Festival season was nearing the end, September had crept up on us already and shops were advertising Christmas – and then Bestival showed them where to shove it.
With a line-up to rival Glastonbury, Bestival curator Rob da Bank casually threw names such as Stevie Wonder, New Order and Sigur Ros into the mix which enticed 50,000 excited, fancy-dress cladded festival goers to the Isle of Wight, some of whom swam to get there. Shockingly, this was only a very small percentage.
Thursday night proved to set the tone of the festival with an outstanding performance from Hot Chip, whose high energetic performance, with tracks going back to their first album, pulled an electric crowd. The Big Top tent also welcomed Gary Numan and Alabama Shakes – Numan clarifying why he is the pioneer of electro and Shakes letting people know who they really are, playing a repertoire of new songs which were received with excitable screams and jigging.
Thursday also hosted Rob Da Bank himself on the Arcadia podium equipped with moving metal animals and fire – disorientating, confusing and completely and utterly fantastic.
Friday was a day packed full of memorable performances, one of whom being Warpaint. The American girl group’s eerie vocals and soft finish resulted in a silent crowd until they played Undertow, at which the crowd erupted.
Following her latest album release, Lianne La Havas also played the Big Top tent. Her flawless vocals and endearing demeanour made for an incredible set. Alt-J were received with roars and cheers from the crowd, so much so that hearing them was impossible if you weren’t within the small tent.
Saturday held De La Soul and Justice – both of whom put on two of the most memorable shows of the festival. De La Soul went right back to their roots, opening with Me Myself and I from their first album. They played off the reactions of the hooked crowd, providing infectious beats that lead everyone to dance and rap around as the sun set. Justice put on an incredibly high energy, high quality performance that that left the crowd buzzing and screaming for more.
Similar to Saturday, Sunday held some acts that weren’t to be forgotten. Roots Manuva, a surprise act from Four Tet, Friendly Fires and Orbital all enforced the idea that Bestival holds such a range of music without neglecting quality. The star of daytime on Sunday, however, was Doom. Incorporating a range of works, from projects like JJ Doom and Madvillian, the crowd lapped it up and there seemed to be an ungodly appreciation for his presence at Bestival.
Despite not hearing a negative comment about any act, the performance that everyone talked about throughout the festival was, of course, Sunday night headliner Stevie Wonder.
As expected, his performance was outstanding, covering a repertoire of songs dating back as far as his child prodigy days on the harmonica. With a touching performance of Isn’t She Lovely to his daughter and cover of John Lennon’s Imagine, the crowds were unfazed by his praises to the Lord and used it as an excuse to cheer and praise Wonder himself.
Bestival 2012 certainly provided. From the line-up that smashed it to the thousands that dressed up in wildlife attire; to the Club Dada electro-swing tent that went on until the early hours, from the Ambient Forest where there was art and dance classes; to the Gypsy camp with the human jukebox. It was faultless.
Bestival 2012, you really were the best of all.