Bestival 2016: The Future Or No Future?

Bestival, the colourful, fun, shining beacon of the Bestival family. Every year the Isle of Wight is blessed with this festival masterpiece, bringing an original fancy dress theme for everyone to enjoy. 2016 saw The Future come to Bestival. The party, that is now in its thirteenth year, was indulged with giant inflatable astronauts, cardboard robots and a whole host of silver space costumes.

Bestival, that has strategically placed itself at the extremity of the UK’s festival season, once again marked the end of the summer with an eclectic range of bands and hard-hitting DJs. This said, we cannot ignore organiser Rob da Bank and co’s condensed show that saw a number of this year’s Bestivalers expressing their disgust at multiple layout changes, outer fields abandoned, a horribly small main stage, a totally different Temple Island, artistic productions cut back, Slow Motion field’s components moved elsewhere around the site and Bestival’s unique vibe all but silenced.


Although this year’s event had some shortfalls, which are not something of normality at Bestival, you can’t knock some of the band’s performances. Thursday night at the infamous Big Top saw indie band Glass Animals perform fresh from their album release just two weeks prior. The group’s second studio album ‘How To Be A Human Being’ was released on August 26th, and Bestival was a great opportunity for the band to show off their talents before going on tour in October. The Oxfordshire four piece played an hour-long set to an excitable crowd and used their strange but unique melodic tones to get everyone interested.

Following Glass Animal’s were British indie electronic band Hot Chip. What a performance this was. Hot Chip were a highlight of this year’s festival season manoeuvring their way through a exciting set, playing to a full Big Top. The group played their big hits including ‘Ready for the Floor’ and ‘Over and Over’. This was the second time the band headlined Bestival’s Big Top. 


Friday at Bestival is always an opportunity to explore the site more, with the newly added Space Port now open for inspection. At first glance it was less than impressive, a small version of the colossal themed stages that are installed at Boomtown every year. A steel frame stuck up from behind the DJ booth in the shape of a rocket, almost looking incomplete, but the two giant inflatable robots were certainly the talking point of the stage; impressive figures that were lit up showed of the futuristic feel of the weekend. Seeing the Space Port at night though made up for its mediocre structure; lights and lasers engulfing the group wth hard hitting house or techno coming from the speakers.

Friday night saw Major Lazer return to the Isle of Wight for the second time in three years, this time as a headliner. The dance threesome always pull through with a high-energy, rowdy set, showing off their huge number of Top 40 hits like ‘Cold Water’ and the 2015 summer banger ‘Lean On’. In the early hours of Saturday morning saw electronic/folk group Crystal Fighters take to the Big Top. Although 3am was an odd set time for a band of this nature, it was actually nice to have an end-of-the-night break from the heavy sounds of DJs at the Space Port. Crystal Fighters are unique band with tribal vibes induced heavily within their sound. The are very uplifting, and certainly a great spectacle to finish a long night of dancing.  The group is soon to release their third studio album dubbed ‘Everything Is My Family’.

2016 saw the festival introduce the Samsung Hypercube. This huge futuristic black box housed a trial of Samsung’s latest virtual reality project for everyone to experience. The Hypercube let you try on Samsung’s VR technology, which is in development, and watch the UK’s first VR music video of Scottish rock band Biffy Clyro’s track ‘Flammable’. The video placed users at the very heart of a Biffy Clyro gig via the use of 36-degree cameras.


Saturday night was poised and ready for 80s rock band The Cure to take the headline set. After Duran Duran’s 2015 set, The Cure needed something special to beat it. At the beginning of Duran Duran I was thinking, “Please play your hits…no new rubbish”, and they did exactly that. Well, The Cure frontman Robert Smith did exactly that for two hours. All the way from ‘In Between Days’ to ‘Lullaby’ and ‘Just Like Heaven’ to ‘Boys Don’t Cry’, timeless weep-alongs mingle with barnstorming indie pop and dungeon psych-rock to create one of the best festival sets of the 2016.

