I’m not sure I am quite cool enough for festivals like Bestival, I certainly don’t have the stamina to make it through a whole five days unwashed and living off a few hours sleep. Not any more anyway, not as a sophisticated 24 year old. Wandering round the dusty fields among hundreds of inebriated teenagers, I felt like I should be scraping them off the grass and guiding them back to their tents, even if that is where their stashes of cheap beer are kept. In fact my younger brother was in attendance at this huge Isle of Wight jamboree along with a large group of friends, none of whom I was allowed to meet, well not without bribing him with free food.
Bestival is not the easiest location to travel to, but the island site is idyllic and spacious, ideal for a music festival. We arrived on Saturday (I was desperately sad to have missed Django Django on Friday), once inside the fencing I was totally amazed and overwhelmed by the raucous energy, the endless groups of giggling friends and most alarming… the eccentric wildlife costumes that almost everyone was wearing. I arrived un-costumed, without even theme-specific nail art to justify my embarrassingly bland clothes choice. After the long drive, we were already in hysterics, and putting up our £20 neon pink tent provided further fun when the pop up function flew into the air and into our faces… this easy to use temporary accommodation in fact provided very well for us for our one night of camping, being roomy and weather resistant. Thanks must go to Sports Direct.
It was difficult to navigate our way round at night, music blaring from every quarter. The main stage glowed in the centre, and we watched some of the energetic ‘Two Door Cinema Club’ who managed to really motivate the swaying crowds playing songs from their recently released new album and a few older favourites. Every year festival food seems to improve and Bestival 2012 secured some of London’s most popular eateries: hugely popular Meat Liquor had a stall, Byron were selling their deliciously juicy burgers, and even Wagamama made an appearance.
We were ridiculously lucky with the weather, most of Sunday morning was spent sunbathing and munching on breakfast treats from the Breakfast club bus. The bands seemed to thrive in the heat, Rizzle Kicks consumed the stage with their hilarious, infectious set and Krafty Kuts was a brilliantly wild DJ act to dance crazily to in the roller disco arena – their sound is expansive and atmospheric and fully involved the audience. I really enjoyed some of the other entertainment too, in particular the dance lessons marquee and the Bollywood themed area.
Venturing into the woods and we found further thrills. A special mention must go to the Dukesbox band, a unique little group who play and sing from an enlarged jukebox, following the requests of their audience and providing renditions of popular numbers with gumption and humour. Better still they are actually very talented musicians, and bring something special to every cover. The perfect entertainment for a wedding or big party.
Stevie Wonder provided the climactic finish we had all been hoping for… taking to the stage unusually punctually, he gave a staggering performance. Dressed in a vibrant red outfit, he looked valiant and impressive. Performing hit after hit, the audience danced, jumped, sang and smiled. Almost every one of the 46,000 attendees (the most ever) turned up at the main stage to see the star of soul and it felt like a once in a lifetime moment. Favourites ‘Don’t you worry bout a thing’, ‘For once in your life’ and ‘Superstition’ were especially electric… not a note off-key not a beat missed, Stevie is still as magical as his very first record and it seems age has only bettered him. It helps too that his punchy band support him with charm and charisma and give the melody a dynamic vitality.
Bestival is now one of the largest of the new festivals, offering a range of exciting events and exhibits for festival goers to enjoy, though it is definitely geared more towards the younger and hipper generations. For me it was Stevie’s wondrous set and inspiring musical talent that made this epic journey so worth the effort. I will never forget seeing this unbelievable legend in the flesh, and Bestival will struggle to match this headliner next year.
Thoroughly Modern Milly travelled to Bestival with Wightlink on its 35-minute ferry service from Lymington to Yarmouth, one of three routes. Car ferries also operate from Portsmouth–Fishbourne (40 minutes) and there is a foot passenger catamaran service between Portsmouth Harbour and Ryde Pier Head (approx 20 minutes).
Call 0871 376 1000 or visit www.wightlink.co.uk for details.
Wightlink sells ferry-inclusive packages for the Isle of Wight Festival (June) and Bestival (September).