Bestival 2014 Review

On a very warm September dawn Blighty’s Southern docks prepared themselves for some sixty thousand festival-goers to cross the Solent; not for the beautiful Isle of Wight scenery, but for Josie and Rob Da Bank’s Bestival, the unofficial finish line of the UK’s chockablock festival marathon.
Robin Hill’s 2013 HMS Bestival theme sailed into the horizon making way for the Desert Island Disco. One four-day-long party that would see sailors hats and flags merge into Hawaiian shirts and coconut bras. Rob Da Bank made some notable and impacting changes to the Isle of Wight’s biggest annual event this year. The blown up Lionel Richie head from the previous summer had been removed; replaced by a 10ft wide 1980s disco ball now tentatively resting in its place. Disco maverick Nile Rogers challenged Da Bank to create the world’s biggest disco ball. With With everything in place, the Guinness man made an appearance to confirm Bestival was now official world record holder. Sunday night’s headline Chic featuring Nile Rogers attempted the greatest disco party of all time, and the Guinness World Book of Records named the shining beacon 60cm bigger than its predecessor. Chic hit the biggest and best disco tunes from the last thirty years in a set that lasted longer than two hours.
Rob Da Bank has been expanding the festival year-on-year, sneaking up on the well-established Isle of Wight Festival. Bestival’s unique vibe and country setting has pushed it from mini hippyimage utopia to full-coloured leviathan. Stevie Wonder, Chic, The Cure Elton John, Bjork, Snoop Dog, to name just a few, have all graced Robin Hill with their presence.
But, much like Michael Eavis’ Glastonbury, Bestival is not just about music. Bestival is full of the weird and the wonderful. This isn’t just about the music but a 9ft inflatable 909 drum machine, an inflatable church, Oberon’s observatory, a patch of grass dedicated to swingball, and an array of comedians, plays, arts and lectures dotted about the intimate, secretive Ambient Forest. And, Saturday’s fancy dress tradition brings in a truckload of good vibes. Fancy dress, mini carnivals, gourmet grub and a range of music that can only be described as for ‘everyone and anyone’ makes Bestival one of the best. The wacky and kookiness of the weekend raises the bar for British festivals, all tucked away on Britain’s favourite island. All this combined results in an amazing juxtaposition of sensualistic vibes and a holistic Garden of Eden that comes complete with a genuine sense of populace. Bestival just doesn’t attract those ‘festivalwankers’ that crop up at beer-soaked shindigs like V Fest and Reading & Leeds.
Bestival is undoubtedly, though, centred around electronic music. Just seeing the Port – the festival’s mockup ship-shaped stage, home of lasers, ravers, dance and house music – will make you realise that, and adding Dusky, Chase & Status, Annie Mac, Gorgon City, Jaguar Skills, and Route94 into that mix will only show off Bestival’s grassroots connection with the electronic scene. Don’t forget Caribou, DJ Yoda, Bondax and Bonobo among others, with add to Bestival’s impressive lineup, with something that screams out to those electric-loving fans.
2014’s lineup had everything going for it in a way that makes it impossible to have a bad time on the Isle of Wight. No matter your musical taste Bestival checks the boxes every time. Everyone wanted a piece of the hype, and the big names just kept on rolling: Sam Smith, The Two Bears, Chvrches, Foals, OutKast, Chic, Nile Rogers, Temples, Disclosure. The something-for-everyone rule was fulfilled. Bestival, although an incredible artist wonderland, has seemed to have had its tides changed. HMS Bestival has altered its course, slightly toward the corporate direction compared to previous years. The lack of hippy-types and the increase of people who’ve visited the shower block shows the changing tide. The addition of a Redbull-sponsored stage qualifies all this, but perhaps in a way not so in-your-face like at Wireless or Reading, but weaves it’s way in, subtly. Enough said, however. Bestival is still a festival utopia with a non-stop, four-day party atmosphere, and you definitely won’t return home without a big ol’ case of the Festival Blues.


Tobi Stidolph

Press Manager & inSYNC Writer