Something Bestival is known for: dance music. Saturday night always has a stellar lineup of top DJs and dance music stars; meaning most of your time is spent at the Space Port. Tech/house producer Skream played one of the sets of the weekend, rocking Bestival’s newest stage, with his unique DJing skills dropping a number of big summer tracks. Soon after legend and tech godfather Carl Cox played his headline slot. The DJ is certainly to be admired and, although not performing the best set we’d witnessed over the festival, definitely did not disappoint. Fresh from a summer in Ibiza, and playing the last ever set at the fittingly named nightclub Space, it seemed Cox was the perfect man for Bestival’s futuristically themed party. 


Sunday; the final day to enjoy the outside, the party, the sunshine, and the summer. On Sunday morning the main stage was greeted with the gleaming sun and the sound of electro-swing favourites Caravan Palace. After an incredible headline performance at Boomtown in 2015, the seven piece French outfit were back in the UK to show off their unique style of modernised 1920s swing music. Front woman Zoe Colotis lead the group with a professionalism that has to be highly regarded, hyping up the crowd and taking someone’s Union Jack t-shirt from an audience member, putting it on, and declaring ‘Brexit doesn’t matter…we love the UK’. Caravan Palace’s upbeat nature and happy vibes can only mean pleasure for the ears of onlookers; no matter when or where this band never fail to impress.

Bestival’s scaled down Temple Island hosted tech/house producer Shadow Child. The thirty-nine year old, who is from Portsmouth which is just across the Solent, played a 10/10 set once again. Shadow Child never fails to impress, and with the amount of people dancing the afternoon away showed how popular this DJ can be. Heading again up the slope to the Big Top, it was time to take in Bestival for one last time before darkness fell. Eighteen year old producer Mura Masa was on playing to a half full tent. Despite this, the teenager did not fail to impress either, playing a set of popular tracks as well as his own productions. 2016 has certainly been a great year for the new artist and has gained a lot of support – even from BBC Introducing. Mura Masa’s track ‘What If I Go?’ featuring Bonzai has gained his a lot of commercial success. Definitely an artist to look out for.

The real 23rd-century sounds come from Australian electronic three-piece Jagwar Ma. The trio’s second studio album is set to be released on October 14th, and the band have been gigging in the UK a fair amount this year with sets supporting Aussie counterparts Tame Impala on their European tour in March and high profile festival gigs including Glastonbury and Bestival. The bands modern and futuristic sound made them a fitting booking for this year’s festival. This group are a must-see live playing tracks from their well-received first album ‘Howlin’, as well as giving us a glimpse at what the new offer has to offer.

A small indie pop band that we have been following for a while made an appearance at Bestival this year. The festival’s Jägermeister-inspired building, dubbed ‘Jägerhaus’, boasted a small inside stage for hosting new, local and upcoming musical talents, one of which was Theme Park. The London-based three piece is known for there upbeat yet chilled vibes, creating a peaceful atmosphere. A nice way to end a day of music on Sunday evening at Bestival, before heading to see some DJs.


Wondering back to Temple Island, we prepared to end our night with electronic production duo Maribou State. The pain played a positive but calming ending to our 2016 festival season with a number of quality tracks including Soulwax’s remix of ‘Let It Happen’ by Tame Impala, as well as some self-productions like ‘The Clown’ and ‘Rituals’ off their debut album ‘Portraits’. A smooth end to not such a smooth weekend for the Bestival family.

Although Bestival 2016 was loads of fun, it was hard to ignore its lack of high level production and entertainment, which usually helps to set the festival apart from its other UK counterparts. Its a hard thing to say when you have experienced and loved such an incredible event in years gone by. Bestival may be “reverting to its boutique roots”, but who needs a future when the past is this dazzling?

Organisation 8.5

Music 8.5

Site Setup 7.0

Festival Communication 5.0

Attention to Detail 6.5

Creative Content 6.5

Value for Money 7.0

Overall 49.0

Don’t miss out on next year’s Bestival taking place from 7th-10th September 2017. Early bird tickets now available at:


Tobi Stidolph

Press Manager & inSYNC Writer


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