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A Festival Review with a Moral to It

M.I.A, Main Stage

This time 9 months ago I told myself 2018 would be the year I throw myself into every new experience and opportunity I am offered. Admittedly, this hasn’t always worked out in my favour, with my main experience being the consequences that come with saying yes to absolutely everything and the realisation that this probably all stems from my deep rooted fear of missing out. Despite this, rewind to a month ago, when I was sat with some friends and listening in to their excitement about an upcoming festival, my "FOMO" came into play. Three hours later I had called work in a blind panic and miraculously booked holiday for less than three weeks time, somewhat a miracle when working in retail, drained my bank account to cover the cost of a ticket, and called my family to let them all know I would be taking a hiatus and would not be available to be booked for any family events from August 2 – August 6.

August 1, 10 PM came around and with that came another opportunity, this time being the chance to show off my speed packing skills, derived from a consistent track record of always being last minute. Four bottles of wine decanted into plastic bottles and several attempts to downsize everything later, the car had been packed and we were ready for the three hour car journey to Bestival.

Bestival, for the second year, was held at The Lulworth Estate and everywhere within a ten mile radius was otherworldly. Upon arriving, we passed miles of cobbled streets, sporadic villages that look as though they lost touch with the outside world sometime in the 1980s, and an ongoing stretch of the British coast. Prior to this, during my teen years, I had been an introvert and unfortunately missed out on the years of getting drunk off warm ciders in a tent comparable to a greenhouse at Reading festival and persevering through the unpredictability of British weather at Glastonbury, possibly a hint as to why I now feel like I must make up for everything in my 20s. However, nothing could have prepared me for the new lifestyle that came with attending Bestival; from setting up our tent, to seeing grime MC CASISDEAD at The Big Top prepare the crowd for the enchantment the next three days had promised, we had no time at all. Walking through the vivid lights and hypnotising decorations that covered stretch of countryside now known as "The Arena," I was transported into a whole new world that felt so far away from the mundane responsibilities of real life.

Friday night saw an exclusive set from Silk City, a legendary DJ duo of Mark Ronson and Diplo, opening with their first single "Only Can Get Better." They lit up the Main Stage with a catalogue of 90s house remixes and revamped old school dance anthems, resonating with my love for electronic music. Drag queen icon and London based DJ Jodie Harsh followed at the HMS Bestival, a stage made from a supposed washed up boat, accompanied by a generous amount of back up dancers as she remixed music from drag legend RuPaul and paid tribute to nostalgic club anthems. I found myself amongst a sea of body safe glitter and coordinated outfits as the crowd spilled across the countryside, ignited by the multicoloured strobe lights.

No hangover cure will ever compare to the fear of potentially missing genre-bending bassist Thundercat’s Saturday afternoon performance in the blistering sunshine, lukewarm wine in a reused Pepsi bottle at hand. His hour long set at the Main Stage included a generous amount from his third album Drunk and mash-ups of his work with other respectable artists, including Kendrick Lamar. As the sun set across the Main Stage, allowing an ambient orange glow to settle upon the crowd, 80s Jamaican-born icon, model, and singer-songwriter Grace Jones, hula hoop and outfit changes at the ready, stepped out to unite with the crowd. Wrapped in fairy lights and a skin-tight leotard, Jones’ performed classics such as "Pull Up To The Bumper" and "Slave to The Rhythm." A unanimous highlight of the night was witnessing a once in a lifetime DJ set at HMS Bestival from the iconic and household known, Faithless. The crowd, that I managed to squeeze myself directly in the middle of, could only be comparable to a rave scene that I’ve solely experienced through films from the late 90s. It was a colourful cabaret of strobe lights, circus inspired outfits, courtesy of the circus theme that was chosen this year, and the lot less glamorous sweat from the sheer volume of people that were hurtling themselves closer to the stage to get a glimpse of living legends at work. "Insomnia" and "God Is a DJ" echoed through the arena, amongst other trip hop inspired reworks of infamous basslines.

To bring Bestival to a close on Sunday night, the anticipated M.I.A performed her headlining set, which did not shy away from confetti canons, pyrotechnics, and politically charged lyricism. The Sri-Lankan raised rapper interacted with the crowd and performed reworked versions of "Borders," "Bad Girls," and "Paper Planes." Sunday night also saw sets from 80s icon and untouchable vocalist Chaka Khan, performing crowd pleasers such as "Ain’t Nobody" and "I Feel For You," and British MC Plan B who showcased his recent album Heaven Before All Hell Breaks Loose and instigated an admittedly impressive mosh pit when performing "Ill Manors." If you were fortunate enough you may have also seen Rudimental’s set at the Temple; however, what seemed like the entirety of Bestival managed to get there first leaving me to only admire from afar and reflect on what had been a surreal few days and a perfect example as to why I will continue to say yes to every opportunity I am faced with.  

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