I have to confess by Sunday I’m exhausted. Though the site isn’t massive the hilly nature of the ground makes moving between stages hard work and with vegetarian food including, chips, chips, veggie burger, pizza, and chips I can’t help but feel fatigued. I spend the first part of the day hunting for something different and (un)luckily for me I stumble upon the options of jacket potato or potato wedges and succumb to another round of the starchy crop. In Bestival’s defence, had I been prepared to queue I might have been able to have Indian but with just one stall on the whole site and a distinct lack of fruit and veg elsewhere, by Sunday it’s become a must on everyone’s agenda.
I start the day with Bat For Lashes but quickly find her Tori Amos meets Imogen Heap sound less inviting than I’d envisioned. She’s the type of artists that demands work, and though ordinarily she ticks every box for something I’d like today I decide that I’m not I’d rather something instantly catchy. With this I head the the Reply stage and join the bulging crowd for King Charles, who’s frenzied set delights both me, and the rest of the audience.
King Charles switch between heavy rock and electro pop with full effect. Elaborate and extravagant there’s a hint of The Cure in some of their sounds and front man, Charles, knows how to work his crowd. The double drumming on Polar Bear and the rock gospel sound of The Brightest Light nudge up against the carnival beats of Lady Percy and keep me more than engaged. Their cover of Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire might almost be better than the original, and I find myself humming Mississippi Isabel late into the night, testament then to their catchy nature. Though it fits neatly into many of the commercial sounds around at the moment, the band still manage to maintain something distinctive, marking them apart from their contemporaries.
Not one to turn down a chance to dress up, Kate Nash enters the stage in what seems to be an embodiment of the wildlife theme. How she finds her guitar beneath her get up, is beyond me, but find it she does, along with the volume on the amp. Though I’m not keen on Kate’s new sound, I do have respect for her unwillingness to just remain know as a more pop singing/songwriter and to move in a new direction with feminism at the forefront. Though from the cheer it’s clear many of the crowd have only shown up for Foundations I find myself drawn in to her honest, no shit style, especially with the new song Sister.
Despite it’s more bass beat heavy vibe, I’m impressed to see Bestival has added a few folk artists to the line up and decide to stick around the Replay stage for Bellowhead. It seems in some ways immoral – Bestival appearing at nearly every festival I’ve attended this summer – and yet I can’t help but be drawn to their musical meanderings. With a smaller crowd this time around there’s room to dance and as the deliver Whiskey is the Life of Man and Betsy Baker from their forthcoming album, those who haven’t disappeared to catch a glimpse of Stevie Wonder, seem to relish in every beat of the folk bands set.
At this point, I think perhaps I should find out what all the fuss is about, and head towards the main stage for Stevie Wonder on route to Emily Barker. Nevertheless I’m met with with the biggest crowd of the weekend which spans from the front of the stage, to the edge of the big top and with not even a pin prick of Stevie visible, I make an early climb to the bandstand stage. Here I’m greeted with the slightly obscure, yet ultimately engaging sounds of Misty’s Big Adventure, who’s lyrics leave me scratching my head and wondering if I’ve heard correctly.
Thankfully there’s none such confusion with Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo, who’s set seems much less focused on recent album Almanac, though Ropes and Calendar both make the set, my favourite comes in the form of Disappear. As she sings ‘if a picture paints a thousand words, then a song paints a thousand pictures’ I can help but feel in several years it will be this song which brings back images of Bestival. With a cover of Neil Young’s Look Out For My Love and a rendition of Fields of June which sees the bang of fireworks take Frank Turner’s place as accompaniment.
It acts as the perfect marker to the end of the weekend, and though my experience is slightly marred by the grazed knees I end up with as I fall on the abundance of litter, which see the site become something of a landfill by the end of the weekend, overall Bestival has been a near faultless experience. Like Glastonbury without the Green Fields, it’s diverse in it’s offering with plenty of non musical activities whilst still hosting the biggest names in a variety of genres.
Photos © Jo Cox and must not be reproduced without prior consent