21.09.2009, Words by Ruth Saxelby

Bestival highlights

‘What’s in a name?’, as some bearded dude once said. Well, just ask Rob Da Bank. Last year’s Bestival theme was 30,000 Freaks Under The Sea. And we all know what happened next. Sensibly, this year it was all about taking one giant leap in the opposite direction: space, man. Bestival: Year of the Spectacular was blessed with the kind of sunshine you usually get by enduring a back-breaking cheapo flight to the med. Surely some kind of cosmic reward for wading through 6 foot of mud last year? Either way, the general consensus was that this year’s Bestival was the best yet. Here are some of the things that stood out.

Dressing up
I was there with Dummy photographer Mikael who’s from Sweden. He was really struck by everyone getting dressed up, saying it felt like everyone was taking part in something really collective. Apparently back home they don’t go in for fancy dress at festivals. Seeing Bestival through his eyes reminded me of the impact it has had on the UK festival scene in a relatively short six years. Planning costumes, creating one-off outfits and getting silly with the glitter is as much a part of Bestival as the music – it’s pure play, escapism and one hell of a way to give the summer a proper send off. Best outfit: Martina Navratilova “because she’s a fucking good tennis player.”

Disco sunsets
2009’s love affair with D.I.S.C.O reached new heights in the Rizla arena with Tim Sweeney, Optimo, Disco Bloodbath and Lindstrom all dishing up the goods against a pink and orange dusk skyline. Hands-in-the-air moments came courtesy of a trio of awesome remixes: Aeroplane’s version of Friendly Fires ‘Paris’, Leo Zero’s mix of Florence + The Machine ‘Rabbit Heart’ and Seth Troxler’s rework of Fever Ray ‘Seven’.

The big guns
The relocated Main Stage (verdict: loved it being central, not so sure about it being so high up, felt a touch disconnected at times) drew the masses for memorable performances from Florence + The Machine, Passion Pit, Friendly Fires, Kraftwerk, Fleet Foxes and Seasick Steve – the latter being a surprise favourite from nearly everyone I spoke to. In the Big Top, Pivot’s new tracks with spine-tingling vocals and Major Lazer’s can’t-hold-‘em-down energy were real highlights.

Florence + the media machine
We love Florence but an onslaught of overzealous photographers almost ruined the mood. They surrounded her onstage, blocking the audience’s view – not once, but three times. Good old people power won out in the end when the boos relegated them to crouching at the side. Take that, paps.

Simon and Kath
This couple in their mid-50s (see them in our gallery) were possibly having the best time out of anyone. They work in the same factory, Simon doing the night shifts and Kath doing days. Simon is covered in tattoos, one of which was a pink Breast Cancer ribbon because Kath is in recovery. He said it’s taught them to live life to the fullest. They’d come for the atmosphere and meeting them made our day. Nice one, Bestival.

Early bird tickets for Bestival 2010 are on sale now. Check the site for details.

Bestival website

Take a gander at our Bestival gallery.

Photography: Mikael Gregorsky

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