Bestival has basked in Indian sunshine for the last few years – but this year it bathed in mud. However, the acres of brown ooze didn’t dampen the festival’s spirits. People happily stomped around, grinning in their sailor hats.
Pendulum puts the main stage into swing on Friday night, live drum‘n’bass tearing through the field with impressive force from the drummer’s frenetic tub thumping. The rain competes with the BPM’s – so refuge is sought in Santogold. She certainly looks the part, flanked by her empowered Public Enemy styled ladies but the experience is underwhelming. The beats are fat and the tunes are instantly recognisable but in contrast to Pendulum’s full force it feels like a flimsy set up.
A torrential downpour would have suited My Bloody Valentine but the clouds are blown away by the band’s increased amp-age. Through swathes of Kevin Shields’ feedback, a delicate tenderness breaks through. They stick to the classics sparing the audience from last tour’s full earplug requiring volume and the alienating 45 minutes-of-formless-noise.
Jeffrey Lewis cancels on Saturday, which moves all main stage events forwards. Instead of skiffle siblings Kitty, Daisy and Lewis, dan le sac vs Scroobius Pip play. According to Scroobius, this is their first large stage set, and they don’t really fill it. One novelty-hit single doesn’t sustain the crowds and instead of falling on a strong back catalogue, they play a lame cover of Sugababes’ Push The Button.
Gary Numan on the other hand, performs a dramatic live set, which draws on his expansive 20-year history. Strands of synth-pop, Goth, electro and rock are all expertly woven together while Numan’s eyeliner dramatically dribbles down his face.
Gilles Peterson gets people shuffling and sets the tone for the rest of the afternoon with his sunshine filled Brazilian beats in the gratefully warming Bollywood tent. Later on, old-timer DJ Derek rolls out classic reggae ska. And South Rakkas Crew followed by A-Trak drag the tent into depths of bass line with enough classic dance-track remixes to keep everyone happy.
The Specials are easily one of the best performances of the festival. The boys run around the stage dancing to, Too Much Too Young, Monkey Man and Gangsters whilst Terry Hall looks on with his trademark glum reticence.
Hot Chip are also a highlight, hitting the stage dressed as Knight’s armour. They perform their pumping tracks, expertly mega-mixed together before dipping into their tender love songs towards the end.
Winehouse turns up 45 minutes late and is worryingly thin and thoughtless. She scats through her songs like Vic Reeves in the style of his club singer.
Sunday is a better day weather wise and the optimism shines through. Beardy auteur Sebastian Tellier’s louche crooning lounge lizard act is transformed into 80’s pop-rocker when he picks up a flying V guitar. Baaba Maal is infectiously celebratory afterwards with two African dancers giving it their all and more percussive beats than you can shake a stick at.
The afternoon is marked by a few cheerful bouts of sunshine as we take a trip up the hill to witness Misty’s Big Adventure crammed into a bandstand. Local band known to many, The Bees finish proceedings on the main stage, and their wonderfully romantic The Sky Holds The Sun left us pining for a summer that never was.