Festival Review: Bestival 2016

The last festival of the summer, Bestival, is always said to be a wacky and fun-filled weekend with a world class line-up to match, so I went along for the very first time to see what all the buzz is about.

This year’s theme is all about the future, and this was replicated perfectly in the line-up of the aptly named Invaders Of The Future stage, where I kicked off my weekend by checking out Spring King on the Friday. The band are clearly very popular among the youthful members of the audience and the fact that their drummer took on the job of lead vocalist takes their game to a whole new level. I then headed over to the Main Stage where Bestival veterans The Cuban Brothers were baffling the thousands with their comedy antics and hip-hop tunes. I’ve seen them three times now and they seem to get better and better each time. They were followed by Aurora, perhaps most known for her John Lewis Christmas advert song, who, to my surprise at least, gave a very upbeat performance and seemed to win over a number of new fans.

Aurora performing at Bestival 2016


I, and many others it seemed, were hanging around for the next act to take to the stage: Years & Years. The Main Stage arena filled up very quickly and the electro-pop three-piece, fronted by the charismatic Olly Alexander, treated their fans to an hour-long set of chart hits. It was a really energetic performance and one which suggested the trio could be headliners one day. They were followed by Damian ‘Jr Gong’ Marley who played a set filed with reggae and drum ‘n’ bass hits, including his collaboration with Skrillex. The penultimate act on the Main Stage that evening was, the now Mercury Prize winning artist, Skepta. There must have been about 10 people on-stage with him at one point, including Wiley and Fekky, and his cool rap hits were met with a number of mosh pits in the audience.

Headliners Major Lazer soon followed with smoke blasters, giant inflatable spheres, confetti, fire and some of the world’s biggest hits at the moment. They were even joined by Lean On featured artist MØ, following her solo Big Top show earlier in the day. It was a sweaty set to say the least, but one which got everyone in the mood for the rest of the weekend.

Following rain in the early hours of the morning and downpours that afternoon, Saturday was a rather soggy affair but Bestival’s ravers insisted it wasn’t going to dampen their spirits. I headed down to the site at around 2pm to check out rap group WSTRN who, despite having one of their members rushed off to hospital beforehand, still managed to get everyone bouncing in the mud. Fair play to them for turning up at all, some acts wouldn’t if a member was out due to illness. After a quick turnaround, rap Queen Lady Leshurr charmed the masses with her quirky lyrics about ‘brushing your teeth’ and ‘crispy bacon’- I must admit, I’m never too sure what to make of her.

Lady Leshurr performing at Bestival 2016


Craig David and his TS5 show were up next and he always seems so humbled at the response he receives. His set consisted of some of his classics from the early noughties as well as some of his recent chart hits, including Nothing Like This and When The Bassline Drops. Providing something completely different were the next act, Wolf Alice, who’s rock hits were refreshing to watch following sets from a number of rap and pop artists. I then headed over to the Big Top, though ironically much smaller than I was expecting, for the first time over the weekend to check out pop singer Izzy Bizu. I missed her set at Victorious Festival a few weeks ago and it seems I missed out on watching a fantastically talented singer. Her final song, White Tiger, proved to be the highlight of her set, which was met with cheers and audience participation throughout.

Headlining that day over on the Main Stage were 80s legends The Cure, quite an odd one on a line-up that featured largely ‘current’ acts. Nevertheless, I went to check them out because they received rave reviews from their Bestival appearance back in 2011 and I must say, they certainly lived up to my expectations. Playing a mega 2 and a half hour set, Robert Smith and co. played hit, after hit, after hit in what became one of the highlights of the weekend.

The Cure performing at Bestival 2016


Thankfully on the Sunday, the mud dried up a little and its sponginess provided the perfect opportunity for the crowds to bounce up and down to the music on the final day of the event. The first act I caught was grime duo Krept & Konan, but, following a rather large and rough mosh pit during their set, I was more focussed on making sure I didn’t fall over. Next up was fellow grime artist Kano who was accompanied by a full live band adding a whole new dynamic to his show. It was also very cool to see one of the security guards at the front rapping along to him, it’s a shame not all of them shared his sense of humour. He was followed by Bastille, one of the most anticipated acts of the weekend, with their first show since the release of their new album Wild World. The last time I saw Bastille was three years ago, just after the release of their first hit Pompeii, so it was great to see how far the four-piece have come.

The festival’s proceedings were rounded off by co-headliners Sean Paul and Wiz Khalifa. Both have attracted global recognition with their chart-topping hits and both put on spectacular performances on the Main Stage. Sean Paul’s highlight came when he was joined on-stage by rapper Stylo G and Wiz Khalifa’s defining moment came when the crowd sung along to the anthemic See You Again. Their sets were rounded off by a special tribute to the late, legendary musician Prince, who was rumoured to be booked for this year’s event, accompanied by purple lighting effects and a phenomenal firework display.

Wiz Khalifa performing at Bestival 2016


Following a statement issued on their Facebook page, Bestival organisers admitted that the downsizing of a number of their stages was due to ticket sales of just 40,000, but promised that the event will be back to its very high standards next year. Personally, I was sold on the events of this year, so I’ll certainly be back to see what they have in-store.