Celebrating the Bestival
BESTIVAL 2012 may have been closed by headliner Stevie Wonder but, it’s during this year’s offering that a rendition of his hit Happy Birthday would be most appropriate. Chris Wood explains why there are a number of reasons to celebrate on the Isle of Wight this September.
THE UK’S best festival of 2012 and Elton John’s seminal album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, may seem to have little in common at first glance.
But, dig a little deeper and there are a number of similarities.
For a start, they both celebrate significant milestones in 2013- it is Bestival’s 10th birthday and also 40 years since the release of Elton’s album containing classics such as Bennie and the Jets and Candle in the Wind.
And while the majority of revellers at the Isle of Wight festival weren’t even alive when Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was first released, they share one big thing in common with its creator – dressing up.
Elton said: “I’ve heard that the Bestival audience comes in fancy dress – they must all look amazing from the stage. At various times I have worn enormous feathered head-dresses, cloaks, hot pants, jumpsuits, clown suits, Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse French maid, the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty costumes onstage. Wearing fancy dress makes us all feel less inhibited, so I think it’s a great way to enjoy live music.”
So, it seems the two are a perfect fit to jointly celebrate the milestones.
Saturday night is fancy dress time at Bestival and after Elton John was announced as headliner and promised to perform songs from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, it seems Saturday Night will also be alright for fighting, to steal one of the album’s lines – well, kind of.
Elton John is the big name announced to bring the festival to a close on Sunday night, with hip-hop legend and pop culture icon Snoop Dogg set to wow the audience as Saturday’s headline.
While Friday’s big performer has yet to be announced, the festival’s curator Rob Da Bank has ‘cast the net far and wide’ bringing together an eclectic mix including Swedish art pop duo The Knife, psychedelic merchants The Flaming Lips, techno from DJ Carl Cox, anthems from Franz Ferdinand and folk pop from Scottish collective Belle and Sebastian.
Named best major festival in the 2012 UK festival awards, Rob Da Bank proudly predicts this will be another ‘vintage year’- and that is just for the musical line-up. With Elton for inspiration, it should prove to be a pretty interesting spectacle fancy dress-wise also.
A fan's view of the event
MY first impressions of Bestival came, like many others, through the queue that winds like a snake around Southampton’s ferry terminal early on Thursday morning.
People wait patiently in quiet excitement, edging forward in the line with their rucksacks and tents as the ferries hurry between the port and East Cowes on the Isle of Wight.
The calm was suddenly interrupted, though, by the loud cry of a fellow Welshman’s distinctive Valleys drawl, his gang arriving like a typhoon, menacingly swirling along the tarmac.
Seven South Walians, weighed down by crates of beer carried under their arms, shouting loudly at each other and making the whole gathering feel uneasy.
They then began rugby tackling each other and laughing as those at the back of the queue flinch, avoid contact at all costs and close their eyes, praying the ferries will speed up and get them away from the rabble as quickly as possible.
One young lad waiting suddenly turned white through panic as the Welsh boys took an interest in his guitar – hanging around his neck, polished, covered in stickers of his favourite bands and obviously his pride and joy.
“Let my mate have a go at your guitar then butt,” one called. The boy ignored the request at first, looking away. But they persisted and out of genuine fear, he handed his instrument over, looking close to tears, believing this would be the last he’d see of it in one piece.
He watched on forlornly as one of the Welsh gang pulled at the strings. What came next shocked pretty much everyone assembled as he started playing it incredibly well, two of his friends singing in perfect harmony.
The two-hour wait for the ferry then passed in no time as they entertained with songs like The Killers’ Mr Brightside and Sting’s Englishman in New York.
By the time we all got on the ferry, the guitarowner was so in awe, he was no longer trying to avoid them, he made sure he had a seat right at the heart of the gang. And instead of trying to hang on to his instrument for dear life, he seemed on the verge of giving it to the Welsh boy as a gift.
And that’s the beauty of a gathering like Bestival – people of different ages, from different backgrounds who would never otherwise cross paths, but brought together through their mutual love of music.
For four days, you enter a bubble, where the outside world doesn’t exist. From the moment you make your way through the woods that camouflage the Robin Hill Country Park, you’re in a place where all worries immediately disappear, well, almost immediately.
Before you can relax completely, you have to make the one-mile walk through the picturesque, hilly terrain and past the array of coloured tents and attractions. Lugging your gear to the campsite, the final challenge of the journey is finding a spare patch of grass where you and all your friends can fit your tent into.
Once that job is complete, it is no longer 2pm on a Thursday, you’re far from the grind of the working week and it’s time to get a beer in and relax in the sun listening to music.
Of course, if that’s not your cup of tea at this particular time, you could actually have afternoon tea while watching burlesque dancers, try ballroom dancing or have a few laughs in the comedy tent.
While I didn’t actually see the Welsh boys again all weekend, I’d imagine they would have taken the first option. But, then again, after they completely shocked everyone in the ferry queue with their musical ability, it’s entirely possible they were topclass ballroom dancers as well.
• Tickets for Bestival are now on sale, with details about acts that have already been announced and more to come at www.bestival.net
• Tickets are available at www.ticketline.co.uk/bestival-tickets and 08448884410 with the festival running from Thursday, September 5 to Sunday, September 8.
• Adult tickets are £190 for the weekend, students are £180 and £127 for teens, with a number of payment options, such as paying £7.20 per week over 25 weeks.