Festival season is a well-worn subject, but it’s as if everyone approaches it on autopilot. Buy your wellies, get a pint of beer X and stand in a field watching band Y play the 2pm slot for the 5th year running at Leeds. Yawn. It’s hard to find anything to get excited about when the most widely advertised offer the most generic experience. Nowadays, finding a festival that isn’t overwhelmed by huge corporate billboards and swamped in advertising as big as any band’s stage set-up is no mean feat. Some festivals even find themselves nameless, disappearing underneath the weight of sponsorship, no more than a weekend to celebrate a specific brand of lager. Finding a festival with true spirit and an exciting, vivacious atmosphere? That’s no easy task either, but since 2004 on the Isle of Wight something special has been growing; free of the homogeneity of a festival scene ruled by phone and beer companies.
That place is Bestival, a 4 day ‘boutique’ music festival that seems to revel in its independence from these companies as much as its attendees revel in its utterly unique spirit and vibrancy. Running from the 9th to the 12th of September, Bestival marks a genuine peak in the Festival season mere moments before it ends.
Curated by Rob Da Bank – the consistently excellent face of Radio 1’s more leftfield music shows – Bestival brings a weekend of inspiration, madness and exuberance to the leafy setting of the Isle of White’s Robin Hill. Strewn with oddities, quirks and moments of sheer bat-shit madness, this most eccentric of weekenders can boast a Bollywood Cocktail Bar, a Hidden Disco and an inflatable church scattered around it’s Lewis Carroll-esque setting. In a truly vivid display of the unity of the festival, Bestival is inundated annually by legions of its devotees in whatever the fancy dress is decided upon for that year – 2010’s being the wonderfully open ‘Fantasy’ – making for a particularly surreal experience.
With the festival offering so much, it’s also worth reminding yourself that in-between causing inevitable disaster with ‘Hot Bengali Buttered Rum’ cocktails at the Bollywood Bar and gawping at the bizarre cabaret in The Knee’s Up tent, there’s a frankly stupidly good array of music to absorb. Refreshingly, bookings aren’t decided upon by a rundown of album sales, chart positions and general overall marketability by a faceless suit somewhere. Instead, Bestival offers one of the most joyously eclectic line-ups for music lovers available anywhere. Acts as diverse as Royksopp, 2manyDJ’s, The Bees, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, the Chemical Brothers and The Beastie Boys have graced the many stages of Bestival.
2010 seems to be another step in the right direction for Bestival – headlined by The Flaming Lips, Dizzee Rascal and The Prodigy, and featuring a ridiculously diverse range of bands, DJ’s and performers – including The XX, Beardyman, Mumford and Sons, Roxy Music, High Contrast, Caspa, Flying Lotus, Rolf Harris and Hurts – it seems that maybe there is an option for those not only looking for more excitement, but the sort of adventure, excitement and curiosity that a weekender should give you -a real festival experience.
Bestival is 9-12th September on the beautiful Isle Of Wight, For more info on the line up & tickets click here.