chips and Mushy peas and
4) YOU however, are in NEW ORDER –
…therefore YOU WIN ..every time!
When they chuck out that song about tearing love apart and thousands of young hands wave and clap along like they’re at a 70’s disco singing “agadoo” at a cousins wedding I realise that i’m now a bit tired. New Order have more great songs than I realised, I cant stand still but I’m also ready for an argument to claim that this particular Joy Division song should be listened to with a straight back and hands clasped in front like you usually do when listening to our national anthem before a sporting event (i don’t think it happens at the cinema anymore does it?). It dawns on me more than once that I wished Ian Curtis was still alive and if he was I like to think he’d still be a cool fucker today who would probably have none of this Joy Division nonsense that’s echoing around anymore…but i’m day dreaming (even though it’s dark) and criticising for the sake of it whilst allowing my mind to wander (my problem not anyone else’s).
I wander off to watch someone by the name of RUDIMENTAL who i saw because I got lost and meet a man who owns 14,000 78 rpm records and plays some of them in a tent whilst some of us stagger around drinking beer and asking the DJ what the fuck they’re doing (and very glad I did). MILAGRES are given another look as they have written the best tune of the year called “GLOWING MOUTH” which no one seems to be watching except half a dozen of us all looking smug and realising that very soon this tune will be slowly force fed into the publics’ brain by tweaking the one note piano riff during “Goal of the Month” or a B&Q advert. Forthcoming Mercury prize winning MICHAEL KUWANUKA has come a very long way since I first clapped ears on him last Christmas (you can still keep this in if Plan B wins, as this will mean nothing to some readers). CHARLIE XCX dances like a loon, the weather gets hotter, I’m getting thirsty, comedian ANDREW O’NEIL has managed to get an entire audience of about 300 people to swap places with him on the stage, there’s a man performing called DES O’CONNER, but not THAT Des O’Connor and a lady called LORRAINE BOWEN is busy riding an invisible bike in tandem with a man dressed as a frog singing a song about going “on a bicycle adventure”.
SIGUR ROS play music usually associated with an X Factor / Pop Idol judge exiting a house he or she’s just been in to tell a 16 year old they’re a shit singer and that their life is now FINISHED, or a family of polar bears slipping down an ice covered hill. Then JUSTICE bang out the party tunes before NERO take over before (maybe after? – i wasn’t taking notes) turning around to see STEVIE WONDER proving he’s worthy of his current legendary status and being given credit for a massive firework display in time for the arrival of the band with the best frontman in the UK 2012, FRIENDLY FIRES. Ed Macfarlane of the aforementioned St Albans band even has his own cat walk which tonight, this morning or today (…its dark, i’ll stick with night) he dances along every inch of and once again manages an hour of dance inspired Indie classics that cannot keep anyone still.
This day is never-ending and after catching “the new Beyonce” ALANAGEORGE (fabulous proper pop music I would imagine, if top of the tops was still on and I watched it), ORBITAL ,and GRIMES who, at my 3rd attempt this year is finally audible, I find myself having a sit down to listen to the WWUUUURPPP WUURRRPPP !!!! sound of TROLLEY SNATCHER (possibly) whilst everyone around seems to be running rings around me. Literally, because apparently i’m in an rollerdisco. Without rollerskates, and I get thrown out (by the same people who let me in without rollerskates) for not having any rollerskates. I may have missed a nights sleep by now because SPIRITIALIZED are on a stage going “ding ding ding ding ding ding ding ding ding swooooosh…click click…DING bom bom ding ding ding ding ding ding….” for a bit and CLOCK OPERA (who also go ding.. ding ..ding.. but better) manage to accuratley pick me out in a large audience and throw things at me before I get the message and have to retire via a tent blaring out “Born Slippy” by Underworld …..and go to bed (finally!).
And that’s how it ended.
I did manage to not mention to anyone that it’d been my birthday (half way to a three figure number) – Or mention the band that didn’t turn up that i was really looking forward to and therefore RUINED MY DAY !! Or HOT CHIP, THE OTHER TRIBE, SUB FOCUS, FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE, Drinking too much ale, spending too much money, walking too far in the wrong direction to see TOO MANY DJ’S and camping too close to TOO MANY T’s. …The latter who I have now googled because I missed their dozens of appearances over the weekend because they played in a tent ommited by the programme guide. But I knew they’d be great (you can just tell by just talking sometimes y’know) – I havn’t even mentioned My Knees, not a band, but the things between my feet and arse, that have failed to work the same way since. I blame it on the hills…(not a spellling mistake!) and old age…an age that I’ve reached that some at the festival will never reach due to the tradegy of the coach crash after the festival. My thoughts go out to everyone affected by that and I hope people Affected that night get satisfactory answers to any questions that may be currently unanswered as to what went on that night whilst I was lucky enough to have made it back to the capital. The first named victim MICHAEL MALLOY was like alot of us, music fan, a songwriter …and after ignoring his stuff that was posted all over twitter on the week of his death I eventually listened to a track. Its a good ‘un.
Take care out there – this was a great weekend but we should have ALL got home from it safely eh! This was Bestival. My first Bestival which I found entertaining throughout the weekend. But no one should have fucking died on their way home from it. That really sucked.x